Baba Guru Nanak – A Mercy For All

This is a guest post by Raziq

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Guru Nanak Dev-ji

Guru Nanak Dev

In today’s times there is much debate about extremism and religious intolerance. Terrorist acts committed in the name of religion and religious intolerance seems to be on the rise. In these uncertain times we can all learn lessons from the teachings of Baba Guru Nanak.

Baba Guru Nanak was born in India to a Hindu family in the 15th century. From a young age, he had both Hindu and Muslim friends. This helped him to gain a good understanding of Hinduism and Islam. Throughout his life he was accompanied everywhere by two close friends, one was a Muslim and the other a Hindu. He was once asked “who is better a Hindu or a Muslim”? he replied ‘neither, if they don’t do good deeds then they are both in darkness’.

In the Guru’s time India was ruled by the first Mughal Ruler Babur. On one occasion during a military campaign Babur captured Guru Nanak with his companions and imprisoned them. Whilst in prison the guru started speaking about god. He also spoke about equality, tolerance and love for all human beings. This resulted in many prisoners and prison guards revering the Guru and seeking his blessings. The emperor Babur eventually heard about this and went to the prison himself. After listening to the Guru speaking he became tearful and begged for his forgiveness. He had him freed and on the request of the Guru he freed his companions and other prisoners.

Another famous incident in the Guru’s life was when he visited Mecca with his Muslim companion. After having walked from Jeddah to Mecca, the Guru was tired. He lay down to rest with his feet facing the Kaaba and fell asleep. A Muslim teacher who saw the Guru asleep with his feet facing the Kaaba got angry and kicked the Guru to wake him. He then said “How dare you dishonor God’s place by turning your feet towards Him” the Guru then replied “Brother, don’t be angry. I am very tired. I need rest. I respect the House of God as much as anyone. Please turn my feet in the direction where god is not”. The teacher then lifted his feet to turn him to another direction but suddenly realized the wisdom in the Guru’s words, god could be found in every direction. The teacher then started crying and embraced the Guru’s feet, asking for forgiveness.

The Guru also visited Baghdad and stayed there for a while. In Baghdad he continued to spread his message and even had a Gurdwara built there. Disciples of the Guru can still be found in Iraq today.

Despite the atrocities committed by the Muslim Mughal forces, the Guru never once criticized Muslims or the religion of Islam. Rather he criticized the Turks, Mughals and Afghans for not following their religion properly.

The Guru’s message was understood and appreciated by Hindus and Muslims alike and when he was dying both the Hindus and Muslims wanted to give him a burial according to their rites of their faiths. At Guru Nanak’s death, he lay on a hill, and said to his followers:

“I want all Muslims to place their flowers on one side of me. Hindu’s on the other. Whichever flowers are freshest in the morning is the greater religion.”

Everybody became excited about this, to prove that they were better. When everybody gathered in the morning, Nanak’s body had disappeared. However, all the flowers were just as fresh as the others. They were all equal. After that, everyone remembered Nanak’s words:

“Everybody is equal.”

The Guru’s teachings can be a lesson for everyone today.

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43 Comments

  1. Sanjay
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 12:55 AM | Permalink

    Nice post Raziq, thank you for writing it.

  2. Cameron
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 4:34 AM | Permalink

    Guru Nanak was a great man, and he was only a man. If following his teachings gets you ethnically cleansed from the birth place of your religion which is the fate of Sikhs in Pakistan’s Punjab. Well, that is not a teaching or basis for policy that Great Britain should follow.

  3. Posted January 8, 2010 at 4:47 AM | Permalink

    Troll off, Cameron. Your ignorance and agenda stink.

  4. Posted January 8, 2010 at 8:30 AM | Permalink

    Well, that is not a teaching or basis for policy that Great Britain should follow.

    Have you heard of the Amritsar Massacre at Jallianwala Bagh, 1919? You better look it up. It’s the kind of stuff Nick Griffin doesn’t tell you about.

  5. Jai
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 10:13 AM | Permalink

    Raziq, thanks for another great article.

