07 May 2009

HOW TO TELL A SIKH FROM A TALIBAN, ILLUSTRATED EDITION

Before I start, let me say that in writing about the Taliban, I am not indicting the Muslim community, which has many good, upright adherents, some of whom I am honoured to include among my friends. Please do not construct anything I say about Taliban to apply to the millions of Muslims who are peaceful, constructive and valued citizens of countries all over the world.

Do to a certain shallow, outward physical resemblance to some Muslim extremists, our Sikh community has been under attack since the 9/11 terrorist attacks by those who don't know any better. Now events in Pakistan, where the Taliban has attacked the Sikhs of the SWAT Valley, forcing them out of their homes, make a comparison of the two groups mandatory for anyone who really wants to understand world events. (And to stop picking on innocent Sikhs, as well.)


First, what exactly happened in Pakistan? The government there has effectively turned over control of a region in the north of the country, the SWAT Valley, over to the Taliban. In a region of this valley called Orakzai live - or rather lived - a few Sikh families. These were poor Sikh farmers who had lived in peace with their neighbours for generations, who had chosen to stay in Pakistan when most Sikhs left to move to India in the Partition of 1948. These are people with few material resources who clearly love their homes and simple way of life.




These were destroyed when the Taliban demanded that they pay a tax on non
Muslims, called a Jaziya. I have read that jaziya was originally paid by nonMuslims in lieu of military service. I have also read that it was originally a financial inducement to convert to Islam. Whatever the original purpose, in this instance, it is clearly simple extortion, not unlike "protection money" paid by business owners to organised crime to insure that the Mob will leave their businesses alone.

The amount demanded by the Taliban, was beyond the means of the community and when it was not paid, the houses of the Sikhs were razed and Sikh businesses were occupied. The Sikhs, seeing yet another massacre looming, fled with little more than the clothes on their backs and a few meager possessions.

In summary:



Lahore: The Taliban has expelled at least 50 Sikh families from the
Orakzai Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) after
they failed to pay 'Jazia'. The Taliban had demanded 12 million rupees ($242,840, GBP 161,271)
as protection money from the Sikhs, who have living in the region from
hundred of years, but they could arrange only 6.7 million rupees.($135,586, GBP 87,355)

Later, it was reported that the extremists occupied houses and shops
of the Sikhs in Qasim Khel and Feroz Khel areas of the Agency and
auctioned their valuables for 0.8 million rupees ( $16,190, GBP 10,750), The Daily Times
reports. Earlier, the Taliban had also demolished houses belonging to
the Sikh community in the region.

The Taliban's Orakzai Agency chief Hakeemullah Mehsud ordered the
demolition of the houses after the Sikhs failed to meet a deadline
fixed for payment.



Having established, I hope, that Sikhs are not Muslim extremists, who then are Sikhs? Briefly, a Sikh is a follower of Sikhi or Sikhism, a panentheistic (look it up!), monotheistic religion that originated in Punjab, in what is now northeastern India and southwestern Pakistan. Rather than summarise the beliefs, which is really beyond the scope of this article, I suggest you go to about.Sikhism and look around. It's interesting and educational.
The religion sprung up and developed at a time when Mughals (Muslims) had imposed a brutal dictatorship on the people of part of what is now called "the Asian subcontinent," that is India and Pakistan. I will now compare some aspects of Taliban and Sikhs.
Since people are generally more visual than verbal, I have included a picture gallery of major differences between the two groups below.
There is a certain superficial physical resemblance. The men of both groups grow beards and wear turbans. The majority of members of both groups are brown. The Taliban, however, are by and large Arabs, with Middle Eastern origins.   I stand corrected.  The Taliban are, by and large Pushtans of Afghan origins.  Although there is a growing number of Sikhs of European and African descent, most Sikhs today are still either
Punjabis or descendants of Punjabis.

Taliban discriminate against women in many ways: imposing Muslim dress which completely covers her, denies her education, restricts her movements so she is not allowed to go outside unless accompanied by a male relative. (I wonder what happens to a woman who has no male relatives?)
Sikhi teaches that men and women are equals. In fact, the Sikh Rehat Maryada - the Sikh Code of Conduct - forbids a woman to cover her face.

Here is an example of Sikh music, a sort of hymn called a kirtan. Notice that it has a happy sound and is a joy to hear! Also notice that it is sung by a woman!
.

I cannot give an example of Taliban music, since the Taliban ban music entirely, even to the point of killing songbirds when they controlled Afghanistan.
I cannot give a current example of Sikh government, since the Sikh Empire (1799-1849) governed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh is no longer around. However, two big differences between Sikh rule at that time and Taliban rule now are that capital punishment did not exist in the Sikh Empire, while it is common among the Taliban. And a huge difference, different religions were not only tolerated in the Sikh Empire but were actually respected, while the Taliban not only lack respect or tolerance for other religions, but also condemn all other forms of Islam, their own religion.
But enough of words. I have written enough to tell about the differences, now a few pictures to show the differences.





















