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Who is a Sikh?

State of the Panth — Report 1

Tuesday
,
24
October
2017

Who is a Sikh?

State of the Panth — Report 1

Tuesday
,
24
October
2017
State of the Panth
⟵ Back to articles

Who is a Sikh?

State of the Panth — Report 1

Tuesday
,
24
October
2017

As the global Sikh population expands in size and complexion, the definition of a Sikh becomes increasingly important to support and shape the community. This study sets out to establish an understanding of how to conceptualize who is a Sikh.

As the global Sikh population expands in size and complexion, the definition of a Sikh becomes increasingly important to support and shape the community. This study sets out to establish an understanding of how to conceptualize who is a Sikh.

Originally only two terms were used within the community: Sikh and Khalsa. From the original terms, some terms have been created for legal and social accountability while others reduce an individual’s sense of accountability or ownership. Various terminology used today has become intertwined with a sense of “hierarchy” or a scale of religiosity that was not always part of the tradition.

Overall, Gurmat (“The Guru’s Way” which forms the Sikh paradigm) paints a picture of an individual who accepts the path of the Guru with humility and a sense of passion, devotedly contemplates on and implements those teachings as well as remains in their natural state of physical appearance.

A survey of 938 individuals was conducted to summarize the 2017 Sikh population’s understanding of who a Sikh is. The survey results show significant differences between responses in comparison of age group and gender identity. The survey results mirror the concept of different groups within the Sikh community having varying understandings of how a Sikh should be defined.

This study makes recommendations on a personal and institutional level that can be implemented within the community from a holistic understanding of who a Sikh is.

The evaluation of a Sikh’s identity must come on a circular spectrum which includes criteria outlined in Gurmat — Bani (wisdom), Tavarikh (history) and demonstrated throughout Rahit (lifestyle) — but also includes where the individual places themselves within those criteria.

Revised:

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Who is a Sikh? – Report

As the global Sikh population expands in size and complexion, the definition of a Sikh becomes increasingly important to support and shape the community. This study sets out to establish an understanding of how to conceptualize who is a Sikh.

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Who is a Sikh? – Raw Data

A survey of 938 individuals was conducted to summarize the 2017 Sikh population’s understanding of who a Sikh is. The survey results show significant differences between responses in comparison of age group and gender identity. The survey results mirror the concept of different groups within the Sikh community having varying understandings of how a Sikh should be defined.

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Who is a Sikh? – Raw Data

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Written By

Senior Fellow, Research & Policy

Harinder Singh is the Senior Fellow at the Sikh Research Institute. He holds a BS in Aerospace Engineering from Wichita State University, an MS in Engineering Management from the University of Kansas, and an MPhil from Punjab University in the linguistics of the Guru Granth Sahib. 

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Masters’ Student, The University of British Columbia

Parveen Kaur is currently a Masters’ Student at The University of British Columbia in the Master of Data Science Program.

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