Why Do Muslims Not Sing Vande Mataram?

September 13, 2006
[This is my feeble attempt to understand 'other kind' of people. I could be wrong in some of my assumptions about certain religions. If that is case, please let me know]. I already wrote another blog titled 'On singing Vande Mataram'.

Indian Hindus ask:

"Why do Muslims object to singing our National Song- which is the symbol of our Freedom Movement? Why don't they realize that it is a song more about our nation and less about Goddess Durga? Are they Muslim first and Indian next? Is their allegiance towards their religion and not towards India? Why don't they keep nation above religion like us?"

There is a tendency in India (as elsewhere) to assume that the 'way the majority behaves' is the right way and that others should just conform to it. For Hindus, may be, religion is secondary compared to nationality. For Muslims, religion is their biggest identity- which is supposedly constant, unchanging and permanent for many millennia. For them, nations, states, kingdoms and other allegiances change with time while religion remains the same. They attach more importance to religion and its interpretation compared to a nation and its interpretation. The failure to understand this aspect of Islam will result in confusion.

Being tolerant is the ability to understand why certain cultures, religions and people behave the way they behave and accept it. Just because Muslims consider religion to be supreme it does NOT mean they are NOT patriotic. Allegiance to religion and then to a nation/state is quite practical and NOT mutually exclusive. For many Hindus this may sound alien, but Muslims have been practicing this for ages. In the same way, for many monotheistic religious people it may seem alien to see Hindus praying to so many gods, demi-gods and human-gods.

There is a need to understand that expressions, practices and rituals are different for different kinds of people. Imposing one's idea of what is right onto others will cause friction. There is NO necessity to conform to majority's expression and practice to show one's patriotism or loyalty. What if someone refuses to sing Vande Mataram because he hates Bengali? Does that make him unpatriotic? Don't Sikh soldiers wear turban (unlike majority soldiers) and still be patriotic? Muslims do not seem to have a problem singing National Anthem, another symbol to prove one's patriotism; so isn't that proof enough?

Now, let's look at it in another way- What if certain majority define the practice of 'eating beef' as one of the rituals to express one's patriotism and make it a national symbol- will the higher caste chaste Hindus who practice strict vegetarianism be willing to eat beef just to prove they are patriotic? And if those Hindus refuse to eat beef arguing that patriotism has nothing to do with 'eating beef', will others accuse them of mixing nationalism and religious-caste identity?

Muslims have always opposed (not only in India but also in other Islamic countries) deification of a nation. According to them it is idolatry. Calling rain as rain-god, monkey as monkey-god, or a nation as Goddess Durga (Bharat Mata) might come easy and sound completely innocuous to Hindus, but it is considered un-Islamic by most Muslims. The very foundation of Islam was made on breaking away from such pagan worships- wherein all forms of anthropomorphism are discarded.

To ask or request Muslims to sing a song or practice a ritual that deifies nation (as human) is tantamount to worshipping idols which goes against basic tenets of Islam. Muslims have no problem respecting the Nature and the Nation, but they will not pray to it. Is that so hard to accept? While Hindus can pray to almost anything- including a rock, animal, natural event, or human, Muslims do not. While Muslims can eat beef, some high caste and chaste Hindus do not. The failure to understand such belief systems and practices will result in false expectations and hence disappointment. It is nothing to do with patriotism.

I maintain most of my blogs at sujai blog. E=mc^2.
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Why Do Muslims Not Sing Vande Mataram?


Author: Sujai


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September 13, 2006
11:40 AM

Hmmm...so how is it "practical"? What about when a Muslim has to choose between the nation and religion? Like informing the police regarding a terrorist attack even when the terrorists are fellow Muslims? Or choosing to fight for his country against the "ummah"? Or against a Muslim country? These are not theoretical questions but real tangible ones. Choosing to live in a secular democracy means committing to it. Being a citizen means pledging fealty. Placing religion over the nation undermines that. Sorry but I don't buy your self-confessed feeble argument.