    Regarding Guru Nanak’s discussion with Babur, he is also said to have given the emperor a blessing that his dynasty would flourish as long as he and his descendents ruled justly. Which was of course exactly what happened during the next couple of centuries.

  6. Raziq
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 10:44 AM | Permalink

    Thank you Sanjay and Jai!

    As a Muslim I think Baba Guru Nanak understood Islam better than most of the Mughal Emperors. Its tragic that the religous bigot Aurangzeb tried to force his version of Islam on the entire Indian sub-continent. This is what actually led to collapse of the Mughal caliphate. Islamists should learn a lesson from that.

  7. Jai
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 10:44 AM | Permalink

    Have you heard of the Amritsar Massacre at Jallianwala Bagh, 1919? You better look it up. It’s the kind of stuff Nick Griffin doesn’t tell you about.

    Not to mention the two Anglo-Sikh Wars during the mid-19th century, culminating in the deliberate annexation of a huge region of independent Sikh-governed territory for the purposes of colonial expansion — including the overthrow and lifelong exile of the young heir to the throne, Maharajah Duleep Singh — and the systematic disarmament of the entire Sikh population. Those two wars of aggression, conducted during an era when Victorian Evangelism was at its height and which resulted in its British proponents believing they literally had a God-given religiously-mandated right to subjugate the subcontinent (sound familiar ?), were amongst the bloodiest and most costly conflicts the expansionist British Empire ever experienced.

    Guru Nanak was a great man, and he was only a man. If following his teachings gets you ethnically cleansed from the birth place of your religion which is the fate of Sikhs in Pakistan’s Punjab.

    Guru Nanak was the first of 10 Sikh spiritual leaders, culminating in Guru Gobind Singh, all of whom lived during the “Great Mughal” era, and it is the teachings and lives of all of them in conjunction which should be understood.

    Some information about Guru Gobind Singh’s attitude towards Muslims which is particularly relevant to this discussion: http://www.spittoon.org/archives/3948

    …..and one of his predecessors, Guru Hargobind: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/6771

  8. Sanjay
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 3:04 PM | Permalink

    Cameron and anyone else who cares to know. Nobody is saying that Great Britain should follow the path of Guru Nanak. Its bizarre to think how anyone could take that message from this post. Truly bizarre.

    Guru Nanak is just one of the most prominent of a line of men from the Indian sub-continent who preached reconciliation and peace in a time of chauvinism, suspicion, hatred and oppression. He preached social reform and tolerance. His syncretist vision of humanity and spirituality is inclusive, generous, compassionate, and aware of the suffering of the poor. He exemplified a certain grassroots philosophy that recurs in Indian civilisation and is a true counterpoint to the narratives of oppression and religious chauvinism that we see over time and in the present day, whatever their sources, from extremism, exclusion, and the various religious nationalism of the modern era – in various Sufi, Hindu, Buddist, Jain and Sikh saints and philosphers, an over riding concern with pluralism, fluid identity, concern for fellow humans, scepticism of those who assert narrow, rigid identities and worldviews, and good old basic love for humanity and tolerance of all. It represents the spontaneous, grassroots, expression of humanism and compassion and even protest against suffering that recurs in Indian civilisation over the last 3000 years, and can even be seen in the expressions of the Buddha.

    This post by Raziq was an affirmation of that, nothing more and nothing less. Take it in the spirit in which it was intended to be considered.

  9. Sanjay
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 3:14 PM | Permalink

    Raziq, you should write a post about Dara Shikoh, Aurengzeb’s brother. He was one of the most remarkable men in Indian history. Wiki has a great write up on him.

  10. Raziq
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 4:32 PM | Permalink

    Thanks Sanjay. I will check it out!

  11. Cameron
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 9:57 PM | Permalink

    Tolerance for all is an admirable ideal, undoubtedly. How tolerant should any be of white supremacist ideologies? Not at all, through out it’s history, as it is articulated by the majority islamic authorities, and is demonstrative by the history record. What passes for orthodox islam is just another supremacist ideology and vehicle for arab imperialism and cultural colonization. Ethnic cleansing began with mohammed’s enduring command driving from the arabian peninsula Jews and Christians, a leader held by muslims as the perfect man , a moral example.

