Several prominent intellectuals, including historian Irfan Habib and artist Gulmohammed Sheikh, have issued a statement condemning the Muslim clerics of the Raza Academy for issuing a fatwa against musician AR Rahman for composing the score for the Iranian film Muhammad: Messenger of God.  The clerics claim that the film, directed by Majid Majidi, is blasphemous and called for Rahman to apologise for participating in it.

Rahman has already offered an elegant response to the clerics. He wrote:
“What, and if, I had the good fortune of facing Allah, and He were to ask me on Judgement Day: 'I gave you faith, talent, money, fame and health... why did you not do music for my beloved Muhammad (Peace be upon him) film? A film whose intention is to unite humanity, clear misconceptions and spread my message that life is kindness, about uplifting the poor, an and living in the service of humanity and not mercilessly killing innocents in my name."

On Thursday, several people associated with the Sahmat cultural group came out in support of the musician. Here is the text of their message.
We welcome and whole-heartedly support the statement of musician AR 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 AR 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 AR 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.

Aijaz Ahmad, Amarjit Chandan, Amitesh Kumar, Amol Saghar, Ananya Vajpeyi, Anees Azmi, Anil Bhatti, Antara Dev Sen, Archana Prasad, Arif Clinton, Arjun Dev, Arvind Kalia, BP Sahu, Badri Raina, Bal Anand, Balram Agarwal, Bernita Bagchi, CP Chandrasekhar, Chanchal Chauhan, DN Jha, Dinesh Mohan, Fr  Cedric Prakash, Geeta Kapur, Geeti Sen, Girish Mishra, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Indira Chandrasekhar, Irfan Habib, Jayati Ghosh, MK Raina, Madangopal Singh, Mihir Bhattacharya, Najaf Haider, Nandini Sundar, Nilima Sheikh, Nirmalangshu Mukherji, Parthiv Shah, Prabhat Patnaik, Puroshottam Agrawal, Ram Rahman, Ritu K Singh, Robin D'Cruz, Romila Thapar, Sashi Kumar, Shabnam Hashmi, Shantha Sinha, Sharmila Tagore, Shikha Sen, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sohail Hashmi, Surajit Sarkar, Utsa Patnaik, Vandana Rag, Venkatesh Athreya, Vidya Shah, Vivan Sundaram.