September 13, 2006
11:44 AM

PS: Patriotic Muslims (or Hindus/Christian/Jews/ Sikhs) dont put religion over the nation. Just check that in the army where Muslim officers will wear a kada when serving with a Sikh regiment or Hindu officers will read the namaz in a predominantly Muslim one. Or check the cricket team when it plays in Pakistan and the Muslim players are harassed for being kafirs (forget on the pitch, they deserve valour awards for what they put up off the pitch). Singing vande mataram is a problem for those whose patriotism is suspect. Everyone else - regardless of religion - has no problem with it.

September 13, 2006
12:04 PM

Seems to me that you are not comparing apples to apples here. When it comes to "understanding" Muslim objection to singing a song, you dig into the Islamic theology and philosophy and try to find some explanation. However, when it comes to Hindus, you dig into their social and cultural practices for answers. And use these to build up the argument and make judgement calls....

For example, you say "Allegiance to religion and then to a nation/state is quite practical and NOT mutually exclusive. For many Hindus this may sound alien, but Muslims have been practicing this for ages."

Religion before nationality is not "alien" to Hindus... This concept of "nationality" associated at the level of Akhand Bharat ruled under one political establishment is rather recent and has no Hindu religious/theological/philosophical basis. "Hindu India" (before other religions came to India) was not a single "nation" as we know/have it now. So, this talk about how it is *alien* (theologically) for Hindus to put religion ahead of nationality does not make sense. For thousands of years, Hindus didnt care much about nationality at the level of Bharat Mata as much as they did in the past two centuries. As India came under one single political rule during British rule, it is natural to expand the "nationality" from individual little "nations/states" to a much larger one.

The objection to Vande Mataram has little to do with "religion first or nation first" argument. It has everything to do with "are you praying to nation, or just saluting it?" Former is a no-no for Islam, while latter is alright. Whereas for Hindus it does not matter as deification is a non-issue. I believe they went through extensive discussions on this matter during Indepedence Struggle and reached a solution... it sounds like a compromise because it is viewed as some sort of midway between extremes... but, that does not diminish the fact that the solution reached was wonderful in that it clarifies the meaning in such a way that the Islamic theological objections are resolved. Why the went through so much trouble? Because the song in question has inspired crores of people in their struggle for independence and we as a society wanted to celebrate that aspect of the historic struggle. So, adapting a truncated version of the original song in such a way that the theological objections are resolved was crucial and that was achieved.

Two verses of the song have been chosen as National Song and it has been clarified as being about "saluting" the motherland and not "praying" to the motherland. So, what is the point of constantly going back to the earlier version and trying to dig up same old objections that were resolved by religious scholars decades ago? It is nothing but ignorance and political nonsense.

This does not mean anyone is *required* to celebrate their love for motherland singing the Song and not doing so is unpatriotic. That illogical argument should be opposed. But, that can be done without resorting to any *excuses* about theological issues. That is ignorance... nothing wrong with it at the individual level, but when that starts affecting millions and takes political overtones, it becomes problematic. And shame on political and religious leaders exploiting that ignorance and posioning community relations.

September 13, 2006
01:40 PM

What about when a Muslim has to choose between the nation and religion? Like informing the police regarding a terrorist attack even when the terrorists are fellow Muslims? Or choosing to fight for his country against the "ummah"? Or against a Muslim country?

Don't you see the fallacy of your argument? It is not un-Islamic to inform of a Muslim terrorist. But it may not be Islamic to sing a song which deifies something. I mean how can the two be even compared. Please do not forget that Islam was started when the concept of a nation was not present. People identified themselves with others following the same belief system. However, that it has failed to evolve with times and incorporate modern beliefs into itself is something that needs to be looked into. Secular democracy does not mean giving up one's belief system but rather knowing that every religion gets equal respect and that each one is able to profess his or her religion as she wants to.

Singing vande mataram is a problem for those whose patriotism is suspect.

Since when did singing a song become a test for patriotism?

September 13, 2006
01:55 PM

well said.

if singing a song or waving a flag was patriotism all the hooligans and and lumpen elements who wave flags every 15th august 26th jan should be great patriots and must be concerned about the nation. none of it as every one knows.

most of the middleclass does not move out of the home on the national holidays. does it make them unpatriotic?

