Dhiraj Ahuja | 22 Sep 2006
“Pakistanis and Indonesians do not follow Islamic aqeeda.” Well, to begin with, the first line in inverted commas has no truth in it. Pakistani and Indonesian Muslims are as pak as their Indian brethren are. I am just drawing an inference from an interview with Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri Masjid, Maulana Mufti Mohammed Mukkaram; posted by merinews.com, one of the leading citizen journalism portals—call it organized blogging if you wish to.
According to Imam Saheb, Muslims cannot bow before anyone other than almighty Allah. Singing a song that prays to motherland India is not doable for Muslims, says he. Imam Saheb, I have a very humble submission to make with all respect and humility that a man on chair of religion, as high as yours, deserves. Sir, Muslims in Pakistan and Indonesia sing their respective national songs with pride. Are they any different from those in India in any way, form or manner whatsoever? When they sing their national songs or anthems, eulogizing their respective countries, doesn't it amount to the violation of aqeeda for they too, being Muslims, should not be bowing before anyone other than almighty Allah? Or should they be excused simply because their motherland (or fatherland) is a country of Islam and therefore, this aqeeda is not applicable, half applicable, or applicable-as-they-want-and-when-they-want to them? Or should all Islamic countries therefore, do away with their national songs and anthems?
Imam Saheb, why on Earth are we making a dirty cocktail out of religion and patriotism? Sir, as I write this I am sure that I will be perceived as another Praveen Togadia in the making. Therefore, I must clarify that though the religion I was born in is Hinduism, I chose Indianism as my faith for all reasons and seasons the moment I was able to call apples from oranges. However, something at the back of my mind nags me that my religious identity will still be doubted.
Yes, as Imam Saheb rightly pointed out in the interview, all of us as citizens of this secular country have the fundamental right to religion. And just because we have a right, written explicitly in the Constitution, it must be exercised—irrespective of the fact that until now, the right as well as the song, had been in existence for decades minus any controversy simmering over. Were the generations then too naive or religiously ignorant to rake it up? Or were the Imams and Pundits too tolerant? Again, I am not for Muslims singing Vande Matram. Muslims or for that matter just about anybody should have the freedom to sing or not to sing whatever they wish to. Love for one's nation cannot be imposed on someone, especially on a community or religion as a whole. It comes from within. I do not hate those who do not sing it. As free citizens of this country they have the right to refusal and we should accept it without much hullabaloo.
Political parties are busy doing what they are best at—flaring emotions and creating vote banks. BJP is dangerous for its fundamentalism but at least it takes a stand. Congress is worse. Singing Vande Matram has been made optional in states it rules. Now, this translates to:
If you are a Hindu—we have given you an option that you can exercise— Muslims are wrong in not singing it—please vote for us
If you are a Muslim—we have given you an option not to sing it—Hindus are wrong in forcing it upon you—please vote for us
You are neither a Hindu or a Muslim—you do not have an iota of concern—please vote for usNo one, just no one, doubts the patriotism of Muslims. We have ample examples in Abdul Hamid and Maulana Azad. During Kargil, it was not just the bodies of Hindu sipahis that were wrapped in tricolor and brought back to their villages; we had many Muslim martyrs coming home the same way. I was watching a TV show on Zee TV today. It's called Li'l Champs wherein children compete amidst each other for the crown of super singer. It has three Hindus as judges but the boy who got maximum grades is Sameer Mohammad—a Muslim. I voted for him through SMS as well.
India played Australia today and Munaf Patel—a Muslim—restricted the Kangaroos from striking big by claiming three of their scalps. Rauf Lala—a Muslim—from Pakistan topped the charts at Indian Laughter Challenge as he got maximum votes by a vast Hindu majority. I am writing "a Muslim" against their names for your comfort Imam Saheb. It never occurs to us that they are any different from the rest of us. Soon, I may have a fatwa issued in my name for this but Imam Ji; it isyou who constantly remind them that they are Muslims, and that they are a minority, when all they want to be is Indians first. Thanks to the media, we all know how fatwas are issued at the drop of a hat these days. The automatic corollary, notion or inference of being one amidst minority is that they are one amidst the lot being suppressed by the majority. And the majority is nothing but Hindus and therefore Hindus are their severest of enemies. I do not blame you for doing it. Probably, you would not have been the Imam had you not done it. And sir, just to be on a safer front, I must add that Praveen Togadia, Ashok Singhal, Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti et al too would not have been what they are, had they not flared emotions amidst Hindus for nothing. And, of course, the most white collared fundamentalist of all, who owes just about everything in his political career to the infamous rathyatra leading to demolition of Babri Masjid, none other than Mr. Lal Krishna Advani ji, would not have been what he is, had he not torn the social fabric of the country the way he did—mercilessly.
We live in a secular country. Let us all live in peace for Allah's sake. Imam Saheb, if it pleases you, I am all game for singing Vande Allah! Last but not the least, the length of Sania’s skirt is an absolute non-issue with me as an ardent follower of the Indianism faith.