Jaipur- Muslim organizations in Rajasthan have voiced opposition to the mass Surya Namaskar program scheduled in both government and non-government schools on February 15th, coinciding with Surya Saptami. Jamiat-Ulema-Hind has urged the Muslim community to uphold their faith and beliefs, cautioning against succumbing to any form of pressure. The organization emphasizes the right to education while maintaining religious convictions, as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.
Meanwhile, the Rajasthan Muslim Forum has filed a petition against the Education Department's mandate to implement the Surya Namaskar program in educational institutions. The Rajasthan High Court has scheduled a hearing for February 14 on the matter. Additionally, district units of the Rajasthan Muslim Forum have submitted memorandums through District Collectors, challenging the constitutionality of the Education department's directives regarding Surya Namaskar.
During the previous tenure of the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government in 2015, Surya Namaskar and yoga practice were made compulsory in educational institutions. Muslim organizations had then approached the court, arguing that such directives amounted to unwarranted interference in religious affairs and violated constitutional provisions safeguarding religious freedom. Subsequently, following court intervention, the Rajasthan Education Department revised its order on June 29, 2015, granting students the autonomy to decide whether to participate in Surya Namaskar and yoga practice.
Criticism has arisen regarding the timing of such directives, particularly in the lead-up to elections. Abdul Wahid Khatri, state general secretary of Jamiat-Ulema-Hind-Rajasthan, highlighted the government's obligation to uphold secular principles as enshrined in the Indian Constitution. He criticized attempts by certain ideological factions, without explicitly naming the BJP, to impose religious beliefs on others through unconstitutional means. Khatri suggested that such directives are politically motivated, aimed at appeasing certain demographics ahead of elections, and undermine democratic values.
Khatri further emphasized the necessity of legal recourse when governments fail to fulfill their constitutional duties. He recalled the legal battle against similar unconstitutional actions by the Vasundhara Raje government in 2015, noting the intervention of the Supreme Court and various High Courts in upholding religious freedoms.
"When the government deliberately does wrong, we have no option other than the court. On Monday, February 12th, our hearing could not be held. The court fixed the date of hearing on14th. Who knows, the hearing may not take place tomorrow also. Therefore, we have appealed to all the Muslim parents to boycott the Surya Namaskar program on February 15 by not sending their children to school,” he said.
A condemnation motion has been passed in the state executive meeting of Jamiat Ulema-Hind, an old organization of Indian Muslims, against the government order for collective Surya Namaskar in govt schools.
Jamiat has termed such orders of the government as open interference in religious matters and a clear disregard for the religious freedom given in the Constitution and the orders of the Supreme Court and many High Courts of the country.
After discussion in the state level meeting of Jamiat Ulema-Hind, it was said that in the majority Hindu society, Surya is worshiped as God/Deity. The verses spoken in this practice and the activities like Pranamasana, Ashtanga Namaskar etc. are a form of worship and worship of anyone other than Allah is unacceptable in the religion of Islam. It is not possible for the Muslim community to accept this in any form or situation.
Jamiat Ulema-Hind clearly believes that imposing the beliefs of a particular religion on people of other religions under the pretext of practice in any democratic country is a flagrant violation of constitutional principles and religious freedom and a despicable attempt, which is opposed with all our might. And we will fight against it as per the democratic system of the country.
Jamiat Ulema-Hind has urged the state government to engage in dialogue with the Muslim community regarding the matter of yoga practice, aiming to foster understanding and prevent unnecessary contention. They emphasize the importance of withdrawing the contentious order promptly to avoid undermining the democratic fabric of the nation and to uphold the spirit of inclusivity embodied in the slogan "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas."
Led by Muslim Forum Sikar convenor Engineer Khurshid Hussain, the community has submitted a memorandum to the District Collector in the name of the Governor, emphasizing the secular nature of our country. They highlighted that according to the Constitution, governments are prohibited from implementing programs related to prayers of any particular religion.
Despite this, the Office of the Director of Education Department issued orders on February 1st and 2nd, 2024, as well as the Rajasthan School Education Council on January 30th, 2024, mandating the implementation of Surya Namaskar in all educational institutions. This move, deemed contrary to the spirit and provisions of the Indian Constitution, prompted the community to demand an immediate ban on such orders. The memorandum was supported by officials from various Muslim organizations, including Amiruddin Tagala, Salimuddin Kachhav, Ahsan Ali Gaur, Usman Ghani, Mustafa Khan, and Mohammad Arif.
State President of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Nazimuddin, declared that a petition has been lodged in the High Court on behalf of the Rajasthan Muslim Youth Forum. He asserted that the government's directive contravenes constitutional practices, constituting an assault on religious freedom. Nazimuddin emphasized that no religion can be coerced into adopting the worship practices of another, as stipulated in the Constitution. Furthermore, he highlighted that this mandate contradicts Islamic teachings, as Muslims are obligated to worship only Allah. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind vehemently opposes this arbitrary order issued by the Education Department.