Was Guru Nanak’s closest and life-long companion a devout Muslim?
1. Bhai Mardana Ji became a follower of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. According to Shaheed Bhai Mani Singh ‘Gyān Ratnāvalī’ and other Janam Sākhīs, Bhai Mardana Ji received Charan-Pahul Amrit from Guru Nanak Dev Ji and was initiated into Sikhi. On receiving Amrit, Guru Nanak Dev Ji instructed him:
“Firstly, you are not to cut your hair.
Secondly, you are to get up early in the morning and do practice of the Sat Nām (the True Name);
and, Thirdly, you are to serve hospitably the visiting devotees of God.”
2. Bhai Mardana Ji travelled with Guru Nanak Dev Ji across the world to spread the message of Sikhi. This is a known fact. This means that Bhai Mardana Ji accepted Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s message and Path as the Ultimate Truth. To argue Bhai Mardana Ji was a Muslim would suggest that he was spreading falsehood.
3. Bhai Mardana Ji used to played instruments and sing hymns that were not from the Quran (i.e. Gurbani, the revealed Word of God through the Guru). This would be considered ‘Haraam’ in Islam.
The Quran (Surah Luqman, Verse 6) says:
Allaah says what means: “And of mankind is he who purchases idle talks (i.e. music, singing, etc.) to mislead (men) from the Path of Allaah without knowledge, and takes it (the Path of Allaah, the Verses of the Qur’aan) by way of mockery. For such there will be a humiliating torment (in the Hell-fire).”
4. In 1534, Bhai Mardana Ji fell ill at Kartarpur Sahib. The sickness was intense and it was clear that he would not survive. As he was born a Muslim, Guru Nanak Dev Ji is said to have asked him what should happen to he deceased body. Bhai Mardana Ji is said to have left the choice with his Guru. Guru Ji then asked, “Shall I make a tomb to make you famous in the world?” Bhai Mardana Ji is said to have replied that having given him freedom why did the Guru want to put his body in a tomb? Bhai Mardana added, “I would like to remain forever attached to you.” The next morning BMardana is said to have died. Within the Divin-Will of God, Guru Nanak Dev Ji fulfilled Bhai Mardana Ji’s last wish and recited a Salok (verse) under the heading of Bhai Mardana Ji’s name – giving him an eternal place with the Guru.
It is said that Guru Hu had his body consigned to the River Ravi, and had hymns sung and Karah Parshad, the sacrament, distributed among the mourners. He consoled Bhai Mardana Ji’s family including his son Shahzada, asking them not to weep as Bhai Mardana Ji had returned to his heavenly home.