Interfaith Dialogue: A Perspective from Sikhism

Abstracts of Sikh Studies 22 (4): 3-10 (2020)
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Abstract

Interfaith dialogue is perceived as the best mechanism to build mutual understanding and respect among people of different faiths. Although the Interfaith movement can be traced back to the late 19th century, it gained an unprecedented prominence in the years following 9/11. In Western democracies, interfaith initiatives have been enlisted as part of wider multiculturalist responses to the threat of radicalization. Despite, interfaith dialogue's recent emergence on the world stage, it has been an active component of ancient Indian religious traditions. Sikh Gurus' compositions, and their way of life, reveal that they were among the pioneers of interfaith dialogue in their time. They remained in continuous dialogue with other faiths throughout their lifetimes. For them, the real purpose of the interchange was to uphold the true faith in the Almighty Creator and to make it relevant to contemporary society. With this intent, they approached the fellow Muslims and Hindus and tried hard to rejuvenate the real spirit of their respective religions. Guru Nanak's travels to various religious centers of diverse faiths; his life long association with Bhai Mardana (a Muslim); Guru Arjan Dev's inclusion of the verses of the saint-poets of varied faiths, in Sri Guru Granth Sahib; Guru Hargobind's construction of Mosque for Muslims; and Guru Teg Bahadur's laying down of his life for the cause of Hinduism, are just a few examples of the initiatives taken by the Sikh Gurus in this field. Herein, an attempt is made to describe the Sikh doctrines that encourage interfaith dialogue. Besides, incidents from the Sikh history, confirming the outstanding contributions made by Sikh Gurus in this field, are enlisted. The practices in vogue currently among the Sikhs towards this cause, are also recounted.

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Devinder Pal Singh
Center for Understanding Sikhism

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