After dithering for a few days, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has finally decided to move the Supreme Court and file a review petition over its Babri verdict. Earlier there were signs that the leadership of the community had accepted the court verdict in Babri Masjid/ Ram Janambhumi title suit.
After a marathon meeting in Lucknow, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) said that it will move the apex court again over its verdict in Babri Masjid title suit and will file a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict. The Muslim Law Board, in the same meeting, also decided to refuse the 5-acre alternative plot of land that the Supreme Court has asked the Centre to allot for a mosque. Zafaryab Jilani, the Muslim Law Board secretary, after the meet said, "The land of the mosque belongs to Allah and under Sharia law, it cannot be given to anybody". The board has also categorically refused to take five-acre land in Ayodhya in lieu of the mosque. The board is of the view that there cannot be any alternative to the mosque.
Muslim law board said that it fought for the Babri Masjid in the court of law to ensure and secure the fundamental values guaranteed in the Constitution. Board went on to add, "It is clear that the state has no religion and secularism is basic feature of the Constitution. Earlier the court's judgments have recorded that the state's action were discriminatory against one religion favouring the other religion. In 1994, the Supreme Court has held that the act of demolition of mosque in 1992 was a 'national shame' and that it shook the faith of the minorities in the rule of law and constitutional process”. There is no denying the fact that Muslim law board and other Muslim litigants fought the court battle valiantly despite obvious challenges.
Meanwhile, Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, that initially said that it will accept the apex court verdict has reviewed its stand and said it will also move the court to get back the mosque that was demolished by a marauding mob in broad daylight on 6th December 1992. Jamiat chief Maulana Arshad Madani said, "Despite the fact that we already know that our review petition will be dismissed 100%, we must file a review petition. It is our right." He went on to add, "It is not a prestige issue. This is a matter of Sharia. We can neither give the mosque, nor take anything in lieu of it”. It is not yet known if the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind and AIMPLB will be filing review petition as a single party or separately.
What was the verdict about?
In September 2010, an Allahabad High Court bench had ordered the partition of the disputed 2.77 acres of the land where Babri Masjid once stood among Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Waqf Board. This judgment, apparently, was not to the satisfaction of the three parties and they all moved the Supreme Court. On November 9, a 5-member Constitution Bench led by the then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on November 9 delivered its verdict. The verdict is important given the fact that it is a unanimous decision of the 5-member bench of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court. The court in its final verdict gave away the land to the Hindus saying that a temple be constructed at the disputed site and awarded Muslims a 5-acre plot of land at a prominent place in Ayodhya. The court has asked the government to form a trust and formulate a scheme within three months to implement the order of the apex court.
What the community thinks
There is no denying the fact that the court verdict came as a rude shock for the country’s 200 million Muslims who believed there was undeniable evidence in favor of Muslims. The court also accepted that there was no evidence that the mosque was built after destruction of any Hindu temple. The bench also accepted that the idol was illegally placed in the mosque in 1949 and the Babri Masjid demolition on 6th December 1992 was an act of vandalism.
When the court verdict came, the Muslims took a sigh of relief saying that their stand was vindicated by the highest court. The common refrain among the community was that the Muslims fought their case well and now as the court verdict has come, they should accept the verdict and move on.
Muhammad Sajjad, a professor in the Department of History, AMU while writing in a recent piece says, “In fact, given the majoritarian stride India has taken, with state complicity all but apparent, a review petition filed by the Muslim parties would raise the decibel of fear and anxiety in the community. It is an open secret that many Indian Muslims were in the awkward position of praying that their side loses this case. The moment the verdict announced that the land was allotted to the Hindu parties, they heaved a sigh of relief. At least, they thought, angry bigoted Hindus will have no reason to attack them, not at this moment.” Apparently, Sajjad is not the only one within the community, many other people too have the same opinion and they want to bury the ghost of the past.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan’s stand
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, a renowned Islamic scholar and thinker, has been asking the Muslims to gift the Babri Masjid land to the Hindus and get an assurance from them that no other Muslim place of worship will be touched by them. This has been his consistent view on the issue. He has welcomed the court verdict even now. In a Times of India write up the renowned cleric said:
“In 1991, during the prime ministership of Narasimha Rao, the Indian Parliament passed a legislation called the Places of Worship Act, 1991. According to this Act, the government of India was bound to maintain the status quo of all places of worship on the Indian soil as it stood in 1947. But there was an exception that of the Babri masjid of Ayodhya. The Act maintained that the Babri masjid issue was in court, so the government would wait and it would be its duty to implement the verdict of the court when it was given”.
“This Act was a most reasonable one and Muslims should have accepted it as such. But they rejected it outright and resorted to street demonstrations. The demolition of the Babri masjid on December 6, 1992, was nothing but the culmination of this negative course of action adopted by the Muslims. At that time i said: "Babri Masjid ko Hinduon ne toda aur Musalmano ne usko tudwaya." (The Hindus demolished the Babri masjid but Muslims provoked them to do so)”, added the cleric.
Apparently this is not merely the stand of Maulana Khan but many other clerics within the Muslim community. Maulana Salman Hussaini Nadwi, a renowned cleric who teaches at the famed Islamic seminary, Nadwatul Ulama in Lucknow, is also of the same view. Last year while trying to cobble up support for his mediation efforts he said that Muslims should hand over the Babri Masjid land to Hindus. He went on to add that Muslims be given a large tract of land elsewhere for mosque where Muslims build a massive mosque and a university with the generous support of the community. After Supreme Court verdict on November 9, he said that this is the fairest verdict and Muslims should accept the 5 acre land in Ayodhya. He has already met UP Chief Minister Adityanath along with other clerics and community leaders in this regard.
What about 5 acre land?
The apex court has ordered the government to hand over the 5-acre land at a prominent place in Ayodhya to Muslim community. The Muslim Law Board in its meeting held on November 17 has declined to accept the offer. However, the community at large believes that the Muslims should accept the 5 acre land that the court has given to the Muslim community.
Many Muslims are of the view that an imposing mosque be built in Ayodhya besides a Museum depicting Muslim history in the country. They believe that this way, an obvious injustice may be turned into a great opportunity that would showcase the Muslim history and their accomplishment in the country. It should be kept in mind that Ayodhya’s twin city, Faizabad, was the seat of power of a huge Muslim state of Oudh and the city is dotted with many great mosques not just in the city but across the region. With a new mosque in Ayodhya and the Muslim history museum, Ayodhya will also start attracting a large number of Muslim visitors from across the country.
(Syed Ubaidur Rahman is a New Delhi based author and commentator. His latest book 'Ulema's Role in India's Freedom Movements with Focus on Silk Letter Movement (Reshmi Rumal Tehrik)' has just been released
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a New Delhi based author and commentator. His forthcoming book 'Ulema's Role in India's Freedom Movements with Focus on Reshmi Rumal Tehrik will be out in October