FROM MAULANA’S DESK
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, born in 1925, in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, is an Islamic spiritual scholar who is well-versed in both classical Islamic learning and modern disciplines. The mission of his life has been the establishment of worldwide peace. He has received the Padma Bhushan, the Demiurgus Peace International Award and Sayyidina Imam Al Hassan Peace award for promoting peace in Muslim societies. He has been called ’Islam’s spiritual ambassador to the world’ and is recognized as one of its most influential Muslims1 . His books have been translated into sixteen languages and are part of university curricula in six countries. He is the founder of the Centre for Peace and Spirituality based in New Delhi.
ON March 17, 2016 my telephone rang and a Muslim greeted me and asked a question: Is it lawful according to Islam to call the homeland as madar-e-watan (motherland)? I replied that questions on whether it is lawful or unlawful is to make it an issue of the Shariah (Islamic law), while in fact this has nothing to do with the Islamic law. The Quran and the teachings of the Prophet do not deal with the question of how to address our nation. Hence, it must be regarded as an issue of culture and not of the law.
The Quran and Hadith have used a word, ghulu, that is, extremism, which means making something an issue of the Shariah when it is in reality, not related to it. According to a Hadith, a person once asked the Prophet a number of questions. The Prophet did not respond to any of the questions, instead he just said: 'Istafti qalbak' (Musnad Ahmad). That is, ‘Seek the fatwa from your heart.’ A fatwa is an opinion of the Shariah. This saying of the Prophet tells us that matters not mentioned directly in the Quran and Hadith should be decided
1. The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims 2012, Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, Jordan.
through the dictates of one’s own nature or conscience. If the intention is pure and sincere, the decision would be acceptable to the Shariah.
Love for one’s nation, or patriotism is a natural fact.
Madar-e-watan literally means motherland. But this is a metaphor. It does not mean that one is born out of the land as one is born out of one’s mother’s womb. ‘Motherland’ means what is generally called ‘homeland’. Homeland and motherland are interchangeable, different only in terms of words, not in terms of meaning.
Love for one’s nation, or patriotism is a natural fact. A person naturally loves a place where he is born and brought up and where he develops relations with people. This love for one’s nation is in accordance with the spirit of religion. There is no difference between the stand of patriotism and the stand of religion in this regard.
Referring to a piece of land as ‘motherland’ is an expression of one’s
sentiments and has nothing to do with religion.
According to a tradition, the Prophet said: All of the land is tahur (pure). (Muslim) Therefore considering any particular part of the land superior to another is not right. Every part of the earth is worthy of being regarded as God’s gift for humanity. According to Islam, the whole of the planet earth is a divine gift to mankind and without doubt a blessing from God.
The planet earth is a unique place in the universe. It has a life-support system for man. There is no other place known to have conditions where humans can settle. Given this, it is natural for a person to consider the planet earth as a divine gift. He must have gratitude and love for the planet earth where he resides.
A person loves his nation just as he loves his mother. Hence calling the nation as one’s ‘motherland’ does not go against the spirit of religion. Referring to a piece of land as ‘motherland’ is an expression of one’s sentiments and has nothing to do with religion.
In the present age, nationhood is based on one’s homeland. This is the right concept. The opinion that nationhood is based on religion is an extremist concept. It is not an issue of the Shariah but is being made to appear as such.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan