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Refuting Faruq’s ‘Janab Guru Nanak Ji awr Islam’

An 80 page booklet was recently brought to our attention that seeks to argue that Guru Nanak was a Muslim.

Thankfully, and quite mercifully, this isn’t another desperate attempt by the Ahmadiyya cult. Instead, what makes this, at the very most, uniquely intriguing, is that its author is a Muslim, and that too Sunni, named Muhammad Faruq.

Published in 2010 by Maktaba Mahmudiyya and titled, Janab Guru Nanak Ji awr Islam, or Honourable Guru Nanak and Islam, we first learned of this Urdu paperback via a book review by Shahin-ur Rahman, and found on two separate though interrelated websites (here and here).

According to this review, the booklet is a “profound insight into the life of Guru Nanak” which, while “[t]argeting the objective Sikh observer”, aims at “proving him to be not only a Muslim, but a knowledgeable Muslim leader”!

In the meantime, while “[a]n English translation is currently being worked on”, we have managed to acquire a copy [1] and will pre-empt its publication by evaluating the methodological framework, as well as the tenor and tone of the arguments, adopted by Faruq in this paper.

We will also cite the review, where relevant, so as to kill two birds with one stone.

PRIMARY, SECONDARY & TERTIARY SOURCES

The book lays out its stall early on pp. 8-9 with, what the reviewer calls, 16 “core arguments” to prove Nanak’s alleged Muslim identity, the most important of which are:

  1. Hafizul Qur’an (he had memorised the entire Qur’an), and who regularly used to recite the Qur’an.
  2. Would pronounce the azaan (call to prayer) and establish the five daily prayers.
  3. Emphasised on zakat (alms-giving) and fasting.
  4. Also did Hajj.
  5. Was also an Imam (imamat) in Mecca for a whole year.
  6. Believed Prophet Muhammad to be the final Messenger, truly loved him, and read the durood shareef (praise) upon him.
  7. Believed the Holy Qur’an to be the final message which superseded all other previous revelations.
  8. Believed in both the Final Day and the Judgement.
  9. Believed in Paradise and Hell.
  10. Believed in the Angels. …
  11. His belief was akin to the belief of the Muslims.
  12. His worship was akin to the worship of the Muslims.

Following these points, Faruk posits:

It is understood from this that not only was Guru Nanak a strict Muslim (pakkai musalman), religious guide and elder, but also a proselytiser (da’ee) and preacher.

Before evaluating the arguments set forth, let us delineate the approach adopted by the author, particularly vis-à-vis the historical sources used. The first and most obvious one is the Guru Granth Sahib (GGS), which, of all the sources made recourse to, is the earliest extant historical record of Nanak’s theological and doctrinal beliefs.

All other historical documents are, at best, secondary sources, such as the Vaars of Bhai Gurdas, and, at worst, tertiary sources, including parts of the Janam Sakhi corpus. Other than these, he is also not hesitant in citing books written so long after the fact as to have little, if any, historical validity or credibility.

Be that as it may, since the GGS is a primary source, it ought to be taken as the single most authoritative historical document for determining Nanak’s Muslim identity, or lack thereof. As the reviewer also notes, Faruq has no qualms in utilising this source to make his case:

From page 26 onwards, when proving Guru Nanak’s BELIEF in the Islamic concepts of tawḥid and risala, every claim is thoroughly referenced – from Sikh sources (like the Guru Granth Sahib), with page numbers – and quotes are given in the original Punjabi, followed by its translation and/or interpretation in Urdu. (bold, underline, capitalisation ours)

In fact, so comfortable is he that on p. 60 of his book, Faruq fully accepts the story of Nanak’s acquisition of the Farid Nama of Khwaja Farid ad-Deen Ganj Shakar from Shaikh Ibraheem, which he then “incorporated into his own Guru Granth” (apnai Guru Granth mai shaamil kiya). In other words, he appears to have no issues with the historical transmission of these source materials and their attribution to both Nanak and Farid.

The irony here is that this all-embracing nature only makes our task in exposing him all the more easier. The reader will come to see, God-willing, that such an approach only turns out to be emphatic evidence against him. However, there is also a sinister side to all this, which not only raises questions over his proficiency in research, but, more significantly, his academic integrity and honesty.

Before we explore this, it is important that we also assess the credibility of all the other sources cited in comparison.

The earliest source after the GGS, and said to be written in 1581 CE following the death of Guru Ram Das, is the Varan Bhai Gurdas. Given that Gurdas was born around 20 years after Nanak’s death, the Varan is said to be eyewitness accounts of Nanak. Hence, this makes the Varan a secondary source written, says Kirpal Singh, “little over sixty years after the death of Guru Nanak”. [2]

As for the Janam Sakhis, or hagiographies of Nanak, then Faruq cites both the Vilayatwali and Bala, with the former chronologically preceding the latter, and, thus, considered by most Sikh and non-Sikh scholars to be more historically credible and less controversial.

Generally, it is accepted that the Vilayatwali was written in 1634 CE [3] and Bala in 1658 CE, respectively. [4] As such, not only are these, at best, secondary sources, and, at worst, tertiary, but, more importantly, also written around a century after Nanak.

There is, then, the issue of the reliability of these Janam Sakhis that is summed up well by Kirpal:

As we delve deep into the mass of this material, we are inclined to believe and correctly so, that the purpose of compilation of Janamsakhis was neither to record history of Guru Nanak nor to provide an exegesis of the Bani (hymns) of Guru Nanak. The real motive was to transmit information to the younger generations about the ‘wonderful’ personality of Guru Nanak and to tell them that Guru Nanak revealed to the world a unique and enlightened faith that preached the doctrine of unity and supremacy of God, True Name (Nam) and service (Daya Dharam). This will bring us to the conclusion that the Janamsakhis resent a distinct type of religio-legendary literature wherein the ingredients of historical evidence lie embedded deep underneath. This fact needs to be emphasized because the age of Guru Nanak falls within the period of historical light. [5] (bold, underline ours)

As far back as 1908, continues Kirpal, Karam Singh “conclusively proved that Bala Janamsakhi was full of interpolations” (bold ours), while in 1904, Sewa Ram Singh said, in general, that “‘materials at our disposal are very chaotic and misleading’ and of the numerous versions of Bala Janamsakhi, ‘none appears to be quite authentic.’”.

M.A. Macauliffe, who gave preference to the Vilayatwali version over Bala, said “it contains much less mythological matter than any other Gurmukhi life of the Guru and is a much more rational, consistent and satisfactory narrative… It is the product of legend and tradition which have been thought to be more trustworthy” (bold ours).

While Khazan Singh in 1914, who “gave more attention to examination of source material; then available to him”, [6] concluded:

The Janam Sakhis which we now possess are not free from defects. They are all incomplete with many gaps to be filled up, and are either apocryphal or corrupted. The former are not widely circulated, but the latter are in their corrupted form, from which the editors have tried to exclude the interpolations. But a careful study shows that much of the text has yet to be discarded before it is acceptable. [7] (bold ours)

Hence, the Janam Sakhis are not an entirely reliable source of historical information re Nanak. As Johnson sums up:

The earliest extant janam-sakhi texts are dated well after Guru Nanak’s death, thus it stands to reason that the literature itself was created and compiled over time and was subject to later editorial additions, changes, or redactions. Scholarly treatments of the janam-sakhis have tried to take this into account, casting the janam-sakhis as narratives created later for the veneration and commemoration of Guru Nanak. This focus on later construction of the janam-sakhis can then account for the variety and somewhat contradictory nature of specific janam-sakhi narratives. [8] (bold ours)

And neither should the Janam Sakhi tradition be equated to the Hadith tradition of Islam. Where the latter’s methodology involved a sophisticated authentication process that included meticulous rules for criticism and evaluation, the former had nothing of the sort, relying instead on unsubstantiated ascriptions to authors contemporary of Nanak.

