Hukam (Punjabi: ਹੁਕਮਿ) is a Punjabi word derived from the Arabic hukam, meaning "command" or "divine order." In Sikhism, Hukam represents the goal of becoming in harmony with the will of God and thus attaining inner peace. It is by the command of Waheguru that we are born and pass away. In the Sikh Scripture, Guru Nanak says;
ਆਪੇ ਬੀਜਿ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਖਾਹੁ ॥
Aapae Beej Aapae Hee Khaahu ||
You shall harvest what you plant.
ਨਾਨਕ ਹੁਕਮੀ ਆਵਹੁ ਜਾਹੁ ॥੨੦॥
Naanak Hukamee Aavahu Jaahu ||20||
O Nanak, by the Hukam of God's Command, we come and go in reincarnation. ||20||
~ Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Japji Sahib, Ang 4
Hukam is not an object or a thing as such, it's not just to follow God's orders. God is not sitting somewhere in space and writing fates of all human beings. According to, Guru Nanak when a person with the help of a word given by their divine master (known as Guru) the word which is regarded as name of God, dwells ones mind (Mann) with shabad (Word), continuous meditation on that word, one comes to know their reality in this Universe, their status in this world.
At this stage the person resonates with the cosmic waves, that is The Hukam. And person becomes a Hukami human, who follows the hukam, without any wish or desire, one can just follow. All the thought processes, all wishes and desires come to an end. One just resonates with hukam.
The whole of the Universe is subject to the Hukam of the Creator God. Nothing ever happens without the Will of God. This is accepted as one of the primary concepts of Sikhism. For the Sikh, the acceptance of God's Hukam is a concept that needs to be learnt and understood. Guru Nanak at the very beginning of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scriptures of the Sikhs asks;
ਕਿਵ ਸਚਿਆਰਾ ਹੋਈਐ ਕਿਵ ਕੂੜੈ ਤੁਟੈ ਪਾਲਿ ॥
Kiv Sachiaaraa Hoeeai Kiv Koorrai Thuttai Paal ||
How does one become truthful? How can falsehood be discarded?
The answer and reply follows on the next line;
ਹੁਕਮਿ ਰਜਾਈ ਚਲਣਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਨਾਲਿ ॥੧॥
Hukam Rajaaee Chalanaa Naanak Likhiaa Naal ||1||
By following the Hukam, Says Nanak, by accepting the Hukam, which is written for everyone! ||1||
~ Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Japji Sahib, Ang 1
By living in harmony with the divine will or Hukam brings everlasting peace. This does not imply that a Sikh does not have 'free will' – All this means is that the Sikh must bring their will in line with the will of God.
What is God's Hukam? The Sikh Scriptures outline the ways in which one can bring their own thinking in line with the Hukam. If one engages in the service of God's creation, this is the best way of working in harmony with the divine will. Further, by remembering Waheguru one becomes aware of 'God desires' and 'divine essence' within the person is realised. By following these "divine values" that benefit God's Creation, one ends the cycle of Karma and transmigration.
ਹੁਕਮੁ ਪਛਾਣਿ ਤਾ ਖਸਮੈ ਮਿਲਣਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ॥
Hukam Pashhaan Thaa Khasamai Milanaa ||1|| Rehaao Dhoojaa ||
Recognizing the Hukam of God's Command, you shall meet with your God. ||1||Second Pause||
~ Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 92
By submission to God's Hukam (Will), a sense of humility and self-negation is achieved – further one regards themselves as an instrument of God's will. One realizes that whatever comes from God is for their own good. Every misery that one faces is a sort of mercy. One is full of gratitude and prayer for all God has done. Those who have no regard for the Hukam, suffer in pain;
ਹੁਕਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਬਹੁਤਾ ਰੋਵੈ ॥
Hukam N Jaanai Bahuthaa Rovai ||
One who does not know the Hukam of the God's Command cries out in terrible pain.
~ Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 85
The only antidote for egoism and vanity is complete surrender to God's will. Only by conquering the self, can one enter the realm of God's Grace.
Other Meaning - 'Hukamnama' also refers to a passage from Guru Granth Sahib, selected by randomly opening the Sikh scripture during a daily ceremony. The passage is considered by Sikhs as the divine "command of the Guru" for the day. Hukam's are taken as guidance in specific situations/answer to questions etc.