Well all I’ll say is that my friend (who is a Sikh, with Turban and all) once told me, “Our leaders were under pressure as we were in between to groups of people, the first groups were Hindus and wanted us to convert to Hinduism, while the second group were Muslims and wanted us to convert to Islam, so for the sake of not starting a war, our leader combined BOTH Islam and Hinduism and this combination created Sikhism.”
That’s what he told me, but since Hinduism is not a Monotheistic religion, I would not classify Sikhism as being a monotheistic religion, even though it might have evolved as one.
Your not likely to find a whole of people with experience with Sikhs in general in the West. And that’s not for their lack of presence!
At least in America and Canada, the general population can’t even pick them out from followers of Islam - hence the occasional outbreaks of violence perpetrated on Sikh communities since 9/11.
There are a number of Syro-Malankarans i believe on the Eastern Catholic forum who may have a lot more experience with Sikhs in general due to their location.
As for me - i’ve taught a number of Sikh students over the years. Can’t say I have a comprehensive knowledge on all their religious beliefs in the same way someone like Meltzerboy or Contarini might have due to their academic specializations. But they are genuinely nice people, at least the ones i’ve met.
I think that living in the UK, which of course has a history of Indian communities living here and particularly the Sikh and Hindu communities, there is probably slightly more of a chance of exposure to Sikhism and actually meeting/seeing Sikh people, as well as some SIkh teachings being part of British religious education.
And American friends told me of the attacks on Sikhs in the US, which I find pretty saddening as well as shocking.
Well my country doesn’t have a clean record regarding attacks on religious communities, as after the 7/7 bombings, women in hijabs were targeted indiscriminately and even Hindu and Sikh women (who often choose to wear headscarves publicly) were targeted.
I think it’s a testimony to the reputation of Sikhs in this country that nobody really worries about or makes a fuss about the fact that they all carry daggers! This would not be true of most religions or groups.
It must be said that from a legal point of view, there was much wrangling and argument regarding the kirpan knife, UK laws on offensive weapons and whether it should be allowed to be carried in public and it eventually reached the House of Lords before finally being granted exemption as a religious symbol and not a weapon.
Plus, a lot of kirpans are purely decorative, and are not sharpened enough to cut anything, if at all. There is also no formal requirement according to some Sikh groups that you carry an actual kirpan at all, but that the requirement of the 5 Ks could be fufilled simply by wearing a pendant or badge of a miniature kirpan.
There’s a big Punjabi population on the West Coast of Canada, therefore many Sikhs. I think roughly a quarter million in the greater Vancouver area. Sufficient numbers for me to say they’re just like anyone else - great holy people at one end of the spectrum, criminals at the other, with the vast majority being like the rest of us - regular folks trying to live good lives & raise our families.
Many Sikhs here came with the emigration and expulsions of Asians from Kenya and Uganda in the late 60’s and early 70’s where they’d had businesses so they had quite a tradition despite turning up pretty destitute.
They’d been taken there as indentured labour in the 19th Century to build the infrastructure. They then turned to building up businesses which further separated them from the locals who rather resented them.
I was in Primary school in the 1970’s when there were quite a few children whose families had been part of it. You can imagine that, being Jewish, the story sounded more than a little familiar.
I love Sikhism and find Sikhs really friendly and holy people.
They believe in one God (although there is some controversy about gods being mentioned in their scriptures).
Unlike Christianity they believe in reincarnation, obviously from the Hindu side of their Muslim-Hindu roots.
I visited their holiest shrine in India and found them to be very peaceful, holy non threatening and non proselytizing.
On a side not, when I was training to be a teacher we went to London (how dreadful to be leaving the civilised pastures of Cheshire) for 4 days to visit various religious minority communities. Our very trendy and desperate-to-be liberal leader took us to the largest gurdwara outside India and gushingly told us how it cost £54million to build.
I remember thinking that if that was a Catholic church she’d be saying it with disgust at how much money we’d spent on a building.