Take, for example, the disputed authorship of Bala. Despite its author claiming to be Bala, there are a significant number of scholars today who question the author’s single most “confident claim to represent an eye-witness account of the life and travels of Baba Nanak”, [9] and who allegedly narrated this at the behest of Guru Angad “14 years before Guru Nanak’s death”. [10] We have cited a number of prominent scholars along with compelling evidence as to why Bala was not an eyewitness in our paper Uncloaking Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s Guru Nanak.

Ironically, Faruq quotes on p. 18 a dubious Arabic inscription attributed to Nanak, which translated reads:

Oh Nanak, leave aside all these tales and stories because verbal transmission of a story cannot compare for one who sees something with his very eyes.

BELIEFS FROM THE GGS

Faruq readily and extensively quotes Nanak from the GGS. In doing so, however, he emphatically sounds his own death knell.

If this man has made even a surface-level examination of Nanak’s beliefs vis-à-vis this single primary source, then only two possibilities exist re his final conclusion. Either he has suffered from a blatant bout of selective quoting, or incompetency of the highest order.

Based on how conspicuously obvious Nanak’s anti-Islamic beliefs are therein, it is inconceivable to think, given Faruq’s apparent academic credentials, that this was a case of ineptitude, which leaves only one conceivable explanation: the purposeful manufacturing of evidence to suit a preconceived agenda.

DEATH & REINCARNATION

Take the following as evidence of verses, which amount to clear evidence of Nanak’s non-Islamic beliefs, seemingly being glossed over by the author. On p. 43, Faruq attempts to show Nanak’s perception of God’s majesty and grandeur by quoting him from p. 20 of the GGS (herein all pages of the GGS will be abbreviated: GGS ‘page no.’). In doing so, however, he apparently manages to miss the following verses quoted below, which not only appear just a page before, but also expose Nanak’s doctrinal belief in the notion of birth and rebirth and reincarnation?

Their comings and goings in reincarnation (avan jan) do not end; through death and rebirth (mar janmai), they are wasting away. (GGS 19:3)

Then, they are not subject to birth and death; they do not come and go in reincarnation (na avai na jae). (GGS 19:12)

Those who do not become Gurmukh do not understand the Naam; they die, and continue coming and going in reincarnation (janmai avai jae). (GGS 19:15)

Worse still, how is it possible to cite Nanak from GGS 156, but fail to notice the same doctrine being repeated on the very same page?

Take to the Lord, the Destroyer of the sins and karma of past incarnations (janam janam ke pap). (GGS 156:4)

And if that was not clear enough for him, Nanak even goes out of his way to delineate the process of reincarnation by way of examples only seven verses later:

I took the form of so many plants and trees, and so many animals. Many times I entered the families of snakes and flying birds. (GGS 156:11)

There are also multiple references of Nanak offering an actual number, entirely inaccurate of course, which he believed made up the sum total of species created by God for the process of reincarnation:

Jajja: That humble being who begs for wisdom has wandered begging through 8.4 million incarnations. (GGS 433:2)

The self-willed manmukhs wander around, and they do not remember the Lord; the fools are consigned to the cycle of 8.4 million incarnations. (GGS 434:2)

Those who come, must go in the end; they come and go, regretting and repenting.
They will pass through 8.4 million species; this number does not decrease or rise. (GSS 936:3)

The faithless cynic has to endure 8.4 million hellish incarnations. (GGS 1028:6)

People wander lost, staggering and stumbling through 8.4 million incarnations. (GGS 1403:14)

It is also worth noting that said total is not something plucked out of thin air. Instead, it finds its origins, unsurprisingly given Nanak’s ancestral background, in Hindu scripture.

In any case, Faruq continues on p. 45 by quoting GGS 597. Once again, however, he fails to mention the below:

Those who are imbued with the Naam day and night are pure, while those who die to be reborn (mar janme) are impure. (GGS 597:2)

This begs the question as to how Nanak could have possibly “believed in both the Final Day and the Judgement” when all the while affirming:

O Baba, we come into the world naked (nagra ai jag meh), into pain and pleasure, according to the record of our account (dukh sukh lekh likhai). The call of our pre-ordained destiny cannot be altered; it follows from our past actions. (GGS 582:4)

The same belief is echoed here:

O Nanak, by the Hukam of God’s Command, we come and go in reincarnation (avhu jahu). (SGGS 4:14)

Born because of the karma of their past mistakes (khatiahu jamme khate karan), they make more mistakes, and fall into mistakes. (GGS 149:2)

The self-willed manmukh is born only to die, and be born again (janmai janam marijai). … Your mind shall merge into the Lord, and you shall not be [born] to die again (nahi janam marijai). (GGS 905:11-12)

All of which further begs the question as to how, based on the orthodox Islamic model, one could come into this world with a record of accounts based on past actions?

Of course, the obvious answer is that one could not!

These verses are so apparent in their meaning, particularly in Punjabi, much less Gurmukhi, that any attempt at radically reading contrariwise would be akin to intellectual suicide.

And what of the 10 stages of life delineated by Nanak, which makes absolutely no mention of the Muslim mode burial, but rather cremation?

Tenth, he is cremated (dadhaa – burnt), and turns to ashes (suaah – ashes). (GGS 137:19)

How could a Muslim, let alone “a knowledgeable Muslim leader”, replace burial for cremation?

ANGELS

There is then the underlying issue of Faruq’s superficial and quasi-intellectual interpretation of scripture, which leaves much to be desired. So fixated is he in cherry-picking anything that remotely serves his purpose, that he seems to lose sight of his surroundings.

Take, for instance, his simplistic reading of a verse from GGS 84 (though it is actually GGS 83) in trying to prove Nanak’s affirmation of the Islamic concept of angels, which he translates as:

Farishtoun ka tosha sabr hai; in ko kanai pinai ki zarurat nai.
The food of the angels is patience; they do not require food and water.

But, if the word “malaikan”, or angels, is enough for Faruq to use as evidence, then would he also be willing to concede that Nanak may have been a Hindu for having used the following two characters from Hindu lore:

Chitr and Gupt, the angels of the conscious and the subconscious who record actions, and the Righteous Judge of Dharma who judges this record sing. (GGS 6:6)

According to Kohli, Chitr and Gupt, or Chitragupta, are the following:

Yama, the god of death, according to Hindu mythology, holds charge of several hells, which are mentioned in the Puranas. … The scribe (clerk) of Yama is Chitragupta, who keeps the record of good and bad actions of the mortal. [11]

Now, although Islam also affirms the existence of two angelic scribes tasked with recording the good and bad deeds of their designated human subjects, they have never been known as Chitr and Gupt. Instead, there are reports, as authenticated by some scholars, of their names being al-Munkar and an-Nakeer.

