"Working for the common good through growing friendship and understanding
between people and communities of differing faiths and beliefs"
2019 Annual Faith Lecture
Tuesday 26 March
(at 6.00 p.m. - registration from 5.30 p.m)
University of Suffolk
‘The search for religious tolerance: A Sikh’s View’
by Professor Satvinder Juss.
The Sikh faith, one of the most recent of the world’s great religious movements, was founded by Guru Nanak (1469-1539), who set out to modernise and reform the practice of religious faith. A man ahead of his time, he advocated remarriage for women and allowed them to become priests, thereby foreseeing the emancipation of women by five hundred years before the arrival of universal suffrage in the West. The word Sikh means a discipline or student and is a corollary of the word Guru, which means Teacher. Today, there are some 24 million Sikhs worldwide, one-third of whom live outside India in countries as diverse as Canada, the United States, Malaysia, Great Britain, Kenya and Tanzania. Yet, it is remarkable how little is generally known about this faith amongst non-Sikhs. This is particularly so given Sikhism’s tolerance for, and acceptance of, all other faiths.
Sikhism proclaims the moral validity of all religious faiths of his time. Its founder, Guru Nanak, whose 550th Anniversary falls in 2019, and which will be celebrated all over the world this year, expressed this most memorably: “Some read the Vedas, some read the Semitic scriptures. Some wear blue robes, some wear white robes. Some call themselves Muslims, some call themselves Hindus. Some aspire to bahishat [Muslim heaven], some to Swarga [Hindu heaven]. Nanak says ‘whoever realises the Will of the Lord will find the way of the Lord’ (Adi Granth, at p. 885). Given the absolute importance of the Adi Granth to Sikhs, this statement is noteworthy for its proclamation of the importance of all believers, and not just those born within the Sikh faith.
This Lecture sets out to show, through an explanation of the Sikh faith, how the claims of religious believers to moral superiority over secularists, is diminished if they fail to preach the message of tolerance and mutual respect, during these especially challenging times.
Professor Satvinder Juss is Professor of Law at King‟s College, University of London; Ph.D. (Cambridge University) FRSA; Fellow of the International Academy of Freedom of Religion & Belief; Barrister-at-Law of Gray‟s Inn; Part-Time Immigration Appeal Judge; Formerly Visiting Professor of Law and Visiting Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Indiana University - Bloomington (1998); Human Rights Fellow at Harvard University (1997); Life Member of the Panel of the Arbitrators of the Indian Council for Arbitration.
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