Observing that the seed of intolerance and hatred against the Muslim community in particular and minorities in general is growing fast and it is being used to polarise the sentiments further, Mohd Naushad Khan wonders how come one song of Allama (Saare Jaha se Achha Hindustan Hamara) be a patriotic song and another (Lab pe aati hai dua banke Tamaana meri) be communal.

The seed of intolerance and hatred against the Muslim community in particular and minorities in general is growing fast and it is being used to polarise the sentiments further. The country which was earlier known for its unity in diversity and togetherness worldwide is generally now hitting the headlines for hatred and religious intolerance.

It seems the land of India has become polluted today and it is not so fertile for anyone to cultivate tolerance, peace and inclusivity. It is so because spread of hate has overshadowed the promotion of peace and justice. Numerous recent occurrences have brought attention to the rising religious intolerance in our nation, and regrettably, communalism has also crept into our institutions, our hearts and minds. Many tragic examples have come to light, from the hijab ban in Karnataka to a lecturer labelling a Muslim student a terrorist.

And very recently a government school principal in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, was suspended by the state’s education department as a result of yet another incident of intolerance when a complaint was filed against school by right-wing organisations over the students singing lab pe aati hai dua banke tamanna meri during the school’s morning assembly. One may argue, how come one song of Allama (Saare Jaha se Achha Hindustan Hamara) be a patriotic song and another (Lab pe aati hai dua banke Tamaana meri) be communal. 

Earlier, 2019 saw the suspension of another headteacher in the state’s Pilibhit district after the children were overheard singing the song. The authorities had acted as a result of a complaint made by the local chapter of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The headmaster was allegedly suspended because he did not require the kids to sing the national anthem, according to the Pilibhit District Magistrate.

According to Sanjay Hegde, senior Supreme Court lawyer, “There is no legal provision, which prescribes or prevents any specific prayer, from being uttered at a school. Lab pe aati hai dua banke… is written by the same poet who wrote Saare jahan se accha…. No section of the Indian Penal Code or any other penal statute appears to have been breached and the arrest of the Shiksha Mitra is entirely unwarranted. The administration may do well to note, Ishwar Allah tero naam, sabko sanmati de bhagwan is still sung in many schools all over the country.”

Dr Syeda Hameed, Ex-Member, Planning Commission, while talking to Editor of Free Journal Media Network said, “When I was in school some 50 years ago, we used to sing song of Allama Iqbal. Now FIR was lodged against the teacher after she asked the children to sing the song. Can we imagine the impression of such controversy on the minds of children? What kind of generation we are trying to create for the sake of polarisation?”   

“Bol ke lab azaad hein…, speaks of your lips are free. That is what nature and God intended, and the Constitution of India guaranteed by putting it into the words of the Preamble, and Articles of the holy book of the new republic as long as in 1950. We have sung such words of celebration, and of prayer, these seventy years or more, with great enthusiasm and a certain amount of pride in our country. These are no words are not a prayer in our mother’s tongue, but we learnt them in school and the streets in North India and adopted them as our own. It did not matter that they were written in Urdu, a language then as alien to me as Hindi was to all of us from the southern part of the peninsula,” said John Dayal, noted social and human rights defender.

“It did not also matter that they were penned by the great south Asian poet, Allama Iqbal, as it did not matter that my college’s great song, Ekla Chalo Re also was the work of another giant of the subcontinent. Iqbal had also written a favourite of mine, often played by the massed bands of the Indian Army during the Republic Day conclusion at Bearing the Retreat. It was Sare Jehan Se Accha, the words that India’s only astronaut till date, Squadron leader Rakesh Sharma, sang from space to the then prime minister Indira Gandhi. Iqbal went to Pakistan after the partition of India, but that does write off his tremendous body of work in undivided India, or his contribution in general of Urdu and Indian literature,” Dayal argued.

“It is not Iqbal that a section of the political spectrum hates. It is Islam, and in particular the Indian Muslims who this group, whom I call the Sanghi, chose to demonise as Pakistan-loving traitors, or potential violent people. It is this Islamophobia that manifests itself when an innocent teacher, as patriotic as any of us including the mersisters in power, gets her class to sing. They were being taught a lesson in democratic values, not in hate. A lesson in the love that God has for all of us. By taking punitive action against the teacher, the state government has shown once again its intolerance to all that is civilized, and for national integration. Such action has to be condemned in the strongest terms,” said Dayal.

“The poem lab pe aati hai dua was written by the great Urdu poet Iqbal. The poet wrote this prayer in a poem form which provides message of love, harmony and peace. The same poet called Rama Imam-e-Hind (the leader of India). Iqbal also wrote Saare jahan se achcha, Hindustan hamara which is one of the national songs of our beloved country. His inclusiveness and pluralism can be manifested in his writings, calling out such poems as anti-national will mark a scar on India’s glorious history,” said Dr. Maskoor Ahmad Usmani, former President AMU Students Union.

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