Deoband’s Darul Uloom issued a religious edict recently prohibiting Muslims from chanting “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” on the grounds that idol worship is forbidden in Islam.
A social media buzz around the fatwa, issued in response to queries received by the seminary, could reignite a controversy over the slogan that appeared to have subsided after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said nobody should be coerced to chant it.
The seminary contextualised its reply with the observation that Muslims should desist from chanting the slogan as Bharat Mata is perceived as a goddess by a section of Hindus.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) condemned the fatwa and said it openly supported terrorism. “This fatwa is a direct retort to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stand that terrorism should not be linked to any religion,” VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain said.
On earlier occasions, the Darul Ulooom had let it be known that such fatwas were advisory in nature, issued as they were in response to specific questions. The fatwa on the slogan eulogising Bharat Mata went viral on social media on Thursday. Issued on March 19, it said as idol worship wasn’t permitted in Islam, adherents of the faith must refrain from Bharat Mata chants.
“Scholars of Darul Ifta (a department in the seminary that considers questions and responds to them in the context of the Quran and the Hadees) had issued the fatwa in response to letters it received along with portraits of Bharat Mata,” Darul Uloom spokesman Ashraf Usmani said. The portraits showed the goddess clad in saffron carrying a trident in hand.
‘’We love the country, but we believe only in one God,’’ Usmani said when asked to respond to the debate on chanting the slogan.
Earlier, the seminary had issued a decree asking Muslims to hoist the national flag on their houses and establishments on Independence Day. It appealed to people to celebrate the occasion with “great spirit” of patriotism.
The Darul Ifta is headed by Maulana Habiburrehman Haidrabadi. Its members are Islamic scholars. They give collective opinion on issues in the light of the Quran and the Hadees.
Reacting to the fatwa, minister of state for food processing Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti said denying people the right to chant “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” amounted to insulting freedom fighters. “It is showing the fundamentalist side of Islam. Denying Bharat Mata Ki Jai shows disrespect to martyrs of the country. It shows their mentality. They should understand that they are not living in Pakistan,” Jyoti said.
Trying to strike a balance, the Congress said it favoured that every Indian chant the slogan with pride but was equally against attempts to force someone to say it.
“I will forcefully express my right to raise the chant of Bharat Mata Ki Jai. Equally forcefully, I will resist attempts to punish someone for not raising the chant,” party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said.
AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi had refused to chant the slogan. Later, his party legislator in Maharashtra Waris Pathan was suspended from the assembly for toeing Owaisi’s line on the issue.