Muslim Saints and Supporters of Guru Gobind Singh Living without the Boundaries of Religious Prejudice

Guru Gobind SinghHere is another very interesting article by Shanti Kaur illustrating how Guru Gobind Singh did not limit his love or have prejudice towards people of the Muslim religion (or any religion for that matter). There seems to be so much hate coming from some Sikhs towards Hindus and Muslims. I can only attempt to understand where this comes from, but know that no matter what might have happened in the past we have to see God in everyone and stop the cycle of hate and violence. We have to get away from the “Us and Them” mentality. I think more people have been killed in the name of religion than any other cause in the entire human history. So, read on…and see the example of Guruji.

Muslim Saints and Supporters of Guru Gobind Singh Living without the Boundaries of Religious Prejudice: by Shanti Kaur Khalsa

“Guru Gobind Singh was born on December 22, 1666 into a world of tension, war and suffering. India was in the grips of a two hundred-year occupation by Mughal forces, and while some of the successive rulers were tolerant and benevolent, others had been fanatic and cruel. Emperor Aurangzeb, the harshest of all, had yet to claim power but that dark hour was fast approaching. Guru Gobind Singh took birth into this world to oppose the tyrants of the time.

hm ieh kwj jgq mo Aweo [ Drm hyq gurdyv pTweo[jhW qhW qum Drm ibQwro [ dust doKXin pkir pCwro [42

I came to this world with the mission, The Lord delegated me for righteousness; “Go and spread Dharma here, there and everywhere And defeat the tyrants and evil persons. - Guru Gobind Singhji, Bichitra Naatak – Apnee Kathaa

Guru Gobind Singh lived a life that was free from the confines of religious prejudice and fanaticism. He believed in the intrinsic value of mankind and taught that not only was equality possible for all people, but that greatness was possible, regardless of caste, religion or gender. This approach to life exposed the hero, teacher, and saint in everyday people, and birthed the spiritual nation that today we know as the Khalsa.

One Light in all People

Guru Gobind Singh lived his life with a reverential regard for the liberty of spirit in all people regardless of race, caste, religion or
gender. This is a basic truth of the warrior-ethics of the Sikhs, built through the example of heroes and saints and upheld through the purity of sacrifice. Even during times of severe persecution, Guru Gobind Singh separated the politics of religion from the essence of the human spirit, and never submitted to the cold acts of prejudice or revenge. By the example of his life and his actions, he proved that spiritual brotherhood could be shared with people of other faiths, without in anyway compromising their individual religious doctrine.

Through his words and deeds, Guru Gobind Singh teaches us to see no difference between people of other faiths, but instead to see the Light of God shining through each and every soul. This is an important message for the world today.

ihMdU qurk koaU rwPjI iemwm SwPImwns kI jwq sbY eykY phcwnbo[krqw krIm soeI rwjk rhIm EeIdUsro n Byd koeI BUl BRm mwnbo[eyk hI kI syv sB hI ko gurdyv eyk eyk hI srUp sbY eykY joq jwnbo[

Some people are Hindus, others are Turks; Some are Raafzis or Imaams, Shiites or Sunnis; But know this: There is only one family of all mankind. God is the Creator, Forgiver, Provider and Lord; Nothing else compares to Him, so don’t be led astray. Serve only the One Lord, who is the Divine Guru of all; We are made in the Image of the One God; And His One Light shines through everyone. Guru Gobind Singh ji, Akaal Ustat

During the course of the Guru’s life he met people of caliber and character, many who were Muslims, who loved and respected him. That love was returned in full measure, with out regard to religious differences. Even though Guru Gobind Singh and his Khalsa suffered greatly at the hands of the Mughal government, Guru Gobind Singh judged each man on his own merits. Sometimes that relationship resulted in great personal sacrifice on the part of the devotee, a price these great men of Islam willingly paid. Here are only a few of their stories:

Pir Bhikham Shah

In the village Thaska, which is now in Haryana, lived a wise man, a Pir, named Bhikham Shah. A deeply devoted Muslim, he led his village in daily prayer, bowing to the west in the direction of Mecca in the manner that all Muslims pray. On the day that Gobind Rai was born, Bhikham Shah made a deep and respectful bow towards the east. His disciples were shocked when they saw this and they asked the Pir why he would do such thing. The Sayyid replied, “I bowed in respect towards Patna where a special soul has taken human birth. I have bowed to that savior who has been sent by God to stand against evil, sin and falsehood. Let’s go to that sacred place to be blessed by seeing the holy child.”