Raza Rumi
September 13, 2006
02:01 PM

A sensitive post though some would maintain that the argument remains 'feeble'..

Indscribe's blog has some interesting points that are pertinent to the discussion here. His post titled from-pro-vande-mataram-to-anti-vande explores the issue in some detail from an Indian muslim's perspective.


September 13, 2006
02:22 PM

Why Muslims Do Not Sing Vande Mataram?

i don't know...but can someone answer this

Why Muslims Do Not Sing and Dance Around the Trees?


one day our young son came to us and pointing to some movie playing in the background demanded to know why he had never seen his parents singing and dancing around the trees...good thing he did not mention singing in the rain:)

i did not have the heart to tell him that we dance and sing only when he was asleep!


welcome to desiciritc...look forward to more articles here

September 13, 2006
03:13 PM

Dear Raj:
My use of the word MAY is deliberate, as in:
"For Hindus, MAY BE, religion is secondary compared to nationality."
"For many Hindus this MAY sound alien, but Muslims have been practicing this for ages."
I was addressing those Hindus who MAY pose the questions stated above at the beginning of the topic.
Thank you.

September 13, 2006
03:55 PM

Interestingly a lot many Hindus are ready to jump the gun to defend Muslims and their priorities and not singing Vande Mataram and the crap; however will these same Muslims that Hindus support stand up against their own if the Mullahs start forcing the entire nation to sing songs of Allah?

Think about it - I will bet 99% they wont.

And, in the end, it is JUST a song. The argument that one does not have to sing to prove their patriotism is a sorry excuse to justify not singing it - well if its not that big a deal anyways, so why not sing it instead of creating a brouhaha abt it.

September 13, 2006
10:24 PM

factual error in this post.

1. for many monotheistic religious people it may seem alien to see Hindus praying to so many gods, demi-gods and human-gods

indirectly mentioning that hinduism is not a monotheistic religion. this is incorrect. hinduism is a monotheistic religion.

2. "which is supposedly constant, unchanging and permanent for many millennia"

if 'many' is greater than or equal to 2 then this is incorrect.

Atanu Dey
September 14, 2006
01:17 AM

Hawkeye (#10):

Where the heck did you pull that one out of that Hinduism is a monotheistic religion? Perhaps a dictionary may help in clearing that confusion.

Hinduism is polytheistic. It has zillions of gods. Sure there is a unity behind all of them but gods there are by the brazillions.

Please don't tar Hinduism with the evils of monotheism. Monotheism is Evil. Here's a bit from Gore Vidal:

The great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved--Judaism,
Christianity, and Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal--God is the Omnipotent Father--hence the loathing of women for 2,000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates. The sky-god is a jealous god, of course. He requires total obedience from everyone on earth, as he is not just in place for one tribe, but for all creation. Those who would reject him must be converted or killed for their own good. Ultimately, totalitarianism is the only sort of politics that can truly serve the sky-god's purpose. Any movement of a liberal nature endangers his authority and those of his delegates on earth. One God, one King, one Pope, one master in the factory, one father-leader in the family at home.

Read Vidal's essay on monotheism.

Mayank Austen Soofi
September 14, 2006
02:04 AM

If somebody says I HAVE to sing Vande Mataram to prove my loyalties to my nation, I will NEVER sing it.

September 14, 2006
05:43 AM

Hawk-eye is right. Hinduism IS monotheistic. Read your Upanishads. Except it is ALSO polytheistic and atheistic at the same time based on the person's own ability to understand the universe (or the illusion thereof - maya). For those who need a tangible deity for comfort or courage, there are many available (polytheistic) which are representations of a single greater deity (monotheistic), which the spiritually developed being can understand to be simply the representation of a formless, non-representable, all inclusive force (atheistic). To reach moksha is to realise that there is no god, no universe, nothing, but a unified life force. Once again, do your reading on Hinduism please.

