Interfaith Marriages

Sikh-Muslim Marriage Concerns

I am pleased to share a few concerns I learned from conversations with Sikh-Muslim couples. I hope my responses help the couple and parents to be on board with each other.

When a Sikh falls in love with a Muslim or vice-versa, they have to cross many hurdles to bind that relationship into marriage. They are deeply committed to keeping their relationship intact, unaffected by the difficulties.

You have found the right person to lighten up your life – you are in love and are willing to cross every red line to marry each other. She is the soul mate who shares your deepest longings, and he gives a clear sense of direction. Indeed, your soul mate is the one who makes life come to life. No matter what goes on, you’ll feel safe with each other. Now, you must jump through the hoops to make your dream a reality.

When you love someone, all issues become stepping stones to walk through.

Most parents support their kids’ choices as they trust them and want the best for them. A few parents, however, want to know more and then endorse the relationship. No matter how difficult it is for some parents and kids to accept the interfaith relationship, they all see the bottom line as happiness for their children and accept the relationship, while some take time. They see that God brings two souls together to live in tranquility, and when parents support the relationship, it brings tremendous joy to their children.

If you are not committed to going through the hoops, you are better off not pursuing the relationship and saving each other from the pain. It has happened; the girl would die for him, but he wouldn’t make the difficult decisions. She said she kept with him until he married someone.

Consider a few of the following guidelines;

Dr. Abdul Hamid Abusulayman: “There is a clear distinction between doubts and problems. Doubts provoke obstruction, frustration, and discouragement, whereas problems inspire motivation, action, and diligence.” Indeed, if the couple is committed to each other, they will not see problems as obstructions but as inspiration to pursue their dream of living together as husband and wife.

Goethe said“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy… Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: the moment one commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.… Whatever you can do or dream that you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

Indeed, if you are committed to the relationship, you see the problems as mere hurdles, like a horse that jumps through the hurdles as if it were meant to be. The horse does not see it as a problem but as something he has to do to keep going forward. Watch this video from 2nd minute onwards:

Ray Bradbury: “If we listened to our intellect (How will we answer the community), we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.”

When I came to the United States, I knew no one, and I built the community in Dallas, a much larger community than anyone could have imagined. But when I moved to Washington, DC, I started again. My mother used to tell me to focus on my dream; you can always build the community. That is true; I am sure you have moved to a different neighborhood or town at least once or twice and built new communities. Communities will always support you, except for a few gossipers, but your family members will always be there for you. Your parents want you to be happy, and if they see that it will be a reality, they will wholeheartedly support you.

We did care about what our family members and friends would say, but ultimately, we were happy with our choices. Our parents lived their lives, and we are living ours. Our children and we practiced our versions of religion and culture; they trusted us to make our own decisions, and we were happy, and so were they. Their happiness is more important to us than what the community says about who our children marry.

Guru Nanakji was the founder of the interfaith tradition. His message was to be exemplary citizens to create a better world for humanity. He focused on the teachings of seva – that is, service to society, known as Khidmat-e-Khalq in Muslim tradition. Seva is the common thread in all religions, and he rightfully saw that as the savior of humanity. Seva is indeed the central tenant of Sikhism and Islam.

Let me take you back into history to share about the distrust upon which myths were built between Muslims and Sikhs. A majority of Sikhs and Muslims do not carry that ill will anymore.

The Muslims and Sikhs erected their walls between each other during the partition of India in 1947, a tough time in history when they slaughtered each other in the trains moving from Pakistan to India and vice-versa, blaming each other for the partition. Still, when you are uprooted, your frustration translates into anger; all it takes is one crazy person to hit the other. Within a few hours, it multiplies into a frenzy of killing each other’s communities. After that, the trust meter between Sikhs and Muslims was at zero, which neither community wanted. However, we have come a long way in rebuilding that trust and need a few more acts to go. Interfaith marriages can pave the way.

Going back further in history, in AD 1675, India’s King Aurangzeb beheaded Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth of the ten Gurus of the Sikh religion, for refusing to give up on his faith and convert to Islam. The Kings also slaughtered Muslims who questioned their authority, which is seldom talked about. Sikh scholars have now busted that myth. They say the conflict was not about religion but a power struggle between subjects and kings regardless of their beliefs.

“Immediately after defeating his brother, Aurangzeb summoned Guru Har Rai to Delhi to explain his role in the civil war. The arrival of Guru Har Krishan and even Guru Tegh Bahadur was connected with the same historical event.”