    Christian’s “turn the other cheek” ethic is also admirable , and under torturous persecution they have effectively been driven from the lands of their beginnings by muslims as well, …interesting parallel.

    Neither is applicable in dealing with supremacist ideologies.

  12. Gerrit Smith
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 9:57 PM | Permalink

    “He was once asked “who is better a Hindu or a Muslim”? he replied ‘neither, if they don’t do good deeds then they are both in darkness’.”

    Clearly Baba Guru Nanak didn’t have a clue about Islam.

    ‘Good’ in Islam is very different from ‘good’ in civilised societies.
    In Islam, to do ‘good deeds’ means to follow the example of Muhammad, who looted, murdered, pillaged and massacred entire populations. He reduced thousands to slavery, raped, and allowed his gang members to rape female captives.
    Islamic ‘good deeds’ of recent times are Nairobi, Dar es Salam, 9/11, 7/7, Bali, Madrid, Mumbai and so on.

  13. Posted January 8, 2010 at 10:36 PM | Permalink

    Clearly Baba Guru Nanak didn’t have a clue about Islam.

    Whereas, clearly and patently, you do, of course.

  14. Posted January 8, 2010 at 10:36 PM | Permalink

    If this sort of abuse continues, I will have no choice but to withdraw from this site.

  15. Jai
    Posted January 9, 2010 at 12:31 PM | Permalink

    Clearly Baba Guru Nanak didn’t have a clue about Islam.

    Unlikely, given that he and his 9 successors lived in a part of the world where there are still more Muslims than anywhere else, at a time when Muslims had been there in large numbers since the 11th century, and during an era when the Mughal Empire was one of the wealthiest and most powerful regions on the planet.

  16. Jai
    Posted January 9, 2010 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

    Raziq,

    Its tragic that the religous bigot Aurangzeb tried to force his version of Islam on the entire Indian sub-continent. This is what actually led to collapse of the Mughal caliphate.

    It certainly played a major role. The empire was already overstretched at the time, and Aurangzeb’s ongoing wars of expansion coupled with the alienation and major insurrections triggered by his bigotry and the resulting policies pretty much opened the door to the Mughal Empire’s eventual collapse.

    The history of the subcontinent (and quite possibly the world) may well have taken a very different course if Aurangzeb had been more tolerant and pragmatic and hadn’t decided to reverse the policies of his predecesors (especially the precedent set by Akbar), or indeed if Dara Shukoh had become the Emperor instead, as his father Shah Jahan had intended.

    By the way, Sanjay is right — you should definitely write an article about Dara Shukoh if it’s of interest. I mentioned him a few times in some of my own articles that I plugged on your “Mughal Caliphate” thread (the article “Christianity and Islam in Mughal India” should be of particular interest to you), but to summarise: Dara Shukoh was Emperor Shah Jahan’s chosen heir, whose spiritual instructor was the Sufi Mian Mir. Mian Mir himself had also been invited by one of the Sikh Gurus to lay the foundation stone of Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar (later known as the Golden Temple). Dara Shukoh was a liberal-minded patron of arts, music and dancing; he is also famous for translating the Upanishads (amongst the oldest Hindu scriptures) into Persian in order to increase their accessibility to Muslims, and for writing a treatise called The Mingling of the Two Oceans, highlighting what he believed to be numerous positive similarities between Sufi Islam and Hinduism.

    Tragically, Dara Shukoh was murdered by his brother Aurangzeb when he was eventually captured during the war of succession after Aurangzeb overthrew his father and seized the throne. Aurangzeb’s own paranoia and resentment towards his brother had been entrenched for a long time, and there are even accounts of Aurangzeb falsely accusing Dara Shukoh of plotting to kill him. In the end, of course, the situation was reversed.

