By Manish Munjal
INDIA’S celebrated unity in diversity has been under much attack after the riots in Uttar Pradesh earlier this year. A recent ruling by a Malaysian court gives me hope that the underlying principles of equality and secularism in India are stronger than we imagine.
A Malaysian court recently ruled that non-Muslims cannot use the word Allah while referring to God, even in their own faiths. The court maintained that the term Allah must be exclusive to Islam or it could cause public disorder.
A look at our film industry, which unites the length and breadth of India, is enough to dismiss any such fears of "public disorder" caused by usage of the term ‘Allah’. For decades and more, Bollywood songs have celebrated the divine as Ishwar, Allah and other such names.
We all have heard the popular Bhajan from Hum Dono, "Allah Tero Naam, Ishwar Tero Naam, Sabko Sanmati De Bhagwan". The song was written by one of the greatest lyricists that the subcontinent has known – Sahir Ludhianvi. The music was by Jaidev. Lata Mangeshkar sang the song. Nanda was the actress on whom the song was filmed.
Another celebrated Bhajan by Sahir was "Ishwar Allah Tero Naam, Sabko Sanmati De Bhagwan". The movie was Naya Raasta, which released in 1970.
The use of the word ‘Allah’ for divine continues unbroken in our popular culture. Kailash Kher became an overnight sensation after he sang "Allah Ke Bande" in the film "Waisa Bhi Hota Hai", a 2003 release. In the film "Teri Meri Kahaani," which released in 2012, Prasoon Joshi wrote the lyric "Allah Jaane". The song was filmed on Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra.
Harshdeep Kaur, the young Sufi sensation, has been loved for her version of "Allah hu Allah". In January this year, Saif, Deepika, John Abraham, Anil Kapoor and others danced to the pop hit, "Allah Duhai Hai/Phir Bewafai Hai/Mushkil Rihai Hai/Haan Tere Pyaar Mein," in the suspense thriller Race 2. The movie was released in January this year.
Vidya Balan and Imran Hashmi paired up for Ghanchakkar in June 2013. One of the songs in the movie – "Allah Meharbaan," made waves.
Playing across at most parties in north India is the popular track – "Aukhay Painday Lambiyan Ne Rahwan Ishq Diyan, Allah Hu Allah". All this goes on to prove that the divine may be referred to by any name in India – Ishwar, Allah or god. All are accepted. All are good and all celebrated.