Music has no religion or borders, or at least this is how it should be. But trolls who are quite to take offence clearly feel otherwise, which is why they have launched an attack on young Suhana Syed who sang a Hindu devotional song on a popular television show.
From castigating her for showing “her beauty to men” though she was wearing a hijab to engaging in the un-Islamic act of singing a Hindu devotional song, the intolerance for anything the moral police thinks oversteps boundaries was on full display frightening the young girl into silence. It is not as though Ms Syed has gone where no one has before.
The peerless voice of Mohammad Rafi has been lent to many Hindu devotional songs. Hindu singers like Kishore Kumar and Jagjit Singh to name only a very few have sung Muslim devotional songs. And by this logic, no Hindu or Muslim should sing Christmas carols as they are actually Christian devotional songs. The great Malayali singer Yesudas was so keen to sing Hindu devotional songs to Lord Ayyappa of Sabarimala that he stood outside the shrine and sang on being denied entry because he was a Christian.
Ms Syed should be lauded for her mellifluous voice and her rendering of the bhajan, which the judges did. These barriers are being created by the bigoted minority and must be firmly resisted. The legendary sitarist Ravi Shankar proudly spoke of how he studied under Allauddin Khan.
These obstructionists clearly know nothing about India’s rich multicultural and pluralist traditions and base their objections on what they consider are some sort of religious purity. It may interest them to know that Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti promoted music and dance through a composite culture that combined bhakti devotion and Sufi mysticism.
In objecting to the young girl singing a Hindu devotional song, the trolls and others are displaying their ignorance of Indian traditions apart from their intellectual bankruptcy. As Salman Ahmad, the founder of the Sufi rock band Junoon from Pakistan said, “Music...connects the world, rather than divides.”
There is a growing threat to the arts from these intolerant bigots. How then can we say we are so different from the likes of the Taliban that feels that singing and dancing are blasphemous? The young girl must be supported and given protection if need be.
Increasingly, we see the forces of reason backing off from spaces that they ought to occupy, thanks to these relentless attacks. The message should be clear and should go out from as many people as possible. Music or any other art form is not the preserve of any religion or community, they belong to us all.