September 14, 2006
05:49 AM

Hi Goyal. All very sweet to say that Islam was founded before the concept of the nation-state. But today there IS a concept of the nation-state and that has its own demands. To come up with specious arguments about freedom of choice about Vande Mataram is to deny that the extremist fringe doesn't care for India or its wellbeing. It may not be a final test of patriotism to sing it, but hard to believe that a patriotic Indian won't find the song inspirational, regardless of their religion. The fact that majority of Indian Muslims "choose" to sing the song demonstrates that.
Secularism means tolerance for all beliefs, but it also means a belief in the democratic nation-state that allows such tolerance to be practised on a daily basis. To undermine that polity for religious reasons in unpatriotic no matter how you garb it.

September 14, 2006
08:29 AM

Anamika said:
"... but hard to believe that a patriotic Indian won't find the song inspirational, regardless of their religion."
There is an innate assumption that 'what I feel about a certain song or ritual (to showcase my patriotism) IS valid or SHOULD BE valid for all Indians.'
I am not sure why it is so hard to believe that a certain song MAY or MAY NOT inspire someone. At the end of the day, it is just a song. It is one of the many patriotic symbols India has defined.

My whole blog is basically to counter this innate assumption that 'what majority feels should be felt by everyone else- otherwise there is something wrong with these others.' And Anamika only substantiates these assumptions.

Who defines what is patriotic?
Is singing a song patriotic? Is abiding to the law of the land patriotic? Is paying taxes patriotic? Is doing your job patriotic?

Does the majority feel that it is in their right to define what is patriotic? Isn't that mindset root of all fascist movements across the world?

September 14, 2006
08:15 PM


Hinduism is a a MONOTHEISTIC religion. The so called 33 crore "devas" are 'dieties' NOT GODS. A diety is a manifestation of the One, created for a better delegation of reponsibilities and furthering our understanding of the ways in which God works. It would be incorrect to compare Hinduism (with its one god and many dieties) with a polytheistic religion as practised by the Greeks or Romans (who actually had multiple Gods).

Hope this clarifies doubts.


September 14, 2006
11:57 PM

This is an interesting discussion. Could someone please write about whether Hinduism is monotheistic, polytheistic or pantheistic or whether Hindus care whether their religion is one or the other, or whether they should care at all?

September 15, 2006
03:06 AM

This is interesting. One completely loses track of the original message by raising lot of dust- comments nitpick on trivialities which do not have any bearing on the topic under discussion.

The problem with words and terms is that they can be interpreted in many ways.

It is generally agreed that monotheistic religions are those who do not approve of multiple gods or deities- not even an incarnation of that god in any other form other than the original. While they could have prophets, there is a big restriction on who is god and who is not. Polytheism on the other hand has a pantheon of gods and deities in the practising religion (while a supreme being can be dealt more on philosophical realms). Hinduism is polytheistic with a constant agenda for unification. Even now, there are many places in rural India where people pray to local deity- coming up with new ones as time progresses. There are temples for people, natural events, animals, trees, sprouting in different parts of the country. The trend in philosophical Hinduism has been to unify the religion by incorporating those deities as incarnations - but there are no rigid rules on this. Monotheistic religions on the contrary do not believe in such incarnated gods or human-gods (which Hinduism gladly approves). Polytheistic religions while praying to multiple deities do not preclude the belief in an omnipotent and omniscient supreme being (such as Brahman in Hinduism). Even Greeks (polytheistic) believed in oneness of God - a supreme being who is not usually defined (as extensively as Apollo, Zeus, etc).

Its better to look at it from the modern and generally agreed definitions by comparing religions. Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Islam and Christianity) are rigidly monotheistic with only one deity (with small exceptions) while Hinduism allows multiple deities. Now you can call Hinduism a 'different version of monotheism' or polytheism as it suits you.

It is generally agreed that Hinduism has various schools of thoughts within itself- varying from pagan (treating local or natural objects, events or humans as deities), polytheistic (having multiple deities - could be incarnation of higher gods, and can include a supreme being), monotheistic? (oneness of god - which is not precluded in polytheism, but definitely not monotheistic in Abrahamic sense), agnostic (allowing question on existence of ultimate and superior being) to atheistic (non-belief in deities including ultimate and superior being).

