The Government of India portal states that the National Song of the Union of India is “Vande Mataram, composed in Sanskrit by Bankimchandra Chatterji, was a source of inspiration to the people in their struggle for freedom. It has an equal status with Jana-gana-mana. Jana-gana-mana is the National Anthem of the nation.
The English translation of the first stanza of the song as per the same portal is:
I bow to thee, Mother,
cool with the winds of the south,
dark with the crops of the harvests,
Her nights rejoicing in the glory of the moonlight,
her lands clothed beautifully with her trees in flowering bloom,
sweet of laughter, sweet of speech,
The Mother, giver of boons, giver of bliss.
A song which has inspired generations of Indians and pre-partition generations from across the Indian border (Pakistan and Bangladesh) as the song of independence movement, was on Tuesday declared as un-Islamic and a Fatwa was slapped against singing the song by Musim Clerics under the aegis of the Ulama-i-Hind in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh. The fatwa asks of Muslims not to sing the national song Vande Mataram. In a resolution passed at the body’s 30th general session at the organization argued that some verses of the song were against the tenets of Islam. The conference was being attended by nearly 10,000 clerics and Islamic scholars.
Muslim bodies including the Muslim Law Board justified the decision on Vande Mataram, saying Muslims couldn’t offer prayers to anyone but Allah.
“We love the nation but can’t worship it,” said Kamal Farooqi, a prominent member of the board.
The controversy around the song dates back to time before Indian independence when Mahatam Gandhi led Indian National Congress in the year 1937, discussed at length the status of the song. It was pointed out that the last two stanzas invoked the Hindu Goddess Durga and hence the two paragraphs were kept out of the song.
It was also due to similar reservations voiced by the Indian Muslim community that the status of national anthem was given to Jana Gana Mana.
Meanwhile the presence of Indian Home Minister, P Chidambaram at the said meeting has raised political storm. The main opposition party, Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) has raised serious concerns about the fallout of the whole episode. BJP leader Prof. Murli Manohar Joshi lambasted the fatwa while saying that the Home Minister’s presence “legitimized” the “anti-Vande Matram” view.
Party leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said it was not mandatory under the law for anyone to sing the national song and “no one was forced to sing it.” Then why did the Jamiat feel the need to pass such a resolution at its meeting in Deoband? Why protest when it was not being forced on any one?
He was even more critical of Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who was present at the JUH session, for “legitimising” the resolution.
Mr. Naqvi said the Minister did not react to the passing of the resolution and did not make any reference to it when he spoke at the function.
The party said the Vande Mataram issue was taken up at the very start of the session. It demonstrated the “separatist mindset” of the Jamiat. On the one hand, it was praised by the Home Minister for adopting resolutions condemning terrorism and terrorists and, on the other, it declares the singing of the national song un-Islamic.
In another resolution the body also opposed the proposed Central Madrasa Board saying that it was an intrusion in the way madrasa’s are run. The body also said that education for girls after 10-years of age should be in accordance to “complete Sharia norms.” In a set of 25 resolutions passed at its 30th general session at Deoband, the top Muslim body not only endorsed a 2006 Darul Uloom edict against singing ‘Vande Mataram’ but also called upon the community to avoid cinema and television; reject anti-AIDS campaign of the government among others.
While what Sharia norms would mean is not spelt out by the resolution, it is understood to refer to segregated classrooms and use of veil and hijab. Darul Uloom has repeatedly ruled co-education as unlawful and also did not support a recent ruling of a senior cleric at Cairo’s highly respected Al Azhar that face veils were not required in all-women classrooms.
The Jamiat also noted that the women’s reservation bill seeking 33% reservation for women in legislatures was “uncalled for” as “bringing women into the mainstream will create social problems and issues including their security.”
The Home Minister present on the occasion tried to steer clear of any controversies and said that it is the duty of majority to protect the rights of minorities be it religious, linguistic or otherwise. Muslims in India form roughly 12% of the population. India also houses the third largest population of Muslims in the world.
“A nation can ignore its minorities only at its peril…We must always remember that pluralism is our inheritance and strength. It was the duty of the majority to protect the minority. Due to the acts of a few, we have allowed diversity to become differences,” he said.
Speaking at the 30th general session of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind here, he said, “We cannot view Islam as an alien faith because this is the land of your forefathers, this is the land of your birth. It is a matter of our pride that Islam exists in India along with other major religions“.
The body also reinforced itself as the true face of Islam while slamming other Muslim bodies. It also condemned US intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan while declaring Islam as the religion of peace.
As in Deobandi writings, the Jamiat warned against other sects like Qadyani for being “turncoats”, suggesting its own version of Islam was the true and correct one. Calling for professional technical institutions, it said it was necessary for Muslim organisations to take the lead as Muslims who studied professional courses could get cut off from their moorings. It condemned US intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.