In Islam, the purpose of life is clear. It has been concisely put by the Creator of all things known and unknown that:
The purpose as found in Islam is not only clear, but also consistent for all humans irrespective of time and locale to follow. From the very first to the very last, their purpose was, is and will always be one and the same.
The great scholar of Islam – Ibn Taymiyyah posed a rhetorical question:
The equally famous Ibn Abil-‘Izz summarised the importance of this knowledge:
Hence, knowledge of a worshipped deity is a necessary prerequisite and must be compatible with the sound and unblemished intellect.
Concerning this purpose, Allah has ordered Muslims to have knowledge of His Self and to strictly worship Him in accordance to what He has divinely revealed through His designated Prophets and Messengers:
In the Qur’an, Allah highlights the inseparable relationship between revelation, language and intelligence when he says:
If we begin with the following criteria:
- Understanding and knowledge of God must come from God. It is not intellectually deducible.
- Revelation cannot be incompatible with the sound human intellect.
In other words, it would be unjust of God to provide us with intelligence that was incompatible with revealed knowledge of His Divine Self. Surely the all-Wise, who has established for us this purpose of worshipping Him, would not make things difficult, let alone impossible, by instilling in us an intellect and rationale insufficient in comprehending the revelatory knowledge of His Divine Self.
And yet, the question standing is:
We intend to show here that the Hindu-inherited and slightly altered concept of God in Sikh theology is illogical, contradictory and irrational.
But they deny the truth when it comes to them. So they are in a confused state. (Qur’an 50:5)
But they deny the truth when it comes to them. So they are in a confused state. (Qur’an 50:5)
From this we contend that if Sikhism intends to believe in contradictions related to God, which any healthy and rational minded person would, if all things were equal, necessarily reject, then at least two dire consequences transpire:
- Sikh theology is irrational and illogical, and thus, errant.
- God is unreasonable and unjust if He reveals contradictions and demands that Sikhs accept it unquestionably.
Examining the Theology-Proper of Sikhism
Similar to Hinduism, but not entirely the same, Sikhism too describes God as Nirgun and Sargun, where the suffix gun etymologically means ‘attributes’, while sar means ‘with (all)’ and ‘nir’ means ‘none’.
God is, thus, described as Sargun – a deity with attributes (attributed); whilst at the same time Nirgun – an attributeless deity (unattributed).
Sri Guru Granth Sahib states:
He Himself is formless and also formed; the One Lord is without attributes and also with attributes.
(Guru Arjan Dev pg.250)
Aap akaar aap nirankaar
He Himself is formed, and He Himself is formless.
(Guru Arjan Dev, pg.863)
Raaj joban prabh thoon dhhanee, thoon niragun thoon saragunee
O God, You are my power, authority and youth. You are absolute, without attributes, and also related, with the most sublime attributes.
(Guru Arjan Dev, pg.211)
The above is confirmed and agreed upon by the following authors:
With this urge, from apparent nothingness, the Formless assumes form, “The unattributed becomes the Attributed – nirgun te sargunu thia” (GG, 940) and thus this world of a myriad colours takes shape.  (bold ours)
However, the Nirgun-Sargun duality, respectively, is often rendered and interpreted by various oft-repeated descriptive terms, such as: transcendent-immanent or absolute-personal or formless-manifest:
God is described both as nirgun, or absolute, and sargun, or personal. Before there was any creation God lived absolutely in Himself, but when He thought of making Himself manifest in creation He became related. In the former case, when God was Himself self-created, there was none else; He took counsel and advice with Himself; what He did came to pass. …
When God became sargun or manifest, he became what is called the Name, and in order to realize Himself He made nature where in He has His seat and is diffused everywhere and in all direction in the form of Love. 
God is both Transcendent and Immanent does not mean that these are two phases of God one following the other. God is One, and He is both nirguna and sarguna. “Nirguna sargunu hari hari mera, (God, my God is both with and without attributes),” sang Guru Arjan (GG, 98). Guru Amar Das also had said, “Nirguna sarguna ape soi (He Himself is with as well as without attributes)” (GG, 128). Transcendence and Immanence are two aspects of the same Supreme Reality.
In the teaching of Sikhism God is conceived as being without form (nirankar/nirakar)-All existence is God’s visible form, but no part of it is a substitute for God. God is also Nirguna (unattributed) as said earlier.
It was the One and the Only God, the Lord of Universes who was at once transcendent (nirguna) and immanent (saguna). Although immanent in His Creation He was yet apart from it, being its Creator.
