A young couple recently married with the blessing of one of the Gurdwaras in Birmingham. The unusual thing about the occasion is that the bridegroom was Muslim. One would have thought that this was an occasion to rejoice as an expression of moving on from a chapter of history of bitter division between religious faiths.
Unfortunately the hate brigade have entered the arena pointing out how it offends Sikhism. So Sikhism has its own home grown fundamentalists.. In this years Vaisakhi celebrations in Handsworth Park a group of the self-appointed turned up with unsheathed swords and committed serious acts of violence against people taking part in the celebrations. There were serious injuries. Another group damaged Birmingham Repertory Theatre when a play with views they did not like about aspects of their culture was staged. Its author received death threats. Again in the recent local elections members of three Gurdwaras were expected to show their allegiance to their faith by voting for a Sikh candidate irrespective of his track record and political views.
It is my recollection that the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev, was accompanied by others from different faiths, one, Mardana a Muslim.
A group plans to demonstrate outside the Gurdwara about the interfaith wedding taking place and the officers of the Gurdwara in allowing it to be blessed. It also likely others will make a counter-demonstration.
Sikhism is among the world’s great religions and can demonstrate many acts of humanity and courage among its followers, people who transcend their faith and are a beacon of light for humanity. It is deeply regrettable that some who claim to be followers remain in ignorance of their teaching and values. The problem is that they present to the wider world a very misleading picture. It is one that seeks to drive in division between and within communities and has shown itself to be a great danger to the cohesion of our richly diverse society.
Communalism was one of the great dangers seen by Shaheed Bhagat Singh whose anniversary is being celebrated this year.