Further still, what is Faruq to make of all the Hindu deities that Nanak makes mention of, some of whom are, in actual fact, referenced immediately after GGS 6:6?

Shiva, Brahma and the Goddess of Beauty, ever adorned, sing.
Indra, seated upon His Throne, sings with the deities at Your Door. (GGS 6:7-8)

How will Faruq reconcile Nanak’s supposed Islamic beliefs with his laudation of said Hindu deities?

To be sure, this is not the only occasion where the author is guilty of utilising such a crude approach. On p. 41, not only is the following verse: “Repeat the prayer (kalma) of good deeds, and then, you may call yourself a Muslim,” (GGS 141:5) cherry-picked, but also liberally translated as:

It is essential (zaruri) for all individuals (har insaan) to conduct their actions in accordance with the pure Kalimah. It is they who are truly justified in calling themselves Muslims.

Firstly, the phrase “har insaan” is nowhere to be found in this verse, implicitly or otherwise.

Secondly, it is obvious why he would attempt such distortion given his aim at seeking to portray Nanak as one who would want all people to be and act as Muslims.

Thirdly, what this example also reveals, when read in its proper context, is Nanak’s true theological stance towards Islam. In fact, it is surprising that Faruq fails to cite the following verse on the very same page, which has also been cited by some as evidence of Nanak having mentioned our own Prophet by name:

It is difficult to be called a Muslim; if one is truly a Muslim, then he may be called one.

First, let him savor the religion of the Prophet as sweet; then, let his pride of his possessions be scraped away.

Becoming a true Muslim, a disciple of the faith of Mohammed, let him put aside the delusion of death and life.

As he submits to God’s Will, and surrenders to the Creator, he is rid of selfishness and conceit.

And when, O Nanak, he is merciful to all beings, only then shall he be called a Muslim. (GGS 141:10-12)

However, this translation of Sant Singh Khalsa seems to be embellished with terms, including the name Mohammed and the word “Prophet”, that are entirely absent. The verse that is translated, for instance, as: “Becoming a true Muslim, a disciple of the faith of Mohammed,” or “ho-ay muslim deen muhaanai”, should instead read: “Be (or become) a true Muslim by following the deen.” But, is the term deen here equivalent to the Arabic word vis-à-vis its meaning? In other words, is Nanak persuading Muslims to follow their religion?

The answer lies in Nanak’s modus operandi towards Islam and Hinduism. Although Nanak makes reference to certain Islamic rituals, this should not be taken simplistically to mean that he accepted them per se. Rather, a close examination of his theological beliefs reveals an objective of undermining Islamic orthopraxy.

Take his mentioning of the five daily prayers as an example. In this instance, and as with all non-Sikh rituals, his motive was to diminish its prominence as an act of worship by giving greater importance to various moral and ethical instructions. In this regard, says Kohli:

For a Muslim, the prayer (Namaz) is the foundation of practical religion. He is required to pray at least five times a day. Baba Farid has also laid great emphasis on Prayer in his Sloks in the Adi Granth. According to him, the head, which does not bow in prayer, must be cut down. [12] About five prayers, the Guru has this to say:

“Five prayers, five times, five their names; Truth is the FIRST, rightful earning the SECOND, God’s Grace for all the THIRD, Sincere mind the FOURTH and the Praises of the Lord the FIFTH, Let practice be the repetition of the Kalimah in order to be called a Muslim.” [13]

The Kalimah (word) is recited by a Muslim as the basic foundation of practice, but the Guru wants the practice of the five virtuous prayers for a True Muslim as his Kalimah. For God’s realization, such a discipline is necessary. [14], [15] (bold ours)

Actually, this aforecited verse is contextually related to the one in question, i.e. GGS 141:5, and directly related to a similar example found a page earlier on GGS 140:

Let mercy be your mosque, faith your prayer-mat, and honest living your Koran.
Make modesty your circumcision, and good conduct your fast. In this way, you shall be a true Muslim.

Let good conduct be your Kaabaa, Truth your spiritual guide, and the karma of good deeds your prayer and chant. Let your rosary be that which is pleasing to His Will. O Nanak, God shall preserve your honor. (GGS 140:17-20)

Both verses are an example of a wider revisionist agenda that essentially sought to undermine ritualism of worship, or more accurately, non-Sikh ritualism of worship.

In this respect, academics Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi and Paul Courtright also understood Nanak to be, in general, against “conventi[on]alism”, “formalism of ritual” and “pride of worship”. As such, while the former said: “He [Nanak] urges that the effort to seek Him in places of worship and centres of pilgrimage is futile. He is hidden ‘within’ the searcher and only a true Guru directs him to the right path,” [16] (bold ours) the latter added:

We have seen that Guru Nanak must be understood neither as a reconciler of traditions nor as a self-conscious new initiator of a tradition, but he should be looked upon as one who provoked men to see the true worship behind the formalism of ritual. …

We can best understand the foundation of Sikhism as a protest against conventionalism, and not against Hinduism and Islam as such. It was a protest against pride of worship, scripture and caste. [17] (bold ours)

Kohli, on the other hand, was altogether more emphatic, concluding:

The Guru was against ALL ritualism and formalism. He laid stress on practical life of INWARD purity. [18] (bold, underline, capitalisation ours)

Likewise, this revisionist agenda can also be found in Nanak’s composition, Japji Sahib, though this time against Hindu ritualism:

Make contentment your ear-rings, humility your begging bowl, and meditation the ashes you apply to your body. (GGS 6:16)

Similarly, when speaking of the Hindu concept of untouchability in the kitchen – what is known as Chauka Kar, or the Sacred Square – Nanak suggested:

False-mindedness is the drummer-woman; cruelty is the butcheress; slander of others in one’s heart is the cleaning-woman, and deceitful anger is the outcast-woman.
What good are the ceremonial lines drawn around your kitchen, when these four [i.e. untouchables] are seated there with you?
Make Truth your self-discipline, and make good deeds the lines you draw; make chanting the Name your cleansing bath. (GGS 91:3-4)

As a final example, Nanak rejected the Hindu rites of the dead, which includes the feeding ritual of Shradha, and the fire ritual of Homa:

The One Name is my lamp; I have put the oil of suffering into it.
Its flame has dried up this oil, and I have escaped my meeting with the Messenger of Death. O people, do not make fun of me.
Thousands of wooden logs, piled up together, need only a tiny flame to burn.
The Lord is my festive dish, of rice balls on leafy plates (pind patal); the True Name of the Creator Lord is my funeral ceremony.
Here and hereafter, in the past and in the future, this is my support.
The Lord’s Praise is my River Ganges and my city of Benares; my soul takes its sacred cleansing bath there.
That becomes my true cleansing bath, if night and day, I enshrine love for You.
The rice balls are offered to the gods and the dead ancestors, but it is the Brahmins who eat them!
O Nanak, the rice balls of the Lord are a gift which is never exhausted. (GGS 358:7-10)

NANAK’S USE OF THE NAME ALLAH

Shahin-ur Rahman considers Nanak’s use of the Arabic name Allah, as one of the author’s “strongest and [most] conclusive arguments”. But, unless the reviewer holds double standards, there ought to be nothing more remarkable about this than, say, Guru Arjan’s use of it in GGS 1083:19 & 1136:12!

