s soon as news broke that a gunman entered a Sikh house of worship yesterday and killed 6 people, before being shot to death by police, the news media began explaining again what Sikhism is not — i.e. it is not Islam. I know Americans can be pretty intellectually lazy, but would it hurt the rest of us to learn something about our fellow citizens and neighbors other than what they are not?
The BBC also has a nice overview of the religion.
Sikhs.org also provides this concise explanation of their beliefs, which, even as an atheist, I think are pretty cool.
- There is only One God. He is the same God for all people of all religions.
- The soul goes through cycles of births and deaths before it reaches the human form. The goal of our life is to lead an exemplary existence so that one may merge with God. Sikhs should remember God at all times and practice living a virtuous and truthful life while maintaining a balance between their spiritual obligations and temporal obligations.
- The true path to achieving salvation and merging with God does not require renunciation of the world or celibacy, but living the life of a householder, earning a honest living and avoiding worldly temptations and sins.
- Sikhism condemns blind rituals such as fasting, visiting places of pilgrimage, superstitions, worship of the dead, idol worship etc.
- Sikhism preaches that people of different races, religions, or sex are all equal in the eyes of God. It teaches the full equality of men and women. Women can participate in any religious function or perform any Sikh ceremony or lead the congregation in prayer.
Very little information has been released about the gunman or his motives. But Mother Jones reports that early accounts described him as a bald white man in his 30s. The FBI released a statement saying it is investigating whether it might be an act of domestic terrorism.
One of the saddest parts about the killing spree was hearing the Sikhs interviewed on TV try to make sense out of the killing and hatred that we as African-Americans are all too familiar with. They kept saying, ‘Why? Why would anyone do this to us?’ I dread the day they realize there is no satisfactory answer.
Update: CNN is reporting that the gunman “was an Army veteran who may have been a white supremacist, according to a law enforcement source involved in the investigation. Law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation named him Monday as Wade Michael Page, 40.”