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Manmukh, Kafir, and the Infidel


Muslims have been criticised from time to time for perpetuating a divisive “them-and-us” mentality by use of the Arabic label Kafir (also spelled Kaafir) in identifying all non-Muslims as a single group.

The word Kafir can be used to describe those who have not accepted the First Pillar of Islam: the Duel Declaration of (True) Faith, which a person must believe in sincerely and verbally profess without coercion before becoming a bona fide Muslim and entering the religion of Islam. This pillar is known in Arabic as the Shahaadatayn and in its simplest form reads:

Ash-shahaadu allaa ilaaha il-Allaah
I bear witness and testify that nothing has the right to be worshipped in truth accept Allaah (the proper name of God in Arabic);

Wa ash-shahaadu anna Muhammad ar-Rasool Allaah
And I bear witness and testify that no one has the right to be followed/ emulated (as an absolute example in humanity) except Muhammad – the (last and final) Messenger of Allaah.

In its specific meaning, the word Kafir can also describe those individuals who have wilfully and haughtily rejected all that the Shahaadatayn stands for and, thus, rejected Islam. Given that Muslims believe the evidence presented by the Omniscient in support of the truth of Islam is indisputable and irrefutable, such a person is, thus, considered one who has insincerely denied the truth while consciously recognising and knowing it to be true.

In simple parlance, therefore, the term Kafir, both in its general and specific application, can crudely be translated as “non-Muslim” or “disbeliever”. Accordingly, then, important Arabic-English lexicons, like Hans Wehr and Lane’s, translate and define it as follows:

Kafir pl. -un, kuffar … irreligious, unbelieving; unbeliever, infidel, atheist. [1]

One who denies, or disacknowledges, the unity [of God], and the prophetic office [of Mohammad and others], and the law of God, altogether, accord. to common conventional acceptation: a disbeliever; an unbeliever; an infidel; a miscreant; contr. of momin [believer] … because he conceals the favours of God: or because his heart is covered. [2]

Hence, in its most basic classification, Islam divides the world into two distinct and separate spheres: Dar al-Islam, or the Abode of Islam to which the Muslims belong; and Dar al-Kufr, or the Abode of Disbelief to which the Kuffar (pl. Kafir) belong.

This inevitable process of categorisation that arises out of a “them-and-us” attitude was popularised by social psychologist Henri Tajfel during his work on social identity theory where he called the group to which a person psychologically identified themselves as a member of the “in-group”, and the group to which an individual did not identify as the “out-group”.

In this regard, the use of the word Kafir to identify the out-group is no different to nor any more or less offensive and derogatory than, for example, the terms Goy or Gentile as used by the Jews and Infidel by the Christians, in identifying and distinguishing them from those who have not accepted the fundamental beliefs of their religion and/ or shared their socio-cultural identity. Moreover, just as Muslims consider non-Muslims in general to be outside God’s salvific rule, i.e. His Divine Love, and, thus, spiritually unclean, the same is also true of the Gentiles and Infidels. In the case of Christianity, for example, those who do not believe in the fundamental Christian doctrine of the Trinity [3] have been, since ancient times, labelled infidels to mark them aside and set them apart from mainstream Christianity.

Unfortunately, we have encountered some Sikhs who have joined the bandwagon in criticising Islam’s use of the term Kafir. However, this condemnation has no justification whatsoever and is only voiced out of sheer ignorance of the fact that Sikhism too, as taught by the Gurus, categorises the world into two basic groups where the in-group (us) is labelled Gurmukh and the out-group (them) Manmukh.

It is this misunderstanding on the part of such Sikh adherents that we are going to examine in this paper to show that Muslims and Christians are not alone in dividing humankind along such religious lines. We will argue that the Gurmukh-Manmukh bipolarity not only originates with the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, but also acquired a narrower and more exclusivist definition with each successive Guru.


When turning to academic books to better understand the differences between and the exact reasons for the transition from one religious state to the other, i.e. from Manmukh to Gurmukh, one encounters two types of expositions on the subject. The most common are superficial in their treatment with overly generalised explanations that certainly appear toned-down and moderated in comparison to those few which deliver a more detailed and complete account. And what essentially sets these unqualified and more honest appraisals apart from their watered-down counterparts are the citation of scriptural evidences and exegetical commentaries which leave very little doubt that the Gurmukh-Manmukh categorisation is a direct equivalence of the Muslim-Kafir bipolarity. The discrepancy is so apparent, in fact, that it strongly suggests the existence of an agenda that cunningly seeks to portray a more homogeneous and less intolerant and divisive picture of Sikhism.

An evaluation of the Sikh scripture shows that the linguistic and religious meanings of the two mutually exclusive terms, Gurmukh and Manmukh, gradually evolved during the tenure of the ten Gurus before acquiring a standardised final form. This process of change began after the reign of Sikhism’s founder, Guru Nanak. Although all ten Gurus accepted that the world was made up of two distinct religious camps, Nanak’s understanding, as reflected in his writings in Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), are more implicit in nature than his nine successors. However, in the post-Nanakian epoch, this “them-and-us” paradigm acquired an altogether more explicit meaning and form as Sikhism sought to meet two main challenges.

The first was external in the form of the Mughal Empire and the orthodox Muslim and Hindu religious hierarchy who felt increasingly threatened by an ever more unruly and rebellious Sikh bloc that was not only showing all the signs of wanting to transform itself from a prosperous “state within a state”, which was growing both in terms of its socio-political and socio-economic influence and number of converts, into a fully independent and autonomous kingdom, but had also come to adopt a violently militant stance. [4]

The second was internal and took the form of powerful sectarian groups who formed independent rival camps that attempted to destabilise the orthodox community by rejecting the Guruship of Nanak’s successors and seeking to usurp it for themselves. Sikh historiography demonstrates that some of these competitors met with quite some success too. In producing competing scriptures to the SGGS, which were then used for worship in liturgical practises similar to those of the Gurus, these groups are said to have attracted a very large gathering of converts and, thus, caused a lot of stress and problems for their opponents. [5]

Thus, it was in the midst of such a chaotic socio-religious and socio-political milieu that Nanak’s successors found it imperative to protect and retain their converted flock by gradually indoctrinating them into accepting both the ‘Doctrine of Exclusive Salvation’ via the Gurus, as well as the aforementioned in-group (Sikhs) out-group (non-Sikhs) bias.

Before we examine the more explicit stance of the post-Nanakian Gurus, let us begin by taking the relatively implicit teachings of Guru Nanak himself vis-á-vis the Gurmukh-Manmukh bipolarity.