As a matter of fact:

To conceive separate gods to various creeds, according to Guru Nanak, is a superstition:

Saith Nanak, when the Guru hath removed superstition. Allah and Parabrahmam are seen the same. – G.G.S., 826

Guru Nanak reiterates this idea of the unity of God in several of his hymns:

Know the Lord to be One, Even though the paths be twain. – G.G.S., 1349

He who knows the two paths to be One, will alone find fulfilment. – G.G.S., 192

Guru Nanak uses both the Hindu names and Muslim names to call the one God. The following Hindu names of God occur often in his hymns: Bhagwan, Vishnu, Brahm, Gobind, Gopal, Hari, Ishwar, Kesav, Krishna, Madhusudan, Murari, Narayan, Parbrahm, Parmeshwar, Rahu, Ram, Vasdev, et. al. Similarly, he calls his God with Islamic names as well: Allah, Kabir, Karim, Khuda, Malik, Rabb, Rahim, Rahman, Sahib, etc. But Guru Nanak is sure that God is one despite and beyond all these names. [19]

While, irrespective of their meanings, Sahib and Khuda are not names divinely revealed by Allah or mentioned by His Messenger, Muhammad (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him), it is apparent that Nanak was averse neither to the use of the Islamic names of God, nor Hinduism’s.

DISTORTION & MISREPRESENTATION

Faruq also has a tendency of distorting, mistranslating, reinterpreting, and, thus, misrepresenting the evidence he draws upon. And there are four examples of this re the GGS.

The first appears on p. 29 in which the author somehow manages to interpolate the words rasool, or messenger, and dosakh (dojak), or hell, into the verse below:

Without the Lord’s Name, he shall not be emancipated; he shall die, and sink into hell. (GGS 420:18)

And there is absolutely no instance of the word dojak to be found in the GGS.

Later on p. 45, while the author wrongly attributes the apparent words of Kabir, which mention the total number of prophets and messengers, to Nanak, i.e. “Whose prophets are a lakh and quarter (125,000),” (GGS 1161:5) he again manages to somehow miss the verse immediately preceding this that makes it conspicuously clear:

Slave Kabeer speaks and teaches. (GGS 1161:4)

As for the actual number, then Kabir was out by precisely a thousand (strangely, Shahin-ur Rahman renders “one and a quarter lakh – one lakh being a hundred thousand” as a “hundred and twenty-four thousand”!). In any case, the authenticity of the Prophetic traditions that do advance a total of 124,000, appear to be dubious at best [20] – a point also acknowledged by the reviewer.

Two pages later, Faruq attempts his hands at translating, or mistranslating as the case turns out to be, GGS 903:4-5 in an attempt at furnishing evidence for Nanak’s “belief in the Qur’an”:

During the time of Kalyug, the Qur’an is the only acceptable book of God’s. After its revelation, all other books, including the Purana, have been abrogated. Now it is only God’s attribute of mercy that’s a currency exchangeable on the market.

This translation, however, bears absolutely no resemblance to the actual verse in question. Take the following two renditions as an example. Dr Sant Singh Khalsa has it:

In Kali Yuga, the Koran and the Bible have become famous.
The Pandit’s scriptures and the Puraanas are not respected.
O Nanak, the Lord’s Name now is Rehmaan, the Merciful.
Know that there is only One Creator of the creation.

While Manmohan Singh renders it thus:

In the kalage, Quran has become the approved book.
The Brahmans, the Hindu religious books and Puranas are esteemed not.
The Merciful Khuda is now the Lord’s Name, O Nanak.
Know thou that there is but One Creator of the creation.

It is evident, therefore, that Nanak was not endorsing his belief in the Qur’an, but rather pointing to the obvious fact that since the majority Hindus were being ruled by the Muslims during his time, Islam was the foundation of the laws of the land resulting in the Qur’an having taken precedence over the Puranas. This is made apparent in the preceding verses where Nanak contextualised:

In this turbulent age of Kali Yuga, Muslim law decides the cases, and the blue-robed Qazi is the judge. (GGS 903:2)

Finally, to prove his case in Nanak’s belief in the Day of Judgment, he cites:

He is Allah, the Unknowable, the Inaccessible, All-powerful and Merciful Creator.
All the world comes and goes-only the Merciful Lord is permanent.
Call permanent only the One, who does not have destiny inscribed upon His Forehead.
The sky and the earth shall pass away; He alone is permanent.
The day and the sun shall pass away; the night and the moon shall pass away; the hundreds of thousands of stars shall disappear. He alone is permanent; Nanak speaks the Truth. (GGS 64:9-14)

Somehow, the author manages to translate the above as:

There will come a day when the seven heavens (sathon asman), moon and sun will be utterly destroyed, and everything within the earth will be annihilated. At this time, only the essence of God will remain.

But, there is no mention of “seven heavens” here, but rather asman dharti, or the heavens/ sky and the earth. Again, it does not take much to work out the reason behind this sleight of hand: it is to reinforce the impression that Nanak affirmed various Islamic theological beliefs.

Sadly, these few examples, restricted as they are to the GGS, do not come close to uncovering the many other instances in which Faruq is guilty of exactly the same (for more examples, though restricted this time to the Janam Sakhis, see below: Appendix A – Distorting the Janam Sakhis).

JANAM SAKHI – FARUQ’S ACHILLES HEEL

Before moving on to expose the biggest flaw in Faruq’s use of the Janam Sakhi corpus, it is necessary that we succinctly summarise why his use of the GGS turned out to be the single biggest evidence against him.

Very simply, the GGS has no evidence to support Nanak’s Muslim identity, but vice-versa.

The only way in which the author could manufacture evidence to create the façade of Nanak’s Muslim identity was by wholly quoting out of context.

But, if Faruq is consistent in anything throughout his book, it is his proclivity towards committing this fallacy of isolation, which he is certainly guilty of when citing from the Janam Sakhis.

As alluded to earlier, while scholars are agreed that the Janam Sakhi tradition is a valuable source of historical information, they are also fully aware, as are Sikh scholars and historians, of spurious material contained therein, some of which is said to have been interpolated by non-orthodox Sikh hands.

In a previous paper titled Uncloaking Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s Guru Nanak, we demonstrated how Bala served as emphatic evidence against any and all attempts at proving Nanak’s Muslim identity by presenting conclusive evidence of him being anything but.

And while this is also true of Faruq, his utilisation of a far larger selection of Janam Sakhi source material culminates in a far larger volume of evidence emerging against him – evidence which, similar to his treatment of the GGS, he entirely fails to cite and, thus, tackle.

Of course, this raises an important question, which in turn returns back to the original query regarding this academic’s credibility and honesty: how could he have failed to miss all the following evidence to the contrary?

NANAK VISITS MAKKAH

To prove our contention that the Janam Sakhis have plenty of evidence disproving Faruq, we intend to start with probably the single most important argument in this regard: Nanak’s visit to the city of Makkah for an alleged pilgrimage with his so-called Muslim companion, Mardana.

On p. 19, it is speculated:

Your teacher, Mawlana Sayyid Hasan (God’s mercy be upon him), advised that you travel …. When Guru Nanak expressed his desire to travel to the lands of the Muslims, he declared Mardana his travel partner. But, in his Arabic poetry, Guru Nanak has mentioned his true friend and companion, Rukan ad-Deen, by name. It is possible that Mardana’s real name was Rukan ad-Deen, but that Mardana was his traditional (urfi) name.