Pir Bhikham Shah left for the long journey to Patna with a group of his disciples. Upon arriving at Patna, the Pir went to the house where Gobind Rai was born. He knocked and then sat down near the door of the house. Mata Gurjri, the holy child’s grandmother, was informed of the arrival of the Sayyid, and she was cautious with prudent suspicion. Guru Arjan Dev had been martyred at the hands of the Mughal Emperor, and she did not want her little grandchild to draw undue attention from the Islamic community. When she asked him what he wanted and why he was sitting there, the Pir said, “I have come from a far off place to be blessed by having the sight of Bala Pritam, the holy child. I have traveled for many days covering hundreds of miles for his darshan. I will not go away, nor will I eat nor drink until I have seen his face.”

After several days, when it became clear to everyone that the Pir was a peaceful man of God, he was at last invited to see the child. Coming into the presence of the infant Gobind Rai, the Sayyid made a deep and sincere bow. From his bag he brought gifts for the household, and also two earthen pots containing sweetmeats. The Pir had purchased one pot from a Muslim shop while the other pot of sweets was purchased from a Hindu shop. After placing both the pots containing sweets before Bala Gobind Rai, the Pir sat down with folded hands and watched with love. Gobind Rai was a beautiful child with a radiant face and deep eyes that denied his few months of age. Bala Gobind Rai placed his left hand on one of the pots and at the same time placed his right hand on the other pot. The child then smiled with a brilliance that ignited the room and looked directly at the Pir with a long gaze. The Pir made even a deeper bow to Bala Pritam, and took his leave.

The followers of the Pir were also present and watched the child. They could not understand what had just transpired and asked their Sayyid to enlighten them. The Pir explained that he could divine that Bala Gobind Rai would be a great warrior saint, and he wanted to know whether Bala Pritam would give his might to the Hindus or would he bestow his favor to the Muslims. He said, “I had placed the pots of sweets before Bala Pritam and said to myself that if the child would put his hand on the pot I purchased from the Hindu shop that would mean he would support the Hindus. Similarly, if the child placed his hand on the pot purchased from the Muslim shop that would mean he would fight for the cause of Islam. He knew my mind and what I wanted to know! So, he placed both hands on both the pots, thereby declaring that both Hindus as well as Muslims are equally dear to him. He will help Hindus whenever they need his help and he will help Muslims also whenever they are in need.”

Pir Bikham Shah returned home and remained a great admirer of Guru Gobind Singh throughout his entire life.

Pir Budhu Shah

In the village of Sadhaura nestled at the foot of the Shivalik hills lived the Muslim saint Pir Budhu Shah. He was born on June 13, 1641, into a rich Sayyid family and from his childhood he was imbued with spiritualism and realization of God. As he took no interest in worldly affairs and spoke little, he was called Budhu. When he grew up to manhood, people considered him a man of God, and declared him a saint.

When Guru Gobind Singh’s father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, was beheaded in Delhi at the hands of Emperor Aurangzeb, Pir Budhu Shah was aghast. His soul was tormented at the Emperor’s fanatic policies, and his mind was tortured by this brutal deed.

At the age of 17, Guru Gobind Singh had begun to live at Paonta Sahib, only 16 kilometers to the north of Sadhaura. Budhu Shah decided to call on him and offer him his sincerest condolences. Riding into the settlement at Paonta, the Pir was immediately struck with the vibrant energy of the town. Spirits ran high as builders, merchants, poets and soldiers swarmed the narrow and newly constructed streets. The river Yamana flowed vigorously by, but slowed to a sweet murmur as it caressed its banks near the village. With a joyful heart, the Pir sought out the 10th Guru of the Sikhs.

Guru Gobind Singh received Pir Budhu Shah with the grace and hospitality for which he was renowned. The Pir expressed his sorrow, grief and sympathy over the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur, and then the conversation naturally turned towards religious matters. Pir Budhu Shah asked young Guru Gobind Singh, “Tell me, how can man meet God? It seems to be a long and difficult path!” The Guru replied, “No, respected Pir, man can find God as easy as day finds the night. When the light of truth dawns in the mind, falsehood vanishes as effortlessly as the sun dispels darkness. It is only the barrier of ‘self’ which stands between man and God. By overcoming the love of self, family, wealth, power, prestige and fame, one naturally meets God.” The Pir was amazed at the wisdom of such a youth and said, “What you say is true! But the ego is not easily subdued. What can a person do?” The Guru said, “When a person surrenders himself completely to the sweet Will of God, the ego is overcome. By doing this, Divine Light is attained.”

Budhu Shah praised the young Guru, and swore himself as his ally and benefactor. To secure the town, he arranged for five hundred Pathan soldiers to be in the Guru’s service. These were a contingent of professional soldiers-for-hire who were devotees of the Pir. Their employment was accepted by Guru Gobind Singh at the rate of one rupee per day to protect the town of Paonta.

