WĀJAB UL-'ARZ, lit. a properly petition, is a section of Sikhāṅ dī Bhagat Mālā, also known as Gursikhāṅ dī Bhagatmāl, a manuscript in Punjabi, Gurmukhī script, attributed to Bhāī Manī Siṅgh (d. 1737) the martyr, who had received the rites of initiation at the hands of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh himself. Three copies of the manuscript were preserved in the Sikh Reference Library at Amritsar under No. 7398, No. 6140 and No. 751 until these perished during operation Blue Star in 1984. The printed version of Sikhāṅ dī Bhagat Mālā however does not include this section. The Wājab ul-'Arz also forms part of Bhagvān Siṅgh's anthology of rahitnāmās entitled Bibekbārdhī, an unpublished manuscript of which is preserved in the Dr Balbīr Siṅgh Sāhitya Kendra, Dehrā Dūn.
The text is meant to be a ten point petition addressed to Gurū Gobind Siṅgh by Sikhs who were not formally admitted into the Sikh fold but who otherwise believed in Sikh teachings and precepts. These ten questions relate to the difficulties in observing the new code of conduct prescribed by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh for the Khālsā inaugurated on the Baisākhī day of AD 1699. The petitioners requested that the reply should be under the Gurū's own signatures so as to preclude any ambiguity later on. In the manuscript, the words "specially signed by the Gurū" are added to six out of the ten answers. Two of the questions, for instance, were :
(a) Brāhmaṇs used to conduct our marriage ceremonies and the Vedic ritual was followed, but now the Sikhs who have undergone the rites of pāhul and who keep their hair unshorn say that we should not call in Brāhmaṇs, but should read Anand, along with Lāvāṅ. We await your order, O' Gurū:
(b) O' True Master ! We used to feed the Brāhmaṇs at marriages and on death anniversaries. Now we are required to feed Sikhs alone.
Since the replies to the questions tend to allow some laxity to the believer, it has led many to doubt the genuineness of the work. The name of Bhāī Manī Siṅgh seems to have been introduced merely to lend it authenticity. One of the manuscripts (No. 7398) contained additionally an enumeration of the taboos for Sikhs ; also, directions for them to read Scripture, the Gurū Granth Sāhib, with devotion and faith, follow truth and righteousness, to hold no one in fear and by the same token to fear none. Men of good deeds were to be reckoned of high birth and respected, and those of evil deeds of low caste.
K. S. Thāpar