Following his so-called enlightenment in 1499 CE (although the date 1496CE [6] and 1497CE [7] have also been suggested) when he was “thirty years old”, [8] one of the first things Guru Nanak is said to have uttered and repeated at various junctures of his mission is that he was neither a Hindu nor a Muslim. Jagjit Singh states in this regard:

Guru Nanak declared that he was neither a Hindu nor a Mussalman. To pointed questions at different places, he replied, “I am neither a Hindu, nor a Mussalman. I accept neither the Vedas, nor the Quran.” [9] “If I say I am a Hindu, I am lost altogether; at the same time, I am not a Mussalman.” [10], [11] (bold ours)

In reply to a question posed by the people inquiring into which of the two religious paths – Hinduism or Islam – Nanak followed, he answered:

“There is no Hindu, no Mussalman; which of these paths can I follow? I follow God’s path. God is neither Hindu nor Mussalman. I follow God’s right path.” [12]

Guru Nanak’s reply clearly indicates his complete break with his Hindu past. Guru Nanak clarified unambiguously that he was rejecting both the Hindu and the Muslim paths, and instead, was following God’s right path, because God was neither Hindu nor Mussalman. In other words, the Guru rejects the Hindu and the Muslim paths, not because of the shortcomings of their followers, but mainly because God is non-sectarian. … A Hindu Khatri complained to the Delhi Sultan that “he does not recognise the authority of either Vedas or Kateb.” [13], [14] (bold ours)

While Sher Singh recounts how Nanak refused to have faith in Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace and blessings of Allaah):

When a Qazi asked Nanak to have faith in one God and His one Rasul – prophet, he said: why to have faith in the latter who takes birth and dies, believe only in the One who is Omnipresent. [15], [16]

Although these pronouncements could be construed as implicit in nature vis-á-vis the doctrine of exclusive salvation, nevertheless it does not logically follow that Nanak’s refusal in ascribing himself to either religion necessarily implies that salvation was unattainable through both or that it could only be achieved through Sikhism. [17]


Nonetheless, it is possible to resolve this ambiguity and uncover Nanak’s true stance by making recourse to a fundamental aspect of the Sikh faith known as the ‘Doctrine of the Same Spirit’ (ik joti). Prof Piar Singh states that this doctrine is such “an old and widely accepted belief of the Sikh faith” that it “lies at the root of the Sikh transformation over a long period of some two hundred years and is deeply embedded in the Sikh psyche”. [18]

Sher Singh elucidates on this doctrine further by way of analogy:

Nanak left his body and transmitted his light to another person who became Nanak II, Angad by name. There is a classical illustration about the transmission of this light from one Guru to another. It is by way of an answer to a query: Did not the fountain of light – God – lose a portion of it, when He gave some to Nanak? The answer is an analogy from the lighting of candles. Just as we light one candle from another burning candle and in the process the burning candle without losing any light of its own, lights the other; similarly this transmission of spiritual light went on in the case of the Gurus. [19] Now when Nanak II was thus lighted by Nanak I, he was asked to carry on the training of the nation under his own supervision, not so much by precept as by his own example. He in his turn transmitted that light to a third Nanak with similar instructions. This continued for ten generations. [20]

What this doctrine, therefore, upholds is that while Sikhism dramatically evolved to adapt to the changing circumstances that naturally arose over the course of two centuries, all ten Gurus were still seen to be one and the same person who agreed perfectly with each other without any possibility of contradiction. Sher Singh elaborates further:

The idea of Nanak being the same in the persons of all the Gurus, was also witnessed in the very days of the earlier Gurus by Muhsan Fani already quoted in this book. “They (the Sikhs) believed that when Nanak expired, his spirit became incarnate in the person of Angad-Angad at his death transmitted his soul into the body of Amar Das-and so on-in short they believe that with a mere change of name Nanak the First became Nanak the Second. [21] Again once the Sixth Guru wrote a letter to Fani about which he says: [22] The Guru Har Govind in a letter to the author of this work gave himself the title of Nanak, which was his right distinc-tion. I saw him in the year 1033 of the Hijra (A. D. 1643) in Kiratpur”.

The belief is also confirmed from the Granth. Satta and Balwanda, the two musicians of the house of Nanak, composed a war [sic] in praise of the earlier Gurus, in which they say, that not only the second Guru had the same light which the first Guru had, but also the mode of life and activities of Anged were the same. Further they say that Nanak simply changed bodies from one to the other. [23] Another contemporary of the Guru, Bhai Gurdas in his writings emphasises the same point. He traces this transmission of light from God to the First Guru and from him to the Second and so on to the Sixth Guru in whose days he breathed his last. [24] The reader may like to know the views held by the Gurus themselves on this point. Nanak’s hymn has already been referred to in a note of this section. Guru Gobind Singh made the whole thing very explicit in his autobiography entitled “Bachitra Natak” – the wonderful drama. In it he says:

The holy Nanak was revered as Angad,
Angad was recognised as Amar Das,
And Amar Das became Ram Das,
The pious saw this but not the fools,
Who thought them all distinct;
But some rare person recognised that they were all one.
When Ram Das was blended with God,
He gave the Guruship to Arjan.[25]

Thus he continues to say that all the Gurus were one. (bold, underline ours)

In summary, Sher Singh concludes that “[t]his evidence … shows that the Gurus in all activities … considered themselves to be one with Nanak. … [T]he Sikh Gurus believed, all in all, as one and the same individual continuing the same soul with different bodies”. [26]

Since this transferable light was considered divine in nature, i.e. God’s light, the idea that any of the Gurus could have been at variance with each other would not only be deemed a heretical belief in Sikhism, but would constitute a theological incoherency.

With this in mind, let us move on to the remaining nine Gurus to understand how they interpreted and applied the terms Gurmukh and Manmukh and how this was related, if at all, to the doctrine of exclusive salvation.


There is hardly any doubt that Guru Amar Das invites the representatives of Islam to follow the Guru’s path.

Even as early as the second Guru, Angad, we have a more explicit and concretised application of the two terms. J.S. Grewal reveals:

Guru Angad’s attitude towards those who have not turned to the Guru is important to note. The blanket term manmukh is used for them. … On the whole, Guru Angad has everything good to say about those who turn to the Guru (Gurmukh), and he has nothing good to say about the manmukh who follows his own inclinations, but there is no condemnation of the manmukh who too is a part of God’s creation. To condemn others is to go against the divine will. [27]

The in-group (Gurmukh) constitutes all those who have turned to the Guru while the out-group (Manmukh) are presumably those who have not accepted his Guruship. Here already, a clearer and more distinct picture has been drawn in relation to loyalty towards the Sikh Gurus. However, as will be seen in the changing psyche of the later Gurus and Sikhs, these Manmukhs will be condemned and criticised with the harshest of words.

This segregation is given even further clarity during the reign of the third Nanak, Amar Das, who, according to Surjit Hans, “comprehended the world in terms of ‘us’ and ‘they’” (bold, underline ours) where the:

Gurmukhs, the ones oriented toward the Guru are ‘us’; and those who constitute the world of manmukhs are ‘they’. ‘The manmukh does not know; he only follows the fashion of the world’. [28] ‘One who does not meet the Guru must suffer. The manmukh is severely punished’. [29] It is better to break relations with the manmukh who is attached to maya. … None can realize God without serving the Guru; the manmukh is shouting himself to death. [30], [31] (bold ours)

For Grewal, the reason why “[t]he Gurmukh of Guru Amar Das stands opposed to the manmukh” is because:

The manmukh offers devotion without the True Guru; but without the True Guru there can be no baghti. His life is a waste. … Thus, in every conceivable way the manmukh represents the opposite of the Gurmukh. Without a single trait of the Gurmukh, he is all that the Gurmukh is not. … In fact, the manmukh, being the opposite of the Gurmukh, represents ‘the other. [32] (bold, underline ours)

Salvation itself is now conditional to the True Guru, i.e. God. But, what is important to note at this point is that the True Guru cannot be reached accept through the Guru himself for “the whole truth is revealed by the true Guru. Without the true Guru; no one can find God … The manmukh who does not turn to the true Guru wastes his life because only by meeting the true Guru can one find the truth lodging it in his heart”. [33] (bold ours)

So while “[i]n Guru Nanak, manmukh is one who is oriented towards maya. In Guru Amar Das manmukh becomes a wider category to include all those who fail to become his Sikhs(bold, underline ours).

