Refusal to Sing Vande Mataram Is Part of My Religious Freedom; Not Narrowmindedness

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The refusal to sing Vande Matram is not ‘narrowmindedness.’ It is in fact the practice of one’s natural and constitutional rights

AAZEEN KIRMANI | Caravan Daily

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]peaking at a book release function this week, the new saffron-robed Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath argued that refusing to sing Vande Matram reflects one’s ‘narrowmindedness’ and emphasised that “we will have to find a way out to overcome this narrowmindedness.”

The statement is rather unfortunate coming from the Chief Minister of the most politically significant state of the world’s largest democracy.

The Muslim objection to Vande Matram is neither new nor are the reasons of refusal unknown to anyone. Islam being a strictly monotheistic religion, bowing and prostrating is allowed only and only before Allah almighty. Actual bowing to anyone other than Allah or even a symbolic or verbal gesture suggesting bowing before anyone except Allah is not permissible in Islam.

Since Vande Matram literally translates into ‘Mother, I bow to thee’ the mother here connoting one’s motherland that is India, its recitation renders one’s Islamic faith null and void. A Muslim cannot bow down even before his/her biological mother despite the fact that paradise, according to the Prophet’s hadith, lies beneath her feet.

Therefore the decision of the seven Meerut councillors who walked out refusing to sing Vande Matram is perfectly valid on religious as well as legal grounds. On legal grounds since the constitution of India does not recognize a national song and as such legally speaking the rendition of Vande Matram cannot be made compulsory by any private or government body.

The refusal to sing Vande Matram therefore is not ‘narrowmindedness.’ It is in fact the practice of one’s natural and constitutional rights. Just as being a Yogi and expressing one’s religious inclination as to how one should dress up is one’s natural and constitutional right

And before anyone declares Muslims as anti-nationals based on their refusal to sing Vande Matram or say Bharat Mata ki Jai let it be made clear that Muslims have been one the most patriotic communities of India. There have been any number of instances of sacrifices of life and wealth for India by Muslims, some of them are well known and celebrated while many have gone down the annals of history quietly, unsung.

The latest example of exemplary patriotism comes from the superstar Aamir Khan who refused to release his blockbuster Dangal in Pakistan without the national anthem. Needless to say that in doing so Khan has forgone a significant amount of revenue that Dangal would have earned in Pakistan.

In his remarks, Yogi had further said that “We want this country to move ahead in the 21st century and the matter of dispute is that we will sing Vande Matram or not…this is a matter of concern.”

For a country that wants to move ahead in the 21st Century the last thing to preoccupy the minds of its leaders should be a section’s refusal to sing or recite a particular song or phrase.

Their preoccupation should be with ensuring the overall development and peace which is possible only by promoting democratic values, one of the most important of which is personal liberty in matters of faith.

State interference in matters of religion without exception stirs the pot of resentment and insecurity which is most detrimental to development. A political leader therefore can concern himself either with moving ahead in the 21st century or with finding a way to overcome a section’s so-called narrowmindedness. Certainly not both. For imposing majoritarian sentiments on minorities and attempts towards development go in opposite directions.

 

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