It is a long-standing practice in Islamic warfare to invite the targeted population to convert before attacking. Indeed, it goes back to Muhammad himself:
"When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. ... If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them...." (Sahih Muslim 19.4294)
Meanwhile, jihadist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani is urging the Sikhs to relax and ignore the letters. Easier said than done. More on this story: "Kashmir: Islamic groups pressuring Sikhs to convert," by Nirmala Carvalho for AsiaNews, August 20:
Srinagar (AsiaNews) - Some Sikhs living in Kashmir have received anonymous letters recently, urging them to "embrace Islam, join the protests against civilian killings or pack up and leave the Valley." In one letter, the anonymous writer said, "Since you are benefitting from the joys here, why can't you share the grief and sorrow of Kashmiris as well? We know you are afraid of bullets" but "hold protests inside your gurdwaras [Sikh temples] or leave."
For decades, Pakistan and India have been at loggerheads over the mountainous region. The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir now occupies the eastern half of the territory. For years, it has been the scene of a Muslim insurgency dedicated to the reunification of the greater Kashmir region under Pakistani rule.
Yesterday, hard-line separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani tried to reassure Kashmir Sikhs. He told them to ignore the letters, and not feel threatened....