While no other source alludes to Rukn ud-Deen being Mardana’s real name, other than the Arabic poetry dubiously attributed to Nanak, [21] this attempt at reconciliation also does nothing to solve another quandary: how is it that Mardana’s alleged real name coincidentally matches precisely that of the Qazi of Makkah? About this man, Trumpp says in his translation of the Vilayatwali: “Shekh Rukn Din was the Kazi of Mekka,” [22] while Bala even has a chapter heading, related to said pilgrimage, that reads: “Suaal rukn deen kazee”, or “Questions from Qazi Rukn ud-Deen.”? [23]

And the author would have undoubtedly been aware of this parallel given that on p. 38 he refers to “four individuals [who] were Guru Nanak’s close friends and associates [and] who would reside with him while attending every one of his gatherings. One was Mardana, the second Qazi Rukan ad-Deen, the third Meharban, and the fourth Sayyid Karim ad-Deen”.

Be that as it may, the author continues on p. 19 by citing and misrepresenting Bhai Gurdas:

He had a stick, a Qur’an under his armpit, a prayer mat for prayers (namaaz), and a vessel for making ablution (wuzu). And while reciting the call to prayer (azaan), he arrived in Makkah. (Bhai Gurdas, p.132)

But, having checked through this source, Gurdas says nothing of the sort. Instead, he records:

baabaa fir maakae gayaa neel basathr dhhaarae banavaaree
aasaa haathh kithaab kaashh koojaa baa(n)g musaalaa dhhaaree

Donning blue attire then Baba Nanak went to Mecca. He held staff in his hand, pressed a book under his armpit, caught hold of a pot and prayer-mat. [24]

While Bala only mentions Nanak carrying a “book” under his arm, not a Qur’an:

Baba Nanak approached Mecca donned in blue attire like the pilgrim. He carried a staff in one hand and a rosary in the other, a prayer mat above his head, and a book under his arm (bagal vich kitab rakhee haee). [25]

It is, thus, significant to understand the difference between the words kitab and kateb. [26] While the former is a loose term for book, the latter is found throughout the GGS and specifically denotes scriptures originating from the Middle Eastern region, viz. Torah, Bible and the Qur’an.

Furthermore, not only is this same argument repeated on p. 24, but it is also the point at which Faruq, as the reviewer himself notes, “begins to reference his writings. Visiting Makka and Madina, praying, taking the pledge of tasawwuf – all are referenced, albeit some from Muslim sources. Again, this could be because of it not being as powerful of an argument as the coming chapters” (bold ours). And the first source he references, before extensively quoting throughout the book, is the obscurely titled Deenul Islam, which alleges:

Bhai Gurdas has written that Guru Nanak was dressed in the attire of a Muslim and performed Hajj in Mecca. …

It is written in Janam Sakhi Bhai Bala that Guru Nanak, on approaching Makkah Mukaramah, wore the Ihram which the Janam Sakhis say was that of the Hajjis. It is also written that when Guru Nanak approached Makkah, he adopted the Hajjis attire, with blue clothes, prayer beads in one hand, a prayer mat on his head, and a Qur’an under his arm.

Again, Gurdas said nothing about the performance of Hajj, quite the contrary in fact. This is all he recorded:

Donning blue attire then Baba Nanak went to Mecca.
He held staff in his hand, pressed a book under his armpit, caught hold of a pot and prayer-mat.
Now he sat in a mosque where the pilgrims had gathered.
When Baba (Nanak) slept in the night spreading his legs towards the alcove of the mosque at Kaba, the qazi named Jivan kicked him and asked who this infidel was enacting blasphemy.
Why is this sinner sleeping with his legs extended towards God.
Catching a hold of his legs he dragged them aside, and behold the miracle, the whole of Mecca seemed to revolve.
All got surprised and they all bowed.
Qazi and maulvis got together and began discussing faith (eemaan).
A great fantasy has been created and no one could understand its mystery.
They asked Baba Nanak to open and search in his book (kitab) whether Hindu is great or the Muslim.
Baba replied to the pilgrims that without good deeds both will have to weep and wail.
One cannot be accepted in the court of the Lord by merely being a Hindu or a Muslim.

But, if it were true that Nanak did actually perform the pilgrimage, then why did his fellow pilgrims express such uncertainty to the point that he divulge his position over which group he considered superior: Hindu or Muslim. The fact that the learned among the Muslims, i.e. the “Qazi and maulvis”, took it that far, should indicate, if anything, that Nanak was not as overtly Muslim as Faruq attempts to portray.

In fact, there are other Janam Sakhis that manage to shed enough light on this matter as to help us understand the degree of uncertainty met by these “Qazi and maulvis”.

Take, for instance, the Vilayatwali’s coverage of said pilgrimage. In this, it is revealed:

On his feet he had shoes of leather and trousers of leather; on his neck he had a necklace of bones, on his forehead a Tilak of a dot, his clothes were blue. He played amongst children; (thus) playing he went on a Hajj. The Haji asked him and said: “O Darvesh, thou hast no cup, no staff, no skin, no sack, art thou a Hindu or a Musalman?” The Baba recited a Sabd, in the Rag Tilang, Mahala I. [there follow four verses]. [27] (bold ours)

Additionally, it also recorded how a Haji, or pilgrim, while travelling with Nanak, accusingly remarked that “no Hindu has ever gone to Mecca. Don’t walk with me; either walk in front or behind me”, to which Nanak responds: “It would be good if you carry on in front.” [28]

Worse still is found in Bala. Here, while accompanying Mardana to Makkah, Nanak is recognised as, of all people, a Hindu:

A Haji named Shah Sharaf questioned the Guru about his dress and said, “Being a Hindu why are you dressed as a Fakir?” The Guru replied, “Hear me sir, asking a fakir about his dress is insulting. Men of God care little for dress or worldly traditions.” (Lines 23-24 page 98) Again the Hajis ask, “Why should a Hindu Fakir visit Mecca? Do you know there is a place on the way where Hindus are slaughtered? Even the Muslims who escort Hindus to Mecca are molested.” The Baba said, “Dear Mardana let these Hajis go. Do not accompany them. If you must visit Mecca, I will arrange for you differently.” (Line 13-18 Page 102) [29] (bold, underline ours)

Yet, surely it has to be Nanak’s self-identification as a Hindu, followed by Mardana’s indirect affirmation, which tops the lot:

[Mardana said] “Guru ji, Muslims [Turks/ Mughals] praise Mecca abundantly, so show me it, may goodness be with you.” Guru Nanak ji said: “O Mardana, it is a fair distance away and [besides] they do not allow Hindus to enter therein.” Mardana responded: “It cannot be far for you. For me it is but a mere blink of an eye.” Guru Nanak said: “Mardana from here it is two and half thousand miles (jojan koho – an old measuring unit of distance),” to which Mardana replied: “Then it is two and a half blinks for me! And you say Hindus are forbidden, yet who could forbid you?” Guru Nanak said: “May good be upon you Mardana for I cannot deny what you have said.” [30] (bold ours)

Little wonder, therefore, that you have the Vilayatwali claiming that when Nanak “passed his retired life in the east”:

