Romila Thapar and Others Stand By A.R. Rahman and Against Fatwa

A group of scholars, activists and media persons – including historian Romila Thapar, theatre artist M.K. Raina and economist C.P. Chandrasekhar – have expressed solidarity with music composer A.R. Rahman. A fatwa has been issued by the Raza Academy against Rahman for composing music for the Iranian film ‘Muhammad: Messenger of God’. The group expressed its faith in Constitutional freedoms and hoped that no more such diktats would follow. The full text of their statement follows:

We welcome and whole-heartedly support the statement of musician A.R. Rahman where he speaks about his decision to compose music for the Iranian film ‘Muhammad: Messenger of God’. He has thoughtfully struck the right note as he has answered questions raised (completely out of line) by the Raza Academy, about why he chose to compose songs for the film.

We strongly disapprove of the diktat or ‘fatwa’ issued by the Raza Academy, to curb A.R. Rahman’s creative pursuit. Rahman, is one of India and the world’s finest composers, whose repertoire has spanned a whole range and one who is proud to call himself a Muslim. When organisations like Raza Academy, try to curb an artiste’s freedom and conscious choice for creative expression, using religion as an excuse, it has serious and damaging implications for India.

Rahman has underlined that we are “indeed fortunate and blessed to live in a country like India where religious freedom is practiced and where the aim of all communities is to live in peace and harmony sans confusion and violence.”

We stand by A.R. Rahman as he restates the basic principles of our Constitution and join him in the hope that India will continue to stand by the essence of our Constitutional freedoms, “sans confusion and violence” in these difficult times. We hope that no fatwas, diktats or even bullets, will be allowed to be directed against those who dare to speak the truth, paint a picture or compose a tune.

Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Vivan Sundaram, Geeta Kapur, Nilima Sheikh, Ram Rahman, M.K.Raina, Madangopal Singh, Sohail Hashmi, Parthiv Shah, D.N.Jha, Prabhat Patnaik, C.P.Chandrasekhar, Jayati Ghosh, B.P.Sahu, Vidya Shah, Indira Chandrasekhar, Sashi Kumar, Utsa Patnaik, Amar Farooqui, Arjun Dev, Mihir Bhattacharya, Anees Azmi, Anil Bhatti, Badri Raina.

  • Sunder VS

    Thank God for right-thinking people. This was the first piece of good news I’ve read in a while, what with the UGC trying to turn our institutions of higher education into jails which will teach astrology, vedic mathematics and the like!

    • kushanu

      Open up your mind. Our children must know about our history that includes how we developed complex mathematical formulas, trajectories of planets and many other science advances long before anywhere else in world. This will develop not only pride for motherland but also creativity in them. We have been blindly following West till now and look up at them only for inspiration.

  • prasadbinoy

    I’m curious to know what was the reaction of these signatories to the uproar following the publication of The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie and its ban in India in the late 80’s?