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Why Should My Faith As A Sikh Be Questioned Because I Smoke?

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Submitted anonymously:

I was born in a Sikh family and raised according to its tradition and culture. All my family members regularly visit the gurudwara and believe themselves to be devout Sikhs. I’m writing this to reach out to Sikhs all over the world so that they can see how far they’ve come from what our gurus taught us.

This is fueled by the feeling I got when another Sikh man got into a minor argument with me on the roads of Delhi. I had just smoked a cigarette, and I believe he saw me. “You are the gandus (ass) in Sikhism,” was albeit a small and unintelligent remark, but was enough to enrage me into writing this. What also followed was, “Katwa lae enu veere” (“Cut your hair brother”).

I wasn’t wearing a turban that day. It was a Friday night, and it was right outside a club that served liquor, one that he was entering with his wife who had given me ‘the look’ just seconds before her husband’s remark.

So you’re telling me that because I’m smoking a cigarette, I don’t deserve to be a Sikh. You’re going to a night club, to drink alcohol and you just parked your car so that means you are most likely gonna drink and drive too. You might have even served alcohol at your wedding, and might you drink quite frequently. But yes you’re right, smoking a cigarette completely makes you a non-Sikh while drinking alcohol is appreciated in the granths (the holy book for Sikhs). I thought our religion was a progressive one, having read what our religion teaches us – the banning of Sati and the caste system at a time when it was normal, was progressive. At the end of the day your habits fail to define you as a person. A person who drinks or smokes everyday but is kind, honest and helpful is not gonna be fried in a pan of hot oil on judgement day. I believe our gods to be way above our way of perceived thinking, because when I’m drinking or smoking, I’m hurting myself, my own body but what’s way worse is hurting someone else. What’s way worse is, indulging in extra-marital relationships or ignoring that person with disability at the traffic signal who begged for food. What’s happening now is completely hypocritical. Either we are too uneducated to realise the logic behind this argument or we are educated enough but choose to ignore this.

I know this might get a lot of hate and cynicism. But it is one that is logical and can’t be countered by religious replies. Drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes are equally bad and that’s what most Sikhs fail to realise. The instinctive reaction of Sikhs to mock other Sikhs about their smoking is one that has been in place for years. I am proud of my culture and just as you ask for forgiveness for drinking when you visit your God, I ask for forgiveness for smoking the same way. I am in no way worse than you are, and most of all, you don’t have any right to preach religion.

Religion is personal. I could have included teachings from our religion that give us the message of kindness and betterment of the world in their crux but certain people would just go ahead and counter my article with some religious sayings from the Guru Granth itself. What our Bani teaches us the most is, that never judge anyone by their religion and respect their gods, choices and preferences. And hencereligion is actually personal faith. You don’t have the right to force me into doing something just because you think we both share a religion. This makes me sad as a Sikh. It is a personal message to Sikhs around the world, a plea to look deeper into the question and wonder if what you just read is right or wrong.

I don’t, in any way, mean to endorse the use of cigarettes, it is now a habit I am on the way to quit because of prospective health issues, not because some ignorant idiot mocked me about it.

The following video shows a turbaned Sikh being beaten and harassed because he was smoking a cigarrete in a country that gives you the fundamental right to choice. This makes me sad, this makes our religion look ancient and ignorant when it is one which has been the latest, and the most progressive one.

You must be to comment.
  1. Don Gill

    You have correctly pointed out the religious hypocrites who believe u could do all other bad things eg lie,steal,drugs etc. However, please note that Guru told Sikhs not to smoke as it was widely used and accepted
    in those days

  2. Karambir Singh

    The thing is Guru Gobind Singh ji told sikhs not to have drugs alcohol and cigrte (or any form of drug) ..So if you have kept hair,you are displaying yourself as the son of him
    And drinking alcohol or cigrte or may be doing any wrong thing,just think…..what guru made you and what are you doing

  3. dr_ikjyotsinghk

    Before other Sikhs read this article and I try to justify how it is okay to smoke/drink/cut hair and still be a Sikh “in your heart”, this is patently false.

    Guru Gobind Singh Jee’s hukamnama to ALL SIKHS, not just Khalsa as dictated to Bhai Sahib Nand Lal, as written in Farsi, goes like:
    Ik Onkaar Sri Waheguru Jee Kee Fateh || Sri Mukhvaak PaatShaahee Dasvee||
    Nishaanay Sikhi Ee Haroof Panj Kaaf|| Hargiz Na Baashad Ee Panj Muaf ||
    Karra Kaardo Kachh Kanghaa Bida || Bila Kesh Haych Asat Jumleh Nishaa ||
    Haraf Haae Kaat Asat Ee Panjkaaf || Bi Daanand Baavar Na Goyam Khilaaf ||
    HukaaJaamat Halaalo Haraam || Baachishay Hinaa Kardaroo Sayaam Faam||

    You will note, Guru Gobind Singh Sahib says very clearly “Nishaanay Sikhi…” not Nishaanay Khalsa, once again, your claim is false.

    Finally, Guru Gobind Singh Jee’s further Hukamnama to all Sikhs, not just Khalsa is once again clearly expressed in the following:
    Tusi Khande da Amrit Panja to lena
    Kes rakhne…ih asadee mohur hai;
    Kachh, Kirpan da visah nahee karna
    Sarb Loh da kara hath rakhna
    Dono vakat kesa dee palna karna
    Sarbat sangat abhakhia da kutha
    Khave naheen, Tamakoo na vartana
    Bhadni tatha kanya-maran-vale so mel na rakhe
    Meene, Massandei, Ramraiye ki sangat na baiso
    Gurbani parhni…Waheguru, Waheguru japna
    Guru kee rahat rakhnee
    Sarbat sangat oopar meri khushi hai.

    Patshahi Dasvi
    Jeth 26, Samat 1756

  4. viking forever


  5. Trimandeep Singh.

    Bro, you are right in saying that the people who mock you for smoking and they themselves drink alcohol, then they are too not less of a culprit. However, try to understand that Sikhi is not just about keeping hair and going to gurudwara. It’s a lot more than that and very tough to maintain. A Sikh is required to do Nitnem, wake up at Amrit Vela, do GOOD DEEDS and in a nutshell, strictly follow the Rehat- Sikh Code of Conduct. And you would be surprised that Guru Gobind Singh ji has ordered us that a Singh/Sikh/Khalsa can’t drink or smoke and not even distribute it(like gifting to friends or transporting alcohol). Guru Sahib has also ordered not to eat food from a person who drinks or smokes.
    If you smoke and claim yourself to be a Sikh, then it is wrong! Actually, you and the person who mocked you, both are wrong. So, please don’t claim to be a Sikh but anyways, I hope you don’t take it rudely and understand what I’m trying to say.
    #peace out

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