Baba Nanak's doctrinal position had a simple form. Its basic tenet is monotheism, which coincides with the Muslim belief. Baba Nanak believed the Creator to be One, Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient, rather than in multi-purpose Hindu gods.
|Baba Nanak came closer to the teachings of the Holy Quran.|
Source/Credit: The Review of Religion
By Dr. Qazi Muhammad Barkatullah | September 1985
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian was raised by Almighty Allah to defend Islam. Hazrat Ahmad came across the writings of Pandit Dayanand, a Hindu, who in his book Satyarath Parkash wrote offensively about Baba Nanak. Pandit Dayanand took the position that Baba Nanak had no religious knowledge, knew nothing about the Vedas, and was elevated to the rank of Guru by simple people after his death.
Hazrat Ahmad took strong exception to Pandit Dayanand's writings and wrote a book, Sut Bachan, in November 1895 in which he defended Baba Nanak and explained how he was a saint who had accepted Islam. Later on Hazrat Ahmad also presented the same point of view in some other books.
At one time, Hazrat Ahmad had a vision in which it was revealed to him that Baba Nanak was a Muslim. (Nazulul-Masih, p. 203). Therefore the members of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam believe Baba Nanak to be a Muslim for which they have strong supporting evidence.
According to one source Baba Nanak was born in 1469 A.D. and according to another source in 900 A.H. Apparently Baba Nanak's parents were Hindus of the Khatri or Kushatri caste. Baba Nanak's father Bhai Kalu and his grandfather Sbbha had both pledged allegiance to a Muslim saint — Hazrat Shah Shams Tabraiz (Sut Bachan, p. 186). Therefore even at birth BabaNanak had an affiliation with Islam. His birth place was Talwandi which later on came to be known as Nankana Saheb about forty miles from Lahore.
At that time this town was governed by a nobleman Rai Bular of Hindu descent who converted to Islam (Man's Religion, p. 235). In that village, Baba Nanak spent his childhood and early manhood. (World Religions, p. 250).As a young man Nanak found that Hindus had gone astray from their religious teaching. Also, Muslims did not, generally, abide by their faith, therefore Baba Nanak strived to bring Hindus and Muslims together and make them live in peace and harmony. It is definite that Baba Nanak moved away from the teaching of the Hindu Vedas and came closer to the teachings of the Holy Quran.
Baba Nanak, as a young man, was exhibiting his poetic skills and was mostly given to meditation and religious speculation. During this period, he was accompanied by two companions Bhai Bala and Bhai Mardana. Bhai Bala was originally a Hindu but had later accepted Islam. (Sut Bachan, p. 117). And Bhai Mardana also had similar religious leanings. (Man's Religions, p. 237).
Baba Nanak married twice and had children. From his first wife, he had two sons. Baba Nanak's second marriage was solemnised with the daughter of a Muslim whose name was Hyat Khan. It is known that Baba Nanak, from his childhood, felt a distrust of the Hindu religion and its rites. He took no interest in Hindu rituals such as bathing in the river Ganges, He denied the spiritual authority of the Vedas. Instead of Sanskrit, Baba Nanak preferred to write in the vernacular. He strongly opposed the Brahmans for their barren ritualism. He did not believe in the Hindu belief of reincarnation. (World Religions, p. 235).
Baba Nanak's doctrinal position had a simple form. Its basic tenet is monotheism, which coincides with the Muslim belief. Baba Nanak believed the Creator to be One, Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient, rather than in multi-purpose Hindu gods. He believed that One Creator had created this world and not with the assistance of Maya, a Hindu mythical goddess. Baba Nanak did not like the teachings of Vedas because there was little in them of value for spiritual advancement. More and more people are reaching the same conclusion as translations of the Vedas are becoming available.
Baba Nanak, however, had found out this truth in his own time. It is evident from the life of Baba Nanak that like a good Muslim he recited the Holy Quran and observed the five daily obligatory prayers. He also rendered some of the verses of the Holy Quran into the Punjabi language which formed part of the Granth saheb — Holy Scriptures of the Sikhs. It is said that the actual compilation of the Granth saheb took place during the time of Guru Arjan, fifth successor of Baba Nanak. At that time the Granth Saheb contained about half of the collection of hymns etc of Guru Arj an and the rest were the contributions of Baba Nanak (World Religions, p. 239). If the Granth saheb consisted of purely B aba Nanak's sayings, hymns etc, then it would have been just a collection of verses from the Holy Quran translated into the Punjabi language. The first sacred collection of the Sikh writings which is called Janam Sakhi of Angad very clearly points out that Baba Nanak was a Muslim. Guru Angad was the first successor of Baba Nanak and Janam Sakhi simply means "life .history of the Guru", There are more than one Janam Sakhis and they are biographical writings and tales about Baba Nanak in prose form.
The word Sikh literally means a disciple. Baba Nanak wanted his disciples to be good, pure in motive and action and to be virtuous. He also enjoined brotherhood among his people, avoidance of trouble and strife and good relations within the families. He preached humility and respect for the rights of others. He stressed upon his disciples to seek the company of those who were pious and holy. There is a distinct tinge of the Islamic faith in his teachings. The followers of Gurus were first called Nanak panthis but later on assumed the name 'Sikh' which literally means learner or disciple. It was a devotional system and to the Sikhs themselves it was known as Guru Mut, that is followers of the Spiritual Leader. As time passed, the pure spiritual system was replaced by what came to be known as Khalsa. The khalsa can be described as an order, a brotherhood in which religious, military and social duties are merged in a single discipline. It was the tenth Guru Govind Singh who founded the Khalsa organisation in 1699. In fact the spiritual element had already been replaced by resorting to force when the fifth Guru Arjan left a will for his son Hari Govind to: "sit fully armed on his throne and maintain an army to the best of his ability" (Dorothy Fields, The Religion of the Sikh, p. 19).
Baba Nanak was considered to be a Muslim during his life time. (Janam Sakhi, Bhai Bala p. 132). He was considered to be a Muslim Saint. (History of Guru Khalsa by Sundar Singh, pp. 24-44). He was known as Nanak Darwaish — a pious man. He went to Mecca as a Muslim darwaish. Some called him Nanak Qalundar. In Mecca Baba Nanak had a house designed in the shape of a Mosque. In Arab countries he was known as a Muslim Saint from India. In Baghdad, Baba Nanak was considered a Muslim Pir. In Hazara (Pakistan) there were groups of people who had expressed their allegiance to Baba Nanak as a Muslim Saint. He was known as Nanak Shah and Nanak Malung. (Janam Sakhi Bhai Bala, p. 208. Also History of Guru Khalsa by G.G.S., p. 128).
Baba Nanak exchanged greetings like a Muslim saying assalamo alaikum and when so greeted he said wa alaikomus salam that is Peace be on you and Peace be on you too. He called people to prayer in the formal Muslim way known as Azan. When the Sikhs came to power in the Punjab they prohibited Muslims from calling Azan. Today in Pakistan, President Zia has made it a crime for Ahmadiyya Muslims to call Azan.
Baba Nanak was educated by a Muslim religious scholar and theologian Syed Mir Hasan who lived in his neighbourhood. Syed Mir himself was a saint and shared with Baba Nanak many spiritual experiences and secrets (Tawarikh Guru Khalsa, p. 86). Baba Nanak also visited Sarhand Sharif and spent forty days in fasting and worshipping on the burial place of a celebrated saint Kh. Abdul Shakoor. (Tawarikh Khalsa, p. 224).
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad — the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, separated historical facts from some imaginary stories which the passage of time had gathered around B aba Nanak in the writings of the Sikhs. Some of these legends were far from being factual.
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