AGAIN, PLEASE NOTE:  THIS ARTICLE IS ABOUT ONLY THE TALIBAN.  MOST MUSLIMS ARE DECENT, PEACEFUL, LAW-BIDING PEOPLE WHO ARE AS APPALLED BY THE EXCESSES OF THE TALIBAN AS I AM.  



Note: Should anyone wish to reproduce this post, I will be happy to send you the html to make it easy for you. Just leave your e-mail in a comment or e-mail me at simayanan1 [at] gmail [dot] com. MHK

28 comments:

  1. My Pakistani friend tell me, That is not a true story, That is only media propegenda.
    He says.
    Taliban wahan per rehne wale sab logon se tex lena chah rahe hain, but media sirf sikhon per issue bana raha hai.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Guru Nanak's closest companion Mardana came from a Muslim family. SO so sad what our Muslims sisters have to endure at the hands of their supposed brothers, the Taliban butchers. What a huge difference between the status of women in Sikhism and Islam. To hear Muslims tell it Islam is a peaceful religion. It boggles the mind anyone could mistake religion and the love of God for murderous intent.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Parvinder Ji - My Afghani lady friend tells me that acts like these were daily occurances under taliban rule. Perhaps I should introduce her to your Pakistani friend...

    Bhenji Sukhmandir Kaur Ji - It's hard to look at these, isn't it? Although. I am not a member of wordless Wednesday, I have a picture to post this Wednesday of razed Sikh homes in Orukhai (That looks like something out of Lord of the Rings - Mordor, doesn't it?)

    ReplyDelete
  4. There will be jusice. there will be peace. One day there will be silence and nothing to eat.
    If we keep going on not forgetting blue star one day the world would definitley not be at ease.

    PEACE.UNITY.FORGIVNESS should be our daily values
    remember Guru's SIKHI
    don't forget you SIKHI.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous Ji - Have you ever heard: "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it?

    We Sikhs love and honour our shaheeds; we will m and the blood they shed. Nor will we ever forget the occasions - such as the Bluestar Massacre - where they died.

    This does not mean we need to have a spirit of hatred and unforgiveness toward those who killed/raped/tortured us. Forgiveness may come. Please let our wounds heal before asking this of us. Few of us are saints.

    ReplyDelete
  6. salam,sutsriakal,

    iam muslim and i have sikh friend's.as a pakistan and muslim i tell my all sikh friends
    99% pakistani against this act of taliban in swat valley.our sympthy is with sikh comunity.

    PEACE asif from newyork usa

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dear Anonymous Pakistani ji - salam to you ! It means a lot to me to get a comment like yours. Being halfway round the world, it's really hard to know what the attitudes of the ordinary Pakistanis are.

    Understanding each other and respecting our differences is a start.

    Thanks again.

    Mai

    ReplyDelete
  8. RAJ KREGA KHALSA AKKI RHE NA KOE.....

    ReplyDelete
  9. Such an insiteful post...pictures can say so much without the need even for words...
    The Taliban are dushts...I have so many afghani friends who were brought up under the Taliban regime; their faces may not tell the stories of their troubled past, but their eyes do. They well up at the very mention of the Taliban. Vaheguroo

    ReplyDelete
  10. Gupt Singhni ji,

    Thank you for your kind words. I put a lot of work and thought into this post and I admit I am quite proud of it. Pictures often tell a story much better than mere words.

    I understand that the suicide rate among women in Afghanistan under the Taliban was astronomical.

    For the Kaur who asked me a while ago, that shabad by Snatam Kaur can be found at:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noxtsabVi6g

    ReplyDelete
  11. bhai mere

    kya taalibaan kya musalmaan kya sikh kya hindu

    aao na insaan hi bane rahen......zakhm dikhane ko to sab ke paas hai....chhodo na bhulte hain...koshish karte hain...dard ka kya hai wo to hamesha ubharta rahega....problems kahan nahi hain....dayra kyon chhota kar len....jo rab ko manzur tha so hogaya....ham kitna gham karen....ek khun bahna hi dard ka sabab hai uslaash ka mazhab puchhna achha lagta hai kya?
    kya tera kya mera ???????? kuchh aisi yaaden bhi hooti hain jo ham nahi bante ki kab kisne kiski kis tarah madad ki.......kuchh aisa zarur likhiyega

    ReplyDelete
  12. Dear Brother,

    To begin with a minor point, I am a sister, not a brother.

    It is true that what has happened is the Hukam of Vaheguru (Will of God.) It is the will of God that you write to me and that I reply.

    It is also the Will of God that I, as a Khalsa, fight for and uphold the rights of the weak and the oppressed.

