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Sikhism and Circumcision

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This article is part of the series on the "Message of Gurbani"

Circumcision means cutting some or all of the foreskin (prepuce) from the penis. Circumcision both for the male and female is strictly not permitted within Sikhism. Also, as a further extension of this same principle, other violations of the body – tattooing, body piercing, body mutilation, etc for the same reason are considered anti-Sikhi. For many peoples of various cultures and religions it was common practice to be subjected to this ritual during the time of the Sikh Gurus from 1469 to 1708AD. However, the Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib is clear on this subject.

This was and is a common practice among Muslims who believe that by performing circumcision, the person becomes a "true" Muslim. The Sikh Gurus have questioned this and highlighted the gender inequality in this practise.

This is what the holy text of the Sikhs say about this practice:

ਸਕਤਿ ਸਨੇਹੁ ਕਰਿ ਸੁੰਨਤਿ ਕਰੀਐ ਮੈ ਨ ਬਦਉਗਾ ਭਾਈ ॥ ਜਉ ਰੇ ਖੁਦਾਇ ਮੋਹਿ ਤੁਰਕੁ ਕਰੈਗਾ ਆਪਨ ਹੀ ਕਟਿ ਜਾਈ ॥੨॥
Sakaṯ sanėhu kar sunaṯ karī­ai mai na baḏ­ugā bẖā­ī. Ja­o rė kẖuḏā­ė mohi ṯurak karaigā āpan hī kat jā­ī. ॥2॥
Because of the love of woman, circumcision is done; I don't believe in it, O Siblings of Destiny.
If God wished me to be a Muslim, it would be cut off by itself. ॥2॥

The Shabad continues:

ਸੁੰਨਤਿ ਕੀਏ ਤੁਰਕੁ ਜੇ ਹੋਇਗਾ ਅਉਰਤ ਕਾ ਕਿਆ ਕਰੀਐ ॥ ਅਰਧ ਸਰੀਰੀ ਨਾਰਿ ਨ ਛੋਡੈ ਤਾ ਤੇ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਹੀ ਰਹੀਐ ॥੩॥
Sunaṯ kī­ė ṯurak jė ho­igā a­uraṯ kā ki­ā karī­ai. Araḏẖ sarīrī nār na cẖẖodai ṯā ṯė hinḏū hī rahī­ai.॥3॥
If circumcision makes one a Muslim, then what about a woman?
She is the other half of a man's body, and she does not leave him, so she remains a Hindu.॥3॥

Further, the holy text continues to highlight how one requires to make changes in their behaviour to attain any spiritual benefit. Rituals like circumcision or fasting do not have any value in the Lord's Court; one must become modest and improve one's conduct if one wants to be closer to God. The SGGS explains:

ਸਰਮ ਸੁੰਨਤਿ ਸੀਲੁ ਰੋਜਾ ਹੋਹੁ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਣੁ ॥
Saram sunaṯ sīl rojā hohu musalmāṇ.
Make modesty your circumcision, and good conduct your fast. In this way, you shall be a true Muslim.

It is clear from the above quotes, that the Sikh Gurus were against this practice and considered it unnecessary for Muslims and therefore forbidden for Sikhs. It is regarded as a "blind and empty ritual" from which no benefit can be obtained.


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