Babri Mosque verdict and the significance of the inter-community harmony in India

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By Dr SLM RIFAI. UK

The primary objective of this article is not to trace the history and origin of the Babri mosque site rather to evaluate the impacts and implications of this historical verdict. It is not my objective here to gauge and evaluate the credibility of this verdict or dispute over this verdict. This legal verdict would not please some section of the Muslim community all over the world. The objective of archaeological studies indicates that there was not any temple structure underneath Babri mosque. Even there is not any archaeological evidence to suggest Lord Ram was born and brought up in this place according to the supreme court verdict. Contrary to this, there are some older mosque structures and yet, some BJP and RSS Hindu extremists have used the political influence to fabricate archaeological findings to make some false claims. This verdict sound like peace negotiation settlement rather than legal verdict. I personally welcome this kind of legal settlement for some pragmatic and logical reasons as I have outlined here in this article.

This verdict is appreciated by many Muslim and Hindu leaders. The supreme court in coloration with some Muslim leaders in UP, have come to this settlement to avoid any kinds of communal tension between two communities. I think this is a wise move by the supreme court and Muslim intellectual community in UP.  They have taken this decision taking into consideration many geopolitical, social and religious factors. This is indeed, a wise and comprehensive move. Indian government has put its national security and the protection of Muslim community above this legal case. That is why this case is settled peacefully. It is very much understandable in this part of the world. Politics of Babri mosque case is very much complicated and complex.

I would like to point out here that some Indian academics have done some objective archaeological studies around this problem. Academics by nature of their research ethics and values, do not twist or fabricate their archaeological findings. They must be objective in their research.  They cannot alter archaeological findings to please some politicians and RSS extremists. According to professor Varma, archaeology department of Jawaharlal Nehru University. “even today, there is no archaeological evidence that there was a temple under the Babri Masjid.”, “Underneath the Babri Masjid, there are actually older mosques.”. Even the supreme court agrees with this archaeological finding. It is not all about this mosque site rather Indian Muslim intellectuals have given preference to the security and safety of Muslims across the India as a matter of an urgent need and necessity.

Indian Muslims ruled India over 700 hundred years.They have contributed immensely to the nation building process of India and its cultural heritage. In fact, the Indian Muslims have been a cornerstone of Indian economy. They have been an integral part of India. Indian government acknowledges, appreciates and recognises the role of Muslim community in India and yet, some extremist groups in India try to marginalise and isolate Muslim community. Yet, government of India does not want to isolate Muslim community any further. It looks that government has left this case of Babri mosque in the hands of supreme court judges to come to terms with Muslim intellectual community in UP.

Reactions of Muslim legal professionals:

Indian Muslim law association has expressed its dissatisfaction about this verdict. Zafarab Jilani said that “They will examine the top court order and file a review petition within 30 days. Yet, he reiterated that “the Supreme court’s judgment is the law of the land and nobody can say they reject it”.  In theory, the court has agreed that this land belongs to mosque. India is a democratic country and Muslim lawyers have every right to challenge this court order professionally in the court of law to review this verdict in accordance with the legal proceeding of the Indian supreme court. I think that they must do this in the greater interest of Indian Muslim community. So that this mosque case would not become a historical precedent for RSS group to claim more and more Muslim land and sacred places. It looks this case has been settled through some kinds of mutual understanding and consideration between two communities.

The reaction of some Indian Muslim politicians:

India is a democratic country. There is no harm in expressing opinions about this case.  Indian Muslim politicians, human right groups, academics and journalists have vehemently rejected this verdict. An Indian parliamentarian A. Owaisi said that “There has been discrimination against Muslims, and no one deny it. We are fighting for our legal rights” He rejected the Supreme court decision to allocate alternative land for Muslims. He further said that entire nation is marching on the way of being” Hindu Rashtra”. Muslims have been suffering greatly in recent times in many parts of India. So, it is a moral duty of Indian Muslim political leaders to protect the basic rights of Muslim community. In that sense, Muslim political leaders’ moral responsibility to debate this issue in Indian parliament.

The role of Muslim Intellectuals in UP in this case:

It is reported that a group of Muslim intellectuals from UP have worked out a settlement plan in this case.  This group Indian Muslim intellectuals in UP, have handled this sensitive issue amicably and sensibly. We know that this verdict is one-sided verdict and yet, Indian Muslim intellectuals have responded to this verdict rationally and logically away from any emotional attachment. Hindus strongly believe that “Ayodhya” is the birthplace of the deity Lord Ram. This faith is deeply rooted in the minds and hearts of many Hindu people in India. In respecting this religious sentiment of Hindus, the Indian Muslim intellectual community in UP, have agreed with the court verdict to settle this issue peacefully.

