Speech by Mr. Surender Singh Kandhari, Chairman – GuruNanak Darbar Gurudwara
in the Holy Mosque of the Al Manar Centre, Dubai
Friday 4th July 2014
Good evening Ladies & Gentlemen.
On behalf of the entire Sikh Community of UAE and the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, I take this opportunity to extend my best wishes to all our brothers and sisters during this holy month of Ramadan – Ramadan Kareem.
Our community is highly honoured and indebted to His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice president and Prime minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for his kind and thoughtful generosity in granting permission and allocating land for the noble cause of building a Sikh place of worship in Dubai.
And in the words of His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development when he visited the Gurudwara He said “Guru-Nanak Darbar must rank among the most attractive worship sites for Sikhs around the world.
I would also like to extend my gratitude to Her Highness Sheikha Hind Bint Makhtoum Bin Juma Al Makhtoum & Al Manar Centre for inviting us for this Cultural Exchange Programme to interact and learn about this blessed month whilst living together in the UAE.
Ramadan is a time for self-reflection and devotion through prayer and fasting, Ramadan is also an occasion when Muslims around the world reaffirm their commitment to helping the less fortunate, including those struggling because of economic hardship and inequality
Ramadan also reminds us of our shared responsibility to treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves and the basic principles that bind people of different faiths together: a yearning for peace, justice, and equality.
As the subject today is about inter-faith and inter-culture, I would like to bring to light similarities between Islam & Sikhism. But before that I would like to give you a little insight about Sikhism.
Sikhism and its relationship with Islam is going back many centuries. The founder of Sikhism was our first Guru, GuruNanak Devji. The first to recognize GuruNanak was Rai Bullar a Muslim noble who saw the divine light in GuruNanak. Gurunanak’s companion for life Bhai Mardana was a Rababi born in a Muslim family.
For that matter our most sacred Shrine Shri Harmandir Sahib–The Golden Temple (as it is commonly called) the foundation for it was laid by a Muslim Sufi Saint Sai Mia Mir.
Such is the association of Muslims & Sikhs.
There are many instances where there is uniformity of principles in Sikhism & Islam
- Both Islam & Sikhism are Monotheistic religions i.e. both believe in One God.
- Both do not believe in idol worship.
- Both have Holy Scriptures – A Sikh’s life revolves around One Guru – Guru Granth Sahib; and in every moment of joy, happiness and sadness, Shabad of Guru Granth Sahib is recited. Similarly, life of a Muslim is centered on the Holy Quran.
- The Sikhs Gurus never claimed to be God, but only a messenger of God. Hazrat Muhammad Sahib (Peace be upon Him) also never claimed himself to be God, but only a messenger.
- Sikhs believe that the beloved creator of this world is all-powerful, omni present One God and he has created the universe in his order. Islam also believes that everything in the universe is in order of one God called Allah.
Some of Guru Nanak Devji’s teachings and its similarity to Islam:-
Guru Nanak taught us:
- Naam Japna
- Kirat Karni
- Vand Chakna
Naam Japna – Practice meditation & constantly immersed in appreciation of the Creator. The One Eternal God -Allah or Waheguru as we call Him.
Kirat Karni – To honestly earn by ones physical and mental effort while accepting both pains and pleasures as GOD’s gifts and blessings. Make honest and truthful living and keep 10% of it for charity – that is what we call “Dusvant” – Just like in Islam you have “Zakat” – the same principle.
I salute the mandate of Dubai Cares Program of educating children around the world.
Children are our Future. Their Future is Education. So OUR Future is Education. Children are born with no prejudices! Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education: Education gets rid of the Prejudice in our society that we so need today.
We as humans should take care of the people and this way we serve God Almighty. Serving children is a great act of humanity and we should all pray that we all get the opportunity to do Sewa to the mankind, Giving is a bliss. Serve others – for life is too short and you have to make your life meaningful.
So let us be quick to love and prompt to serve humanity. You have two hands, one to help yourself and one to help others.
Vand Chakna – Share and consume together. Sharing and Giving is an important message from Guru Nanak – which is what is being done here, especially now in Ramadan – on the same lines GuruNanak Devji introduced free community kitchen called “Guru Ka Langar” where all sit and eat together regardless of caste, creed and status.
In Islam one of the greatest principle is feeding the hungry.
We still follow the same principle in the Dubai Gurudwara where all day food is served free to all. We serve daily 1000 people and on Fridays 10,000 people. This is our commitment to Society.
In Islam a Muslim is born to serve not only Muslims but all humanity. This is mentioned in the Quran Shareef Sura 21 Ayaat 107.
Similarly in Sikhism we pray for the entire humanity in our daily prayers which is SARBAT DA BHALA.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib our holy book also has religious similarities with the Quran Shareef.
Beginning of Sri Guru Granth Sahib
Mul Mantar – which is the entire essence of our religion is similar to the
Sura Al Fateh the beginning of Holy Quran.
Ikoankaar Sathnaam Karathaa Purakh Nirabho Niravair
Akaal Moorath Ajoonee Saibhan Gurprasaadh II
One Universal Creator God,
The Name is Truth, Creative being Personified,
No Fear, No Hatred,
Image of Undying,
Beyond Birth, Self-Existent
By Guru’s Grace.
Beginning of Holy Quran
- In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, The Merciful.
- Praise to be Allah, Lord of the Worlds,
- The Beneficent, the Merciful.
- Master of the Day of Judgment,
- Thee (alone) we worship; Thee (alone) we ask for help.
- Show us the straight path,
- The path of those whom Thou hast favoured; Not the (path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray.
In the Islamic world, Baba Shaikh Farid ji (1173-1265) is a highly respected Sufi Saint. His Bani has been included in Guru Granth Sahib. The presence of Sufi saints Bani in Guru Granth Sahib is an example of the universal message that Guru Granth Sahib contains.
Today we are proud at the same time humbled that His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice president and Prime minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai has donated land and encouraged us to make the Gurudwara – which is the greatest symbol of the inter-faith-respect and regard for another. This gesture has been appreciated not only by the Sikhs of Dubai but by Sikhs all over the world. This magnanimous gesture has put a firm seal on a relationship which goes back hundreds of years.
In the end I would like to sum up with the words of H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development; He said and I quote UAE is a multicultural community and an occasion like this reflects tolerance and respect for all other faiths. UAE is a tolerant country that allows people from different places and from different religious and ethnic backgrounds to live here in harmony and cooperation, as good human beings. Good human beings tolerate and respect one another and understand each other’s good motives, whatever their cultural differences may be.
I would once again like to wish everyone a month blessed with the joys of family, peace, love and understanding.
To commemorate this occasion my wife and I have prepared a memento showing the Sura Al Fateh and Mul Mantar framed together and I can say that it could be probably first of its kind. Kindly accept this humble gift from us.