  17. abdullah
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

    It is the Prophet Muhammed (sallAllahu alayhi wasalaam) not Guru Napak who was a mercy to the world and to all

    Raziq as a Muslim needs to remember that

    وَلَقَدۡ ڪَتَبۡنَا فِى ٱلزَّبُورِ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ ٱلذِّكۡرِ أَنَّ ٱلۡأَرۡضَ يَرِثُهَا عِبَادِىَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحُونَ (١٠٥) إِنَّ فِى هَـٰذَا لَبَلَـٰغً۬ا لِّقَوۡمٍ عَـٰبِدِينَ (١٠٦) وَمَآ أَرۡسَلۡنَـٰكَ إِلَّا رَحۡمَةً۬ لِّلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ
    (١٠٧)
    22:107)

  18. Posted January 26, 2010 at 3:16 PM | Permalink

    We’re so Muslim, I’m so Muslim
    We’re…Muslim Vacant!

  19. Posted January 26, 2010 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

    Abdullah

    You really are a sectarian creep.

  20. Posted January 26, 2010 at 4:12 PM | Permalink

    What do you expect from salafi jihadists of a Jamaati bent?

  21. bananabrain
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 4:34 PM | Permalink

    abdullah, i thought you had homework to do. or were you simply bailing out of an argument you had no chance of winning?

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  22. abdullah
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 7:22 PM | Permalink

    Next week on Spitoon – the virtues of Musaylima al-Kaddhab

  23. Posted January 26, 2010 at 8:16 PM | Permalink

    Abbdullah

    You are not only a fool, you are a bigot.

  24. abdullah
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 9:25 PM | Permalink

    Abu Faris

    Abbdullah

    You are not only a fool, you are a bigot.

    How am I a fool? If you or Raziq are suggesting that Guru Napak should be followed instead of the Prophet (sallAllahu alayhi wasalaam) or his teachings supercede the Prophet (sallAllahu alayhi wasalaam) you have left Islam wal audhobillah min dhallik -tell us: what is the difference between praising Guru Napak and praising Musaylimah?

    Belief that the Prophet (sallAllahu alayhi wasalaam) was the last Prophet and guide for humanity is an integral basic one for each and every Muslim to hold. If its “bigotry” think youll find all 1.4 billion of the world’s Muslims are equally as “bigoted”

    From the standard Sunni aqida “Aqida tahawiyya”

    29 And we are certain that Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is His chosen servant and selected Prophet and His Messenger with whom He is well pleased.
    30 And that he is the seal of the prophets and the Imam of the godfearing and the most honoured of all the messengers and the beloved of the Lord of all the Worlds.
    31 Every claim to prophethood after Him is falsehood and deceit.
    http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/misc/tahawi.htm

  25. Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:07 AM | Permalink

    You are also clearly illiterate and incapable of joined-up thinking.

  26. Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:12 AM | Permalink

    It has not gone unnoticed that many if not most of our detractors on this blog are weird and nasty sickos, racists, sectarians, homophobes and misogynists. Pondscum, basically.

  27. abdullah
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 3:17 PM | Permalink

    Abdul Hamid

    It has not gone unnoticed that many if not most of our detractors on this blog are weird and nasty sickos, racists, sectarians, homophobes and misogynists. Pondscum, basically.

    Like “Abu Wanabe Arab” (racist name) and Abu “Front page magazine” Faris you mean?

  28. Posted January 27, 2010 at 3:37 PM | Permalink

    You are so special, Abdullah; but you know that.

  29. Posted January 27, 2010 at 7:10 PM | Permalink

    Like “Abu Wanabe Arab” (racist name) and Abu “Front page magazine” Faris you mean?

    Nope, like “abdullah/zia” and a host of other braindead chumps.

  30. Gurpreet
    Posted October 21, 2010 at 8:47 AM | Permalink

    Guys, We are belittling our own religons, I have read Guru Nanak, read Kabir, Baba Bulleh shah … before we claim our self as SIKH, MUSLIM or HINDU …. why dont you give thought what was religion when you were not born … We are Human first, we belong to humanity … its disgusting … nobody forces anybody to follow anyone … I think Rizaq just wrote a article about Guru Nanak views .. I think he places humanity before any religon @Rizaq, this world needs people like you .. keep it up brother ….
    I always says “One day Humanity will rule over all other religions” I am just waiting for that day .. I hope it could happen in my life span .. All religions preaches to follow humanity, its people who preaches do inhumane things ..