Of all these, the most general concept that can be applied to Hinduism without losing other varieties is polytheism. Monotheism excludes all other varieties - especially pagan and atheism. In addition, Abrahamic Monotheism excludes all forms of worship to multiple deities (which Hinduism gladly approves).

But again, one can go into defining each of these words according to one's liking to have fun!

September 15, 2006
06:50 AM

PS: Sujai, you responded to my critique by mentioning the apparent tyranny of the majority. You have also freely and rather gratuitously used the term "fascistic" (sic). Yet you make certain assumptions yourself. Who is this mythical majority? Given the complexities of considering Hinduism as poly, mono or a-theist as discussed above, aren't you falsely assuming that ALL Hindus form a monolithic majority? Moreover, given that most sociological studies show that most Hindus qualify themselves as minorities in India thanks to their complex and competing definitions of self-identity, aren't you falsely assuming that a "fascistic" tendency could unite this monolithic identity.
While such scare-mongering - by labelling what you dont agree with as "fascist" - may provide for amusing mental gymnastics or for proving your "secular" credentials, it also weakens your argument. Lumping together over 800 million people as a monolithic majority that will turn fascist at the first sign of trouble does your intellect little justice.

September 15, 2006
09:33 AM

#1. I do not assume that rural India is 'credulous and primitive'. I am not sure how you have drawn that conclusion. Never mind.

Gods have always cropped up in the long history of Hinduism- according to me that is the inherent nature of Hinduism as it is practised - making it polytheistic in practice, while philosophically it entertains many diverse and sometimes opposing views. Even in the present day, many such gods crop up, especially in rural India which may or may not attain the mainstream attention. Just because they invent new gods, it does not make rural India credulous and primitive- it makes them more prolific. Many 'learned' and 'experts on Hinduism' may disagree that Hinduism is polytheistic- they may want to preserve it as pristine as it is written in some old documents. Some other Hindu scholars will refer to the same books and showcase that gods as represented by Indra, Vayu, etc, are nothing but polytheism in action. While those who want to propose monotheism will refer to the these books to quote another instance where Brahman is considered one and the only god- while all other gods/deities are mere incarnations and personifications of Brahman's attributes. The discussion can go on. It is a good past time. I do not see any benefit in proving Hinduism either wise.

#2. I am not assuming that Indian Hindu group is a 'monolithic' majority. But it is still a majority vis--vis other religions in India (Islam, Christianity, etc). When someone refers to Christian majority in US, one can easily argue that it is not a single entity- and that in fact it is divided into Catholic, Baptist, Anglican, Lutheran, Mormon, Methodist, and other sects. When one refers to White majority in US, one can easily argue that it is not a single entity- and that in fact it is divided into Anglo-Saxon, Caucasian, Mediterranean, Scandinavian, and other groups. But for many discussions, especially when differentiating one big group with other big groups, it is safe to look at all these sects as one entity (need not be monolithic)- called Western Christianity or White Americans. The same applies to Hindu majority- these are the ones who practice Hindu customs or pray to/believe in Hindu gods (of which there are many) as opposed to practicing Islam or Christianity, etc. And in each of these big groups some sub-groups are active while most others are passive (but nevertheless represent the group). The active sub-groups may take the onus of representing the entire group and may be spearheading the thoughts and belief systems vis--vis other big groups while other sub-groups may passively follow them (or put up feeble resistance). In Indian Hindus, the upper caste Hindus (though minority) spearhead the Hindu group vis--vis other religions.

#3. Hinduism is not just Vedas and Upanishads. It is a collection of many other philosophies which came later in time (in addition to these). It has evolved a lot from those olden days and has taken a completely different shape and form- which I believe is the strength of this religion. Some may want to restore the glory of the past going back to Vedic times- good for them. By reading these books they seem to have all the knowledge and wherewithal to consider themselves to be experts on Hinduism- good for them.

