Many people propagate the view that since Sikhism was born out of Hinduism, Sikhism is not a distinct religion. This is not correct – Sikhism is a distinct religion, as there are certain Hindu ideas that are not acceptable under Sikh dictates. The primary among these, being idol worship. As the fifth Guru quotes Saint Kabir:
You tear off the leaves, O gardener, but in each and every leaf, there is life. That stone idol, for which you tear off those leaves – that stone idol is lifeless. In this, you are mistaken, O gardener. The True Guru is the Living Lord.
Brahma is in the leaves, Vishnu is in the branches, and Shiva is in the flowers. When you pluck these leaves, three gods are torn off – then whose service are you performing?
The sculptor carves the stone and fashions it into an idol, placing his feet upon its chest. If this stone god was true, it would devour the sculptor for this!
Rice and beans, candies, cakes and cookies – the priest enjoys these, while he puts ashes into the mouth of the idol. The gardener is mistaken, and the world is mistaken, but I am not mistaken. Says Kabeer, the Lord preserves me; the Lord, my King, has showered His Blessings upon me.
This hymn is on YouTube, beautifully rendered.
Also, in the words of Saint Kabir, quoted by Guru Arjan Dev ji in Shri Guru Granth Sahib, the distinction of Sikhism from both Hinduism and Islam is clearly enshrined:
I do not keep fasts, nor do I observe the month of Ramadaan. I serve only the One, who will protect me in the end. The One Lord, the Lord of the World, is my God Allah. He administers justice to both Hindus and Muslims. I do not make pilgrimages to Mecca, nor do I worship at Hindu sacred shrines. I serve the One Lord, and not any other. I do not perform Hindu worship services, nor do I offer the Muslim prayers. I have taken the One Formless Lord into my heart; I humbly worship Him there. I am not a Hindu, nor am I a Muslim. My body and breath of life belong to Allah – to Raam – the God of both. Says Kabeer, this is what I say: meeting with the Guru, my Spiritual Teacher, I realize God, my Lord and Master.
Why do I consider this distinction important enough to be discussed? Because, we should understand the differences and not indulge in copying of mindless rituals. We can respect all religions – but follow only one.