Syeda Hameed writes | Row over Allama Iqbal song in Bareilly school: I hold this book, this poet, as my lodestar. Will you declare me anti-national?

In Bareilly, an FIR has been registered against a school principal and Shiksha Mitra for encouraging children to recite an “Islamic” prayer written by poet Allama Iqbal in the school. The complainant was Sompal Rathore, reportedly a member of the Vishwa Hindu Council.

The same organization may have filed an FIR against me because I just read prayers to a little Hindu boy. This is from an anthology of poems by Iqbal – the poet who wrote “Sari Jahan Se Acha Hindustan Hamara”. the book Bang and Valley (caravan bell) was given to my father by Allama Iqbal 88 years ago to this day. In his handwriting is written “Aligarh, December 22, 1934”. I may also be declared anti-national because I consider this book and poet as my lodestar.

Honestly, it gave poison Mehul (The environment) in which we live, I don’t care.

The words speak for themselves. The title of the poem is “Bacha Ki Dua” (Child’s Prayer). And what is he praying for? He prays that his life may be like a shining light. Then she prays that she may be given the task of helping the poor and needy, so that she can relieve the pain of the old, the sick. She prays that the calamities of the world will be removed in her efforts. In every direction it radiates light. The prayer then asks that he be the grace of his country, as a flower is the grace of a garden. He asks that her life be like a moth: as it circles the candle, so it should circle the lamp of knowledge. He prays to Allah Almighty to protect him from all evil and guide him in the path of goodness.

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My translation cannot do justice to the beautiful simplicity of the poem. Its recitation by the children led to punitive action against the principal and Shiksha Mitra. I challenge anyone in this country of nearly 1.4 billion to touch her/his heart and agree to punitive action against Principal Naheed Siddiqui and Shiksha Dost Waziruddin.

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In my school where I spent the happiest days of my life, I was one of the very few Muslim children. Our Morning Prayer Songs “Meri Parboor Meri Thuj Se Yeh Praartana Hai” and “Lib Par Aati Deh Dua Bin Ki Tamna Meri” and “Ma Surah Vaderinha Jashir Raajee” and “Nanak Nee Jas Watan Main Wahdat Ki Geet Gaye/ Meera”. Hit the country, hit my country. These Duas have been selected and taught by our beloved Indian teacher and poet Ved Vyas. We sang them at school and at home, my brother and I sang them in front of our elders who laughed and encouraged us to sing.

This was my land, my chosen culture, mine Ganga Jumni Tehzeeb.

This weekend, my friend and I attended a wonderful dance performance by the beautiful Kashmiri artiste Tamana Tikko at Delhi’s Triveni Kala Sangam. It is called ‘Madame’ and is presented by Gaftogo Foundation in collaboration with Alaknanda Dance Foundation. A medley of Kathak, Bharatnatyam and Odissi was beautifully presented by artist Shami Narang. The finale was Aaj Rang De Re Ma Rang De Re by Hazrat Amir Khusro Sufyan Salam. Twenty dancers on the stage and two hundred in the hall joined Nizamuddin Auliya’s wish. This was India at its peak. Hindi, Hindi, Persian All were accompanied by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s music. The presenter’s speech became magical in bridging the differences of caste, class, religion.

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It was the best Christmas message ever. There are many teachers like Naheed and Waziruddin in our schools who tell the true meaning of India to the innocent children of our schools.

The author is a former member of the Planning Commission


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