With this third Nanak, suddenly:

Even the pejorative description of being guruless no longer refers to those who could not find suitable teachers but those who did not seek refuge with the Guru. ‘There is no guru but the Satguru. The guruless man remains without honour’. [34] Thus the earlier possibility of a godly man who is not a Sikh is withdrawn. Other religious dispensations are condemned not because they are socially ‘irrelevant’ but because of their failure to accept the Sikh Guru. One should remember God who created ‘the way of Guru-orientation’. [35] One has to be a Sikh if one wants to be a bhagat, a devotee of God. [36] (bold, underline ours)

This point cannot be over emphasised enough: if there did indeed exist a more relaxed criterion and a wider entry for salvation, this is certainly abrogated by the third Guru who slams the door shut so that no one can receive God’s mercy and grace accept through him and all subsequent Gurus.

The verses included by the third Nanak in SGGS conspicuously and abundantly allude to this point of abrogation:

The bestowal of salvation lies with God alone, and men can find salvation only at the place of the Guru (gurdwara). [37] ‘One should run for the Guru’s sanctuary’. [38] ‘God works his grace when He makes men meet the Guru who gives man nam’. [39] … The basic position of Guru Amar Das on the question of Guruship is expressed in a hymn which may be summarized here. … Only the ones awakened by the hymns of the Guru are saved. Those who do not turn to the Guru waste their lives. … [40], [41]

The institutional pattern of grace is clearly stated. [42] The theological doctrine of grace thus finds its correlate in the institution of Guruship. Of the three moments of the institution, God is not to be directly experienced. He can be experienced through the bani which springs from the Guru and is to be had from him only. [43]

‘Only the Guru satisfies spiritual hunger; other denominations cannot do it’. [44], [45]

In Guru Amar Das, all dispensations outside Sikhism are manmukh. According to Guru Ram Das ONLY Sikhs can be gurmukh.

The above, of course, culminates in nothing save a concretisation of the in-group out-group bias. This psychological separation is furthered by how the entire system of worship and rituals of the two major religions, Hinduism and Islam, are condemned as meaningless and irrelevant by the Guru.

As an example, the compositions of Amar Das lead Grewal to observe that the “obvious implication of the invitation to the pandit to adopt the Sikh way of life is the futility of his practices”. [46] He adds:

In about fifty lines of ashtpadis in Rag Ramkali, Guru Amar Das enumerates nearly all the features of yoga and all the features of the Sikh way of life to invite the jogi to adopt the Guru’s path. … Guru Nanak’s invitation to the jogi to adopt the true path is implicit. In the bani of Guru Amar Das it is made explicit. [47] (bold ours)

And since the rituals of worship are considered irrelevant, ergo, the religion itself is considered as such; and for this reason:

[T]he two major religious traditions of India, the Brahmanical and ascetical, are rejected by Guru Amar Das. Less frequently though, the Vaishnava bhakti is bracketed with them. We are left with the Islamic tradition. … Guru Amar Das addresses the ‘Saikh’ [sic – Sheikh – Islamic scholar] …. He should forget ‘here and there’ and recognize the shabad of the Guru; prostrate himself before the True Guru …. There is hardly any doubt that Guru Amar Das invites the representatives of Islam to follow the Guru’s path. [48] (bold ours)

Similarly, Hans candidly asserts:

The Sikh view of the lack of worth in others was a corollary of their belief that only Guru Nanak had established a religion relevant to the require-ments of the times. ‘A light has appeared in the world of kaliyuga, and the Guru-oriented would cross the ocean of existence’. [49] This idea is expressed in several other verses of Guru Amar Das. [50] ‘Even the gods were deemed to be looking for devotion propagated by the Guru’. [51] The cure to the ills of the debased age was found by the Guru. [52] If celibacy, self-control and pilgrimage were spiritually efficacious in former yugas, nam is the only resource in modern times. [53] ‘God is immanent even in kalyuga. He manifests Himself as nam in the Guru-oriented. [54] Other denominations, covered in the category of manmukh, cannot find a way to God. [55] The Sikhs now interpret social reality in a new way and invite the brahmin and the shaikh to be servants of the Guru. [56] (bold, underline ours)

Little wonder then that Fauja Singh rightly describes Sikhism as “a missionary creed like Islam”. [57] The defensive posture of some Sikhs, therefore, in arguing that Sikhism stands in opposition to the aggressive and proactive missionary efforts of the Christians and Muslims seems weak in light of the evidence that stands before us.

As alluded to above, the main motivation behind the adoption of this increasingly inflexible and intolerant stand was in reaction to the openly hostile position taken by both non-Sikhs, who wanted an end to this new religion, as well as the Sikh heterodoxy, who greedily sought the position of Guruship for themselves. In this respect, Hans recognises:

They are not merely those who are indifferent to the Guru’s shabd; they are the traducers of the Guru and his Sikhs. [58] Manmukhs of all descriptions, some of them rich, were hostile to the Sikhs. [59] Some had made it their business to oppose the new Faith. [60] There were others who had turned their backs on the Guru. [61] The Sikhs seem to have set their critics at nought, [62] though some of the opponents of the Guru appear to have support from the administration. [63] To the opprobrious epithet ‘manmukh’ was added another: ‘bemukh’, the one who turned away from the Guru. [64] The coining of the word by Guru Amar Das is indicative of desertion on an appreciable scale. A whole composition (Gauri, ashtpadi, 9) is devoted to the subject of desertion. [65]

Hans sees this “increased frequency of the idea of ‘accepting things decreed by the Guru’ in the compositions of Guru Amar Das” as a sign of the “gathering strength of the Sikhs”:

The unambiguous popularization of the idea also made the nomination of a successor by the Guru unchallengeable. No Sikh worthy of the Guru could accept a rival claimant to the gaddi of Guru Nanak. [66]

This newly found confidence was such that as “the Sikhs were consolidating their position in greater numbers”, the term Gurmukh was “transformed into a new principle of the universe” where the earth, water, air and fire are now Gurmukh; [67] even “[t]he immanent God bodies forth like a gurmukh in His creation. [68] God Himself honours the gurmukh and makes him take up Himself of the Guru. [69] ‘The ordinance of God to be a devotee like a gurmukh runs through all the four yugas'”. [70] This elevated to the point that “[t]he earlier work of God in history is subsumed under the Sikh principle. ‘The whole world bows to the gurmukh’. [71]“. [72] (bold, underline ours)

The superiority that the Sikhs felt was such that they “considered themselves as men apart from the rest” to the extent that anyone “who failed to devote themselves to God and to serve the Guru lost their birth-right. [73] [74] Their “internal cohesiveness … nourished by Guru Amar Das” caused them to think “very poorly of the rest of the world. He who does not meet the Guru is considered to be an egoist (manmukh) who suffers much for that”. [75], [76]

It is, therefore, unsurprising to learn that the next Guru in line, Ram Das, also continues to strengthen the newly developed superiority complex for while “[i]n Guru Amar Das, all dispensations outside Sikhism are manmukh. According to Guru Ram Das ONLY Sikhs can be gurmukh. [77] That is why the word gursikh subsumes the category of gurmukh. The change in the status of the word points to the greater cohesiveness of the Sikhs”. [78] (bold, capitalisation, underline ours)

For Hans, it is only “[i]n the pontificate of Guru Ram Das, [that] the split between ‘they’ and ‘us’ was complete”. [79]

And so under his reign:

Most of the time Guru Ram Das is addressing only the Sikhs. An exclussive [sic] attention to them could make it possible for him to introduce a number of institutions. At the same time there is almost a black and white, heavenly and hellish division between the Sikhs and others in terms of their perception of reality. ‘Those who fail to serve the Guru remain chained to their karmas, and to the transmigrational cycle. Their speech is tasteless [sic]. They cannot have God’s nam in their hearts. They are under the sway of the god of death, and they shall be dishonoured in the next world’. [80] ‘Some are unfortunate from the begin-ning of things. They cannot come to see the Guru’. [81], [82]

The fourth Nanak’s use of language in his censure of the Manmukhs is stark and harsh in comparison to his predecessors with any reservations of not condemning non-Sikhs thrown out the window. “The level of insult to the ‘others’ keeps on rising,” declares Hans, adding:

‘If a person does not hold on to God in his heart it would have been better if his mother had been barren’. [83][T]he followers of other religions are termed manmukh. In Guru Ram Das the term manmukh is extended to cover those who do not convert themselves to Sikhism. [84] … They are stupidly ignorant manmukhs.

