Sikhism arose from the teachings of Guru Nanak, who tried to fuse the best
in Islam and Hindu teachings and practice, combined with an intense
personal revelation on the nature of God. As a result of religious
persecution, the Sikhs established their own community and gained a
degree of independence within Muslim-ruled India. Eventually, Sikhs began
to spread beyond India, especially to countries formerly part of the British
Worldwide, the number and size of Sikh communities is gradually
increasing. A community can range from a few families to a few hundred.
The presence of a gurdwara (temple) signifies a community large enough to
support both it and its associated institutions (the temple is the focus of
religious and community life).
Unlike most other religions, there is no major doctrinal division within
Sikhism, but Sikhs are increasingly divided over whether or not there should
be an independent Sikh political state carved out of India and possibly part
of Pakistan. Within India, Sikhs are migrating to the Punjab in increasing
numbers. This is in response to rising levels of disturbance and tension
between Sikhs and the Indian government. In turn, these are partly due to a
growth of Hindu nationalism and to Sikh aspirations for their own separate
state of Khalistan (Land of the Pure).
Source: Joanne O’Brien and Martin Palmer, The State of Religion Atlas, 1993.
Worldwide: Sikhs number about twenty million, predominantly in Asia.
Sources: The World Almanac and Book of Facts,1994.
United States: In 2001 there were 57,000 Sikhs. Table
Source: The ARIS 2001 study.
Teaching About Religion
in support of civic pluralism