Another story floating around is that Aurangzeb wanted the Pundits in Kashmir to convert and laid the condition that if anyone were willing to sacrifice his life, he would spare the Pundits. Guru Tegh Bahadur offered himself to defend Hinduism and was killed by Aurangzeb’s men. God only knows the truth, but it should not hold us from building relationships for the common good. I have always admired Guru Tegh Bahadur; he lived up to his name and stood up for the rights of others. He set the most outstanding example, and I admire him for standing up for others ( ).

On the other hand, King Akbar had donated the land to build the holiest of the Sikh shrines around 1600 AD, and Mian Mir laid the foundation stone of the Golden Temple – both were Muslims, so it was not a problem with religion but a power struggle. Sadly, the Kings had resorted to killing people who disagreed with them; well, it happens today, even in democracies.

Sikhism and Islam stand on a compelling message of Seva and Khidmat-e-Khalq (both mean service to humanity). That is caring and serving all of God’s creation; his holiness Guru Nanak was a builder of cohesive societies; he saw the conflicts between Hindus and Muslims (at that time, Sikhism as a religion was not formed) and the caste system within Hindus. His movement was to “learn” to unite all the communities based on service to humanity – a common thread in all religions. The Quran emphasizes serving humanity in nearly 100 verses. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) announced that a wicked woman was forgiven her sins because she cared enough about a dog dying and provided water to quench his thirst. There are many such examples.

As an interfaith couple, you are reinstating the theme of His holiness, Guru Nanak– bringing the communities together. As a Muslim and a Sikh, you are giving the biggest of the messages at this time: coming together and building relationships.

Both Sikhs and Muslims believe in God, be accountable for their actions, and care for his creation – i.e., all life forms, matter, and the environment; you will earn the grace of God and earn to live a peaceful life. Indeed, that is the essence of both religions.

The average Sikhs are concerned about losing a member of their flock to another religion, and Muslim parents have difficulty coping with marrying outside the Abrahamic religions. Both communities are concerned that their son or daughter will be converted by the others rather than seeing that their girl or boy will be happy with each other.

The bottom line for parents on both sides is for their children to live a secure and happy life; I know all parents have that in their hearts.

A question popped up during my conversations with Muslim parents, “Sikhs are not the people of the book – how can my daughter marry him.” The Quran calls on us to think and reflect on every word of God; the guidance is for us to live a life of harmony. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) once reflected before the Quran was revealed to him; I wish my people had a book like the Jews and Christians. The book meant codified social behavior for peaceful societies.

The community he was part of made up its own rules; that was the case in every part of the world, most certainly in the Wild West until 200 years ago in America. They would kill with no impunity. Even today in India, a few parents abort the baby girl with no pangs of conscience.

The book signified that they follow a system of guidance to live in harmony with each other. The Sikhs have the book, the Guru Grant Saheb, a moral compass and guidance to follow a codified behavior. The Quran calls on believers to think and reflect on each verse as it applies to them currently. Indeed, the Quran is for all times. The banner at World Muslim says, “If it is not common sense, then it is not Islam.”

Sikhs can be called people of the book as they are responsible and accountable to Wahe Guru, “Waheguru is another name for the almighty God or Supreme creator, calling upon divine light to illuminate spiritual darkness.” Guru Granth Saheb.

The older generation of Sikhs and Muslims who have endured the pain of partition perceive the other as fanatics and have maintained a safe distance from each other. It worked for them (all religions) when they lived in monolithic societies and found interactions with others complicated, and for some, it was unacceptable. But today, we live in a society where God’s creation lives together. America, indeed, is God’s own country where every race, religion, ethnicity, or nationality co-exists here.

When you go to school and libraries, commute in trains, or work together and find the other person caring, understanding, respecting your feelings, and treating you with dignity, you will fall in love with them.

Indeed, you have found the right person to lighten up your life, and you are in love, wanting to do anything to marry each other. The soul mate is someone who shares your deepest longings and a clear sense of direction. Indeed, the soul mate is the one who makes life come to life – no matter what else goes wrong around you, you’ll feel safe with each other. You have found the right person and must jump through all the hoops to make your dream a reality.

By the way, falling in love happens; it is not planned.

Religion in the United States is becoming a personal guiding post as it was initially intended to make everyone a good human. All religions make us good humans; we must take the time to learn.

Every faith’s “unstated” purpose is to bring tranquility within an individual and peace and harmony in societies, and worship takes you there.

