Introducing World Religions

A Christian Engagement

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5. Sikhism

Discussion Questions

  1. Why would Sikhs be misidentified as either Muslim or Hindu? That is, what elements or features of the Sikh tradition might appear to be either Islamic or Hindu?
  2. Sikh tradition affirms that God can be addressed by a wide variety of names. How might this view be similar and dissimilar to a Christian perspective on the names for God? In other words, could the biblical God be referred to as Brahman, Hari, or Allah? Why or why not?
  3. Nanak announced, “There is no Hindu; there is no Muslim,” and then commenced the Sikh tradition. Some might argue that this logic could form the basis for a universal religious perspective that refrains from upholding one particular religion above others. On what basis can Christians affirm both commonalities with other religions and uniqueness from them?
  4. The Sikh tradition affirms the importance of extending hospitality to all people, for instance, through their free kitchens (langar). What biblical passages or illustrations might exemplify the importance of hospitality in the Christian tradition? Is hospitality in the Sikh and Christian traditions the same or do you see differences?
  5. The Sikh tradition affirms the centrality of the Gurus for guidance. Describe the role of the Guru in the life of a Sikh and discuss if there are similar persons in the life of Christians.
  6. When entering a gurdwara, Sikhs are to show respect to the Adi Granth by removing their shoes, dressing conservatively, and abstaining from alcohol and tobacco. How do Christians enter the church to worship? Are there similar or other practices that set apart Christian worship spaces from other spaces and how do those perspectives differ according to Christian tradition?
  7. Discuss the five emblems of the Khalsa (e.g., kesh) and the practical and symbolic reasons for their use. Does Christianity have a similar set of adornments or symbols by which others are supposed to know they are Christian?
  8. What do you find appealing about Sikh worship? What can Christians learn, in terms of improving Christian worship, from Sikh worship practices?
  9. Central to Sikh tradition is submission to the Ten Gurus and the Adi Granth. How does Christianity encourage submission to others, such as leaders and scripture? In what ways is this submission similar and dissimilar to that found in the Sikh tradition?
  10. Why did the Sikh community discontinue the human tradition of Gurus? Is this a form of “closed canon”? Compare and contrast with how Christianity “closed” its canon, the Bible.