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?
- What is the ruling in Sikhi regarding testimony in a court?
- What is the ruling in Sikhi regarding the sentence for stealing?
- What is the ruling in Sikhi regarding the age of maturity?
- What is the ruling in Sikhi regarding my relations with my neighbour?
- What is the ruling in Sikhism regarding how I should treat an animal?
- What is the ruling in Sikhism regarding lawful earnings?
- What is the ruling in Sikhi regarding killing a non-Sikh and the punishment for that?
- What is the ruling in Sikhi regarding riding a horse?
- What is the ruling in Sikhi if I use a nuclear weapon?
What is the Islamic ruling? This is a plainly foolish question.
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.
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.
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.
Each person matures at a different rate. If there is a need to determine this, the question is brought to the Panj Pyaaray.
Sikhi teaches to treat all humans with kindness and compassion be they your neighbour or anyone else.
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||”
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).
Each case is presented before the Panj Pyaaray and based on the merits of the case a ruling is given.
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.
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).