Does Sikhi have a Law & Justice system?

Sikhism is given a clear “Theo-democratic” system of law. Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the Tenth Master, in his farsightedness knew that not all crimes are the same and thus no one punishment can be given for them at all: does the thief who steals bread due to hunger receive same punishment as one who steals a car due to greed? No! Thus Guru Gobind Singh Ji said:

ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ਮੇਰੋ ਰੂਪ ਹੈ ਖਾਸ ॥ ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ਮੈ ਹੌ ਕਰੋ ਨਿਵਾਸ ॥
“The Khalsa is my true form, I abide within the Khalsa”

Guru jee gave power to decide these things to the Khalsa in the form of the Panj Piaaray (5 initiated selected Sikhs). The Panj Piaaray look at each case and then give a case-by-case decision. There are no blanket amputations for everyone as some religions may prescribe. There are rehitnaamas and tankhaahnaamas (edicts and codes of conduct) dictated by Guru Gobind Singh jee that clearly outline what is right and what is wrong. For example, adultery is a ‘bajjar kurehat’, a cardinal sin, for which a Sikh is excommunicated from the Panth (Community) and if they wish to become a member of the Panth again, they must then present themselves before the Panj Piaaray to be re-initiated and and given corrective measures.

Even beyond the Rehitnaamas and Tankhaahnamas, there is the concept of Miri-Piri: temporal and spiritual aspects to Gurmat, i.e. a Theo-political system. Guru Hargobind Sahib jee gave us the Sikh parliament of Sri Akaal Takhat. The Sarbat Khalsa (entire Khalsa) is the parliament and the motions passed are called “Gurmattas”. A system of passing gurmattas is carried out by consulting Sri Guru Granth Sahib jee and then voting on each motion. The Five Takhats are the Centres of Sikh power with the main headquarter being Sri Akaal Takhat. The Five Jathedaars (representatives) are the “cabinet” of the Panth and organise the Panth’s movement. The Jathehdaar of Sri Akaal Takhat (Amritsar) has power as spokesperson of the Panth. Akaalee Baba Phoola Singh, for example, was Jathehdaar during Maharaja Ranjeet Singh’s time and gave him punishment of a fine and a caning due to his adultery.

Thus it is clear that Sikhism does have a law in Rehitnaamas and Tankhaahnaamas along with the Rehit (code of discipline), which is given during Amrit Sanchaar (initiation ceremonies). Local decisions are to be taken by Panj Piaaray, which can be appealed to the Takhats, and Sri Akaal Takhat takes final decisions. The collective Sikh parliament is Sarbat Khalsa and motions are called Gurmattas.

  • How much tax should I pay in a Sikh State, as a Non-Sikh?
    Sikhs do not believe in a Jaiziya system like the Muslims where non-Sikhs must pay to ensure their protection. This question therefore is moot. The taxation system in a Sikh state is the same for non-Sikhs and Sikhs.
  • What is the ruling in Sikhi regarding testimony in a court?
    A Sikh is to always speak the truth. Unlike in Islam (where the testimony of one man is equal to a testimony of four women), a man’s testimony is equal to a woman’s testimony.
  • What is the ruling in Sikhi regarding the sentence for stealing?
    Depends on the nature of the crime and how it was committed and why. The answer is given by the Panj Pyaaray based on each case. You cannot treat a poor man stealing bread to feed his family as the same as thief stealing gold from someone to fund a drug ring. This is a stark contrast to default amputations of limbs like the Musllims.
  • What is the ruling in Sikhi regarding the age of maturity?
    Each person matures at a different rate. If there is a need to determine this, the question is brought to the Panj Pyaaray.
  • What is the ruling in Sikhi regarding my relations with my neighbour?
    Sikhi teaches to treat all humans with kindness and compassion be they your neighbour or anyone else.
  • What is the ruling in Sikhism regarding how I should treat an animal?
    Sri Guru Granth Sahib teaches, “Show kindness and mercy to all life and realize that the Lord is pervading everywhere; this is the way of life of the enlightened soul, the supreme swan. ||7||” (Ang 508)
  • What is the ruling in Sikhism regarding lawful earnings?
    Sikhs are taught to earn their living through honesty without infringing on the rights of anyone else. One of the fundamental principles of Sikhism is “kirat karo” or to earn an honest living. Eating food earned through cheating is equal to eating the carcass of a dead animal (Ang 15). Furthermore, earnings should be shared with others and the Sikh system of Dasvandh or 10% of all income being donated is mandatory on all believers. “Through hard work make your earnings and eat, and also give something to others from your hand. Such a person has found the true path” (Ang 1245).
  • What is the ruling in Sikhi regarding killing a non-Sikh and the punishment for that?
    Each case is presented before the Panj Pyaaray and based on the merits of the case a ruling is given.
  • What is the ruling in Sikhi regarding riding a horse?
    What need would there be for a “ruling” on such a trivial issue? Sri Guru Granth Sahib jee is concerned with the salvation of the soul and light of God. God has blessed humans with common sense and intellect. Riding horses etc. are mundane issues that simple human intellect can resolve.
  • What is the ruling in Sikhi if I use a nuclear weapon?
    What is the Islamic ruling? This is a plainly foolish question.

As you can see, Sikhi is a complete and rational way of life. Each situation is judged on its merits as opposed to blanket amputations for crimes like theft (as the Muslims would have it).

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One Response to “Does Sikhi have a Law & Justice system?”

  1. Salahudin al-ayubi says:

    (PLEASE read the whole thing!!!Thank you 🙂 as you can guess from my name, I am a Muslim who respects each and every one of my Sikh brothers and sisters. I have been very interested in Sikhism and came to this website to get answers. Upon reading your article “Does Sikhi have a Law & Justice system?” I noticed stark mistakes you put about Islam and its legal punishments for theft. You say “As you can see, Sikhi is a complete and rational way of life. Each situation is judged on its merits as opposed to blanket amputations for crimes like theft (as the Muslims would have it).”. You also say, that (paraphrase) that if in an Islamic country a needy man for food, who steals bread, will get the same punishment (i.e amputation) as a greedy man who steals a car. This is completely false! In the Sharia, in order to for a man to have a hand cut off from his body for theft, there has to be rigorous amount of evidence and testimony. A man needy for bread, will NOT get the same punishment. Rather, the qadi (judge) will rule in his favor and order the state to give him food rations because in an Islamic state, the right to food, clothing, shelter is an automatic right and given by the state to the people. In addition, in order for a hand to be cut off the are many requirements.1. HAS to be premeditated. For example, A man who leaves his watch on a table and a stranger just randomly picks it up ( steals it) and later gets caught, will not be subjected to a punishment , but just a simple fine and apology. However, if a bank heist were to occur with evidence for planning and premeditation to occur then the people MIGHT be subjected to the punishment if they steal over the nisab. Which furthers my next point- The nisab is the net worth of pricing that is set by a state that would indicate a valuable product. the nisab has to be set by the state, and it has to be over 1 golden dinar ( over 100 dollars) in order to indicate something of value. Do you think a piece of bread for a needy person is over the nisab? In order for someone to steal something and get their hand amputated they need to A. Have premeditation (i.e breaking in someones property, a bank heist) B. they need to steal something over the nisab. B. They need at least two viable mature witnesses to the crime. Do you really think islamic law is that unfair as portrayed in your article. In the time of Caliph Umar, the punishment for amputation for theft was banned because of DROUGHT AND FAMINE! There was coexistence between all people in Islamic governance. Please change the Inaccurate and false information about Islam and its law. I publicly apologize as a muslim for whats happening in the world, but please change this article so you can present true information. Thank you for your time.

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