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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Much Ado over Vande

Much Ado over Vande

The national convention of the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind held at the Darul Uloom Deoband on Tuesday adopted a resolution supporting an earlier decree against the national song "Vande Mataram" on the grounds that some of its lines were "against the religious principles of Islam". The resolution asked Muslims not to sing "Vande Mataram". In effect, the resolution was in support of the fatwa or decree issued against "Vande Mataram" in 2006. The clerics had contended that "Vande Mataram" means "Mother (India) I bow to thee!". The BJP has termed the fatwa against the singing of the national song as "anti-national" and urged Islamic organizations to desist from issuing such fatwas that are against the nation’s interest. The BJP also strongly criticized Congress ministers for participating in the Deoband convention.

There are a few important points that need to be made here. The first is that the word vande does not mean worship alone. It means saluting, singing in adoration, extolment in addition to worship. In fact, the words vande mataram have been often translated as "I salute thee, Mother." We are not aware that there is anything in Islam against saluting anyone. Maulana Muizuddin of the Jamiay, however, is of the view that bowing before anyone is ruled out in Islam. "We cannot bow before anyone other than the Allah. It is un-Islamic… We love our mothers. Islam doesn’t even permit bowing before (our) mother. We love the Prophet; but we cannot even bow before him," he said. What would he have to say about saluting? Does Islam not even permit the saluting of anyone? If that be so, how are Muslim officers of the Indian armed forces supposed to survive? They are obliged to salute their superior officers several times a day. Obviously, there cannot be a separate rule for Muslim officers alone in a secular country.

But this apart, when our Muslim citizens decided to continue living in India after the country was partitioned on the basis of religion, they knew that the republic of India formed in 1950 chose "Vande Mataram" as its national song. They did not object to it then on grounds of religion. They did not object to "Vande Mataram" remaining the national song even after India was made a "secular democratic republic" in 1976. The first fatwa of the Muslim clerics came only in 2006. At that time, they should have been told that they had missed boats in both 1950 and in 1976, and would have to put up with what they had accepted as part of their homeland. How can the clerics wake up like Rip Van Winkles and object to Vande Mataram only in 2006 after all these years? The obvious thing for Muslims of India to do now is to take the meaning of vande as salute and leave things at that. As for Muslims not bowing before anyone, we have all witnessed a fair amount of bowing before elders at any gathering of Muslims. THE SENTINEL

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