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Are Sikhs Muslims? 10 Ways Sikhism Differs From Islam


Modern Sikh Tall and Small

Modern Sikh Tall and Small

Photo Courtesy Rajnarind Kaur
An extra long, very tall domalla or double length turban.

An extra long, very tall domalla or double length turban.

Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]
A Khalsa Initiate is Given Amrit to Drink

A Khalsa Initiate is Given Amrit to Drink

Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

Question: Are Sikhs Muslims? 10 Ways Sikhism Differs From Islam


Sikhs have been the victims of hate crimes and domestic terrorism targeting Muslims in a back lash following September 11, 2001 and the Gulf War. Sikhs have a unique and distinct appearance. When people living in Western countries come in contact with Sikhs having a beard and wearing a turban, many assume they are Muslims.

Are Sikhs Muslims?


No. Sikhs are not Muslims.

Sikhism is a distinct religion with a unique scripture, guidelines, principles, intiation ceremony and appearance developed by ten gurus over three centuries.

10 Ways Sikhism Differs From Islam

1. Origin:

  • Sikhism originated with the birth of Guru Nanak in Punjab circa 1469 and is based on on the guru's writings and teachings.
  • Islam originated is 610 A.D. with Prophet Mohammad and the Quran (Koran) and its roots can be traced to about 2000 B.C in the Middle East to Ishmael the illegitimate son of Abraham's begotten with his wife Sarah's handmaiden Hagar. Ishmael and his mother were cast out when Abraham and his wife Sarah produced their legitimate son Isaac. (Quaran accounts conflict with Torah and Old Testament accounts in Genesis 15-25).

2. Deity:

  • Sikhs believe in Ik Onkar, one creator who is present in all of creation. Sikhs refer to God as Waheguru.
  • Muslims profess belief in Allah and his prophet Mohammad.

3. Scripture:

  • Sikhs accept the scripture of Siri Guru Granth Sahib as the living word of their Guru or Enlighter. The Guru Granth offers instruction and guidance on how to achieve humility and overcome egoism to illuminate and liberate the soul from the bondage of spiritual darkness.
  • Muslims follow the scripture of the Quran believing it to be the word of God as revealed to the Prophet Mohammad by the Angel Gabriel.

4. Fundamental Principles:

  • Sikhism practices include:

    Three pillars or fundamental principles:
    • Meditation.
    • Honest earning.
    • Sharing resources and performing community service.
    Five essentials beliefs in:
    • One Creator.
    • Ten Gurus of history.
    • Scripture of Guru Granth.
    • Ten guru's teachings.
    • Initiation rites of Tenth Guru.
    Five articles of faith worn on the body by initiates:
    • Unshorn hair beard and turban.
    • Wooden comb.
    • Steel bracelet.
    • Ceremonial short sword.
    • Specially designed undergarment.
    • Islamic practices include:

      Five pillars or fundamental principles:
      • Testimony
      • Prayer
      • Pilgrimage
      • Charity
      • Fasting
      Six articles of faith and belief in:
      • Sole deity Allah.
      • Angelic beings.
      • Prophets of old.
      • Scripture of Quran.
      • Resurrection and afterlife.
      • Destiny and fate as Allah's will.

5. Worship:

  • Sikhs worship in the gurdwara. Services include langar free food from the guru's kitchen. Sikhs begin the day with meditation and recite daily prayers in the morning, evening and at bedtime.
  • Muslims worship in the mosque and recite prayers five times daily.

6. Conversion:

  • Sikhism does not practice proselytism, nor seek to convert, but accepts anyone who chooses to be initiated regardless of background. Sikhism believes in defending the oppressed against tyranny of forced conversion, by peaceful means, or taking up arms should negotiations fail.
  • Islam has a history of forced conversion with either payment of Jizia tax or enforced fight for property and life upon refusal. Sharia law is still followed by modern day fundamentalist extremists in the Middle East.

7. Appearance:

  • Sikhism Keshdhari devotees and Armitdhari initiates do not cut or remove hair from the body face or scalp. Devout Sikh men and some women wear religiously mandated turbans in a variety of styles to cover and protect unshorn hair.
  • Muslim male devotees may wear a turban, or fez, and grow a beard, but generally do not keep hair intact on the scalp or body. Women devotees may wear hijab to cover hair on the head, or burqa to cover the body. Women generally remove facial and body hair. Islamic religious headgear is predominately worn in the Middle East, increasingly in Europe, but is rarely worn in the United States.

8. Circumcision:

  • Sikhism is against ritual mutilation of the genitals, respecting the body as perfect in its natural state of creation. Sikhs do not practice circumcision for either male or females.
  • Islam widely practices culturally dictated circumcision for male and females, both historically and in modern times.

9. Marriage and Status of Females:

  • Sikhism code of conduct outlines marriage as a monogamous relationship teaching that bride and groom are fused by the Anand Karaj ceremony with the divine sharing one light in two bodies. Dowry is discouraged.
  • Sikh women have equal status to men in every aspect of life and worship. Sikh women are encouraged to be educated, become community leaders and are welcome to take part in every ceremony.
  • Islamic scripture of the Quran allows a man to take up to four wives. Ilsamic law requires Muslim couples to sign a Nikah contract stipulating bride gift, and is followed by Walima, a public ceremony.
  • Islam does not allow women to enter the mosque where men worship. In many parts of the world Muslim women are segregated, secluded and heavily veiled.

10. Dietary Law & Fasting:

  • Sikhism does not permit the eating of animal slaughtered ritually according to Muslim law halal. Sikhism does not believe in ritual fasting as a means to spiritual enlightenment.
  • Islam dietary law requires that animals eaten for food be slaughtered according to halal ritual reading of prayer while the live animal is bled to death. Islam observes Ramadan, a month long fast during which no food or drink may be consumed during daylight hours. Fasting deprivation is thought to purify the soul.

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