Condemnation of the ‘others’ is expressed in various ways. … These violent men will be born as ‘dogs, pigs and donkeys‘. [85] … They are bloody-minded hopeless empty heads. [86] … They are so full of deceit and sin, that one cannot even feel sorry for them. [87] It is inauspicious to meet people who have not met the Guru, and have no regard for God. [88]

It would have been better if they had not been born, or their mothers had been widowed. [89] … People beyond the Sikh pale are ‘existential bastards‘. [90] Only the Guru can make them know God, the father. [91]

The Sikhs are advised not to associate with them. [92], [93] (bold, underline ours)

The in-group has taken on a ghettoised attitude.

As for the heterodox Sikhs who continue in their obduracy:

The rivals are called manmukh by Guru Ram Das. The use [sic] the word manmukh also means they are as bad as the other denominations, probably worse because this was the new meaning added to it by Guru Ram Das. They are called ‘ingrate wretches. [94]

And so “[t]he Sikhs have a distinct identity” that leaves little doubt, if Sikhs are going to be consistent with the ‘Doctrine of the Same Spirit’, that the Gurus polarised the world into two basic camps: one known as the Gurmukh (the Sikhs) and the other known as the Manmukh (disbelievers).

During the tenure of the fifth Guru, then:

In the broadest context of his times Guru Arjan makes the position clear in explicit terms: ‘The Gusain (of Hindus) and the Allah (of Muslims) is my one God. I have parted from both the Hindu and the Turk. I do not go to the ka’bah for hajj and I do not go to a tirath for worship. I worship the one and no other. I do not worship (any idol in a temple) and I do not perform namaz. I bow to the formless one in my heart. We are neither Hindu nor Musalman; our body and its breath are dedicated to Allah-Ram.’ This distinct way of the Sikhs is a gift of their Guru. [95], [96] (bold ours)

It is only in correctly understanding the true context of exclusive salvation via the Gurus and the Gurmukh-Manmukh bipolarity that allows one to correctly understand what Guru Nanak really meant when he declared, years before his fifth manifestation Guru Arjan, that “there is no Hindu and no Muslim”.

When we move beyond the Gurus themselves and look to the attitude and position of their followers, there is no need to look beyond arguably one of the most prominent and important students of the Gurus, the original scribe of the SGGS and the amanuensis of Arjan Dev, and a Sikh scholar whose work, according to Mohan Singh, “is deemed to hold the key to the Sikh spiritual treasury and to make the best and purest Rahat-Nama (the code of conduct)”: Bhai Gurdas.

According to renowned historian, H.R. Gupta:

Bhai Gurdas (1551-1637) was born about twelve years after the death of Guru Nanak. [97]

As such, he was taught by three successive Gurus, viz. Ram Das, Arjan Dev and Hargobind, and is, thus, described by Sher Singh as “the first theologian of the Sikhs”. [98]

Bhai Gurdas’ contribution towards correctly understanding the Sikh scriptural corpus is so significant, in fact, that Sher declares:

Bhai Gurdas’s work is, in fact, an orthodox analysis of Sikh beliefs. It is written in the same spirit in which we find orthodox expounders of every religion proving the superiority of their own faith over every other. … On the whole his work is the best attempt at the orientation and glorification of the Sikh religion.

And on this basis, “Bawa Budh Singh in his ‘Hans Chog’ calls Gurdas, the St. Paul of the Sikh”. [99]

When we turn to Bhai Gurdas’ most celebrated work, his Vars, which H.R. Gupta says “were written during the first two decades of the seventeenth century”, [100] we find therein nothing except a summation of the above ideas of said Gurus that vividly portrays the mind-set of one who has been hopelessly and completely indoctrinated into accepting the in-group out-group bias.

Grewal provides a comprehensive overview of Gurdas’ indomitable claims of Sikh superiority and ghettoisation. For Gurdas too, “[t]he consciousness of Sikh identity is heightened by the presence of sectarian mentalities”. [101] In this respect, his disdain and condemnation of the Sikh heterodoxy is apparent for “[t]hose who do not turn towards the Guru are bemukh. [102] The most foolish among them are the manmukh. However, the worst among them are the detractors (nindak), especially the slanderers of the Gurus”. [103] His stance is clear against the followers of Prithi Chand, Guru Arjan’s unruly brother, who became his “lifelong enemy”: [104]

The minas stand outside the pale of Sikhism in the eyes of Bhai Gurdas in terms of doctrines, beliefs, and practices. [105] (bold, underline ours)

And since these heterodox sects are excluded on the basis of doctrines, beliefs and practices that were similar in nature to the orthodox than those of other religions, it stands to reason, thus, that they would certainly be even further outside the pale.

Hence, “[t]here is no liberation without the perfect Guru. [106] … Without the Guru there can be no liberation”. [107] [108] For this reason:

The Sikh faith and those who cherish this faith are distinct from all other people known to Bhai Gurdas. This is one of his major preoccupations. In the first Var itself, the Indian religious traditions known to Bhai Gurdas are mentioned, followed by various manifestations of the Islamic system. The Hindus and Muslims are explicitly contrasted to draw the conclusion that they have missed the truth. The metaphor of the blind leading the blind is used for both Hindus and Turks. [109]

The highway of the Gurmukh is superior to all the twelve panths of the Jogis put together. [110] No other path can be compared with the Gurmukh-marg. [111] Bhai Gurdas is explicit on the uniqueness of the Sikh faith: there is nothing like it in the Indian religious traditions. [112] The Gurmukh-panth transcends the twelve panths of the Jogis; the shabad which the Gurmukh sings is not there in the Veda or the semitic books. [113] (bold ours)

Even the Jews and Christians are not forgotten and receive a special mention although “[a]ll are invited to become Gurmukhs who are different from them all”.

With such a fixed mental apartheid, the natural corollary is that the Hindus and Muslims “are not equal to the hair of a Sikh. This is true of Jews and Christians as well. [114] Significantly, Bhai Gurdas makes no distinction between orthodox Muslims and Sufis: they all struggle in vain”. [115], [116] (bold our)

In fact:

Without the Guru’s Shabad and sadh-sangat even good persons find no liberation. [117], [118] (bold, underline ours)

And so the conclusion he invariably draws is that:

[T]he only true relation in the world is that of a Sikh with another Sikh: the relationship of Gur-bhais is the true relationship. [119], [120] (bold, underline ours)

As for the Bhagats of the past “who attained liberation: Namdev … Kabir … Dhanna … Sadna … Ravidas … Beni … Sen. … It is remarkable that Bhai Gurdas thinks of the bhagats in connection with the Sikhs (and not the Gurus). … The bhagats who had turned their consciousness towards God to eradicate haumai are the only category of persons equated with Gurmukhs”, [121] before this broader rule of salvation was abrogated by the Gurus. Gurdas “draws clear boundaries between the Sikhs of the Gurus and the rest of mankind, except the bhagats. But even they are nowhere near the Gurus who hold a unique position in the world as the only agency of liberation”. [122]

Gurinder Singh Mann agrees declaring:

Guru Amardas considered the hymns of the gurus to have a unique significance, and one far greater than the hymns of the bhagat, which had to be carefully selected before being inducted into the Sikh text. This implied ranking is rooted in Guru Amardas’s distinction between guru and Bhagat:

Bjhagatu bhagatu kahai sabhu koi.
Binu satigur seve bhagati na paiai pure bhagi milai prabhu soi,
(M3, AG, 1131)
Everyone may call [himself] a Bhagat.
Without serving the true guru saintliness cannot be attained; it is with good luck that we reach God [and attain this stage].

