Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Religious Studies

Major Professor

Carlos Lopez, Ph.D.


Sikhism, Granth, Guru, Order, Command


The purpose of this study is to analyze the development of the Sikh concept of hukam, which is usually translated as a divine command or order. The concept is prominently featured in the Sikh sacred scripture (Guru Granth) and is an important aspect of daily ritual life for the Sikhs. The goal of this study is to provide initial insight into how the concept developed in the Sikh scriptural tradition, as well as the implications that the concept had for the Sikh community. This paper traces the development of hukam from the concepts origin in the Islamic tradition, the writings of Kabir, and the Sikh Gurus, with primary interest in Nanak's compositions. Each of these helps to provide a comprehensive understanding of how the concept developed across cultures and religious traditions. The first section analyzes how hukam, originally an Arabic word and an Islamic concept, was employed in the Qur'an.

This section includes an analysis of the derivative words that share the HKM verbal root with hukam. The second section analyzes hukam in its earliest South Asian context through the compositions of Kabir, a 15th century Indian Saint. The third and fourth sections of the paper deal with Guru Nanak and his successors, respectively. Starting with Nanak, who founded the Sikh religion, I analyze how he used hukam to emphasize a divine order that was familiar for South Asian traditions, while preserving much of the original themes discussed in the Qur'an. In the following section, I note how Nanak's successors build on his concept of hukam, utilizing it in a manner that reflects that growing Sikh identity and authority of the Guru. Through this analysis, I conclude that the continuity the Sikh concept of hukam displays with the Qur'an forces us to reexamine the connections between Sikhism and Islam, which have previously been overlooked or ignored amongst scholars of Sikhism. By analyzing the development of the concept across textual traditions, I provide a framework by which the uniqueness of the Sikh hukam can be extracted.