Why Sikhs don’t throw Muslims under the bus

In response to the misguided messages, I would like to share some thoughts on the anti-Muslim hate Sikhs endure and why ...

(RNS) — Earlier this month I published a column on what I learned teaching Islamic studies in Texas. As I’ve come to expect from all my columns, this one was met with quite a bit of positivity — and also with quite a bit of hate mail. Some accused me of selling out my Sikh roots, others called me a terrorist sympathizer; others, still, called me some very not nice things. Let’s just say that my block button was even more active than usual on Twitter last week.

In response to the misguided messages, I would like to share some thoughts on the anti-Muslim hate Sikhs endure and why I, along with many other Sikhs I know, continue to stand as allies to our Muslim sisters and brothers.

First, I will note that although Sikhs aren’t Muslim, we remain frequent targets of anti-Muslim violence. Other scholars and I refer to the process that produces the negative feelings animating this violence as “racialization.” This process ties directly to how people perceive our visible identity, including our beards, turbans, and brown skin...

...Authentic solidarity is both ethical and strategic. It’s ethical because standing with those who are oppressed no matter the consequences is the right thing to do. It’s strategic because confronting hate intersectionally (rather than deflecting it) is the only way forward...

...I get hate messages from right-wing nationalists daily that push this propaganda, Sikhs and Hindus alike. They call me a traitor and a fake Sikh. They say a true Sikh would hate Islam because that’s what Sikhi teaches. They say the Sikh gurus would be ashamed of me for standing against Muslim hate.

As a historian of religion in South Asia, I know this isn’t true. There is ample evidence to which I could point to make my case, not least the strong relationships between the early Sikh gurus of the 15th and 16th centuries and Muslim leaders of the time. The founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak Sahib, was so close to his Muslim friend Bhai Mardana that they traveled together for years throughout South and Central Asia...

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