Guru Ki Maseet
Guru Ki Maseet.When Hargobind Sahib Ji was anointed the sixth guru of the Sikhs he asked Baba Buddha Ji, an eminent Sikh to bring forth two swords. These Guru Sahib Ji put on as symbols of spiritual (miri) and temporal (piri) authority. Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji is known as ‘miri piri thay malik’, Lord of miri piri.
Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji built the Akal Takhat, the throne of the Almighty, opposite the Harmindar Sahib (Golden temple), again this was a sign of bringing together spiritual and temporal powers.
In December, 1634 Guru Hargobind Sahib fought a fierce battle against Mughal forces near the river Beas, although heavily outnumbered Guru Ji was victorious. Guru Sahib Ji decided to stay for a while, and soon a settlement grew up. The settlement expanded into a town which became known as Sri Hargobindpur (-pur, being a suffix for place of). As the conflict with the Mughals was intensifying the towns defences were fortified. In fact, these fortifications were so solid that the original city walls and many buildings within are still visible today throughout Sri Hargobindpur
Residents of all faiths flocked to the Guru and perceived themselves as heirs to the sixth Guru’s desire to found a secure and secular home on the banks of the Beas. The Sikhs built themselves a Gurdwara (Sikh temple) but the local Muslims did not have the capacity to build themselves a place of worship. They came to the Guru and asked him for help. The All Knowing Guru was equally comfortable with Muslim faqirs and Hindu sadhus and saw all people with one benevolent gaze. Guru Sahib Ji ordered his Sikhs to start construction of a maseet (mosque). The maseet was duly completed and handed over to the Muslims.
With the turmoil of the partitioning of India in 1947, the mosque fell into a state of neglect and disrepair. In time the care of the masset fell into the hands of a group a Nihang Singhs who installed the Sikh scriptures Guru Granth Sahib. For many years, the mosque was maintained by the Nihangs.
In February 8th, 2003 a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MoU) was signed by Baba Kirtan Singh the chief of the Nihangs, the Sikh caretakers of the mosque, and the Punjab Waqf Board. It was Baba Kirtan Singhs desire that Muslims perform their prayers at the mosque which was gifted to them. As per the wishes of Baba Kirtan Singh, five saplings were planted in the names of the Sikh Gurus. Dr Mohammad Rizwanul Haque, Punjab Waqf Board Administrator, described the MoU as an international event which would pave the way for strengthening communal harmony in the country.
The mosque was in a state of disrepair and work began on its restoration by a group of Sikhs and Muslims in a unique manifestation of India's multi-religious society. Sikhs offered their labour, Muslim masons repaired the walls and an all-woman team of restorers led by Ms Gurmeet Kaur Rai lent its expertise.
The entire village, and even those from the surrounding areas, answered Rai's call for clearing the earth around the shrine. Hundreds of school children and Nihangs did the spadework. Today the mosque stands elevated. "We will now try and remove all later additions, like cement, plaster and white-wash from the brick structure, and then apply lime paste plaster, which will allow the building to breathe," said Rai. The work was finally completed on March 23rd, 2004.
''The performance of Muslim religious prayers in the mosque after 55 years would be recorded in history as an event when Sikhs showed so much magnanimity towards Muslims,'' said Dr Mohammed Rizwanul Haque.
Sikhs look on as Muslim brethren pray at the maseet.
In a similar event a year ago Sikhs of Chahar Mazra village in Ropar District built a mosque for their Muslim neighbours. Sant Varyam Singh, who heads Vishwa Gurumat spiritual mission in the adjacent Ratwara Sahib village, built the mosque for the Muslims of the area. The first prayers were offered in March last year. After the prayers there were heart-warning scenes of celebrations and Muslims embracing their Sikh brethren.
The Guru’s civic plan reflected this understanding of the concept of God having multiple names but being one entity as the town includes gurdwaras, temples and a mosque. Even today, the people of Sri Hargobindpur visit all these places frequently and freely, regardless of their religious affiliations.