    All sort of comments are welcome …

  31. Santosh K.
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:44 PM | Permalink

    Dear Gurpreet
    SSA.
    These illiterate, communal muslims will never understand the teachings of Shri Guru Nanakdevji, bcoz they believe that Prophet Mohammed was the last prophet and no religion is equivalent or better than Islam. It is like a mad person saying that he is the king of the world but without any objective evidence.

  32. Bin Ismail
    Posted April 16, 2011 at 2:13 PM | Permalink

    Baba Guru Nanak was undoubtedly one of the greatest mystics of all times.

  33. Nicky dhatt
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 5:05 AM | Permalink

    Gurunank was a great man by reading historey and ovour parents and grand parents use 2 tel us what he use 2 tel sangat 2 publick thear is one god no hindu or muslim onley one god no difrence so treat tham equal no difrense.god bless u al

  34. sarah
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 5:30 AM | Permalink

    A good post.
    It is heart breaking to see that some commments – seeminglyby a few muslims – are giving an impression that as a muslim, the author is praising a saints from another religion is somehow disrespectful to Muhammad (SAW). Throwing in verses from Quran etc. will NOT help. Goodness is nobody’s domain. In Islam the only thing that differentiate one person from the other is “TAQWA” – do some research first and I guess, you know where to find the sources for that?
    This post is NOT comparing or analysing one religious figure with another….mind it!

  35. Harpreet Singh
    Posted December 24, 2011 at 7:25 PM | Permalink

    DHAN GURU NANAK

    nothing beyond guru nanak

  36. Harpreet Singh
    Posted December 24, 2011 at 7:35 PM | Permalink

    how can we given comment for GURU NANAK we are not spose to even think that we say some thing for the supreme

  37. Posted February 27, 2012 at 7:15 PM | Permalink

    @ Cameron You are very much right. Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji was a great soul whose teachings tells us the importance of work and worship. I always take guidance from his teachings when in troubled time.

  38. Posted February 27, 2012 at 7:17 PM | Permalink

    @ abdullah. you r not right buddy. Every religion is mercy on all human beings.

  39. protector
    Posted December 11, 2012 at 8:55 PM | Permalink

    and my all friends i have some questions 4 u…all grus of sikh …wat they did in their periods….prepair army to conqur dehli….wepons tranings ….any person who belongs to mughals slaughter them…even u see now bhundra wala wat he did?my friends nank gru was the saint of allah he was muslim and thats all….even gru gobind singh jee lot of peoples know them as muslim….u heard his peotry mitr pyairy no hal mureeda da kehna…no sikh know the mean mureed mean folwer and sikh pundit said it is letter 2 god …..it is our languge u just sing and read …

  40. protector
    Posted December 11, 2012 at 9:06 PM | Permalink

    just respect ,,,the others religons.love them if u dont know them keep silent..it is better….some body know that wat was the war between mughals and all grus…why some time gru helped mughals..why some time against them…bcz the princples of grus…live and let live…some time any body against the mughal raj then he came to any grus and ask them to give him saftey then gru wellcomed him with out any fear…so the peoples who does not like saint they use it for evidence aginst them…u just go grudvarah and read gurmukhi but u feel the words …wat is the baisc of this words…y nank jee realtions with muslim very strong…?so please search answer …..god will give u but dont abuse any person s even wrong are right …thanku..

  41. neha priya
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 7:48 AM | Permalink

    He is so great.

  42. Simer Kaur
    Posted July 29, 2013 at 10:13 AM | Permalink

    God is one… and all 10 gurus are my darlings I love them all a lot a lot…. I am existing in this world because of them , coz of their gurbani… and I respect allah , jesus christ ,, all are great ..

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