The Bhagat is one who is devoted; “bhagathood” is therefore open to all and can be attained by serving the guru who, in contradistinction, possesses a special status by virtue of the divine gift bestowed upon him with which he can help ordinary human beings progress toward holiness. (bold ours)

Mann then moves on to the fourth Guru, Ram Das, who in his var in rag Sorathi “refers to the four categories of holy people (Bhagats, Sants, Sadhs, and Sikhs of the guru) and categorically states that the Sikhs are the most fortunate ones among them (Sabhdu vade bhag gursikha ke jo gurcharani sikh paratia, M4, AG, 649). [123] He has no doubt that the Sikhs belong to a higher level of blessedness than the one enjoyed by the Bhagats”.

Mann then solidifies this critical point by referring to Bhai Gurdas’ stance on the issue:

Bhai Gurdas is not modest in explicating the hierarchical relationship between the Bhagats and the Sikhs (Gurmukhs/Gursikhs). [124] He writes about the Bhagats (Var 10), the early prominent Sikhs (Var 11), and the Sikh code of conduct centered on their devotion to the guru (Var 12). He believes that the Sikhs attained the same bliss received by Beni, Dhanna, Kabir, Namdev, Ravidas, and Sain. In other words, only the most prominent saints of the other traditions were on an equal level with the Sikhs of the guru. This narrative seems to emerge from the need to establish that the status of the Bhagats was lower or at best equal to that of prominent Sikhs in the community and that they all occupied a rung much beneath the place assigned to the gurus. [125] (bold, underline ours)

Without the Guru’s Shabad and sadh-sangat even good persons find no liberation. – Bhai Gurdas

When taking all the above into account, is the incident related in the historical document of Mohsin Fani, popularly known as Dabistani Mazahib, in which “a Sikh of Guru Hargobind broke the nose of an idol to show how helpless the Goddess was and how foolish were they who believed in her power” [126] really that implausible?

And what of the speech delivered by the last of the Nanaks, Gobindh Singh, to “the great gathering of the Sikhs at Anandpur Sahib soon after initiating the first five members of the Order of the Khalsa … on the historic Vaisakhi day of the 30th March, 1699”? What is noticeable in the following is that Gobindh Singh too echoes the explicit stance of Bhai Gurdas before him:

“According to the Persian historian Ghulam Muhi-ud-Din, the newswriter of the period, sent to the Emperor (Aurangzeb) a copy of the Guru’s address (which) is dated the first of Vaisakh Samvat 1756 (AD. 1699), and is as follows”: [127]

I wish you all to embrace one creed and follow one path, rising above all differences of the religions as now practised. Let the four Hindu castes, who have different rules laid down for them in the Shastras, abandon them altogether, and adopting the way of mutual help and co-operation, mix freely with one another. Let no one deem himself superior to another. Do not follow the old scriptures. Let none pay heed to the Ganga and other places of pilgrimage which are considered to be holy in the Hindu religion, or worship the Hindu deities such as Rama, Krishna, Brahma and Durga; but all should cherish faith in the teachings of Guru Nanak and his successors. Let men of the four castes receive my baptism (of the Double-edged Sword). Eat of the same vessel, and feel no aloofness from or contempt for one another. [128]

The newswriter of the Mughal Court who was present there on the occasion, when forwarding this proclamation to his master, submitted his own report: “When the Guru had thus addressed the crowd, several Brahmins and Khatris stood up, and said that they accepted the religion of Guru Nanak and of the other Gurus. Others, on the contrary, said that they would never accept any religion which was opposed to the teachings of the Vedas and the Shastras, and that they would not renounce at the bidding of a boy, the ancient faith which had descended to them from their ancestors. Thus, though several refused to accept the Guru’s religion, about twenty thousand men stood up and promised to obey him, as they had the fullest faith in his divine mission.” [129] About eighty thousand men, say Ahmad Shah Batalia and Bute Shah, received the Baptism of the Double-edged Sword and joined the Order of the Khalsa during the first few days. [130] Their names were changed, and “they were given one family name ‘Singh’ for thenceforth their father was Gobind Singh (so renamed after his own baptism), their mother Sahib Devan, and their place of birth Anandpur. The baptism symbolised a rebirth, by which the initiated renounced their previous occupations (krit nash) for that of working for God; severed their family ties (kul nash) to become the family of Gobind; rejected their earlier creeds (dharma nash) for the creed of the Khalsa; gave up all rituals (karam nash) save that sanctioned by the Sikh faith; and stopped believing in superstition (bharam nash) for belief in One God. Five emblems were prescribed for the Khalsa. They were to wear their hair and beard unshorn (kesh); they were to carry a comb (kangha) in the hair to keep it tidy; they were always to wear a knee-length pair of breeches (kach), worn by soldiers of the times: they were to carry a steel bangle (kara) on their right wrist; and they were to be ever armed with a sabre (kirpan). In addition to these five emblems, the converts were to observe four rules of conduct (rahit) not to cut any hair on any part of their body; … not to eat an animal which had been slaughtered by being bled to death, as was customary with the Muslims, but eat only jhatka meat, where the animal had been despatched with one blow ….” [131], [132] (bold ours)

The above account cited by Harnam Singh Shan shows, in essence, a completion of two centuries worth of indoctrination and proactive missionary work which eventually saw the old rituals of Hinduism and Islam, including the unique external appearance that identified members of each faith, totally erased and replaced by the distinctive rituals of Sikhism and the external features and attire represented by the “five emblems” of the baptised Sikhs as members of the Order of the Khalsa.

In his evaluation of The Sikh Worldview, specifically the “Role of Later Nine Gurus”, Daljeet Singh likewise acknowledges:

In the time of the Second Third and Fourth Guru, four important steps were taken. Through the creation of 22 manjis or districts of religious administrations, the Sikh society was organised into a separate religious Panth. But, the most important and difficult part of the task was the creation of new motivations and the acceptance of the new life-affirming religious ideals of Guru Nanak. For these were radically new in their approach, implications and goals. …

The Third Guru created new institutions which had the dual purpose of weaning the Sikhs away from the old Hindu society and of conditioning them in new values, ideals and practices. … The object of all this was to establish a separate historical identity of the Sikhs and wean them away from the traditional society, iits centres of pilgrimage, and its religious practices and rituals. … [T]hey to be trained in the essentials of a new religious system …. This separateness was made total by Guru Gobind Singh’s Nash doctrine of five freedoms – Dharam Nash, Bharam Nash, Kul Nash, Karam Nash and Kirt Nash. This means freedom from the bonds of old religious and traditions … The Tenth Master made a complete break with the earlier traditions and societies. [133] (bold, underline ours)


The only true relation in the world is that of a Sikh with another Sikh: the relationship of Gur-bhais is the true relationship. – Bhai Gurdas

Under the sheer weight of evidence presented above, it is virtually impossible to find plausible excuses for those Sikh academics who completely fail in making mention of the true and intended meaning of said dual-terms. Either they are genuinely ignorant or purposefully misleading. As regards the former, then this should raise serious questions against their academic credentials for being oblivious of something so fundamentally obvious. As for the latter, then this suggests the presence of something altogether more sinister and deliberate.