The attire of the Baba was one mango-coloured raiment, and one white raiment; on his feet he had one pair of shoes and one pair of slippers. Over his neck a shirt, on his head a Kalandar’s hat, a necklace of bones, on his forehead a Tilak (mark) of saffron. [31]

Similarly, during “the second time [of his] retired life in the Dakhan (south) … on his feet he had sandals of wood, in his hand a staff, on his head rolls of rope; on his forehead as Tilak the paint of a point”. [32]

Likewise, when he “began to pass his third retired life in the northern region … [o]n his feet he had a skin and on his head also, his whole body was wrapped up. On his forehead he had a Tilak of saffron”. [33]

Additionally, Kirpal cites a discussion between the Sufi Shaikhs Ibrahim and his disciple Kamal following the latter’s encounter with Nanak and Mardana in the jungle. The story goes that after returning to “his teacher to tell him that a faqir has arrived who is accompanied by a rebeck-player and that the faqir sings his own verse. He also told that he had remembered the above couplet”, [34] Ibrahim “asked Kamal if that faqir was a Hindu or Muslim. Kamal replied that he was a Hindu. He was highly astonished that a Hindu faqir could be so committed to the unity of God” (bold ours). [35]

This confusion over his religious identity, courtesy of his attire, is even found in a story recounted by Meharban in his Janam Sakhi (a source also utilised by the author) wherein Nanak is met by “some sadhus” in Hinglaj:

Here some sadhus met the Guru. They saw him attired like a Haji and were astonished at this. Nobody could make out whether he was an ascetic or a Bairagi, Vaishnava or Udasi, Hindu or Muslim, Khatri or Brahmin, Vaishya or Sudra. Some of them came to the Guru and asked: “O Beloved of God! What is your dress and what do you eat? Also please let us know about yourself so that we can make out as to what should be your diet and could serve you appropriately.” In reply to it, the Guru uttered the following hymn: [36]

Those adopting the fast of truth, holy pilgrimage, of content and bath of illumination and meditation; Making compassion their deity, forgiveness their rosary, Are pre-eminent among men.
To make union with the lord the dhoti; absorption in God the ritually pure kitchen, Love the food consumed-Saith Nanak: Rare are such as thus are blessed. – Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1245

When the sadhus listened to these words of the Guru, they fell at his feet. [37] (bold ours)

And finally, there is even evidence in a later source, ironically referenced on p. 11 as part of the author’s recommended reading list (herein cited to demonstrate how confused Faruq is), called Sikhan de Raj di Vithi’a, which relates:

It must be borne in mind that Nanak never openly seceded from the pale of Hinduism, or ever contemplated doing so. Thus in the Sakhi of Miyan Mitha it is related that towards the end of Nanak’s life a Muslim named Shah ‘Abdu’r-Rahman acknowledged the great advantages he had derived from the teacher of Nanak, and sent his friend Miyan Mitha to the Guru so that he might derive similar benefit. “The Miyan Mitha said, ‘What is his name? Is he a Hindu, or is he a Musalman?’ Shah ‘Abdu’r-Rahman replied, ‘He is a Hindu and his name is Nanak” – (Sikhan de Raj di Vithi’a p. 258.) [38] (bold ours)

Incidentally, it is fallacious to argue, as the reviewer has, that Nanak’s entry into Makkah “shows he cannot have been a non-Muslim; otherwise, this would necessitate the Guru having lied to the Arabs”, since this constitutes a false-dilemma (see below: Appendix B – Nanak Visited Makkah; Ergo, He Was Muslim).

NANAK VISITS BAGHDAD

Turning again to Gurdas on p. 20, Faruq continues that upon arriving in Baghdad:

Baba [Nanak] performed wuzu for namaaz, before giving the azaan.

Unsurprisingly, Gurdas says nothing about wuzu nor, for that matter, does he use the word azaan, or call to prayer. Rather, he states:

Ditee baangi nivaaji kari sunni samaani hoaa jahaanaa
Baba gave call for namaz listening to which the whole world went into absolute silence.

The word used on this occasion is baang, which, when correctly translated, only means ‘a loud call’ and nothing more.

By force of habit perhaps, this mistake is again repeated with Bala:

Nanak placed his fingers in his ears and loudly pronounced the azaan (baang) …. (Bhai Bala, p. 203)

Now, in light of Nanak’s aforementioned revisionist agenda that sought to undermine ritualism of worship in Islam, it seems entirely implausible that said baang would have been the azaan. Suffice it to say, there is no further evidence to suggest that he fulfilled the namaz thereafter. Instead, the baang seems to have been intended for attracting the attention of the people of Baghdad and persuading them to his presence, which, according to the Gurdas, he succeeded in:

The whole city became quiet and lo! to behold it, [sic] the pir (of the town) also got wonderstruck. Observing minutely he found (in the form of Baba Nanak) an exhilarated [sic] faqir. Pir Dastigir asked him, which category of faqir you belong to and what is your parentage. (Mardana said) He is Nanak, who has come into kaliyug, and, he recognises God and His faqirs as one.

Further clarification regarding this baang can also be found in Santokh Singh’s Nanak Prakash, a source which is again part of Faruq’s reading list:

There came boys, old men and young men. The Guru greeted them with a divine invocation uttered in the style of the Muslims’ call to prayer. Hearing this the entire crowd was stilled … Their arms lifted to pelt stones were immobilized in the air.” [39]

The fact that they were about to pelt him with stones hardly gives credence to the idea that Nanak’s baang was that of the azaan. Instead, there appears to be more to this entire incident than meets the eye. And one source that sheds appropriate light on this situation, is the Janam Sakhi attributed to Mani Singh, a well-known contemporary of Gobind Singh, called Gyan-Ratanavali. In this, Nanak’s interrogation at the hands of Pir Dastigir provides a plausible answer for this hostile reception:

As they reached near, Pir Dastgir instantly asked Guru Nanak who he was and to which tradition of Islam he belonged. The Guru replied that he was God’s man and belonged to NONE of the Islamic traditions. The Pir said in that case he was an infidel and they would kill him by stoning. On hearing this the Guru gave a loud call of Sati Kartar [Lord-Creator is True]. This astonished the Pir Dastgir and other people. They thought this faqir who sang melodies might be crazy. [40] (bold, capitalisation ours)

This is poles apart from the serene picture Faruq has attempted to paint via his selective-quoting. Rather than proving Nanak did wuzu, delivered the azaan and fulfilled his namaz, it instead seems to identify Nanak’s non-Muslim credentials.

CONCLUSION

According to the reviewer Shahin-ur Rahman:

It should be known that the objective of the book was not to celebrate Guru Nanak and boast that he adhered to the same religion as the author does. Rather, quite the opposite is true: the author’s intent behind this work was to bring forth anecdotes of Guru Nanak’s biography, which can assist the objective researcher in identifying the true teachings of Guru Nanak as he himself taught. This would, in turn, be a means of guiding the Sikh brethren to reconsider their perception of Sikhism, and, thereby, adopt the religion that Guru Nanak had truly preached. This is evident from the ‘food for thought’ at the end of the booklet, where the author requests the Sikh brethren to read this book side by side with the original sources and compare the two to reach an unbiased conclusion.

But, as we have demonstrated in this paper, in relying on the Sikh scripture to persuade his “Sikh brethren” of their founder’s alleged Islamic beliefs, Faruq effectively buried himself even before he began.

