Sikhism began as an attempt to unify Hinduism and Islam. What makes this attempt inherently problematic? Is it more productive or counterproductive to seek unity between religions by inventing a third, different religion?

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I think that the initial presupposition within the question is an interesting one. There is both a desire to unify spiritual beliefs that are posited as being opposite.  There is also an intrinsic challenge in doing so.  The initial presentation of Sikhism to unify Hinduism and Islam is problematic because both spiritual notions of the good start out from opposite points of reference.

In Hinduism, the fundamental starting point is the belief in Atman, defined as "the true self of an individual beyond identification with phenomena, the essence of an individual."  Atman is presented as a reality of consciousness.  It is not associated with a particular individual of worship.  For example, one cannot pray to Atman.  Rather, it is the reality of individual consciousness.  The fundamental starting point in Islam is different, as it predicates that the teachings of Muhammad as where the individual must focus their energies. The teachings of Muhammad the prophet is the word of Allah,...

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