September 15, 2006
02:42 PM

Hi Anamika. I agree that the extremist fringe doesn't care about India or its well being. But then there are such elements within every religion. So why single out Muslims? Just because some idiot mullah issued a stupid fatwa. But so did the SGPC, would that make the Sikhs unpatriotic? Did anyone ask if they were singing it? Heck, I know just a paragraph of the song. Does that mean I am unpatriotic? I think not. I think the national anthem (which by the way is an eulogy of the King of England) is crap and should be replaced.

The fact that majority of Indian Muslims "choose" to sing the song demonstrates that. Then where does the question of Muslims not singing it arise from? There are idiots within every religion who taint it. So please do not label a community based on the stupidty of few mullahs/priests/gurus. And I still believe that respecting a "National" symbol is a matter of pure choice and cannot be forced on an individual.

September 15, 2006
09:09 PM

Hi Goyal - SGPC doesn't control the lives of Sikhs that the Imam of the Jama masjid does. And while you are at it, WHAT was that about? Given that "deha shiva mohe" talks of "Hindu" gods? Frankly in India we actually debate this stuff - most Western nations wouldn't allow this freedom. And yes I agree - all extremist fringes dont care about the nation. In fact, the Hindu nationalist fringe is more Semitic/Judeo-Christian-Islamis in its thinking than any other.
I dont label a community but I also recognize that the Vande Mataram crisis is an artificial one. Most Indian Muslims are proud to sing the anthem - and believe me, I know quite a few.
Issue is - a nation requires certain symbols of unity. One need not sing the verses (few of us know the words) but to completely reject it doesn't bode well. Btw, I think Vande Mataram ought to be the national anthem - it wasn't because of the same sort of debate back then.
Also lets not forget that people like Javed Akhtar have written versions of the song. As did earlier poets. So obviously the whole religious angle is a bit manufactured.

September 16, 2006
05:03 PM

I am shocked by Anamika's thoughts. Muslims don't bow their head at the feet of their parents but that doesn't mean that they don't love them. Muslims don't even pray to the Prophet but just to Allah.

Often I feel the more educated we are, we tend to become more illiberal and less sensitive towards others. The other may be any thing that is not fashionable like a Muslim, a poor or even a slum dweller. Mercifully the villagers and common folk in India may not have KNOWLEDGE but they do have WISDOM else this country would have become a madhouse. I really pity those who have doubts about my patriotism to my country.

September 16, 2006
11:26 PM

Indscribe - spurious comparison. Love for one's parents is expressed in many ways and not simply by bowing at their feet. No one has asked the Muslim leaders protesting Vande Mataram to physically bow before the motherland. Symbolically and linguistically Vande - as in vandana - can is far more subtle.
You are right when you speak of the average person - the average person doesn't try to show off their pseudo-secular credentials with specious political posturing. Which is why the majority of Indian Muslims have had little trouble singing the national song. The problem comes from self-appointed guardians of secularism and so-called "liberal" thought. And THEIR patriotism is always in doubt.

September 18, 2006
11:26 PM

Why does everybody keep looking at Vande Mataram as an "only-Hindu" song? It a literary milestone, and should be sung by eveybody, even if just for that. I think the Muslims need to open their eyes and frankly -- grow up. And so do the keepers of secularism and Indian culture (who appointed them -- people, WE did, when we either voted for them, or did not care enough to do so).

my 2 cents

April 11, 2007
07:49 AM

Ich erklare meinen Freunden uber diese Seite. Interessieren!

April 11, 2007
11:34 AM

If I have to prove my patriotism by singing songs.
Man then its very easy am ready to sings any version of this song. Which one do u like?
1) Rahman version (rahman composed vande matram and still ppl suspect muslim patriotism, phunny ppl)
2) Lata Mangheskar version
3) Old concie version
4) Full version (deadly one, where i say practically things which ar enot only hindutva but defame my religion(principles))

I wud rather prove my patriotism by:

1) Starting a real technological company (not tat IT service companies)
2) By helpin millions of ppl cross poverty line
3) By givin the ppl basic needs
4) By serving the nation by leading them to become developed nation by 2020.

April 11, 2007
11:50 AM

Lomi.....well said!!


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