The only way for him, or anyone else for that matter, to succeed in this deluded quest is to turn a blind eye to all the emphatic evidences found in the GGS that prove Nanak’s kuffar (disbelief).

In attempting this, however, not only is the author guilty of cherry-picking, but also something far worse. Given the conspicuously relevant nature and extent of the evidence compiled against Faruq, especially from the GGS, it seems highly unlikely that this man innocently failed to encounter any of it.

In fact, such an explanation would surely amount to an insult for an academic who, one would think, has spent considerable time and effort in researching this topic, particularly from the primary source.

If this is the case, and Faruq was indeed well aware of all the counter evidence against him, then only two plausible explanations exist:

  1. He managed to reconcile this with himself, but deemed it unnecessary to either explain his reasons or furnish any of the evidence against him.
  2. In his failure to find a plausible reconciliation, he decided to hoodwink his audience by only presenting evidence that he believed supported his case.

Hence, unless Faruq can show how he was able to look past all the counter evidence from the GGS, then, at present, he is patently guilty of deceit.

It is important to highlight also that unlike our paper Guru Nanak was NEVER a Muslim, which was a refutation from a purely doctrinal perspective and which included evidence against his contradictory concept of Nirgun-Sargun, we chose to overlook this argument on the grounds that, sadly, some Sufi paths actually hold a belief similar to it. Instead, we decided on an approach à la reincarnation sans any dispute. Nevertheless, we would encourage readers to browse the aforecited paper which conclusively proves Nanak’s disbelief, including claims of him having received divine revelation from God.

Finally, in terms of Faruq’s dependency on the Janam Sakhi tradition and other historical documents, then not only was Faruq also guilty of selectively-quoting here, but consequently he must now deal with all the evidence established against him.

If this exposition of Muhammad Faruq establishes anything, it has to be the indisputable fact that any and all attempts at proving Nanak’s Muslim identity through the use of the GGS and/ or the historical sources of Sikhism, particularly the Janam Sakhis, is absolutely certain to lead to abject failure and ignominy.

It was true of the detrimental efforts of the Ahmadiyya and their founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (see our refutations here), and it is true of the author of this book Janab Guru Nanak Ji awr Islam.

In the end, however, the question that troubles us the most is: what are the reasons and delusions for adopting such a desperate approach? It is so poor that while we were left stunned and embarrassed by the author’s shoddy research, we can only imagine how shocked the Sikhs must feel at seeing their religious texts and historical documents mishandled and abused in this way.

Such books are merely fodder for the converted, and do nothing in helping to win over the Sikhs. To the contrary, all they will do is hinder the da’wah while painting Muslims in a terrible light.

Here is wisdom:

Let him that hath understanding know that Guru Nanak was NEVER a Muslim!

APPENDIX A – DISTORTING THE JANAM SAKHIS

As a researcher and academic, Faruq does not, to put it kindly, inspire confidence when it comes to translating, presenting and interpreting evidence. While examples of this have been cited from the GGS, here are a few more, though this time from non-GGS sources, starting with Bala and a quotation from Nanak on p. 39:

The Kalimah (declaration of faith) mentions God’s oneness, as well as Muhammad’s (saw) prophethood (risalat) who’s God’s beloved.

But, the Punjabi does not mention risalat or any equivalence to the word “prophethood”. Instead, it reads Muhammad naal malai, or “to which Muhammad is attached”, that is to say, Muhammad is attached to the Kalimah. If we understand the Kalimah in the way that Nanak would have, i.e. acknowledging the numerical affirmation of God’s oneness, then attaching Muhammad to his ultra-restricted definition of the Kalimah carries the same meaning as the second quote he cites from Bala on the same page, which reads:

Muhammad (saw) has preached through the Kalimah God’s oneness which is known by everyone to some level of degree.

As such, Nanak’s attachment of Muhammad to this numerical affirmation is no more remarkable than his attachment to the Kalimah of Namdev, Ravidas, Ramanand and Kabir. This entire line of reasoning is entirely consistent with Nanak’s overarching modus operandi of merely affirming God’s monotheistic oneness, while also praising those who did likewise.

On the next page, he again cites Bala:

Those who, after having sincerely declared the Kalimah, do not refrain from speaking lies and continue to do so, these people will be forbidden from the Prophet’s intercession on the Day of Judgement.

Yet again, Faruq is guilty of interpolating words that simply are not to be found in the Punjabi he records. Not only is the term “Day of Judgement” absent, but also the word “intercession”. In their place, only the Punjabi word agai (afterwards) is found, which entirely exposes the false impression being created that Nanak affirmed the Day of Judgment and the Prophet’s great intercession.

Finally on p. 46, he quotes Nanak as stating that “125,000 Prophets were sent into this world. From time to time, these people guided their respective nation to the siraat mustaqeem, meaning the correct path, and into the presence of God” (we have already highlighted this mistake above vis-à-vis the GGS, where the actual number, according to Islamic tradition, totalled 124,000).

On this occasion, the Arabic phrase siraat mustaqeem, which has a very definite connotation of Islamic salvific exclusivity, has somehow been extracted from the far more mundane expression chalai rai, or “guided path”. It seems, given Faruq’s consistency, that he is attempting to reinforce the idea that Nanak’s ready use of Islamic terminology is merely an extension of his Muslim background.

APPENDIX B – NANAK VISITED MAKKAH; ERGO, HE WAS MUSLIM

The reviewer, Shahin-ur Rahman, commits the false-dilemma fallacy by arguing:

A Sikh scholar has tried to refute this evidence on online videos. He argued that visiting Makka and Madina does not make one Muslim, just as visiting Rome does not make one Christian. Since Guru Nanak has also visited Christian, Hindu and Buddhist areas, by that logic he ought to simultaneously be Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist. However, this scholar failed to see the difference between Makka and other parts of the world. While it is true that visiting Rome etc. does not render one a Christian, the same cannot be said with respect to Makka and Madina. This is because ever since the Muslims have conquered Makka, no non-Muslim has ever been allowed to enter the holy lands (although they are permitted to enter the Arabian Peninsula). Due to the fact that only Muslims have ever been granted entry into Makka and Madina, the fact that Guru Nanak entered the holy cities shows he cannot have been a non-Muslim; otherwise, this would necessitate the Guru having lied to the Arabs – something the Sikhs would surely consider unimaginable. Adding to this, the performance of ḥajj, a great act of worship unique to Muslims, makes it even more far-fetched to believe Guru Nanak was not Muslim, and Allah knows best. (bold ours)

The reason why this is a false-dilemma is because the reviewer presents this as an either/ or argument. However, if it can be shown that a third plausible reason exists, then the reviewer’s argument will be rendered false. As it so happens, there is.

The key part to his argument is the assertion that “no non-Muslim has ever been allowed to enter the holy lands”, while the key word in said assertion is “allowed”. It is true that, theoretically, no non-Muslim is allowed into the restricted sanctuary. However, this is not the same as a non-Muslim never having entered the holy lands.

With strict border controls, visa requirements, heavy policing and a state of the art security system currently in place in Saudi Arabia, it is true that entering the country, let alone the sanctuary, is no mean feat. But, given that such stringent measures have not always been in place, it would have been far easier for determined non-Muslims in the past to surreptitiously enter Makkah, particularly before the emergence of the Saudi state, and enter they certainly did.