After a short time, an old animosity arose against the Guru. In October, 1688, Raja Bhim Chand of Kahlur (Bilaspur) came through the region of Paonta Sahib to marry his son to the daughter of Raja Fatah Shah of Garhwal. Bhim Chand was a bitter opponent of the Guru and had already fought, and lost, a couple of skirmishes with him in Anandpur Sahib. For the occasion of the wedding, several hill rajas had joined together and they all decided that now was the best time to attack the Guru while he was in residence at Paonta. They knew that the Guru’s Sikhs were raw young men, and that the only trained soldiers were the five hundred Pathans in his service. The agents of Bhim Chand approached the soldiers, and offered them higher pay and rewards if they betrayed the Guru and fought on the side of the hill rajas.

As the armies of the hill rajas marched, news streamed into Paonta of the impending attack. War drums beat through the town as preparations were made to defend the fort. One morning, with the enemy within riding distance of the town, the Guru’s men found the soldiers’ barracks empty. Where there should have been intense activity in preparation for battle, there were empty rooms and piles of trash. The 500 Pathans had taken the deal offered by Bhim Chand and deserted the Guru in the night. By betraying their salt, they left the Sikhs of Paonta without defense.

Guru Gobind Singh was the knower of hearts, and he was not surprised at this sudden desertion. He sent a fast rider to Pir Budhu Shah who was horrified at the treachery of the Pathans, and felt personally responsible for the safety of the Guru. He sent a call out to his people, and in a short time 700 young men gathered at Sadhaura. Under the command of Pir Budhu Shah, his two sons and two brothers, they rode to Paonta to help protect the Guru.

The enemy crossed the Yamuna a little above the city. The Guru assembled a makeshift army of cooks, poets, and sadhus and immediately marched out to intercept them and a fierce battle was fought at a place known as Bhangani. Although the Guru’s men were inexperienced at war, they were exalted by the heart and spirit of Guru Gobind Singh fighting in their midst. Amazing feats of courage were displayed, and many men lost their lives on both sides. At a critical point in the battle, Pir Budhu Shah and his army of 700 fresh men came charging into the din at Bhangani, overcoming the enemy and turning the tide of battle. The Pir’s two sons, Sayyid Muhammad Ashraf and Sayyid Muhammad Shah, the Pir’s brother Bhure Shah, and many other followers lost their lives. The Guru won the battle, his first of many, and forever changed the destiny of the Sikhs.

Although the Guru was flush with his first victory, he was grieved at the Pir’s heavy personal loss. The Guru expressed his deepest gratitude to Pir Budhu Shah for his devoted intercession at the most critical juncture of the fight. When the Pir came to the Guru after battle, the Guru was dressing in preparation to receive the sangat. He hugged and blessed the Pir, giving him his turban and his comb that still held several of his hairs. Before the entire congregation, the Guru honored Pir Budhu Shah, conferred a robe of honor and declared him a saint of the times.

Pir Budhu Shah lived in peace for another 16 years. However later, when Guru Gobind Singh escaped from Chamkaur, every attempt was made by Wazir Khan, the Faujidar of Sarhind, to capture the Guru alive or dead. Having failed in his attempts, the governor’s wrath fell on the Pir as Sadhaura lay within his jurisdiction. Wazir Khan ordered Usman Khan, the Darogha of Sadhaura, to destroy the Pir and his family. They were all killed in cold blood on March 21, 1705. Later on, the Pir’s tomb became a place of pilgrimage for Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs alike.

Ghani Khan and Nabi Khan

In the early part of the 18th century, the Khalsa of Guru Gobind Singh came into direct conflict with the Mughal Emperor of Delhi, Aurangzeb. Under orders of the Emperor, imperial armies marched upon the City of Anandpur Sahib and laid a siege to the fort in May 1705. Over many months, the Guru and his Sikhs firmly withstood their successive assaults despite a dire scarcity of food and supplies. In December, an offer to evacuate the fort was extended to the Khalsa by Aurangzeb. On a solemn oath sworn on the holy Koran, safe passage was guaranteed to the Sikhs if they left Anandpur Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh cautioned his Sikhs against this action, but at last the town was evacuated during the cold and stormy night of December 5, 1705. As the Guru and his Sikhs, their families and possessions, moved out from the safety of the fort and were crossing the swollen river Sirsa, the Mughal armies ambushed them with the full fury of treachery. The Sikhs fought a pitched battle, and many were killed on both sides. Guru Gobind Singh and his family became separated from each other, and all of the Guru’s baggage, including most of the precious manuscripts, was lost forever in the dark and deadly river.

