How important is the Guru Granth Sahib for Sikhs, and are there parallels in Islam or Christianity? Should Sikhism be considered a blend of Hinduism and Islam?

The Guru Granth Sahib is of supreme importance to Sikhs as their sacred scripture and the inspired word of God. The parallels in the Islamic and Christian religions are their own sacred scriptures, the Koran and the Bible. Sikhism should not be considered a mere blend of Hinduism and Islam, but rather as a distinct and unique religion.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Guru Granth Sahib is the sacred scripture for the Sikh religion. Preceded by ten human gurus, it is considered to be the last living guru, or teacher, of Sikh beliefs. Sikhs consider it to be the infallible word of God. It is a compilation of hymns, prayers, and other writings from various Sikh authors and also writers of other faiths, primarily Hindu and Muslim.

Every copy of the Guru Granth Sahib is identical, consisting of exactly 1,430 pages. When it was first completed, it was placed in the Golden Temple. Nowadays, copies of the Guru Granth Sahib are kept in special rooms in Sikh temples and taken out during the day for purposes of worship. When Sikhs enter the gurdwara, or special place of worship where the Guru Grant Sahib is placed, they first take off their shoes and wash their hands. They always face the manuscript and do not turn their backs on it. They wear head coverings and make offerings to it.

The Guru Granth offers life guidance to Sikhs. It emphasizes monotheism, the equality of all people, including the equality of men and women, and the importance of speaking honestly, practicing virtues, and avoiding vices.

The parallels in Christianity and Islam of the Guru Granth Sahib are the respective sacred scriptures of these religions. In Christianity, the Bible is the ultimate sacred scripture. Like the Guru Granth Sahib, the Bible is a compilation of writings from various teachers and prophets, and devout Christians consider it to be the inspired and infallible word of God. The Koran is the sacred text of Muslims. It is also a compilation of teachings, including stories from the Bible. Muslims believe that the Koran is the inspired word of God.

It would be far too reductive to consider Sikhism a blend of Hinduism and Islam. The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, came from a Hindu family, but it was his questioning of various facets of Hinduism that led to his enlightenment, missionary journeys, and composition of scriptures. For instance, he embraced monotheism, felt that rituals were unnecessary, denounced the caste system, and taught that all men and women were equal. All of these teachings deviated from Hinduism. Although Guru Nanak studied Islam and derived ideas from it, his teachings as expressed in Sikh scripture were unique.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team