Since accuracy ought to be a necessary modus operandi in any field of academic study, it is simply inexcusable for any Sikh to knowingly forward, for whatever reason, the abrogated meanings of Gurmukh and Manmukh. And yet the number of Sikh academics and writers who fall short in this regard can only really be explained by the presence of an agenda in which the guilty party deceptively seek to portray a sanitised image of Sikhism so as to show it standing for greater tolerance and inclusivity than it truly does.

The late Daljeet Singh, a prolific writer and dedicated Sikh apologist, is one typical example of such malpractice. He recognises, without proposing a third category, that:

In the Guru Granth two types of human beings have been mentioned, the Manmukh and the Gurmukh. [134]

Yet, despite this acknowledgement, at no juncture during his evaluation does he elaborate on what this demarcation truly stands for and its final implications. He fails to do the same in his short appraisal titled: Manmukh to Gurmukh: The Guru’s Concept of Evolution of Man, wherein he equates the Manmukh to an “animal”. [135]

Similarly, Nirbhai Singh covers the subject extensively throughout his book Sikh Dynamic Vision, [136] and yet again at no stage throughout his 413 page work has he come remotely close to explicitly making the aforementioned Gurmukh-Manmukh bipolarity clear. Instead, he often resorts to Guru Nanak’s hermeneutics and presents a highly generalised assessment where “man” or “everyman is potentially gurmukh (genius)” in comparison to the “Gurmukh of Sikhism”. [137]

Avtar Singh provides an elaborate three-level hierarchical breakdown of both the Gurmukh (the gurmukh, gurmukhtar and gurmukhtam) and the Manmukh (the manmukh, man-mukhtar and manmukhtam), which he attributes to Guru Arjan Dev via the author of Bhakataratnavali, a contemporary of the tenth Guru, Gobind Singh. [138] But, once again, at no point does he provide the complete picture necessary for an honest, complete and accurate coverage of the subject.


The evidence cited in this paper supports our contention that with each successive Guru, Sikhism moved towards the adoption of an ever more narrow and rigid worldview that eventually dichotomised the world into the two bipolar communities of the Gurmukhs and the Manmukhs.

This conclusion and the research presented in support is precisely the meaning defined by those behind The Sikh Encyclopedia website:

Guru Nanak applied the term manmukh to those persons who were egoridden materialistic, and hypocritical. They pose to be religious, but are in reality proud and evilminded [sic]. His successor Gurus, besides the above typology, applied the term to persons who calumniated the Guru, opposed his teachings and doctrines and kept away from the sangat (fellowship of the holy).

Bhai Gurdas had the Gurus’ calumniators in mind when he discoursed on manmukhs in his Vars. After the institution of the Khalsa, those kesadharis who did not receive pahul were, in a sense, considered to be manmukhs like those who took pahul but then did not abide by stipulated conduct. Apart from this latter day usage, the term in its original conceptual signification refers to one who believes in duality (dvaitbhava) and who led by his self will refuses the Guru`s guidance and wantonly indulges his impulses. [139] (bold ours)

Nanak’s understanding of the Gurmukh-Manmukh bipolarity has been somewhat more implicit in nature than his nine successors. Nevertheless, we were able to uncover what his true stance would have been through the Doctrine of the Same Spirit (Ik Joti), which holds that since the spirit, or jot (light), pervading each Guru was divine in nature, all ten would have, therefore, had to have agreed perfectly with each other without any possibility of contradiction. In other words, the position held by both Nanak and his successors would have necessarily been exactly the same. Hence, by applying this concept, we were able to work backwards by firstly determining the explicit position of the post-Nanakian Gurus in order to then arrive at an accurate and true understanding of Nanak’s stance.

This exclusivist teaching would only serve to inculcate in its followers a “them-and-us” mentality, or what social identity theory calls the in-group out-group bias, as evidenced by the sectarian stance of Bhai Gurdas.

The sheer strength of the evidence also unveils the existence of an agenda peddled by certain prominent Sikh apologists who either manufacture an evaluation of the subject so dumbed down as to fail to explicitly and clearly define said dichotomy; or make no mention of it at all and present instead an evaluation entirely confined to its earlier abrogated paradigm.

It is ironic that the Gurmukh-Manmukh bipolarity being a direct equivalence of the Muslim-Kafir categorisation was at least obvious to “an out-sider too in the middle decades of the seventeenth century; the author of the Dabistan-i-Mazahib”: [140]

The traits of the Nanak-Panthis, also known as ‘Sikhs of the Guru’, noted by him distinguish them from all other people mentioned in his work. The Sikhs did not make any distinction between Guru Nanak and his successors, regarding them all as one. Indeed, if any-one of them did not regard Guru Arjan (the fifth mahal) exactly as Guru Nanak (the first mahal) he was deemed to be an unbeliever (kafir). [141], [142] (bold, underline ours)

Of course, if this were true of the Sikhs, then it would be more so for non-Sikhs.

One final point that should be highlighted in this context is the oft-repeated example of tolerance exhibited by the Gurus in their cooperation with certain groups of Muslims. Given what we now know of how the post-Nanakian Gurus and their followers understood and applied the term Manmukh and what they thought of all non-Sikhs, it should be quite obvious that any such cooperation would have amounted to, at the very best, a matter of political expediency. This would be true of “Mian Jamal, [who] is mentioned among the Sikhs who stayed beside Guru Arjan”, [143] as well as others like the Sufi Qadiri heretic, Mian Mir, who disgracefully accepted the invitation of Guru Arjan to lay the foundation stone of the Harmandir (Golden Temple). Little did this heretical Sufi and his followers know that in the eyes of Guru Arjan, his amanuensis Bhai Gurdas and the rest of the Sikhs, they would have been considered little more than “bloody-minded hopeless empty heads” and “existential bastards” for not accepting Arjan as a Guru in the strict Sikhi sense of the word.

[1] Hans Wehr, p. 833.
[2] Lane’s Lexicon, vol. 7, p. 277.
[3] The Trinitarian Doctrine erroneously teaches that there is one God consisting of three Persons: the first Person is called the Father; the second Person is identified as Prophet Jesus (Allaah’s blessings be upon him; far removed is he from such a slander) as the so-called Son; and the third is a mysterious entity called the Holy Spirit. Though fully divine, all three are said to be entirely separate Persons who agree perfectly with each other. However, all three are not considered three Gods, but one (see Qur’an 4:171)!

Of course, Islam completely rejects this mind-boggling and mentally oppressive doctrine as man-invented and falsely attributed to the Almighty, which none of the 144,000 true Prophets and Messengers of God ever taught. The attribution of this doctrine to Jesus, son of Mary, will be categorically rejected by him on the Day of Judgement (see Qur’an 5:116-8) and those who fallaciously believed in it will be cast into hell-fire for eternity as punishment for the enormity of their blasphemous claims (see Qur’an 5:72-6).
[4] This subject is more thoroughly explored in our article titled The Origin of Sikh Militancy and Rebellion.
[5] A detailed account of this topic has been covered in our article titled The Gurus’ Unruly Relatives.
[6] Prof Daljeet Singh believes the year of Nanak’s enlightenment to be 1496 CE:

He was married in 1487 and was blessed with two sons, one in 1491 and the second in 1496. …
By all accounts, 1496 was the year of his enlightenment when he started on his mission.
– D. Singh, K Singh (1997), Sikhism: Its Philosophy and History, (Institute of Sikh Studies, New Delhi), p. 356.

