Amritsar, July 25— India is home to all the major religions of the world with millions professing their own faiths but that does not stop people – despite their religious differences – from helping each other in times of need. This is the story of how faiths unite for humanity.
A unique Sikh-Muslim brotherhood is rendering a yeoman service in difficult times. Transporting 330 quintals (33,000 kg) of wheat from Malerkotla, a Muslim-dominated district in Punjab, to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Sikh holy city, a distance of 180 km, these were the members of the Sikh-Muslim Sanjha Manch (Sikh-Muslim Unity Foundation) who began collecting wheat when it found out that the largest community kitchen in the world, called the ‘Langar’ at the Golden Temple, was running low on supplies.
Dr Naseer Akhtar, Sikh-Muslim Sanjha Manch President, said: “Every religion has a chapter called humanity. Why did we go and donate the wheat to Guru Ka Langar at Harmandir Sahib? Because the teachings of both Islam and Sikhism are based on the same tenets. Everyone is created equal before God. Feeding a brother is considered a great act of kindness in Islam. Humanity is above all religion, and all religious texts teach that.”
A few days ago, authorities at the Golden Temple requested for donations of wheat from the community as the community kitchen was running low on supplies due to increased demand during the pandemic.
“When we found out that there is a shortage in rations at the ‘Langar’, the Sikh-Muslim Sanjha Manch decided to become a part of this selfless deed,” he said.
The Sikh-Muslim Sanjha Manch has been working towards maintaining peace and communal harmony between Muslims and Sikhs since 2002.
This forum has been keeping alive a tradition of religious harmony that has stood for centuries in Malerkotla in Sikh-dominated Punjab. While history has often pitted followers of these religions against each other, Malerkotla has been peaceful since 1705. Even during India’s partition that saw Punjab being split in two, between India and Pakistan, this area remained peaceful.
And keeping this tradition alive, the members of the foundation partook of the community ‘Langar’, a community meal served to all the visitors at a Gurudwara, without distinction of religion, caste, gender, economic status or ethnicity. The Sikh community, in turn, honoured their Muslim brothers with traditional scarves called Siropas.
Sardar Ajaib Singh Abhiyasi, Member, Dharam Pracharak Committee, Shri Harmandir Sahib, said: “Our Muslim brothers came here from Malerkotla to donate rations in our community kitchen. There is a message in this deed, the message is for the world to see. The whole world is so divisive right now, everyone is busy fighting or spreading hate. Nobody is very happy to see each other. We have also seen how the community kitchen at the Golden Temple not just feeds members and visitors of the Sikh community, but feeds any person who walks through their doors irrespective of faith. Guru Ram Das, the fourth Guru of Sikhs, laid the foundation of the Golden Temple. According to legend, a Muslim, Mian Mir was also present and laid the foundation together with Guru Ram Das. They laid the foundation of the four doors of the temple; these doors represent the pillars of peace and harmony.”
The Sikh Muslim Sanjha Manch is made of ordinary Muslims and Sikhs citizens coming together to help. The foundation has been working towards providing fruits and food packets to COVID-19 wards as well. They are also planning to send more wheat to the ‘Langar’ in the coming days.
This Sikh-Muslim brotherhood, in many ways, is a microcosm of the idea of India
Sardar Ajaib Singh Abhiyasi says: “No matter how much we thank and praise these brothers, it will fall short of the kindness they have bestowed on us. Everyone should practise and live in communal harmony.”
Dr Naseer Akhtar says: “Bury all hatred in seven layers of boxes, because mankind needs love today much.”