Indian Muslims have lost many Muslim souls over this mosque. There had been many communal riots over this mosque. In 1992, a group of Hindu extremists demolished this historical mosque. Since then, Indian Muslim community suffered a lot due to continuous violent attacks on innocent Muslims in many parts of India. So, how far it would be viable to keep this dispute unsolved? It would not be wise to sacrifice innocent lives for the sake of this mosque. There is no doubt mosque is a sacred place for Muslims.  It is very much difficult to lose this kind of historical mosque. After all, there is no archaeological evidence to say there was a temple there. Yet, a group of Muslim intellectuals in UP have decided to sacrifice the legal right of this mosque for the sake of peace and community harmony.

I strongly support this position of this Indian Muslim intellectual group in Uttara Pradesh. They want to do this to maintain peace and community harmony in India among Muslims and Hindu community. We should evaluate this verdict in relation to the importance of maintaining peace and community harmony in India. The general philosophy of Islamic law ( Maqasid al-Shariah) dictates that protecting human lives is one of the primary objectives of Islamic law. Of course, protecting faith gets preference over protecting lives and yet, Indian Muslims have given all facilities to protect their faith. They enjoy freedom and liberty to practice Islam. They can do all Islamic rituals in India without any trouble.  Giving up this mosque would not make any difference to any Islamic practice.  The Supreme court has made a special order to allocate a different land to build a mosque. For this reason, now, Muslim community should focus on promoting  peace and community harmony among all communities in India rather than creating some unwanted tension over this issue.

The Holy Qur’an gives preference for peace over conflict and war. The Qur’an encourages Muslims to promote peace at all circumstances. Peace brings more benefits to humanity than conflicts. The Qur’an encourages Muslims to initiate peace process. It encourages them to initiate dialogues and negotiations. It also demands Muslims to make peace between warring factions.  This is an internal inter-community issue. This must be resolved through negotiation and dialogues. We all know what these Hindu extremists did in 1992 was wrong. The demolition of mosque in this barbaric way was utterly wrong. No civilised group would engage in this barbaric manner. Even if they want to claim this mosque, even if it is birthplace of Lord Ram, they could have done it through legal pursuit. What they did was utterly wrong. We know that these Hindu extremists do not respect people of other faiths.  Sometimes they kill innocent people for the sake of cows. Yet, the Qur’an teaches us not to react to this violence with any kind of violence.

The holy Qur’an tells us that “Good and evil cannot be equal. Repel evil with what is better, and your enemy will become as close as an old and valued friend. But only those who are steadfast in patience, only those who are blessed with great righteousness, will attain such goodness. (The Qur’an: 41: 35-36). I think that this intellectual Muslim group who negotiated with the supreme court, has done a great job and public service. I think that they have rightly understood the consequence and repercussion of not resolving this issue.   This verdict may have   upset many Muslims in India and around the world. Muslims all over the world have been emotionally hurt and upset with this decision of the Supreme Court and yet, I do not think this is a defeat. I think that India has created a new paradigm to resolve sensitive religious conflict in this way.

Muslims of India can compare this court decision with many historical incidents in Islamic history During the Hudaibiyah agreement between pagans of Makkah and the holy prophet, Muslims were asked to give up many legitimate rights. This attitude of the prophet annoyed and irritated many of his companions. They wanted to seek justice and equal treatment.  Apparently, it was an agreement that went against the aspiration of the Muslims and yet, later it turned out to be one of the greatest victories in Islamic history. Indian Muslim intellectuals have followed the wisdom of this historical incident in this Babri mosque case too.

Apparently, losing such as a historical mosque would be regarded as a dark day in the history of Indian Muslims. No Muslim would accept it. Yet, if this is happening beyond their control, Allah is enough to help them to create a social environment that is conducive to build many more such mosques in India. That conducive social environment must be created by 200 million Indian Muslims in India. So, creating a peaceful India must be one of the priorities of Muslims in India. They must be peace promoters among all communities in Indian soil.  Gandhi sacrificed his life for peace and non-violence struggle. His path of non-violence struggle is very much identical Islamic teaching of peace initiative.

India has been a cradle of Islamic civilization. It produced some of brilliant Islamic minds in the past.   With grace of Allah, India is blessed with some best Islamic scholars even today.  They understand the geopolitics of this region and international communities. They know their internal problems than any other Muslim scholars from outside. Unlike some rigid Salafi style scholars in the Muslim world, many Indian scholars know how to relate Islamic texts and Islamic teaching into non-Muslim social environments. They have been living as a minority community for decades now. So, this issue would not be a big issue to resolve peacefully. This problem is an internal issue of Indian Muslims so, they should find an internal solution too. There is no need to internationalise this problem. Moreover, today, the Muslim community of India faces many challenges but, all those problems and challenges must be addressed internally. Indian Muslims have been living in Indian subcontinent for hundreds of years, and yet, sometime, Muslims have failed to realise their role and responsibilities. As a largest Muslim minority community in the world, what should be Muslim responsibility in India. Is it to quarrel over one mosque?  The Holy Qur’an tells Muslim community should be a witness to humanity.