[7] Both Harbans Singh and Mohinder Singh state:

According to the Sikh sources it was in 1497 that Nanak, then just 28 years of age, received “the Divine call,” his “Revelation” or his “Enlightenment.
– H. Singh, M. Singh (Ed.) (1988), Prof. Harbans Singh Commemoration Volume, (Prof. Harbans Singh Commemoration Committee), p. 54.

Surinder Singh Johar agrees:

He left Sultanpur in 1497 after his enlightenment. “The Janamsakhis state that Guru Nanak revisited Talwandi twelve years after he had left Sultanpur. Having regard to the fact that there is a custom among Sanyasis of revisiting their birth-place twelve years after their initiation, this statement may be accepted as true.”
– S. S. Johar (1969), Guru Nanak, A Biography, (New Book Co.), p. 140.

[8] S.S. Brar (2009), The First Master Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539), (sikhs.org).
[9] Fn. 1: Janamsakhi, Bhai Bala, p. 292.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Some Sikh scholars consider the author Bhai Bhalla to be “fictitious” and, thus, hold this biography to be “spurious”. Trilochan Singh believes it to be authentic but corrupted by the heretical groups: “the Minas, or Meharban and his followers. Then … by the Handaliyas, and then by the printers”. See: H.R. Gupta (2008), History of the Sikhs 1469-1708, Vol. 1, (Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi), pp. 40-3.

[10] Fn. 2: Janamsakhi, Bhai Mani Singh Wali (Janamsakhi Prampra, edited by Kirpal Singh, Antka, p. 333).
[11] D. Singh, K Singh (Eds.) (1997), Sikhism: Its Philosophy and History, (Institute of Sikh Studies, New Delhi), p. 220.
[12] Fn. 19: Janamsakhi, Meharban Wali, pp. 10-12.
[13] Fn. 24: Janamsakhi, Bhai Bala, p. 279. Latif, p. 245.
[14] D. Singh, K Singh (Eds.), op. cit., p. 223.
[15] Fn. 4: S. R., I [M.A. Macauliffe (1993), The Sikh Religion Vol. I, (Delhi)], p. 102, 121, 123.
[16] S. Singh (1986), Philosophy of Sikhism, (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar), p. 117.
[17] These statements do, however, amount to clear historical evidence in refuting the claims of ignorant Muslims and agenda-driven non-Muslims (especially the Ahmedis who are particularly vocal in this regard) that Guru Nanak was a Muslim. We have covered this subject in detail in our article Guru Nanak was NEVER a Muslim
[18] P. Singh (1996), Gatha Sri Adi Granth and the Controversy, (Anant Education and Rural Development Foundation Inc, Michigan), pp. 153, 156.
[19] Fn. 2: This illustration from candles was also used by the Gurus: I Guru: G. P. 328; X Guru: G .S., p. 28.
Bhai Gurdas also made use of the same illustration; W. G., p. 437: 24-8-2.
[20] S. Singh, op. cit., p. 42.
[21] Fn. 2: Dabistan – ii, p. 253.
[22] Fn. 3: Ibid, p. 281.
[23] Fn. 2: G. G., 967: Ramkali ki War:
Gur Angad di dohi phiri sachu Kartai bandh bahali. Nanak kaia palt kar mal takht baitha saidali….3.
Joti samani joti mahi ap apei seti mikion….4.
[24] Fn. 3: W. G., p. 433-37. War-24-I-X-Stanzas.
[25] Fn. 5: S. R., v. p. 295.
[26] S. Singh, op. cit., pp. 43-5.
[27] J.S. Grewal (2011), History, Literature, and Identity: Four Centuries of Sikh Tradition, (Oxford University Press, India), p. 43.
[28] Fn. 50: Adi Granth, 28.
[29] Fn. 51: Ibid., 361.
[30] Fn. 53: Ibid., 638.
[31] S. Hans (1988), A Reconstruction of Sikh History from Sikh Literature, (ABS Publications, India), p. 59.
[32] J.S. Grewal, op. cit., pp. 55-6.
[33] Ibid., p. 25.
[34] Fn. 72: Adi Granth, 435.
[35] Fn. 73: Ibid., 912.
[36] Fn. 74: Ibid., 1278.
[37] Fn. 129: Adi Granth, 33.
[38] Fn. 130: Loc cit.
[39] Fn. 131: Loc cit.
[40] Fn. 134: Ibid., 34-35.
[41] S. Hans, op. cit., p. 63.
[42] Fn. 155: Adi Granth, 1056.
[43] S. Hans, op. cit., p. 67.
[44] Fn. 143: Adi Granth, 586-87.
[45] S. Hans, op. cit., p. 66.
[46] J.S. Grewal, op. cit., p. 57.
[47] Ibid., p. 59.
[48] Ibid.
[49] Fn. 75: Adi Granth, 145.
[50] Fn. 76: Ibid., 229; 230; 424; 229; 365; 565.
[51] Fn. 77: Ibid., 425.
[52] Fn. 78: Ibid., 513; 666.
[53] Fn. 79: Ibid., 797.
[54] Fn. 80: Ibid., 1334; 1262.
[55] Fn. 81: Ibid., 1285.
[56] Fn. 82: Ibid., 850; 646.
[57] L.M. Joshi (Ed.) (2000), Sikhism, (Publication Bureau Punjabi University, Patiala), p. 11.
[58] Fn. 96: Adi Granth, 594.
[59] Fn. 97: Ibid., 570.
[60] Fn. 98: Ibid., 601.
[61] Fn. 99: Ibid., 645.
[62] Fn. 100: Ibid., 517.
[63] Fn. 101: Ibid., 854.
[64] Fn. 102: Ibid., 233; 920.
[65] S. Hans, op. cit., p. 63.
[66] Ibid., p. 66.
[67] Fn. 83: Adi Granth, 117.
[68] Fn. 84: Ibid., 117.
[69] Fn. 85: Ibid., 64.
[70] Fn. 86: Ibid., 122.
[71] Fn. 87: Ibid., 91.
[72] S. Hans, op. cit., p. 61.
[73] Fn. 62: Adi Granth, 32.
[74] S. Hans, op. cit., p. 60.
[75] Fn. 71: Adi Granth, 361.
[76] S. Hans, op. cit.
[77] Fn. 100: Adi Granth, 95.
[78] S. Hans, op. cit., p. 103.
[79] Ibid., p. 102.
[80] Fn. 120: Adi Granth, 552.
[81] Fn. 121: Ibid., 697.
[82] S. Hans, op. cit., pp. 104-5.
[83] Fn. 122: Adi Granth, 697.
[84] Fn. 124: Ibid., 834.
[85] Fn. 126: Ibid., 493.
[86] Fn. 127: Ibid.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Bloody-minded hopeless empty heads” is translated by Sant Singh Khalsa as “evil-minded, unfortunate and shallow-minded”, while Bhai Manmohan Singh opts for “evil-minded unfortunate and shallow-intellected [sic]”.

