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Bharat Mata: A Country or a Devi?

By Editorial Staff

Is it permissible for Muslims of India to chant “ Bharat Mata Ki Jai ” or not? This is the subject we are going to handle in this article.

There is none worthy of worship but Allah, Muhammad [peace be upon him] is a messenger of Allah.

There is none worthy of worship but Allah, Muhammad [peace be upon him] is a messenger of Allah.

On the national level, there is a heated debate on the slogan of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”

Muslims believe in the Oneness of God, the only worthy of real worship.This belief is the basic and first principle in the Islamic faith.A Muslim has to bear witness that there is no god or worthy of worship except Allah the Almighty who is the Creator and who is the only entity that deserves to be worshipped. Every belief or action contrary to this principle is prohibited in Islam.

However, this does not mean that there is no respect or exaltation in Islam for others. There are many things that are respected and sacred in Islam. The prophets, messengers, true friends of Allah and parents are esteemed and exalted in Islam.Mosques are sacredand hallowed places in Islam, and so on.

The Glorious Qur’an says:

And whoever honours the symbols of Allah – indeed, it is from the piety of hearts.(Al-Hajj22:32)

 

The symbols of Allah include the sacred Ka`bah, the mountain of As-Safa and Marwah, the plain of `Arafat, etc.. If a Muslim honours them or other sacred things, it denotes true faith and piety in the heart of the doer.

But the question is: what is the difference between common respect and the worship? This is the basic idea that needs to be explained in a lucid way.

 

What is worship in Islam?

Worship in Islam refers to an action out of utmost respect for any entity believing that the worshipped is the Lord and the Creator of the worshipper or the worshipped is a partner of Allah in His lordship or the worshipped has independently any kind of Lordship. This faith must be accompanied with the action of reverence or exaltation for the worshipped intending His worship.

In all actions of worship, the intention is significant and important, suppose you bowed down for your mother in respect for her believing that she is a slave of Allah the Almighty who created her and everything in the world and she does not deserve any type of worship at all, then the act would not be regarded as worship, rather, it is a sort of mere respect. But suppose you bowed down for your mother for her respect and you believed that she is a Devi or god and you are intending to please her with this act, then bowing down for your mother would be regarded an act of worship in Islamic theology.

The intention is an important and pivotal issue in matters related to worship. However, there are some actions and rituals that are religious identities of some non-Muslims nations that are prohibited for Muslims to do or adopt.If a Muslim does that particular religious action that is an identity of some non-Muslim people, the doer becomes sinner if he does it unknowingly or un-intentionally. But if he does it deliberately, he becomes out of the fold of Islam.

Wearing a cross, the identity of Christians, or putting Sindur on the forehead after offering to Hindu gods or wearing the sacred thread around the neck, the identity of Hindus, all these actions are religious identity of non-Muslims.In addition, uttering “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” is amongst the religious rituals and identity of Hindus and Muslims are not allowed to chant it for the reason of identity and its pagan background. In the same way, reciting “Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem” (in the name of Allah the most Gracious the most Merciful” in the beginning of any good work is a religious identity of Muslims, and perhaps, Hindus will never agree to recite the words, rather, they will become angry if some Muslims ask them to recite it.

Is Bharat Mata a Devi?

In the matter of worship, Hinduism is based on confusion and disorder and we do not find clear boundary between what is divine worthy of worship and what is un-divine not worthy of worship. In general, Hindus can worship anything and everything.Some of them worship tortoise and some of them worship snake, while many of them worship cow and regard it as an abode of deities and gods. On the contrary, Muslims are very sensitive in the matter of worship; they never worship any being except Allah the Almighty. They respect all Prophets and Messengers in general, and they revere the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and love him more than anything in the world, but they never worship him. Moreover, they respect elderly people and parents but they cannot worship them.

An Interesting Story

Once there was a small Hindu community in Bengal where the writer of this article lived few months. A Hindu family had a tree behind his house and one morning when he was cleaning his backyard around the tree and worked to remove unwanted grasses, according to his statement he came to discover a plain beautiful rock like the shivling worshiped by Hindus he came out shouting “Come, everyone, see, the god has appeared in my home.”He claimed that he was blessed with shivling in his backyard.