The Qur’an tells us “We have made you (believers) into a just community. So that you may bear witness to (the truth) before others: Quran: 2:144. So, reaching out with the message of Islam to entire Indian community is one of the primary objectives of Indian Muslims living in India. Muslims have been living in India for centuries and in fact, they have been ruling it for 7 centuries. However, they have failed to reach out with the Islamic message to more than 800 million Hindus. Muslim rulers in India were keen in building palaces, monuments, and big architectural buildings and yet, they failed to build universities and academic institutions. They failed to reach out people with the peaceful message of Islam.

How many of million Hindus know about Allah? How many of them know about our beloved prophet Muhammed? How many of them know about the Holy Qur’an? If they know little about Islam, they have known about Islam not through our good behaviours and attitudes rather through their researching from Sheikh google and social media. Today, sheikh google is full of distorted message of Islam. Sheikh google is not that much different from our Arab Sheikhs in Gulf countries. Like Sheikh google is not witnessing to message of Islam, those ruling elites are not witnessing to the true message of Islam. So, how would 800 Indian Hindus know about Islam unless 200 million Indian Muslims become witness to the message of Islam in India.

We should not make a generalization about this Babri mosque issue. Not all Indian Hindus support the demolition of this mosque. In fact, millions of Indian Hindus oppose the Babri mosque demolition.   Yet, some hardcore Hundi extremists ventured into destroy this mosque. It could be less than 5% of entire Indian Hindu community. It would be wrong to blame all Hindus for the mistake of some few extremists. So, Indian Muslim community should win the hearts and minds of Hindu community in India. India Muslim community should not put its community interest in jeopardy due to this mosque dispute. There are more than 10.000 thousand in India. Indian government protect the interest of Muslim community and indeed, it has been protecting religious freedom of Muslim community. So, there is no point in deteriorating the inter-community relationship due to this mosque.

In fact, it is reported that Muslims in UP live side by side with Hindus harmoniously and yet, it was some few RSS extremists from outside areas came to demolish this mosque. So, it is imperative for Muslims to build a cordial relationship with wider Indian communities. Moreover, Indian economy is getting stronger annually. So, it would be wise for any Indian government to avoid communal riots. It would be wise for Indian government to promote peace and community harmony to protect Indian integrity. Peace is paramount for economic development and specially, a country like India, has a huge potentiality to become one of leading economies in the world in coming decades. So, it would be unwise for any Indian government to create any internal tension in any part of India. Indian policy makers, academics, politicians, economists and security professionals are cleaver enough to know all this in this age of Globalization. In fact, PM Modi promised to update all Arabic colleges in India. India is no longer ready to waste the  human potentiality of 200 hundred million Muslims. I do not think that any wise Indian government will harm its own citizens in India. We can not blame the entire Indian government apparatuses for the mistakes of some few Hindu extremists.

200 million Indian Muslims are the largest Muslim minority community in the world.  They cannot expect much from so called ineptitude Arab Muslim political leaders or any other Muslim countries for that matter. Today, so called ineptitude Arab political leaders have put the notion of the universal Islamic brotherhood into testing. There is no such a thing called as a universal Islamic brotherhood in the minds of Arab political leaders today. They are so busy in protecting their national interest in this material word. Take for instance Saudi Arabia, it did not utter any words about suffering of Palestine and Myanmar Muslims at all at any international forum. Saudi ruling elites have become puppets of Israeli government today. It does not care how many innocent Muslims are being killed in Myanmar. Indian Muslim intellectuals are cleaver enough to read all this geopolitical change in the modern world.

Indian government is shrewd enough to leave this issue to court to decide. So, there is little room for politics. if it is a court decision, Muslim community must obey court order. That is the way modern civic society works.  Of course, Muslim community could appeal against this decision. That is their legal right.  In that way, Muslims could see if SC repeals its decision. Can Indian Muslim community take this problem into any international courts of justice such as Europe court of justice. I do not think it would be wise to do so. I do not know if there is any legal mechanism to litigate a legal case in any international court against this decision. Even if there is a room for that, Indian Muslim community would not do that at all.  Because they love this country so much.

Having said all this, I do not deny the fact that minority communities have been marginalised and discriminated in India in many fields. Around 20% of Brahmins and some other upper casts of Hindus are employed in all high-profile jobs in Indian government.  All other communities have been discriminated in India. Many minorities have been discriminated in employment and other career opportunities. Less the 2% of Muslims are employed in some government sectors in some parts of India. Brahmins have been exploiting all Indian communities based on their hierarchical caste structure. In this modern age of globalization, this system of caste is a clear-cut racism, discrimination and mere violation of basic human rights. There are hundreds of human right commissions in the world today. Yet, these brahmin ruling elites are so powerful in India, so western countries cannot speak out against this discrimination. Westerners will speak about this only when their national interests are threatened. Having said this, I think India is dramatically changing today. So, I hope that India will get rid of this caste system in coming decades. Indian rapid economic development demands such a dramatic change.

 

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REFERENCE:

1)   Betwa Sharma, Huffington Post, There Is No Evidence Of A Temple Under The Babri Masjid, Just Older Mosques, 05/12/2018 8:53 AM IST

 

 

 

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