Sikhism does recognize the traditional categories of transcendent and immanent as also of nirguna (without attributes) and saguna (with attributes, sarguna in Punjabi), pertaining to God, but not the Sankarite distinction between higher and lower Brahman. The emphasis here is on the unicity of Ultimate Reality, the “1 Onkar”. The term Parbrahma (Sankara’s Para Brahman) appears frequently in the Sikh Scripture but Aparbrahma or Apara Brahman never. For the Sikhs the same Absolute is both nirguna and sarguna (GG, 98, 128, 250, 287, 290, 862). The nirguna Brahman manifests himself as sarguna Brahman, in relation to His attributes.  (bold ours)
An emphasis has been given to these terms in order to show a general acceptance of interpretation within the academic circles that sans creation God was Nirgun (attributeless, formless, transcendent), but at the onset of creation became Sargun (attributed, personal, immanent, diffused in creation, manifest). However, it is still insisted that He is ONE (ik onkar): Nirgun as well as Sargun.
Say: Truth has come and falsehood has been vanquished,
indeed falsehood by its very nature is bound to be vanquished.
– Qur’an 17:81
This Nirgun-Sargun duality must be recognised a priori as nothing but a contradiction in terms.
We recommend those unfamiliar with the Law of non-Contradiction to read the following article refuting those who ignorantly claim that this law is neither self-evident nor a priori; or those who assert, based on the erroneous claim that this law is man-invented, that God cannot be limited or restricted to these alleged man-invented laws: Logic and the Law of non-Contradiction.
In the Qur’an Allah establishes that something and its opposite cannot both be accepted as true at the same time and in the same respect:
If something is accepted as true, all things to the contrary must be rendered and taken to be false.
Had it (the Qur’an) been from other than Allah, they would most certainly have found in it many contradictions. (Qur’an 4:82)
Hence, according to the universal Law of non-Contradiction, which can be represented as “(P and ¬P) false” where P is a given proposition, if Nirgun (unattributed) is taken to be proposition P, then its negation Sargun (attributed) must be ¬P.
Since the Sikh concept of God affirms Him to be both Nirgun and Sargun at the same time and in the same respect, we must conclude that (P and ¬P) is false, a contradiction and must be rejected by the rational mind.
Belief in the Impossible
To illustrate the clarity found in Islam, we will very briefly look into why contradictions and impossibilities cannot co-exist with true belief. In doing so, the reader will begin to recognise the gulf of difference between the religion of Truth, and those religions established upon an empty claim of this.
Allah demonstrates this in no uncertain terms by drawing upon opposites to emphasise to the seeker of Truth the importance of recognising the exclusivity of two opposite things and the impossibility of a sound intellect accepting both equally.
Nor the darkness and the light;
Nor the shade and the heat;
Neither are the living and the dead alike. Surely Allah makes whom He pleases hear, and you cannot make those who are in the graves to hear. (Qur’an 35:19-22)
A rhetorical question asks:
Not equal are the dwellers of the fire and the dwellers of Paradise. It is the dweller of Paradise that will be successful. (Qur’an 59:20)
And not alike are the good and the evil. (Qur’an 41:34)
Is one who is obedient to Allah, prostrating himself or standing (in prayer) during the hours of the night, fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the Mercy of his Lord (like one who disbelieves)? Say: “Are those who know equal to those who know not?” It is only men of understanding who will remember. (Qur’an 39:9)
Say: “Are equal those who know and those who do not know?” It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition. Are those who know equal with those who know not? But only men of understanding will pay heed. (Qur’an 39:9)
Or do those who earn evil deeds think that We shall hold them equal with those who believe (in Islam) and do righteous good deeds, in their present life and after their death? Worst is the judgement that they make. (Qur’an 45:21)
And not equal are the blind and those who see, nor are (equal) those who believe (in Islam), and do righteous good deeds, and those who do evil. Little do you remember! (Qur’an 40:58)
They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another). (Qur’an 4:89)
We ascertain from these instructions that the equating of opposites, especially when the nature of truth is involved, is a clear and apparent falsehood. Allah says:
This shows that contradictory things, especially in regards to Allah, can never be on level terms. Hence, anyone seeking to equate opposites and accept contradictions will face the consequences and be punished.
We say: If a Messenger brought an inherently impossible concept (such as an object existing and not existing at the same time, or God being temporarily eternal!), then one of two things would occur:
- One would end up believing in part of it and disbelieving the rest since both affirmation and negation of the same thing cannot coexist and be believed in equally.
- Disbelief in the concept as a whole, i.e. disbelief in the concept that one can affirm two contradictory things at the same time.
Hence, belief and acceptance in the impossible leads to contradictions, and what greater contradiction can there be other than affirming one thing and its opposite, or the negation of opposites, at the same time?
