Deoband fatwa says no to worship of ‘Bharat Mata’

In a fatwa issued to Muslims, the seminary said the slogan goes against “tauheed” (the idea of worshipping one god), which forms the core of Islam.

April 01, 2016 07:21 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 02:15 am IST - Meerut

Amid the ongoing debate over the chanting of “Bharat Mata ki jai”, Darul-Uloom Deoband, the leading Islamic seminary of the Indian subcontinent, on Friday said Muslims love “Bharat Mata” (Mother India) but they can not worship their “maadre-watan (mother land)”.

In a fatwa issued to Muslims, the seminary said Muslims should not chant “Bharat Mata ki jai” because it is against Islam and “tauheed” (the idea of worshipping one God), which forms the core of Islam.

Amid a communally charged atmosphere where fringe Hindutva groups advocate force to make make Muslims chant the slogan Darul-Uloom Deoband referred to the Constitution of India and said forcing people to chant the slogan goes against the statute which allows its citizens of various faiths to practice their respective religions.

The fatwa comes days after it was reported from the national capital that three madrasa students were beaten up allegedly after they refused to chant the slogan. The seminary issued the fatwa, which stands as mere an opinion and is not binding in response to several letters for its view on chanting the slogan, which has seen intense polarisation in social media. The opinion of Darul-Uloom is shared by a large number of religious seminaries and other religious groups across all the sects among Indian Muslims. Even after the recent positive meet of Sufi groups with the Prime Minister, none of them have yet come forward in support of the controversial slogan.

The fatwa predictably evoked a strong reaction from the BJP. Union Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti said that by giving such an opinion, the seminary “behaved like a hardliner”.

The fatwa, a copy of which is with The Hindu , said, “After the 'Vande Mataram' controversy, now people are being forced to chant 'Bharat Mata ki jai'. Actually, some of the believers in Hindu faith consider India a goddess whom they worship. They treat the goddess 'Bharat Mata' the patron god and caretaker of the country. This belief certainly goes against the very idea of 'tauheed' which forms the core of belief in Islam. The followers of Islam can not compromise with the idea of 'tauheed’.”.

The fatwa went onto explain in detail about the love Muslims have for the country, and said,” India is our motherland and we love it a lot. But we can not worship even our motherland because of the essential belief that we worship only one God and that is Allah”.

“The Constitution of India allows its every citizen the freedom to profess and practice his/her religion. Nobody has the right to go against the Constitution and take law in their own hands by forcing somebody to do some thing which goes against the idea of the Constitution of India,” concluded the fatwa.

But scholars like Sultan Shahin, editor of , a website which talks about reforms in Islam, slightly disagreed with the way the seminary interpreted the slogan 'bharat mata ki jai'.

While the Darul-Uloom Deoband said chanting the slogan amounted to "worshipping" the goddess "bharat mata', Mr. Shaheen said, the slogan did not mean worshipping 'bharat mata' and hence did not go against the idea of 'tauheed' (the belief in oneness of God).

"Primarily the idea of tauheed is believing into one God. However, there is a variety of interpretation of god and tauheed in Islam. The idea of tauheed (oneness of god) is vast enough to accommodate the idea of praising the motherland and showing love for her. I would not like to go into literal translation of Vandana or saying 'bharat mata ki jai' because I find the controversy unnecessary and irrelevant as there are enough controversies around the idea plaguing us," said Mr. Shahin.

Talking about a variety of interpretation of 'tauheed', Mr. Shahin presented the instance of Sufis traditions in Islam and said that "a section of Islamic scholars, find even Sufi practices like going to Dargahs of Sufi saints and praying to saints as against the idea of tauheed. Does that make Sufism unIslamic? I do not think so. All version of oneness of God are right but none should be forced on anybody".

But Mr. Shahin also said that the slogan 'bharat mata ki Jai' should not be forced on anyone as the Constitution did not require anyone chant the slogan.

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