I'm an Indian Muslim and I'm proud to sing Vande Mataram
The national song is one that has a universal appeal for all Indians irrespective of caste, creed and faith.
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When I read and hear about the acrimonious debate that is raging these days on Vande Mataram, I remember my childhood when we used to sing the song at our school, besides singing the Lord’s prayer, “Our Father, Who art in Heaven...” Had I not sung that song and the prayer, would I have been a better Muslim? Certainly not. Truth is that I am a better Muslim because I remained firmly glued to my Indian roots.
As an Indian Muslim who caters to the voices of sanity and reason, my head hung in shame as I got the news of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MLA Waris Pathan refusing to sing Vande Mataram. On his part, it was an indiscreet act. He went on to say, “Even at knifepoint at my throat or gun on my head, I am not going to sing Vande Mataram... We believe in the Constitution.”
A person holding a public position should not use this kind of language. At the same time, those not singing Vande Mataram must not be regarded as anti-national and unpatriotic.
In the words of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, all communities in India must gel well like sugar and milk; however, owing to petty vote-bank politics, this is not the case. While listening to a rendition of Vande Mataram on January 1, 1952, by renowned maestro Krishna Kumar in Delhi, Maulana Azad admired it, saying that it was graceful and inspiring as great luminaries like Rabindranath Tagore, Surendranath Banerjee, Satyabhushan Gupta, RN Bose, H Bose and others had sung it.
Muslims should not get carried away by a few lines of the song as nobody is asking them to bow down. They must, again, take a cue from Maulana Azad. On the occasion of the inauguration of the ICCR, Maulana Sahib’s forehead was smeared with a tilak at which Dawn, a Pakistani daily, commented in a cartoon that he had changed his religion to Hinduism. Maulana, in his reply, said that his participation in such events only strengthened his faith in his religion.
Maulana Azad saw in Vande Mataram the fusion of the endogenic creativity, the Vedantic vision of many parts of truth with the Islamic doctrines of Wahdat-e-Deen (unity of religion) and Sulah-e-Kul (universal peace).
It is true that as per the Supreme Court verdict, nobody can be forced to sing the national anthem or the Vande Mataram. However, neither it should be enforced by anyone, nor be it meted out with disdain by vouching that they would not sing it.
Many of us fail to understand that in a multi-faith nation like India, certain things need to be shared not just in terms of intention but also to retain good relations. Apart from the Constitution, respect and regard come from within. True, as per the dictates of Islam, Muslims should not worship or bow in front of anything other than Allah. But that doesn’t take from them the fact that they should be loyal to the nation. It’s time Muslim leaders stopped politicising Vande Mataram to promote their petty politics.
What is of paramount importance is that people must be beware of the ugly face of fundamentalism, whether it’s the so-called champions of Islam or the advocates of Hindutva.
I fail to comprehend as to why a religious issue is made out of Vande Mataram, a song that has a universal appeal for all Indians irrespective of caste, creed and faith. As a Muslim, I would like to convey a message to all my countrymen and especially my own community that some politically motivated people are trying to make an emotive issue of Vande Mataram. What is unfortunate is that anti-Vande Mataram clerics, through their ludicrous stand, have given Hindutva forces a handle to beat Muslims. Media is also responsible for creating this kind of impression by repeatedly giving publicity to speeches by these radicals. It is because of the irresponsible statements made by them that Muslims have to suffer.
What’s unfortunate is that the voices sanity among secular, patriotic and liberal Muslims never get a forum to air their views. We live in a liberal society where we are encouraged to know each other’s religion. The glorious Vande Mataram belongs to Muslims as much as it belongs to Hindus. We, irrespective of our religions, are one and Indians!
We must explore, identify and enlighten ourselves on the common grounds between Islam and Hinduism. If a sincere attempt is made, Hindus and Muslims will discover that many of their roots are nurtured by common philosophies and composite culture.
(Courtesy of Mail Today.)