In light of the tragic shooting at the Wisconsin Sikh Temple, HuffPost Religion offers this brief introduction to Sikhism in hopes of increasing understanding and appreciations for this great world religion.

Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world with a population of upwards of 30 million worldwide. There are an estimated 250,000 Sikhs in the United States having first arrived in the late 19th century.

Below are five basic facts about Sikhism:

1. Belief: Sikhism is a monotheistic religion, and the basic Sikh belief is represented in the phrase Ik Onkar meaning "One God."

2. History: Sikhism was founded in the Punjab region in India in the 15th century by Guru Nanak Dev. Sikhism broke from Hinduism due, in part, to its rejection of the caste system.

3. Scripture: The primary source of Scripture for Sikhs is the Guru Granth Sahib, regarded as the living Guru, after the final Guru in human form, Guru Gobind Singh, passed away.

4. Place of worship: A Sikh place of worship is known as the gurdwara. The word gurdwara means "doorway to God." Men and women normally sit apart in the gurdwara. Traditionally there is no official clergy within the Sikh tradition. Over time however, priests have become more commonplace. Many gurdwaras employ priests to conduct services, while many others are run entirely by members of the local congregation.

5. The Five Ks: The Five Ks are the articles of faith that Sikhs wear as ordered by the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. Most Sikhs wear one or more of the articles but only Sikhs who have taken amrit, a ritual analogous to baptism, wear all. They include:

  • Kesh, or unshorn long hair, which is protected by a dastaar, or turban. The dastaar is worn by men and some women to cover their long hair. But most women keep their hair long and uncovered, except for when entering a gurdwara.

  • A kangha is a small wooden comb meant to keep the hair combed twice a day.

  • A kara is an iron bangle to be worn on the hand used most.

  • A kachera is a specific undergarment for men and women.

  • A kirpan is a short dagger.

Reactions to the shooting at the Wisconsin Sikh Temple

Loading Slideshow...
  • Wisconsin Shooting

    A man reacts outside the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, Wis. where a shooting took place on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Bystanders look on as SWAT officers surround the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman stormed a mass and opened fire August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Police SWAT officers surround the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman stormed the mass and opened fire August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    A police officer surrounds the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman stormed the mass and opened fire August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Bystanders are directed by police officers as SWAT officers surround the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman stormed a mass and opened fire August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Police stand guard as bystanders watch at the scene of a shooting inside a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012. Police and witnesses describe a chaotic situation with an unknown number of victims, suspects and possible hostages.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Bystanders stand outside the scene of a shooting inside The Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Police SWAT officers surround the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman stormed the mass and opened fire August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin. At least six people were killed when a shooter, who was shot dead by a police officer, opened fire on congregants in the Milwaukee suburb.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Map locates Oak Creek, Wis., site of shooting at Sikh temple.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    A woman reacts with others as they await word on a shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, where police and witnesses describe a chaotic situation with an unknown number of victims, suspects and possible hostages.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Bystanders sit in the shade at the scene of a shooting inside The Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis, Sunday, Aug 5, 2012. Greenfield Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt says tactical officers have been through the temple where shots were fired about 10:30 a.m. Sunday. He says they found four people inside the building and three people outside.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Bystanders looks on as SWAT officers surround the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman stormed a mass and opened fire August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin. At least six people were killed when a shooter, who was shot dead by a police officer, opened fire on congregants in the Milwaukee suburb.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Bystanders looks on as SWAT officers surround the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman stormed a mass and opened fire August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Armed police investigate the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis. where a shooting took place on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Bystanders looks on as SWAT officers surround the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman stormed a mass and opened fire August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    A bystander looks on as SWAT officers surround the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman stormed a mass and opened fire August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    A woman talks on her phone outside The Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis., where a shooting took place Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Police personnel move outside the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis, where a shooting took place Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    People watch police personnel outside the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis., where a shooting took place Sunday, Aug 5, 2012.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Police personnel move outside the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis., where a shooting took place Sunday, Aug 5, 2012.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Police personnel move outside the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis., where a shooting took place Sunday, Aug 5, 2012.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    A police officer talks with bystanders outside the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman fired upon people at a service August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Various police personnel look into a parked vehicle outside the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman fired upon people at a service August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin. At least six people were killed when a shooter, who was later shot dead by a police officer, opened fire on congregants in the Milwaukee suburb.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    A man wipes away tears outside the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis. where a shooting took place on Sunday, Aug 5, 2012.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    A tactical officer walks past the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman fired upon people at a service August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Women walk with a red cross worker outside the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wi, where a shooting took place Sunday, Aug 5, 2012.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    People mill around in front of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman fired upon people at a service August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    An ambulance drives down Howell Ave as SWAT officers surround the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman fired upon people at a service August, 5, 2012.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    A tactical officer runs to position as SWAT officers surround the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman fired upon people at a service on August, 5, 2012.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    SWAT officers surround the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman fired upon people at a service August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    People look on in front of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman fired upon people at a service August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    People wait for word on family and friends in front of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman fired upon people at a service August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Police guard the front of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman fired upon people at a service August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    Police guard the front of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman fired upon people at a service August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    People mill around in front of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman fired upon people at a service August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    A police officer guards an area in front of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where at least one gunman fired upon people at a service August, 5, 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Shooting

    A woman uses a phone as people react outside the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, Wi, where a shooting took place Sunday, Aug 5, 2012.