Religion of a Word

Bhagat SinghToday we posted a Happy Birthday Shaheed Bhagat Singh creative on the Facebook wall of one of the brands that we manage. The general response was extremely great and the post was liked and shared a lot. There were a few comments as well, one of which made me think and has led to me writing this post. The comment was “Plz don’t mind shaheed only muslim hote hai”. (Translation: Only Muslims become “Shaheed”). Shaheed is an Urdu word which means Martyr. If you are not aware of who Bhagat Singh was, I have linked his name to the relevant Wikipedia article. I request you that you must read about this great son of India who gave his life so that I am free today to write, say, do anything I want in free India.

The person who posted this comment belonged to the Muslim community. But that is irrelevant. For us he was a troll. Since as a policy we monitor all our pages for comments and activities very actively so that we can respond to queries and grievances timely we were able mark the comment as spam and hide it from others and avoid any kind of religion based debate / trolling from starting.

But this one comment made me think that even today among us there are people who want to claim a word to be owned by a religion. I don’t mean anything disrespect to Islam or any religion for that matter but it is baffling to see that people are not willing to explore even their own religions properly. I have a very limited knowledge of Islam and have not read the Quran (yet!) but I am sure it does not prohibit others from using words that are related to them. As a matter of fact no religion claims any language or any word. If all religions were defined by the language the followers spoke then the geographical boundaries of the world would have been very different. In India there is a change of language every 5 kilometers. Moreover claiming and restricting use of language would be bad marketing for any religion. If you want to propagate and get new followers, language would be the first step of adoption. You first get them using your words, and then introduce them to your ideas and finally they come to you. This is how I think most of the religions spread. Even on the practical front, India is the largest multilingual entity in the world and it is simply not possible for us to use strictly one language. Mughals ruled us for many decades and the influence of Urdu in day-to-day Hindi is bound to happen.

Anyways keeping all views, religious sentiments and inclinations apart in the end “Shaheed” is just a word. A martyr is remembered for the sacrifice that he made and not by the terminology that was used to refer to him. Even if somehow by a law people are stopped from calling Bhagat Singh a “Shaheed” this would still not change the respect that he commands in the hearts of all the Indians.

Update : Just as I was about to share this with my friends, I stumbled across an amazing piece related to the topic. Must Read here
Image Source : Wikimedia

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