New Delhi: A day ahead of the planned centenary celebration of Vande Mataram, Muslim bodies seem to have come down on their earlier stand to not to sing the national song on its 100th birthday, saying Muslims can recite Vande Mataram if they felt it was not tantamount to worshipping the country.
Noted Shia scholar and All India Muslim Personal Law Board vice-president Maulana Kalbe Sadiq on Tuesday tried to explore a midpath between national pride and religion, when he tried to delve deeper into the actual meaning of the word 'Vande'. "Does it mean salutation or worship?" he asked, adding that Muslims should have no problem if the word means ‘saluting or paying respect to the country’.
Criticising the fatwas issued indiscriminately by clerics, he said: "If 'Vande' means saluting or paying respect to the country, there is nothing wrong in its recitation by Muslims."
"According to the dictionary, 'vande' means to worship and as such it is not right for Muslims to recite it," he pointed our and asked for a right interpretation of the word.
He said eminent Sanskrit and Muslim scholars could work together to ascertain the correct Urdu translation of the word 'vande', he said.
Earlier, the Darul Uloom Deoband -- a leading centre of Islamic learning -- had steered clear of the issue, saying it has no 'role to play' in the controversy and it has been dragged into it 'unnecessarily'.
The Darul Uloom Deoband categorically stated that it had not issued any fatwa (decree) on Vande Mataram and nor directed Muslim children to skip classes on September 7 to protest against its mandatory recitation in the BJP-ruled states.
A Central Government directive on the issue saying Vande Mataram should be recited in educational insitutions on September 7 to mark the national song's centenary had sparked the controversy, with Muslim groups opposing the move.
Sadiq suggested that Muslim children could join the recitation of Vande Mataram but omit the word 'Vande'.
Sadiq termed the controversy over the national song as a 'non-issue' created by the BJP, which was desperately looking for an issue for its survival. He urged the BJP to restrain its Muslim leaders from issuing reckless statements on the issue.
He said some clerics had been harming the cause of Islam by issuing reckless fatwas at regular intervals on practically every issue and making it appear as if they were religious diktats.
"The opinions of such ulemas are outdated and not in conformity with the modern situation," Sadiq said. "A fatwa is an individual opinion. It cannot be construed to be the opinion of Islam in which there are as many as 73 sects," he said.
Sadiq also criticised a recent fatwa that said insurance was 'anti-Islamic', saying insurance helps those in need. In reply to another question, he said madrasas or seminaries would have to change their approach if they wished to provide quality education to Muslim children.