A stone on the shape of Shivling that is worshiped by Hindus.

A stone on the shape of Shivling that is worshiped by Hindus.

People including children, males, females and the elderly rushed there and there was a gathering within few seconds.Flowers, milk, water were poured upon the stone while people appeared emotional and filled with the feelings of reverence and worship. The person also claimed that the holy stone is deeply rooted in the earth and supported by some spiritual power as it is not moving from its place while he pretended to move it and shake it from its position but it never moved or shaken. Upon that, one of the gatherings came forward and tried to shake it to verify the claim of the person, immediately the stone was in his hand and when he became sure of his friend’s lies, he threw it on the ground in anger. Thus, the miraculous stone became a common rock and people falsified the house owner who was trying to turn his home into a temple and earn offerings and money.

This story sheds light on the true tendency of Hindus towards worshiping everything and anything. Perhaps, many temples came into existence in this or similar ways. And this story shows the absence of order and regulation for worship amongst the Hindus in general.

What is Bharat Mata? 

Why India is called Bharat is a question that comes to the minds of many people who are not aware of the ancient history of this country.

The geographical term Bharat is used by many Indian languages in its variations. The eponym of Bharat is a theological figure that Hindu scriptures describe as a legendary emperor of ancient India.

India is a name that has been given to this country by its rulers. However, the real name of the country is Bharat or Bharatvarsha. Even the constitution of India recognizes this fact when it opens with the sentence ‘India that is Bharat’. The ancient sacred texts like the Puranas and even the Gita refer to India as Bharat.(1)

In addition, Mata in Sanskrit and Hindi means mother, and many Hindu female gods are called Mata like Kali Mata, Sarsati Mata, Gao Mata, etc.

Bharat: An Ancient Indian Emperor 

According to a legend, the name Bharat comes from the name of Bharat Chakravarti, an ancient brave king of the land. He was the son of King Dushyanta and Queen Shakuntala, who conquered a huge territory that was converted into a political entity named after him.

However, the fact remains that the real name of India is Bharata that is mentioned in the ancient Hindu texts. The name Bharata comes from the ancient Indian language Sanskrit. In Sanskrit, Bharata is a derivative of Bharata that was originally used for Agni. This word also stands for someone who is engaged in the search of knowledge.

Bharat is the name of Rama’s brother; the son of Dushyanta, and first monarch of all India.And Bharatkhand, one of the nine divisions of the world, between Lanka and Sumeru, i. e. India from Ceylon to Tartary.(2)

Thus, Bharat is a name of king that ruled India, as well as it is the name the country called India. It is noteworthy that many kings of ancient India became worshipped gods of Indian people.

In addition, the Sanskrit and English dictionary says in the explanation of Bharata:

“Bharati, female of Bharata; a female descendant of Bharata, also name of a deity (in Rig Veda, often invoked among the Apri deities and especially together with Ila And Sarasvati, according to Nir. viii, 13 a daughter of Aditya; later identified with Sarasvati, the goddess of speech.”(3)

This quote also verifies that Bharata is a name of ancient Hindu deity.

The principle of the Islamic faith “For you is your religion, and for me is my religion” (Al-Kafirun109:6) is the best principle for countries that have followers of many religions and sects like India.And this Qur’anic philosophy is more practical for the country characterized by religious pluralism and perhaps this principle is much better than the principle of live and let others live.

Conclusion

 

No wise and just person can accept imposing religious rites for a particular religion over the followers of other religions. Bharat Mata Ki Jai is one of the religious slogans of the Hindus. So it is against the logic and wisdom to impose it on Muslims, especially when we know that Islam is extremely sensitive in the matter of worship. However, Muslims love their country and they were and are always ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the mother country, and the history is a best witness for that.

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(1)http://pediaa.com/why-india-is-called-bharat/ (Last accessed on April, 1, 2016).

(2) Duncan Forbes, A Dictionary, Hindustani & English: Accompanied by a Reversed Dictionary, London Sampson Low, Marston& Company, 1858, p.140.

(3) Monier-Williams, Monier, Sir, 1819-1899, A Sanskrit-English dictionary, Oxford University Press, Amen House, London E.C-4, 1960, p.753.

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