    If you have something you would like to say, I will offer you what I have offered others. You are welcome to write a guest post (in English).

    Please, next time, try to write in English, as my Punjabi is weak.

    ReplyDelete
  13. @Shafiqur Rahman khan yusufzai
    you have got real nice views, nice thinking. But look at it other way, how can we forget what happened unless we know that it wont happen in future. In this care, who know about future, I can see all those things happening in Present itself. Someone gotta stand up, someone gotta fight it. Look at 1984 unfortunate events and even after 25+ years, no one is prosecuted, so no one was responsible for this heinous act?

    We cant forget and sit back, until we get our rights, until there is peace in world thats gonna persist.

    I really appreciate your way of thinking though, just cant find it logical to let those killers roam freely and create more disturbance.

    @Mai: You are doing wonderful job, sister. God Bless you.

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

    ReplyDelete
  14. like you sitr but scroling is slow

    ReplyDelete
  15. send me these pics please!
    gupt_singh@live.co.uk the taliban from sikh difference ones! hq please.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous ji 1. Sorry it's taken so long to answer you. It loads a bit slowly because of the content and the sideboard. There is really nothing I want to take out, so please just be patient. Drink a nice cup of tea or a mango lassi or whatever pleases you.

    BTW, 9 April is my birthday, which id probably why you dint get answered sooner. Again, apologies. Mai

    ReplyDelete
  17. Gupt Singh ji, I will be glad to send the pictures. I put them together them to be seen.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm a Muslim and felt obliged to say that although this is supposed to show how bad Islam is, it actually shows how dominant Taliban men really are. To say that this dominance of Taliban is linked to Islam is preposterous. Islam promotes peace. The meaning of Islam means submission to God. What these pictures shows is submission to the Taliban.

    To assume that all Muslims are like this because you've seen a few pictures is very naive and reproducing images in this way just portrays a negative stereotype which accounts for less than 1% of approx 1 BILLION MUSLIMS worldwide. The other 99% condemn the actions which are seen in these images. Islam is a wonderful religion yet the world seems to be captivated by the nutjobs instead of the real Muslim men and women who work hard, love their neighbours, strive towards good deeds and helping one another regardless of gender, creed, nationality, religion etc.

    Put simply: Don't judge the barrel by a few rotten apples.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Dear Waqar ji,

    This is NOT meant to show how bad Muslims are. This is to show how bad the TALIBAN are. I am honoured to have many Muslim friends whose friendship I treasure. Please reread the very first paragraph:

    Before I start, let me say that in writing about the Taliban, I am not indicting the Muslim community, which has many good, upright adherents, some of whom I am honoured to include among my friends. Please do not construct anything I say about Taliban to apply to the millions of Muslims who are peaceful, constructive and valued citizens of countries all over the world.

    May you have a blessed and joyful Ramadan!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Mai. Just saw your reply. I just wanted to reiterate that's all. It's very easy after immediately seeing them pictures to assume that many Muslims would be like that and after seeing so many pictures in the media and the collection you have provided, for others to think think that this is the norm. That was my point that's all. So I just wanted to clarify that for others viewing pictures and reading comments.

    I'm glad you have Muslim friends and know first hand that they have good values and morals as I have many Sikh friends who I see in an equal light. Surely these are the things we should be promoting rather than pictures like these....

    Thank you for your kind words. Ramadan is going very well thank you. Waking up so early is hard though!! :D

    Take care
    Waqar

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi, Waqar ji!

    I actually know a couple of Afghan Muslim women who lived

    under the Taliban. I have shown them this article and asked

    if they think it needs revision. Their response was the, if

    anything, I was too easy on the Taliban. One offered me two

    pictures of things the Taliban had done that I could not

    publish in this blog because they were too graphic and

    disturbing.

    I have reread the article and I am satisfied that everything is

    properly and clearly labeled as Taliban. People who want to

    hate Muslims are going to whatever I write. Those who are reasonable - as most - people are - will learn what I am trying to teach. However, I want to be as sure as possible that I am not misunderstood, so I have added this statement in large letters at the end of the article:

    "AGAIN, PLEASE NOTE: THIS ARTICLE IS ABOUT ONLY THE TALIBAN. MOST MUSLIMS ARE DECENT, PEACEFUL, LAW-BIDING PEOPLE WHO ARE AS APPALLED BY THE EXCESSES OF THE TALIBAN AS I AM. "

    I hope that eases your mind. It is as much as I can do. However, I will offer you an invitation to write a guest post explaining your views. Within simple parameters, it would be unedited by me. If you are interested, send me an e-mail at simayanan1@gmail[dot]com.

