Thought for the Day - Lord Singh - 02/10/2012
J K. Rowling in her latest novel, The Casual Vacancy, features a Sikh family in its central plot. At the book launch last Thursday she explained that she had been deeply influenced by Sikhism because of its egalitarian teachings and stress on gender equality. She said that this had prompted her to study the religion in greater depth and was struck by its modernity.
Her generous words were doubly welcome a Sikh community increasingly apprehensive about how it is viewed by others. Sikhs are particularly concerned that in the minds of some, the turban seems to be increasingly associated with extremism, whereas in reality it is worn as a visible reminder of a commitment to live by values such as those mentioned by the author of the Harry Potter series.
Unfortunately for Sikhs, Osama Bin Laden also wore a turban and although he is no longer with us, the image still lingers in the minds of many in the United States and mainland Europe who continue to view any turban with a degree of hostility. Even here, teasing and bullying of turban wearing children in schools and vandalism of gurdwaras seems to be on the increase.
Two months ago a former US army veteran took this irrational dislike of turban wearing people further, when he entered a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and began shooting innocent members of the congregation, killing six worshippers and injuring many others. President Obama, who had lived among Sikhs in his formative years, paid tribute to the contribution of the community to the life of the USA and in a moving gesture, ordered all Union flags to be flown at half mast.
Sikhs have two problems in explaining their religion to others. First, respect for other faiths and other ways of life in Sikh teachings, means that it is wrong for us to indulge in any form of proselytizing or pushing our beliefs on others. The second reason is less excusable, we simply do not do enough to get involved in inter faith groups, religious consultative bodies in schools, and many other areas of life in which we can and should let others know more about us and the values for which we stand. We should’nt expect best selling authors and others to do this for us.
Available since: Tue 2 Oct 2012
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