[87] Fn. 128: Ibid., 450.
[88] Fn. 129: Ibid., 574; 170.
[89] Fn. 130: Ibid., 1263-64.
[90] Sant Singh Khalsa and Bhai Manmohan Singh, opt for the translation “like the prostitute’s son” instead of “existential bastards”. Both nevertheless carry the same meaning.
[91] Fn. 132: Adi Granth, 82.
[92] Fn. 136: Ibid., 1244.
[93] S. Hans, op. cit., pp. 105-6.
[94] Ibid., p. 107.
[95] Fn. 64: Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahibji, p. 401.
[96] J.S. Grewal, op. cit., p. 107.
[97] H.R. Gupta (2008), History of the Sikhs 1469-1708, Vol. 1, (Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi), p. 47.
[98] S. Singh, op. cit., p. 176.
[99] Ibid., pp. 2, 3.
[100] H.R. Gupta, op. cit., p. 47.
[101] J.S. Grewal, op. cit., pp. 129-30.
[102] Fn. 110: Varan Bhai Gurdas, ed., Giani Hazara Singh. Amritsar, 1962, Var #, Pauris, #, XXIII, 15.
[103] Fn. 111: Ibid., XXV, 4-5.
[104] H.R. Gupta, op. cit., p. 45.
[105] J.S. Grewal, op. cit., pp. 129-30.
[106] Fn. 42: Varan Bhai Gurdas, ed., Giani Hazara Singh. Amritsar, 1962, Var #, Pauris, #, III, 4; VII, 20.
[107] Fn. 46: Ibid., XXVII, 16-17.
[108] J.S. Grewal, op. cit., p. 124.
[109] Ibid., pp. 128-9.
[110] Fn. 77: Varan Bhai Gurdas, ed., Giani Hazara Singh. Amritsar, 1962, Var #, Pauris, #, V, 9.
[111] Fn. 78: Ibid., V, 10.
[112] Fn. 79: Ibid., VI, 19.
[113] J.S. Grewal, op. cit., p. 126.
[114] Fn. 102: Varan Bhai Gurdas, ed., Giani Hazara Singh. Amritsar, 1962, Var #, Pauris, #, I, 18-21, 26, 34, 36, 49.
[115] Fn. 103: Ibid., VIII, 6-24.
[116] J.S. Grewal, op. cit., p. 129.
[117] Fn. 64: Varan Bhai Gurdas, ed., Giani Hazara Singh. Amritsar, 1962, Var #, Pauris, #, V, 7, 10.
[118] J.S. Grewal, op. cit., p. 125.
[119] Fn. 98: Varan Bhai Gurdas, ed., Giani Hazara Singh. Amritsar, 1962, Var #, Pauris, #, XIII, 19.
[120] J.S. Grewal, op. cit., p. 128.
[121] Ibid., p. 129.
[122] Ibid., pp. 129-30.
[123] EDITOR’S NOTE: The four categories in SGGS are given as follows:

Blessed, blessed is the good fortune of those Saints [sant], who, with their ears, listen to the Lord’s Praises.
Blessed, blessed is the good fortune of those holy people [sadh], who sing the Kirtan of the Lord’s Praises, and so become virtuous.
Blessed, blessed is the good fortune of those Gurmukhs, who live as GurSikhs, and conquer their minds.
But the greatest good fortune of all, is that of the Guru’s Sikhs, who fall at the Guru’s feet.

[124] Fn. 49: Bhai Gurdas, Varan, 12: 15 p. 146; the text reads as follows:

Bhagat Kabiru vakhaniai bandikhane te uth jai…
Benu hoa adhiatami Sainu nich kul andari nai.
Peri pai pakhak hoe gursikha vichi vadi samai.
Alakhu lakhae na alakhu lakhai.

See also pp. 128-130 and 133-142.
[125] G.S. Mann (2001), The Making Sikh Scripture, (Oxford University Press, New Delhi), pp. 117-8.
[126] Ibid., p. 132.
[127] Fn. 72: Macauliffe, M.A., The Sikh Religion, op. cit. [Its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors, Oxford-1909], Vol. V, p. 93.
[128] Fn. 73: Bute Shah alias Ghulam Muhay-ud-Din, Tawarikh-i-Punjab. MS. Ludhiana-1848. pp. 405-406; Macauliffe, M.A.. The Sikh Religion, op. cit., Vol. V, pp. 93-94; Teja Singh. Prin. and Ganda Singh, Prof., A Short History of the Sikhs, Bombay-1950, pp. 68-69; Kapur Singh, Parasarprasna. op. cit., pp. 2-3.
[129] Fn. 74: Macauliffe, M.A., The Sikh Religion, op. cit., Vol. V. p. 94.
[130] Fn. 75: Batalia, Ahmad Shah, Tawarikh-i-Hind, MS. dated 1818; Bute Shah, Tawarikh-i-Punjab, op. cit., 406.
[131] Fn. 76: Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, Princeton-1963; 7th impr.-1987, Vol. I, pp. 83-84.
[132] D. Singh, K Singh (Eds.), op. cit., pp. 191-2.
[133] Ibid., pp. 106-7.
[134] Ibid., p. 113.
[135] Ibid., pp. 107-8.
[136] For Manmukh, see pages: 8, 78, 195, 198, 211, 229-30, 237, 239, 247, 269, 309, 380 and 396.
For Gurmukh, see pages: 7, 8, 71, 78, 84, 115, 193, 195, 198, 211, 217, 229-30, 237, 239, 257, 306, 309, 312, 331, 342, 357, 364 and 380.
[137] N. Singh (2003), Sikh Dynamic Vision, (Harman Publishing House, New Delhi), pp. 193, 309.
[138] A. Singh (1996), Ethics of the Sikhs, (Publication Bureau, Punjabi University, Patiala), pp. 190-2.
[139] Manmukh, (The Sikh Encyclopedia; accessed: Feb 17, 2016).
[140] Fn. 113: ‘Dabistan-i-Mazahib’, in J.S. Grewal and Irfan Habib, eds, Sikh History from Persian Sources, New Delhi: Tulika/ Indian History Congress, 2001, pp.59-84.
[141] H.R. Gupta cites the source slightly differently: “They say whoever does not recognise Guru Arjan as Baba Nanak his real self is a manmukh or kafir.” The Dabistan, 225. See: H.R. Gupta, op. cit., p. 100.
[142] J.S. Grewal, op. cit., pp. 130-1.
[143] Ibid., p. 128.

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  1. the word kaffir does not means infidel. it simply means someone who covers. this is the reason why in Arabic the night is called a kaffir sometimes because it covers the day. Even a farmer is called kaffir sometimes because he covers the seeds inside the ground.

    In Religious context a kaffir is someone who covers the truth like the Oneness of God (i.e Islam). there are no negative connotations associated with the word Kaffir. it`s the Anti islamic hate mongers and the Media which portrays this word as something derogatory in order to make Non-Muslims dislike Islam.

    • We agree with you up to the point at which you say that there are “no negative connotations associated with the word Kaffir”. We would simply point to what you say above as evidence against said claim by asking: if someone covers over the truth, then what’s left other than falsehood? And since truth and falsehood are not synonymous words in any language of the world, how can they both be treated equally? Unless you believe in contradictions, then if you accept that these two words have opposite meanings and applications, where one represents all things good and the other all things bad, then how can someone who covers over the truth for falsehood, and thus be labelled a kaafir, not be deemed in a negative way?

      In fact, the following Qur’anic verse expands on this very point by making use of this term in both a positive and negative sense:

      “Those who ‘kafaru’ (disbelieve/cover over truth) and turn away from the way of God, He will cause their work to go astray. And those who ‘amaanu’ (believe/trust) and do good deeds (of peace and reconciliation), and ‘ammanu’ (believe/put their trust in) what is sent down to Muhammad and it is the truth from their Lord, he will ‘kaffara’ (cover over) their evil and improve their condition. That is because those who ‘kafaru’ (disbelieve/cover over truth) follow falsehood and those who are faithful follow the truth from their Lord. Thus God presents a comparison to mankind.” (Qur’an 47:1-3)

      In this instance, Allah compares two groups of people: the ones who put their trust in Him, and those who cover it up, before explaining that the efforts of the latter group will be for nothing, while the faults of the former will be covered over by Him.

      • i agree with what you said but i didn`t mean that by there is no negative connotations associated with the word kaffir. all i`m saying is that it`s not a derogatory word like it`s being portrayed in the media these days to make people hate Islam.

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