Religious conversion is not something new, it existed centuries ago. Unfortunately, forceful conversions do exist. In 1752 Muinul Mulk Governor of Lahore (now in Pakistan) ordered the execution of Sikhs, with Sikh men being beheaded publicly. Young & unmarried girls were sold or distributed among the Muslim fanatics. The women & children were treated harshly. They were kept captive in the Lahore jail and not given any food. Women were given weighty millstones to operate. They had to work in spite of being starved for days. Sikh women were given the option to either convert to Islam or face the wrath of the Jihadis.

300 innocent children were brutally hacked to death in front of their mothers’ eyes. But, even this did not change the steely resolve of the Sikh women. The internal organs of kids were plucked out & garlanded around their mothers’ necks. The brutal atrocities were carried out on infants with the intention of converting these Sikh women into Muslims. The Sikh women were not to be deterred. They were not ready to let their faith die down.

It was now the turn of Sikh Women to get slaughtered. But, miraculously the Akalis (Sikh Horsemen) rescued their sisters sometime after the inhuman governor, Muinul Mulk’s death in 1753. Not all Sikh women could be rescued. Some of them did not survive to recall the pain that had been inflicted on their innocents. Two and a half centuries later nothing has changed. Yazidi women in Iraq are facing the same problems today. Some of them have been raped, slaughtered & tortured. (Yazidism is a religion that combines aspects of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity& Islam).

Sikhs in those days were considered ‘Kafirs’ by the Islamic fanatics. Sikh women had just witnessed a mass killing of their husbands and kids. Nothing could be more gruesome. These brave Sikh women epitomised faith. The Sikhs were slaughtered then for not giving up on their belief system. Even today Sikhs are being targeted in countries like the US as they are often confused with Muslims. We need to spread the word & save our Sikh brothers & sisters from such atrocities.

The point here is to understand the bravery of these Sikh women. They were not religious fanatics. Nor did they sacrifice their kids & family for Sikhism. They just decided to oppose what was wrong & not give in to the demands of their evil detractors. They were not against Islam. They were against the forceful idea of conversion prevalent in Islam. Giving up is always the easiest thing to do. Had these brave Sikh women succumbed to the evil intentions of the Muslims, Sikhism would have been under a severe threat of becoming extinct.

Kafir refers to an unbeliever. But are people from all other religions Kafirs? Pakistani Muslims also look down upon Indian Muslims as Kafirs. Some people go on a ‘Democratic strike’ to release their movies. The ancestors of all present day Muslims were Hindus at one time. Over generations, the world meant Islam to them & vice versa. Radicalisation was at its peak. They forget that they celebrated ancient Hindu festivals like Deepavali & Holi.

The resistance shown by the Sikh women was exemplary. If they had fallen prey, many others would have followed. They chose the difficult path. The path of showing the world that extremities carried out in the name of religion is a completely flawed ideology. By 1800 Punjab was ruled by a Sikh emperor who shut down many mosques where conversions were being carried out. Punjab had a fairly large Muslim population. The emperor subdued the Jihadi tendencies by banning Azaans in the streets of the capital & wrested half of Afghanistan east of Khybar pass. As per the 2011 census Sikhs have a population of 2.08 crore In India.

They are the fourth largest religion in India, & the most dominant in the Punjab region. Punjab is the only state where 58% of the people belong to the Sikh community. 77% of the Sikh population in India is concentrated in the state of Punjab. Today, a large number of people have access to the internet. Fortunately, people are finally discussing about the threats of the Jihadist ideology on the internet and other platforms. We know what is in store for the world if we don’t unite against the menace of religious conversions. The ideology that should prevail is that of courageous Sikh women who were driven by faith &shaped by honour.

Tony Joseph

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