According to Childress:

The first non-Muslim to visit Mecca was the Italian adventurer Ludovico di Varthema who published a book about his travels in Arabia in 1510. He disguised himself as a Mameluke, one of the Christian prisoners of war who converted to Islam and were now mercenaries for the Egyptian and Syrian caliphates. …

It was nearly 200 years later that the next westerner was to travel to Mecca. This was the English seaman Joseph Pitts, who had been captured by Barbary pirates in 1678 and then sold as a slave to a Muslim cavalry officer. He accompanied his master to Mecca in 1685. …

The next European was a mysterious Spaniard who called himself Ali Bey. He made the pilgrimage in 1801 with a number of scientific instruments and was the first to fix the position of Mecca by astronomical observation. The German Ulrich Jaspar Seetzen made the journey in 1809 disguised as a Muslim ….

The Swiss explorer, John Lewis Burckhardt, who had discovered Petra in Jordan, made the haj in 1815 …. In 1853, the most celebrated western explorer to visit Mecca, Sir Richard Burton … managed to sneak into Mecca disguised as an Afghan pilgrim. … Another English adventurer named A.J.B. Wavell repeated Burton’s dangerous voyage disguised as a Zanzibari pilgrim in 1908. [41]

This proves that prior to the modern and post-modern era, a simple disguise was sufficient for anyone wanting to visit Makkah. In fact, even with the so-called “Wahhabis” in control of Makkah at the turn of the nineteenth century, there are reports, as mentioned by Arthur Jeffery, of western non-Muslims visiting Makkah both during and outside the Hajj season. [42]

If the reports are true that Nanak too dressed as a pilgrim before joining other pilgrims from the East along the familiar Hajj routes of that time, it is probable that he managed to enter Makkah as a non-Muslim without any difficulties.

[1] JazakAllah khair to the brother who brought this booklet to our attention before going out of his way to diligently photograph all 80 pages for us.
[2] K. Singh (2004), Janamsakhi Tradition – An Analytical Study, (Singh Brothers, Amritsar), p. 16.
[3] Ibid, p. 38:

The colophone of the Vilayatwali Janamsakhi mentions the year of its compilation as: Kaljug Char Hazar Sat Sau Panti Barsbitya viz the Kalyug has passed 4735 years. If we try to find out the corresponding year of the Christian era, according to the Indian Ephemeris of Kannu Pillay, it works out to be 1634 AD which suggests that this Janamsakhi was written at the time when Bhai Gurdas was alive.

N.B. – It should be noted that the titles Puratan and Vilayatwali are often used interchangeably essentially for the same source material. Notwithstanding this point, however, the date of its writing is disputed. While one party believes it was written in the late 1580s, most put the date no earlier than 1634 CE, with some holding the author to be Sewa Das. Whatever the case, this would make the Vilayatwali, at best, a secondary source, not a primary one.
[4] Ibid, p. 29.
[5] Ibid, p. 17.
[6] Ibid, pp. 14-5.
[7] K. Singh (1914), History and Philosophy of Sikh Religion – Part 1, (Newal Kishore Press Ltd., Lahore), p. 21.
[8] T.B. Johnson (2014), Living and Learning with Guru Nanak: Participation and Pedagogy in the Janam-Sakhi Narratives, (UC Riverside: Religious Studies; accessed: scholarship.org), p. 35.
[9] W.H. McLeod (1980), Early Sikh Tradition – A Study of the Janam-sakhis, (Clarendon Press, Oxford), p. 16.
[10] H.R. Gupta (2008), History of the Sikhs 1469-1708, Vol. 1, (Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi), p. 42.
[11] S.S. Kohli (1999), Guru Granth Sahib Speaks 1 – Death and After, (Singh Bros), p. 43.
[12] Fn. 2: The Adi Granth, p. 1381.
[13] Fn. 3: Ibid, p. 141.
[14] Fn. 4: Ibid, p. 465.
[15] (Ed) A. Singh (2002), Socio-Cultural Impact of Islam on India, (Publication Bureau Panjab University, Chandigarh), p. 123.
[16] (Ed) H. Singh (1975), Perspectives on Guru Nanak, (Punjabi University, Patiala), p. 202.
[17] (Eds) S.S. Bhatia, A. Spencer (1999), The Sikh Tradition: A Continuing Reality, (Publication Bureau Punjabi University, Patiala), p. 33.
[18] (Ed) A. Singh, op. cit., p. 122.
[19] D. Singh (1988), Essential Postulates of Sikhism, (Publication bureau Punjabi University, Patiala), p. 14.
[20] More on this can be read here: Is there any saheeh text about the number of Prophets and Messengers?, (Islamqa.com; accessed: 08 July, 2017).
[21] The reviewer states:

After moving forward to Guru Nanak’s studies and listing examples of his skills in poetry, particularly in Arabic – which are available to view in libraries of the Muslim world.

However, it is important to note that Faruq makes absolutely no attempt in providing any evidence or references to sources that might speak of the authenticity of these poetic tracts. As such, they are merely assumed to be so.

[22] E. Trumpp (1877), The Adi Granth or the Holy Scriptures of the Sikhs, (W.M.H. Allen & Co., London), p. xli.
[23] Bala JS, p. 175.
[24] Vars Bhai Gurdas, Pannaa 1.
[25] Bala JS, p. 155.
[26] Kabir, for instance, has this to say of the Kateb:

The Vedas and the Kateb are only make-believe, O Siblings of Destiny; they do not relieve the anxiety of the heart. (GGS 727:7)

[27] E. Trumpp, op. cit., p. xl.
[28] Bhai Vir Singh’s Purataan Janamsakhi – Mecca pages 176-183.
[29] G.S. Sidhu (1999), A Challenge to Sikhism, (Mohindra Art Press, London), p. 27.
[30] Bala JS, p. 164.
[31] E. Trumpp, op. cit., p. xv.
[32] Ibid, p. xxxiv.
[33] Ibid, p. xxxix.
[34] Fn. 128: In both the Vilayatvali and the Miharban versions, the episode has been given as above.
[35] K. Singh, op. cit., pp. 84-5.
[36] Fn. 483: This is based on the sakhi titled, “Guru Ji Hinglaj Vich” in Miharban’s Janamsakhi, pp. 461-62. Although this episode is found in no other Janamsakhi version yet it seems correct since it happened at a place which is on the Guru’s way to Mecca. Bhai Gurdas has also said that the Guru first went to Mecca and then to Baghdad. Thus, the Guru’s journey by sea seems probable and correct. Lakhpat, sarovar at Narain Swami and Hinglaj fall on this route.
[37] K. Singh, op. cit., pp. 187-8.
[38] T.P. Hughes, (1885), A Dictionary of Islam, (W.H. Allen and Co.), p. 589.
[39] H. Singh (1969), Guru Nanak and Origins of the Sikh Faith, (Asia Publishing House, Punjabi University, Patiala), pp. 168-9.
[40] K. Singh, op. cit., p. 194.
[41] Childress (2002), Lost Cities & Ancient Mysteries of Africa & Arabia, (Adventures Unlimited Press, US), pp. 200-1.
[42] The Muslim World, Volume 19 (1929), pp. 221-232.

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