A Model for Interfaith Action
From Amman Seehra, SALDEF’s Northeast Regional Director:
I had the pleasure of speaking at an interfaith service hosted by the Reformed Church of Highland Park. It was an amazing experience with incredible perspective from so many faiths. I wanted to thank Pastor Seth Kaper-Dale for inviting me to share with everyone my words from the Sikh community.
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!
This is a traditional Sikh greeting that means “We belong to God and praise God for our success belongs to him.”
In the spirit of being thankful, thank you to the Reformed Church of Highland Park and Pastor Seth for hosting this interfaith service.
I am here today to speak on behalf of the Sikh community. Sikhism is the 5th largest religion in the world. It was developed by ten Gurus, or spiritual teachers, from 1469–1708. Many Sikhs are recognizable because they wear a turban. Over 99% of Americans that wear a turban are Sikh Americans. Our faith is based on the values of freedom, equal opportunity, service to others, and social justice. One of the main principles is to consider all humans equal regardless of caste, color, class, culture, gender, wealth, or religion.
Here is a quote from our religious text, the Guru Granth Sahib:
“All beings and creatures belong to God; and God belongs to all. God does not love based on one’s caste or color, He loves all, He belongs to all.”
During this season of being thankful and giving, there are two values that I wanted to touch on: interfaith cooperation and helping those in need. There is a particular story in Sikh history that I think truly expresses this spirit.
In 1675, the emperor of India wanted to forcibly convert Hindu pandits. Threatened with conversion or death, they requested help from Guru Tegh Bahadur, who was one of the ten Gurus of the Sikh faith. He told the pandits to tell the Emperor if they could convert him then the pandits would gladly convert, if not, then they must be left free. After the message was conveyed Guru Tegh Bahadur was arrested and over the next few weeks he was tortured and then finally publicly executed. He made the ultimate sacrifice because he believed in religious freedom for all faiths and stepped up in the face of danger when those in need presented themselves.
So what I ask of you during this time of giving thanks and beyond is to give thanks through action.
If you see someone who has fallen, reach out your hand –
If a family is hungry, give them bread –
If a friend is sad, give them your heart –
And if you see hate, respond with love.
I leave you with another quote from the Guru Granth Sahib, “The truly enlightened ones are those who neither incite fear in others nor fear anyone themselves.”
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh