Defying decrees: A madrassa where students sing Vande Mataram

An exemplar of communal harmony - Niyamatuloom - the madrassa in Satasipur village in Ambedkar Nagar district, some 200 km from Lucknow, which teaches its students both the Hindu and the Muslim scriptures, has also been making them sing the national song in the morning assembly for over 30 years.

Teachers and students in one voice oppose any kind of fatwa (religious decree) or ban on Vande Mataram, which was adopted as the national song September 7, 1905.

"It's illogical to say the song is un-Islamic. I don't see any reason why the song has been banned by a group of Muslim scholars," said principal of madrassa Maulvi Mehrav Hashim .

"In my opinion the country comes before any religion. So, being the citizen of India no one should have any kind of objection to the patriotic song...After all it's a song that was quite significant during our freedom struggle," he added.

Every morning students stand in queues in the playground of the madrassa and sing Vande Mataram along with their teachers before the start of their classes.

"We have been singing the song in the morning assembly since 1976, when the madrassa had just started to function with a handful of students," said Abdul Kalam, a teacher, who teaches Sanskrit at the madrassa.

"Keeping in mind the fact that the basic and main aim of any school or educational institution is to make students better human beings and citizens of the country, we teach students. We make every effort so that students imbibe moral values from different religions and transform into better human beings," he added.

Besides Urdu, Hindi, English and Sanskrit are also taught to students. Interestingly, after the lunch break, students again line up in the playground, this time to recite the Gaytri Mantra.

"Not only from the holy Quran, we teach students also from the Ramayana and the Gita. Probably this is the reason we have both Hindu and Muslim students," said Nafees Ahmad, another teacher at the madrassa.

Residents of Satasipur take pride to have such a madrassa in their village. "The so-called custodians of Hindu and Muslim religions should learn something from this madrassa that exhibits unique brotherhood," Parshuram Upadhyay, who owns a dairy in the village, said.

Airing similar views, another resident Shiv Kumar Hemkar said: "The teachings imparted by the madrassa is a slap on the faces of those who on the pretext of safeguarding one religion, attack another and believe in dividing  society."

The Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, an organisation of Deobandi clerics, endorsed the fatwa against Vande Mataram in its November 3 conclave.

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