Prayers serve an essential purpose – to bring composure to the cluttered mind. You do your prayers; I will do mine, and it will not be a conflict.

Look at it this way: every day, the Muslim spouse will receive or make a phone call to her sister or brother and speak for at least ten minutes. Similarly, a Sikh spouse can go to the Gurdwara accompanied by his wife or husband, while a Muslim can do the same; one does not have to be a Sikh or a Muslim. What do they do at the Gurdwara or Mosque? They talk about God rec,ite his name, and thank him. The Quran says to honor every place of worship where God’s name is recited.

One of the most common misunderstandings about Sikhs is that they worship Guru Nanak; it is the same as some people who believe that Muslims worship Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Neither Muslims nor Sikhs worship them; they revere them.

Muslims believe Prophet Muhammad is the last of the Prophets, and the Guru Granth Saheb (Sikh scripture) is their final Guru (teacher). The Granth Saheb is placed at an altar (raised platform) in the Gurdwara; all Sikhs bow in front of the book as a sign of respect. Likewise, the Muslims of the subcontinent will always place the Quran above everything, never on the floor.

A majority of Sikhs, Muslims, and others have lived in bubbles far too long and have not had a chance to interact with each other, and if they do, they come loaded with myths about each other. The Quran offers guidance to bust the myths; for example, in 5:48, it says, had God willed, he would have created all of us alike with the same face, height, hair, eyes, and weight, but he chose to make all of us into different races, nations, tribe and by extension religions, and placed us in many places (49:13) and gave us free will, which is what causes differences. Then he says, the best among you are those who take the time to learn about each other. When we learn about each other, conflicts fade, and solutions emerge. All that Allah wants is for his creation to live in harmony.

What you read in some translations of the Quran is not the exact word of God. It can be understood by seeing different translations of the verse. Please log onto  – for each one of the verses of the Quran; there are 35 generally accepted translations, 11 controversial translations, five by non-Muslims – you should spot four bad translators if you go through them. You see that what you read is not necessarily the whole truth.

Finding the truth is our responsibility. In his last sermon, Prophet Muhamad (pbuh) said, ” I am leaving this book (the Quran) to you for you to read and understand. ” Please remember, he did not say, ” I am leaving this book to Shaikh Habib or Al-Azhar University to interpret for you. ” We have to learn it on our own based on our experience.

The Quran calls Muslims to think, reflect, analyze, and follow. A few such verses are listed here: 3:190-191, 8:22, 36:46, 6:50, 41:53, 12:11, 13:3. 7:179, 10:100. It is a book of guidance to all mankind; God is, indeed, the Rabbul Aalameen.

Let’s look at how the Quran defines Islam in verse 2:62 (Asad): “VERILY, those who have attained faith, those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians and the Sabians. – all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds – shall have their reward with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve.”

إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَٱلَّذِينَ هَادُوا۟ وَٱلنَّصَـٰرَىٰ وَٱلصَّـٰبِـِٔينَ مَنْ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلْيَوْمِ ٱلْـَٔاخِرِ

وَعَمِلَ صَـٰلِحًا فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ

Mohammad Asad is one of the most respected and widely accepted translators of the Quran. He writes: “The above passage- which recurs in the Quran several times – lays down a fundamental doctrine of Islam. With a breadth of vision unparalleled in any other religious faith, the idea of ‘salvation’ is here conditional upon three elements: belief in God, belief in the Day of Judgement, and righteous action in life.”

If we do the above three things, we will earn God’s grace. God’s grace is living in harmony with fellow humans without fear, tension, and apprehensions. Indeed, if we can learn to respect and accept the God-given uniqueness of each of us, then conflicts fade, and solutions emerge. Standing up for Sikhs and Muslims

Belief in God entails that your existence is caused by someone or a system, and being thankful to that someone completes the life transaction. If someone gives you a hand in uplifting you, you will thank them. If you don’t, you feel something is missing and awkward. Both Sikhs and Muslims frequently thank the creator in words and action.

Belief in the Day of Judgment is a behavior modifier; if you are accountable, you will avoid dishonoring contracts, lying, stealing, cheating, killing, raping, and other crimes, thus contributing toward a secure society. Sikhs and Muslims believe in accountability for their actions to be ultimately free and earn God’s grace in their own way.

What is righteous action? It is caring for the well-being of others and everything in the universe. Both Sikhism and Islam emphasize caring for others. There is no other religious group on earth that cares for fellow humans more than the Sikhs.

Mike Ghouse

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