Celebrating Independence Day at a Madrassa in Uttar Pradesh
Kids can’t stop smiling as they didn’t have to bring para aur takhti (the stand to place their copy of Quran) today.
Independence Day celebrations at Madrassa became a point of public debate this year when Uttar Pradesh government issued an order, seeking videography of such events. (Image: News18)
Noida: It’s 7 am and children are already out of their homes, wearing Eid clothes. Some have a tricolour badge on their chest, others are carrying tiny paper flags.
Kids can’t stop smiling as they didn’t have to bring para aur takhti (the stand to place their copy of Quran) today. The loudspeaker placed on top of Madrassa Rehmaniya Arabia Qasimul Uloom in Sector 62-A Noida has started blaring patriotic songs and students have slowly started queuing up inside the campus.
Ustaad (teacher at madrassa) stands in the middle and asks talib-e-ilm (students):
“Aaj tareekh khya hai? (What is the date today?)”
“15 August,” children shout
“Is tareekh ki ahamiyat kya hai? (What is the significance of this day?)”
“Humein azadi mili thi (We got freedom today)”
“Kaise mili azadi? (How did we achieve freedom?),” asks ustaad
“Qurbani deke (Through sacrifices)”
Shabash! Bahut Khoob!
At this moment, mohtamim (principal of the madrassa) indicates it’s time to begin Independence Day celebrations.
Everyone recites Surah Ad-Duha, ninety-third sura of the Quran, a morning prayer.
As soon as the recitation gets over, a boy speaks on Prophet Mohammad: “Yeh hamare rasool hain jo 1400 saal pehle aaye the. Inke baad khuda ne koi aur paighambar nahi bheja (He was our prophet who came 1400 years ago on this planet. Khuda has not sent anyone as his messenger since then).”
At this point Ustaad instructs talib-e-ilm to follow the queue and go to the roof.
Boys stand on left side and girls on the right.
Mohtamim and Ustaad unfurl the tricolor and three girls sing Iqbal’s “Saare Jahan se achcha Hindustan hamara”. Others join the chorus.
The next song is “Ahle gulshan ko batao jashne azadi ha aaj (Tell the people of this garden that today is the day of celebrating freedom)”.
Everyone claps and children start whispering in each other’s ear about the sweet boxes they have seen with the ustaad.
Soon, sweets and bananas are distributed among children and they rush out of campus to celebrate the holiday.
CONTROVERSY OVER NATIONALISM
Interestingly, while ‘Sare Jahan se Accha’ was first recited by Iqbal in 1905 at Government College, Lahore and became an anthem of sorts for the freedom fighters, ‘Ahle gulshan’ is a lesser known ghazal. Urdu scholars News18 spoke to didn’t know about the origin of this song and said, “This must be work of some local poet”.
Independence Day celebrations at Madrassa became a point of public debate this year when Uttar Pradesh government issued an order, seeking videography of such events.
According to the circular, national anthem was to be sung at all madrassa after hoisting national flag.
“We will sing what we identify with love for the country. Iqbal’s song is in Urdu and we understand it the best... mazhab nahi sikhata aapas me bair rakhna,” said mohtamim Rafiq Malik. “On the other hand, anthem by Rabindranath Tagore is not in the language we understand. Nationalism is a sentiment and Iqbal’s song means that for us.”
Malik said his madrassa will not send any video as ‘proof of patriotism’ to the state government.
Talking about the role of ulemas in freedoms struggle, one ustaad of the madarsa said, “11,000 of them were hanged by the British, ulemas of Khairabad came out in numbers to fight the colonial rule. Ab sarkar badalne se itihas thodi na badalta hai… (Just because the government has changed, the history won’t change).”
Mohammad Akhtar, who works in private sector and whose children go to an English medium school brought his kids to show them Independence Day celebrations at a madrassa. “See this message on social media from Faizul Uloom madrassa in Jamshedpur… it reads, please come for the celebration of azadi. This sentiment comes naturally to us, not by any circular or advisory. I studied in a madrassa and we always paid respect to the country on this day,” he said.
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