    Just as a side note, are you aware that the first hate murder

    of a "Muslim" after 9-11 was a Sikh, Balbir Singh Sodhi? Our community continues to face deadly violence because of this event even now. [Side note to my side note: I have always believed that 9-11 was an inside job conceived, planned, carried out and exploited by the Bush Administration. Muslims were convenient scapegoats.]

    If getting up early during Ramadan is difficult consider this: a devout Sikh is expected to get up three hours before dawn for prayers every day of the year. :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi Mai. That's all I wanted to see. A reiteration of the fact it is the Taliban and not all Muslim's behaviour. Thank you for that.

    I'm not quite sure what you mean about guest post about my views? Do you mean my views on the Taliban or my views about this article? I'll send you an email from me so you'll have my email address and you can tell me.

    Wow I didn't know that. It just goes to show the ignorance of American people to be quite honest.
    On a side note, I also believe it had nothing to do with Muslims ( and not just because I am one). There's so much evidence disputing what is portrayed in the media, like when the BBC reported the destruction of a building which was still standing in the background and the fact that the buildings fell straight down like an implosion etc etc.

    Really? I might inquire about this to my Sikh friends and see what they have to say for themselves lol :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. USA people are not only ignorant, many of them take pride in their ignorance.

    BTW, I usually have some sort of linguistic consciousness-raising project going on. Right now, I am refusing to use the terms America and American to refer exclusively to things of the USA. People of two continents and 35 countries. It seems unfair for the USAers to hog the name to themselves. Since I currently reside in the USA, you better believe I get some strange looks.

    If you bring up the amrit vela (the time before sunrise) topic with your Sikh friends, I predict one or more of these responses:

    1. That's old-fashioned; only old people do that. (Not true)

    2. That's just a rule for the Khalsa (not true); I'm not that devout.

    3. Yeah, we're supposed to, but I don't.

    4. Who told you that!?

    5. I would, but it interferes with my job/my children's schedule/other obligations

    and if you're really lucky, maybe one will say

    6. Yes, I do that every day; I just don't usually talk about it. (Almost every day will work, too. I'm not a Khalsa kop.)

    ReplyDelete
  24. "USA people are ignorant"

    There IS a huge difference between ignorance and stupidity. Please explain the point of ignorance. If you cannot perform a surgical function on the human brain then YOU are ignorant of the procedure. Most Americans are NOT concerned with problems connected to other countries unless if affects their mode of living.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Anonymous ji,

    Stupidity is an inability to learn. The individual generally has no control over this.

    To call someone ignorant should not, in and of itself, be an insult. Ignorance is a lack of knowledge, generally one of three types. Each can be valid in different circumstances.

    1. I don't know, and I am willing to learn.
    2. I don't know, and I am unwilling to learn.
    3. I don't know and I don't care.

    The USAers I know generally fall into one of those 3 categories, although I know a few who are very knowledgeable.

    ReplyDelete
  26. All humans are ignorant in all countries. I feel to single out the USA was uncalled for. It is impossible for any one person to know EVERYTHING-so in reality we are all ignorant of various fields of endeavor. One may be a doctor (phd) of physics but ignorant on the ways and antics of undersea creatures. The word itself, when spoken, denotes a inferior connotation. I would prefer that you use the word "unaware" to replace "ignorant". Unless, of course, you care to rile tha Americans-ME, included.

    PS- I am, for one, ignorant on the cultures of the world. Thus you find me here perusing.

    Thank you for at least opening my eyes to the differences of sects

    ReplyDelete
  27. Anonymous ji,

    I am using the word "ignorant in a very specific way; it conveys exactly what I mean. As I said, it is not an insult; it is a statement of fact.

    I don't mind riling a few or even many USAers. This blog has, in fact, riled whole governments.

    BTW, the term "Americans" includes 910,720,588 (July 2008 est.) people on 2 continents and 36 countries. I find it riles me that one single country appropriates the word "American" to itself. Now I bet that riles you USAers quite a lot! (Not all, but quite a few.)

    ReplyDelete
  28. Mai Harinder Kaur Ji,
    WaheGuru Ji Ka Khalsa,
    WaheGuru Ji Ki Fateh.

    Nice blog. Though Muslims worldwide preach that Islam is a peaceful religion but the fact is islamic fundamentalism is growing like a wild fire hell bent on destroying this beautiful planet earth. Be it Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Mali, Yemen, Muslim dominant provinces of Russia namely, Chechenya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, etc., the Muslim provinces of China, Muslim dominant region of Southern Thailand, even Philippines, and India
    Muslims are at loggerheads not only with the non-Muslims but within their own community there are lot of internal fights and violence. Islam and Violence are synonymous.

    ReplyDelete

I LOVE COMMENTS.

Please feel free to speak your mind. Dissension is allowed and welcomed. I only delete illegal comments and spam. OK, maybe obscene, but not usually.

If you want to contact me personally, my address is theroadtokhalistan@gmail.com