Vande Mataram Controversy

Vande Mataram is the national song of India, distinct from the national anthem of India "Jana Gana Mana". The song was composed by Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay in a mixture of Bengali and Sanskrit and the first political occasion where it was sung was the 1896 session of the Indian National Congress.In 2003, ‏BBC World Service conducted an international poll to choose ten most famous songs of all time. Around 7000 songs were selected from all over the world. According to BBC, people from 155 countries/island voted. Vande Mataram was ranked second in the top ten songs.However, many muslim organizations in India have declared fatwas against singing Vande Mataram, due to the song giving a notion of worshipping Mother India, which is unislamic.

Jana Gana Mana was chosen as the National Anthem of independent India. Vande Mataram was rejected on the grounds that Muslims opposed idol worship felt offended by its depiction of the nation as "Mother Durga"—a Hindu goddess. Muslims also felt that its origin as part of Anandamatha, a novel they felt had an anti-Muslim message.
In 1937, the Indian National Congress discussed at length the status of the song. It was pointed out then that though the first two stanzas began with an unexceptionable evocation of the beauty of the motherland, in later stanzas there are references where the motherland is likened to the Hindu goddess Durga. Therefore, the Congress decided to adopt only the first two stanzas as the national song. To this day the national songs of India consists of only these first two stanzas of Vande Mataram, along with the national anthem Jana gana mana and Saare Jahan Se accha.
(ref: 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vande_Mataram)

Among the 15 resolutions passed by the Jamiat-e-Ulema-I-Hind (Mehmud Madani branch) at its anti-terrorism conference at Dar Ul Uloom Deoband last week, only one was highlighted by the media: the one which dubbed the singing of Vande Mataram as `un-Islamic'. The politics-dogged altercation over Vande Mataram is not new and rears its ugly head every few years. The question is, what prompted it now when no compulsion is being imposed on singing the song? 
According to Maulana Shafiq Ahmed Al Qasmi, an organiser of the conference, the provocation occurred two months ago in Saharanpur when a new outfit, the Rashtrawadi Maha Sabha, threatened to burn an effigy of Dar ul Uloom if the Deoband seminary did not withdraw a fatwa asking its students not to sing Vande Mataram. Since the month of Ramzan was on, the seminary's and Jamiat's response was postponed till November 1, when the conference was scheduled, and the resolution was passed here. 
However, there are other theories. The rival Jamiat, headed by Maulana Arshad Madani (Mehmud Madani's uncle), alleges that the resolution is part of a conspiracy to create communal tension, instigated by Americans who had met the Mehmud faction in July. 

"With each one vying to prove himself the better Muslim, both uncle and nephew have forgotten the Jamiat's glorious tradition of participation in the freedom movement, of which Vande Mataram was an inseparable part,'' rues reformist Asghar Ali Engineer. "This resolution has eclipsed the very purpose of the conference to condemn terrorism.'' 

Engineer points out that the nationalistic paean has always been politicised (see box)-he recalls that the controversy over it had helped both the Muslim League (which refused to sing it) and the Shiv Sena (which insisted on it) win seats in the 1974 BMC election. He himself finds the song unobjectionable. "Vande Mataram means `I pay my respects to the motherland. Even if you translate it as `I bow to my motherland, what objection can there be to doing so?'' he asks. "The Mughals made courtiers bow to them and perform sajda (respectfully lowering and then lifting your hand to your forehead repeatedly). Why was this not condemned as un-Islamic? Simply because the emperor had power! In fact, Islamic scholar Mujaddid Alf Sani had objected to this practice in Jehangir's time, only to be thrown into prison.'' 

Writer Sajid Rashid recalls singing Allama Iqbal's Naya Shivala in his Urdu school, a song which contains the lines Patthar ki mooraton mein samjhaa hai tu khudaa hai/ Khaak-e-watan ka mujh ko har zarraa devtaa hai (You think that God resides in the stone idols/ Each speck of the motherland is God to me.) "Ulema of every sect consider Iqbal to be a devout Muslim. Why is there no furore against this well-known song?'' asks Sajid. Interestingly, the Pakistani national anthem has a line that says, `Blessed be the sacred land'. 

And then, of course, there's the devout A R Rahman's iconic rendition of Vande Mataram, which has the words Ma tujhe salaam. "Why is there no fatwa against Rahman?'' asks activist Feroze Mithiborewala. 

Engineer and Sajid both point to the multiplicity of Islamic beliefs in India. "The Deobandis consider even singing salaams to Prophet Mohammed's glory as haraam, says Sajid. "But most Indian Muslims do not." Adds Engineer, "The Deobandis cannot impose their Islam on all Indian Muslims.'' 

The real problem with Vande Mataram comes with the RSS slogan Is desh mein rahna hoga to Vande Mataram kahna hoga. This slogan, used in every RSS/Shiv Sena campaign, and part of every communal riot, kept cropping up during the Srikrishna Commission hearings into the 1992-'93 riots. Policemen deposing before the Commission were amazed that they should even be asked why they had not taken action against those mouthing the belligerent slogan-significantly, so were their lawyers as well as the counsel for the government. It was left to Justice Srikrishna to point out that laying down conditions of residence on any citizen, let alone a community, by another group was not just communal but also fascist. 

The point is reiterated by Engineer. "Under compulsion, I won't sing it to prove my patriotism,'' he says. And adds, "And if ordered not to by any fatwa, I will sing it to assert my freedom of choice.''
(ref: 
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/The-politics-of-Vande-Mataram/articleshow/5207948.cms)
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