Allah does not Reveal Contradictions
This is interrelated with the previous argument. Allah tells us in the Qur’an:
He also says:
Reflect for a moment over this saying of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who said:
Mankind will be asked something easy not something overly difficult, let alone impossible! Collecting all the gold in the world is not, essentially speaking, impossible (though it may be practically speaking); however, demanding the affirmation, with certainty, of an impossible concept would certainly amount to mental oppression, and is, unlike the attempt of collecting all the gold in the world, impossible. Imagine if God demanded of His creation that they pray to Him in a non-human language; or breathe without breathing; or stand without standing; or stand and sit at the same time without standing or sitting; thus, to believe that God is both attributeless (Nirgun) and attributed (Sargun) is nothing less than absurd.
In Islam, this would be considered: “Burdening a soul with more than it is capable of enduring,” let alone attempting to burden it with what’s impossible. In this regard, therefore, Allah says:
An alternative translation of this verse (from Pickthall) could be that “no soul shall have imposed upon it a duty but to the extent of its capacity”:
No burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear. (Qur’an 7:142)
On no soul do We place a burden greater than it can bear: before Us is a record which clearly shows the truth: they will never be wronged. (Qur’an 23:62)
Allah does not burden a soul with more than it can bear in a practical and physical sense. We ask: what about in a spiritual or mental way? Or is it that oppression is only restricted to the physical realms?!
The Prophet related from his Lord that Allah said:
Allah further says in the Qur’an:
Verily, Allah enjoins Al-‘Adl (i.e. justice and worshipping none but Allah Alone) and Al-Ihsaan, and giving (help) to kith and kin and [Allah] forbids Al-Fahsha’, and Al-Munkar, and Al-Baghy (i.e. all kinds of oppression), He admonishes you, that you may take heed.” (Qur’an 16:90)
“According to us, certain knowledge are those thoughts that flow to the soul and which the soul is unable to refute.” – Muslim Scholar
Unfortunately, many confronted with these simple, yet irrefutable evidences, are often thrown into a state of panic when reality suddenly dawns upon them that their life-long cherished beliefs and customs have been proven to be false.
Two reactions follow on from this recognition, and we believe it is imperative to address both in the hope of reassuring those, who do find themselves in this state, that all is not lost. On the contrary, this recognition is only the first step towards accepting the Truth and changing one’s life for the better.
The two reactions are:
- Extreme distress after confronting this revelation, followed by concern for the future, followed by denial, which then leads one to blindly follow a religion while all the while acknowledging, be it privately or otherwise, its falsity.
- Surprise and worry after confronting said revelation, followed by introspectively acknowledging the reality, leading towards an inevitable change through the accommodation and assimilation of this Truth, which replaces the initial shock-and-horror, with contentment, tranquility and happiness in having accepted the Truth from their Lord and submitted to His Will.
The first type we will examine in detail. However, we ask that the reader pay special attention to these characteristics and ask: Is this how I’ve reacted after being confronted with the stark reality that the religion of my forefathers is contradictory and false?
This is of two types: simple and complex.
The simple kind of ignorance – involves those who reject the truth so as to follow their chiefs and leaders. These are the ones when the punishment or death comes upon them, they cry out:
The complex kind of ignorance – involves those who choose to remain upon the religion of their tribe or forefathers, along with those they were raised with. When faced with the Truth, they refuse to look into it, and if they do, only fleetingly in order to remain pleased with the religion of their forefathers while remaining loyal to their tribe. Allah says about these people:
And He says of those who took them as guides at the expense of the Truth:
This is similar to in the past who recognised the Truth from Allah, but chose, out of jealousy, to conceal and ignore it. Allah says of these people:
This disease of jealousy sprouts from arrogance.
This is the biggest obstacle that prevents people from accepting the Truth. Allah says:
This involves the rejection of the Truth while looking down upon the people.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
And similarly Allah says:
Turning Away from Sound Textual and Intellectual Proofs
How sad it would be for some to be from this category, those who refused to accept the sound evidences after understanding them. Allah says about them:
Since they deserved to be turned further away after consciously choosing to reject the irrefutable evidences.
Allah gives a glimpse of the thoughts and sayings of the regretful ones on the Day of Judgment who, after being resurrected and confronted with the reality that Islam and its proofs were indeed true, will grievously say when justice is passed against them:
We pray and hope that the seeker of God makes only the Truth from Allah be a criterion for them, without the influence of others! As Allah says in this regard:
And who is more astray than the one who follows his own whims and desires devoid of revelation? (Qur’an 28:50)
And do not follow the hawah (vain desires, corrupted minds) of people who went astray in times gone by, and who misled many, and strayed from the correct path. (Qur’an 5:77)
Have you seen him who has taken his own hawah (vain desires, corrupted mind) as his own god.” (Qur’an 45:23)
Let us be from those who sincerely seek Him – the Truth – and submit to the clear revelatory evidences when we are blessed with recognising it in life. Let us be from these people:
‘What cause can we have not to believe in Allah and the truth which has come to us seeing that we long for our Lord to admit us in the company of the righteous?’
