Thursday, November 5, 2009

On Monotheism

Picture: Mahmood Madani Chief, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind

The 30th general session of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind at Deoband, western Uttar Pradesh adopted a resolution on November 3, 2009 upholding a fatwa of 2006 by the Deoband Ulema, describing the singing of the Vande Mataram as anti-Islamic because some of its verses were against the tenets of Islam. the Muslim ulema said certain lines in the song violated the spirit of Islam and as such it should not be recited by the Muslims.

Vande Mataram was termed as un-Islamic even before indepenence. According to clerics, Vande Mataram violates monotheism faith that is the foundation of Islam. Muslims love and respect the mother but do not worship her. The Vande Mataram has strong Hindu connotations by depicting the Indian nation as Goddess Durga. It has explicitly Hindu and idolatrous imageries which are objected to by many outside the Hindu community.

Monotheism is the belief in one true God. Christianity, Judaism and Islam are all examples of religions based on this belief. Monotheism in Islam (Tawhid) has three aspects.

1. declaring that there is only one who holds divine functions of creating and sustaining the universe.
2. declaring God one in His names and attributes
3. declaring God one through our service

Polytheism and atheism negates the first aspect. Deitification and humanization negates second aspect. Offering worship to other than God (outward) and showing off (hypocricy or inward) acts are against the third aspect.

Place of Mother in Islam
Paradise is at the feet of mothers. The most worthy person for love and respect is Mother. Beautiful conduct to parents is the most important duty for a Muslim after worshiping Allah. They should be shown thankfulness, obedience, and gentleness towards their faults. Taking care of parents takes precedence even over hijra and jihad.

Different names for God in Islam
The Qur'an refers to the attributes of God as God's most beautiful names. All Knower, All hearing, All seeing, All forgiving, preserver, nourisher, ever living, wise, truth, witness etc are included in the list.

Interpretion of Quaran in shwing respect to Mother
Bowing to touch the feet of the parents is too close to bowing in prostration (sajdah) to Allah and therefore the scholars might consider the practice of touching one’s parents feet forbidden. Kissing the a person’s feet out of respect is similar to touching a person’s feet out of respect could be similar. Doing sajdah before any other being except Allah is haraam and is shirk. Respecting mother by touching her feet is not allowed. What about bowing as in Vande Mataram? If bowing could be interpreted as not equivalent to worshipping the God, then Vande Mataram should be acceptable.

Interpretations of Quaran in explaining Monotheism
Most of the attributes that we see are adjectives. The same adjectives translated to a different language, say sanskrit, refering to a single god should not create problems. And infact, this is the case.

Problem with national anthem
The problesm associated with Vande Mataram are also associated with Jana Gana Mana, the national anthem. Bhagya vidhata (dispenser of India's destiny) is interpreted as God in national anthem of India. How do Clerics  provide a consistent explanation of not issuing fatwa against the nationa anthem?

Fundamental Questions
Analysing further, What is the fundamental problem in idol worship or polytheism? Even if we consider that one God is more appealing, why polytheism should be opposed? Is it not true that in a pluralistic society, polytheism is natural and proves to be a superior concept as it ensures social harmony and encourage tolerance?  Monotheism if interpreted as exclusive formulation, could become divisive especially in a pluralistic society. Interpretations that disturbs social harmony must be narrow and incorrect. Secondly, why so much of opposition to Idol worship? Deitification and humanization may be a open and free approach towards God. 

Finally, why these interpretations are applied to Vande Mataram? Vande is taken as bowing and not as showing respect. Bowing is taken as Sajdah meant for the Allah. Durga is taken as a second God other than the single God.

1 comment:

  1. From such a Fatwa these groups prove again and again that they are arrogant in co- existing and adapting to our culture and yet we provide them reservation treat them as minorities. They are minorities and should behave like one and not become the majority...
    Any state can be happy if majority share of its subjects are in healthier condition. And it is a well known fact that majority of India is composed of Hinduism. I am not being too much biased. First these 80% of populations welfare is to be seen. Then there lies reservation and special treatment for minority religions including Chritianity. The administration should draw a clear line for such groups wherein they encroach upon the Spirit of Patriotism - nationalism - Culture over thousands of years.
    Though not clear about how it can be done, but such activities by religious groups are extremely dangerous for maintaining our "Spirits".