In Praise of Flexible Faith May 20, 2015

In Praise of Flexible Faith

On Friday, in New Zealand, a five-year-old boy was hit by a car on his way to school. His head was bleeding and he was on the ground. 22-year-old Harman Singh saw this and immediately did the first thing he could think of to help. He took off his turban, unraveled it, and put it under the child’s head until help arrived:

Gagan Dhillon said he was on his way to work when he saw the accident and stopped to help.

“There was enough help as there was, but being a Sikh myself, I know what type of respect the turban has. People just don’t take it off — people die over it.

“I saw him [Mr Singh] with no head covering and thought, ‘That’s strange’. But then I saw one hand was underneath the boy’s head supporting it and his siropao [turban] was stopping the bleeding.

“… he didn’t care that his head was uncovered in public. He just wanted to help this little boy.”

The boy is currently in stable condition.

It was a lovely gesture and it says a lot about Singh’s character that he prioritized a stranger’s well-being over any possible religious consequences. (The same praise, of course, applies to the others who attended to the boy at the scene.)

But let’s acknowledge the religious angle to this story. According to media reports, most Sikhs agree that what Singh did wasn’t forbidden by his faith. In an emergency situation, it’s okay to remove your turban, they say. It’s a rare exception to the rule.

To put it another way, there’s a flexibility within the faith that allows common sense to override irrational dogma. We should applaud that.

If Jehovah’s Witnesses had that flexibility, maybe some of them (or their children) wouldn’t die when they need life-saving blood transfusions.

If Christian Scientists had that flexibility, maybe some of them (or their children) wouldn’t die when seeing a doctor was all they needed.

It’s fortunate that Singh’s faith wasn’t so rigid that removing his turban to help an injured stranger was out of the question.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Matt for the link)

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