The day marks the commemoration of 100 years of the adaptation of Vande Mataram as India's national song. A Union human resource development ministry circular has urged educational institutions across the country to recite the first two stanzas of the song on Thursday.
Sadiq, who commands a large following among Shia Muslims across the globe, told Senior Contributor Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow that boycotting schools would send a wrong signal and he saw nothing wrong in students singing the song without uttering the word 'Vande', since the controversy had been raked up over that one word.
How far is the Muslim opposition to the singing of Vande Mataram in schools on its centenary valid in terms of Islam?
I see nothing wrong in reciting the national song as long as it does not amount to worshipping. Actually, all the confusion was on account of the word, 'Vande'. After consulting different dictionaries I found that the word has several meanings which also includes worship. Islam clearly bans worship of anyone other than Allah. You cannot even worship the Prophet.
Don't you think that worship was not the right connotation in this case and what the composer Bankim Chandra Chatterjee had intended was a salutation to the nation?
I would not be able to comment on that unless I have carried out a detailed discussion on the meaning of the word with Sanskrit scholars.
But do you agree that there are many words which carry a different meaning and connotation, depending on their usage?
Yes of course. In fact, I can myself quote you an example of a common Urdu word -- 'aadmi', which ordinarily means 'man'. However it could also be used both for a servant as well as a husband.
Then why should there be any problem in understanding 'vande'?
I think all the trouble was sparked off simply because the issue was raked up by a political party like the BJP.
Haven't Muslims given the BJP what they were desperately looking for -- some handle to somehow polarise their Hindu hardliner vote bank?
I do not think the BJP will succeed in their game this time. Gone are the days when they could play up such frivolous issues to gain political mileage. Take the example of the blasts in Varanasi, Ayodhya and more recently in Mumbai.
Ten years ago if such blasts had taken place, there would have been mass bloodshed of Muslims but you have seen how easily people understood that it was the handiwork of terrorists and rogues who have no religion. They understood that any clash between Muslims and Hindus would have amounted to playing into the hands of those very mischief-mongers.
Haven't some BJP leaders begun to question the patriotic credentials of Muslims on this count?
First let them prove their own patriotic credentials. I mean people like Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Shahnawaz Hussain or Arif Mohammad Khan. I think I can prove to be truer Indian patriot than any of them who tend to question our patriotism. Any opposition to the recitation of Vande Mataram should not be construed as any kind of disrespect or disloyalty to the nation.
Don't you think certain utterances by some maulanas too were equally responsible for giving the BJP a chance to make a mountain out of a molehill?
I would not deny that. The trouble with some of our religious people is that they are in a habit of talking loud. I really wish mullahs and muftis could keep silent on many issues and stopped jumping the gun only with the objective of gaining cheap publicity. Little do they realise that they are giving a bad name to Islam.
Lately, a maulana issued a fatwa urging Muslims to shun insurance policies and even quit jobs in insurance companies or banks simply because Islam is opposed to interest on money?
I think that again is a misnomer. Islam only forbids any kind of cheating, exploitation or extortion in the form of interest. Any such edict banning Muslims from working for insurance companies or banks is baseless, uncalled for and against the spirit of Islam.
Who do you blame for the Vande Mataram controversy?
It is unfortunate that such a controversy should arise out of a circular issued by Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh, who enjoys a lot of credibility with the Muslim community. Congress President Sonia Gandhi commands immense respect because of her liberal views and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's credentials are absolutely unmatched.
Yet, it was sad that more often than not, trouble for Muslims had arisen largely during different Congress regimes.
Don't you think it is time scholars like you hold open talks with your counterparts among Hindus to thrash out such issues?
I am game. In fact I propose to first speak to Muslim Personal Law Board chief Maulana Rabe Nadwisaheb on the Vande Mataram issue and then initiate a dialogue with some Hindu scholars to sort it out. And once it is confirmed that 'vande' simply stands for salutation or praise, then there would be no cause for even the slightest opposition.
Do you think this can be resolved so easily, now that it already tends to forge a sharp communal divide?
I do not think there is any issue on this earth that cannot be resolved through dialogue. All one needs is an open mind.
Photo: Pawan Kumar