And for this prayer, Allah rewarded them with gardens under which rivers flow-their eternal home. Such is the reward of those who do good.” (Qur’an 5:83-85)
Have you any knowledge (proof) that you can produce before us?
Verily, you follow nothing but guess work and you do nothing but lie.’…
With Allah is the perfect proof and argument…
– Qur’an 6:148-9
Contradictions are false.
Would Allah command His creation to accept false beliefs?
Would this demand not be a call to hypocrisy (intellectual, spiritual, and actual)?
Allah is al-Haqq (The Truth) – it would be impossible for us to affirm this of Him while at the same time affirming that He would command us to accept falsehood.
We affirm for Allah the highest possible description. But, if Allah is contradictory, and contradictions are false, then Allah must be seen to be false, which, of course, is nothing except an evil description of Him.
The great exegete of the Qur’an, Ibn Kathir, gave an explanation of this term ‘highest description’, which we hope every theist will affirm and agree to, as follows: “It means absolute perfection from every possible angle.”
Is the absolute perfection of Allah upheld when He is described by the Hindu contrived notion of Nirgun-Sargun?
We affirm that belief in the impossible is impossible in and of itself.
This being the case, the term ‘believer’ can not be ascribed to anyone who professes such a belief because although verbal claims may be forwarded, it is impossible to prove, thus, impossible for it to settle in one’s heart:
It is impossible to think that Allah would send down a Book, or that His Messenger would say something, as guidance for mankind, while at the same time accepting that such guidance cannot be understood or that its unintelligible, like some jumbled letters of the alphabet. Allah, Most High, says in His Book:
A book We have sent down, full of blessings, that men may ponder over its messages; and those who possess understanding may take them to heart. (Qur’an 38:29)
The great scholar Ibn Taymiyyah wrote:
How can a concept, impossible for the mind to accept, be understood? Hence, we further declare:
Ibn ‘Abbas, one of the most erudite companions of Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) whom he named ‘The Interpreter of the Qur’an’, was questioned: “How did you attain knowledge?” He replied: “With a tongue that questions much, and a heart that comprehends well.”
Allah says about those upon the truth with correct belief:
Similarly, the Messenger of Allah said:
And what is there after truth except falsehood? (Qur’an 10:32)
We conclude that the Hindu-invented and Sikh-adopted concept of Nirgun-Sargun is contradictory, impossible for the mind to comprehend, cannot settle in the heart, and will, thus, always lead to doubt and uncertainty.
Concerning the ones upon falsehood, deceit and lies, Allah so vividly describes their spiritual state when faced with the reality of the Truth:
Nay, but they have denied the truth when it has come to them, so they are in a confused state (unable to differentiate between right and wrong). (Qur’an 50:5)
However, those wanting to worship Allah upon the clarity of truth and correct belief, then know that this leads to nothing except Certainty of Faith (‘ilm al-yaqeen):
We ask finally:
We end this discussion with a story involving a group of philosophers, who fell into speculative reasoning void of revelatory proofs and evidences, and who subsequently pay a rightly guided religious scholar a visit before asking him:
He replied: “Yes”
They said: “How is that possible, when from the beginning of the day until now we have been disputing with each other and not one of us has been able to cite a decisive proof.”
He replied: “I do not know what you are saying, but as for me I know with certainty.”
So they said: “Describe to us certain knowledge.”
What followed was a beautiful answer the simplicity and truthfulness of which all souls recognise and agree to:
While departing, the questioner and his companions were heard repeating: “Those thoughts that flow to the soul and which the soul is unable to refute,” being impressed by the intuitive answer.
 Ibn Kathir in his famous exegesis Tafsir ibn Kathir commented that the word ‘bayaan‘ here means language.
 J. S. Mann, S. S. Sodhi, CONCEPTS IN SIKHISM, Cognitive Psychology-Mind Map Approach To Understanding Sikhism For the Second Generation Sikh Children.
 A. Singh, Veil of Illusion, (rajkaregakhalsa.net; accessed: Jan 10, 2016).
 T. Singh, Outline of Sikh Doctrines, (All About Sikhs; accessed: Jan 10, 2016).
 Mann, Sodhi, op.cit.
 This is a ‘hadith qudsi’: speech attributed to Allah in the words of the Prophet, thus, is deemed different from the Qur’an in that respect.
 To be patient in performing your duties to Allah, totally for Allah’s sake and in accordance with the Prophetic tradition, i.e. the Sunnah.
 All evil deeds, e.g. illegal sexual acts, disobedience of parents, polytheism, lying, giving false witness, taking the life without just cause, etc.
 All that is prohibited by Islamic law: polytheism of every kind, disbelief and every kind of evil deed, etc.