A few years ago, I was part of a group that organised a charity fund-raising event in aid of people that were stranded in Afghanistan, under dire circumstances, due to their religious beliefs - namely the Afghan Sikhs. The event included a fashion show, some song & dance performances, and a talent show, highlighting some budding performers from our tiny community of London-based Afghan Sikhs - a fairly recent phenomenon in the national demographics of our adopted country - you know the country that gave us refuge when we needed it most - a country whose values of fairness and democracy (British Values, anyone?) appealed to us as a collective, rather than the "free benefits" it offered....
At the time, I received a few threats to my person, threats to my children - one even expressing in detail how we would "feel the true force of the Khalsa", suggesting violence, and justifying it by saying that it would make me realise that singing and dancing are against what "true" Sikhism stands for. This was especially chilling because they knew where I lived and what school my children went to...
The calls were logged and reported to the police, who questioned two people - both Afghan Sikhs. They apologised and I declined to press charges. That's what MY Sikhism teaches me.
At the time, I said nothing to anyone, so the charity event dozens of people helped put together would go ahead. Go ahead it did, and it was a hit.
Why am I bringing this up today then? Well, Iraq, mainly. Shia-Sunni mainly. This isn't about one religion fighting another - this about factions of the same religion fighting each other. This is about people killing people using God as an excuse. Sikhs do that too. So do Christians, and Hindus...
Here's a blog post I just did that will piss-off many people. I speak Hindi, Urdu, English, Punjabi, and Dari fluently, so BRING. IT. ON. I'm willing to learn if you have what it takes to teach. And you better be right and compelling: I take no prisoners.
This is something that has vexed me ever since I was a child...
I was born a Sikh and have been brought up as one - for all intents and purposes - I AM a Sikh. I've read the Guru Granth Sahib; several times over. I can actually quote directly from it. I follow pretty much ALL its basic tenets, and I live my life, trying to be as good a human being as possible - devoting a significant portion of my life towards helping others. BUT - I have this sinking feeling about the assertion that that those who believe in God by another name are in some way inferior in the eyes of an allegedly all-loving God, and those that don't look the part, are in some way, apostates, and destined to burn in hell, or come back as a centipede or a communist or worse, a Labour voter.
That said, I've grown up alongside Islamic teachings too, having lived a significant portion of my life among Muslims - I have read the Koran and ALL the Hadiths, cover to cover, purely out of curiosity to see how an all-merciful, all-controlling, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-forgiving God permits and sanctions amputations, beheadings, and mindless persecutions of those that don't grow their beards and cloak their women.
I spent much of my formative years in a Christian (CofE) boarding school - I know a lot of the hymns, most of the Psalms, and many of the prayers by heart. I pretty much know who begat who, all the way from Adam to Jesus.
What I also know, and am increasingly convinced of, is that Sikhism has become more Rehat Maryada than Shri Guru Granth Sahib; Islam is more Hadiths than the Koran, and Christianity is more the Council of Nicea than everything Jesus had to say. Rules made by MEN.
Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.
Somebody tell me ritualised chanting and wearing a uniform, and hating those that don't believe as you do, eating onions, but not garlic, chucking down desi ghee and not wine, facing east and not west, shaping my eyebrows or letting them run riot, wearing a skull-cap or a turban, a helmet or a beanie, breaking an egg from the narrow side or the wide side, supporting Chelsea or supporting Arsenal, following cricket or following tennis, wearing boxers or briefs, will save my soul and appease an all-powerful, all-knowing, benevolent, God more than being a useful and productive member of society will.
While you're at it, somebody tell me, how fate and pre-ordained destinies work. I mean if it's my fate to win the lottery, I WILL, won't I? So why work? If I'm destined to die a pauper, then again, why bother? If I'm evil and murder children for fun, surely I was 'created' that way. My destiny, isn't it? As for the millions of African kids that perish of hunger, drought, disease, war and famine, it's their fate, so why try helping them? Surely they deserve this?
Somebody please explain the paradox of evil, say in a place like India - known as the most "spiritually diverse" in the world, where two young women, raped by a dozen men are left hanging from a tree was their fate? Was it their Karma of a sinful past life? And what about those that raped them and killed them? Was that a reward for what THEY did in their past lives? The mind boggles.
Who the hell is getting off on this?
Tell me, convince me. Anyone.