The Guru himself was able to make his way to Chamkaur, 40 km southwest of Anandpur, with barely 40 Sikhs and his two elder sons. The imperial army was following closely on his heels. The 40 brave Sikhs held-off an army of 100,000 soldiers in a battle that set new limits of human endurance and bravery. His two sons, Ajeet Singh, age 17, and Jujhar Singh, age 14, and nearly all the Sikhs fell in the battle that raged. When only few Sikhs remained, they bade the Guru to save himself in order to one day raise the armies of the Khalsa again. In the darkness of the night on December 7, Guru Gobind Singh with three of his Sikhs set off into the wilderness of the Malva.

Alone and in the dark, the Guru walked through the jungles of Macchiwara. While a lesser man would have been haunted by the memory of his young sons and the Khalsa who had died, Guru Gobind Singh walked firmly in his faith. The next morning Bhai Daya Singh and Bhai Dharam Singh reunited with the Guru and sought shelter with a Sikh named Gulaba. All around them the Mughal soldiers were going house-to-house in a drag-net search for the Guru.

It was then that the Guru met two brave Pathan brothers, Ghani Khan and Nabi Khan. Never in their life had they encountered a personality and spirit like that they found in Guru Gobind Singh. Strong yet sensitive, fierce yet subtle, he was their ultimate ideal of a holy warrior with a kindness of heart they had only known from their mother. When they heard the story of his dire situation, the brothers came-up with daring plan to help.

They took a large piece of blue cloth that had been gifted to the Guru, and made it into a robe that resembled the kind worn by Muslim holy men. Disguising the Guru as a Muslim Pir, they seated him on a palanquin, and together with Bhai Daya Singh and Bhai Dharam Singh, left Gulaba’s house with the Guru on their shoulders. They declared him as a Pir from Uch, the city of Uch was a famous center of holy men, and set out on the highway.

Soon after they started out of Macchiwara, they were stopped by the imperial forces that were still in hot pursuit of the Guru. The Mughal Commander, Dilawar Khan questioned the Guru and was not convinced that he was a Pir. To make sure he wasn’t being fooled, he ordered Qazi Pir Mohammad to be brought from a nearby village to verify the identity of “Ucha Da Pir”. The Qazi knew immediately that this “Pir” was not actually a Muslim, but he also recognized the Light of the One God beaming from the Guru’s face. He said to the soldier, “Do not stop this great and holy man, he is a high saint in union with Allah, may His Holy Name be praised!” The commander was satisfied and let the Guru pass untouched.

Guru Gobind Singh traveled in disguise on the shoulders of Ghani Khan and Nabi Khan for about 15 kilometers to the old village of Alamgir. Here the Guru discarded the palanquin and lost no time in shedding the blue robes. He happily took a horse which a Sikh resident of Alamgir, Bhai Naudha, presented to him. Ghani Khan and Nabi Khan bid the Guru a prayerful farewell, and from here they departed with a holy Hukumnama of gratitude from the Guru’s hand.

Rai Kalha

Guru Gobind Singh traveled from Alamgir to Raikot where he was received warmly by a wealthy landlord and devotee, Rai Kalha. Many of the Guru’s friends and associates would not offer shelter to the Guru for fear of retribution from the Mughals. But Rai Kalha welcomed him without hesitation, even though this was at great risk to himself and his family. He felt honored to offer his services to the Guru for as long as he wanted to stay. Guru Gobind Singh spent 16 days with Rai Kalha, resting and recuperating, gathering intelligence and making his plans.

Having been traveling undercover, the Guru had no news of his beloved family who had been separated from him during that dark crossing of the river Sirsa. Guru Gobind Singh requested Rai Kalha to send a messenger to find out about the whereabouts of his wife, mother, and two young sons. Noora Mahi traveled to Sarhind and brought back the tragic story of the martyrdom of the Gurus two younger sons, age 7 and 9 years, and how his mother Mata Gurjri had died of grief and shock. Guru Gobind Singh listened with an emotionless face but a weeping heart. He took an arrow, and thrust it into the ground, pulling out a bush. He said, “Such a tragedy will not go unnoticed in God’s Court. Like this weed, the Mughal Raj will be uprooted.”

While staying with Rai Kalha, Guru Gobind Singh wrote his momentous letter to Aurangzeb known as the “Zafarnama,” which means the “Letter of Victory.” He chastised the Emperor for his cruelty, his falsehood, and his deceit, explaining the Sikh code of warfare and exposing Aurangzeb for his corrupt morality. The letter was a severe indictment of the Emperor and his commanders who had perjured their oath and treacherously attacked him once he was outside the safety of his fortification at Anandpur. Bhai Daya Singh and Bhai Dharam Singh were dispatched with the Zafarnama to deliver it to Aurangzeb, who was then camped at Ahmadnagar in the South. When the Emperor received the Zafarnama he was deeply affected by it, and pledged to meet with Guru Gobind Singh. But according to the Will of God, Aurangzeb died before this came to pass.

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