Babri Masjid Issue

Aam Muslim and Babri Masjid: Jaaye to jaaye kahan?

On the evening of 30 September, 2010 as the verdict of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court became known, the relief experienced by the Muslim on the street was palpable. They knew that their leaders had vowed to accept the court judgment whatever it was. Therefore, it was enough for them that the judgment has not unleashed a wave of violence. Danga, riot, is the last thing a Muslim wants to see. So their sigh of relief was almost audible. Alas, that relief proved to be short-lived. By the end of one month since the verdict, a Muslim finds himself in a much more explosive situation as far as the Babri-Ram janmabhoomi dispute is concerned. The “new beginning” which the Muslim youth had started dreaming of once again seems distant and uncertain. There is no effort at the resolution of the dispute on part of the Central Sunni Waqf Board which has been repeatedly announcing its preparedness to accept the court verdict even if it went against Muslims. In fact the Waqf board is dissociating itself from some Muslim leaders who are in dialogue with Hindus at different levels. It is now invoking Shariah in connection with the disputed land. Muslim scholars are differing widely over the Babri issue. Here are two paragraphs from an article by a learned Muslim ‘aalim holding a responsible position in an organization of Ulama in India.

“Accordingly, Babar arranged for the Babri Masjid to be built in Ayodhya under the supervision of Mir Baqi. According to the shariah, a mosque cannot be built on land owned by someone else. That is why the land where the Babri Masjid once stood must either have been bought from someone or else built on empty land or land that had no legal private owner and that, therefore, was technically owned by the state. In either case, Babar’s decision cannot be said to be un-Islamic or erroneous.

“A crucial question is being deliberately sidelined in ongoing discussions about the Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi controversy, and this concerns the teachings of the Islamic shariah that relate to the issue. It is clear that these teachings are being ignored or wrongly interpreted by some people who falsely project themselves as authorities on the subject. Some such people have suggested that the Muslims should give away even the small portion of the land previously occupied by the Babri Masjid that the court has granted them. Obviously, they are ignorant of the teachings of the shariah in this regard.

“They should know that, according to the Islamic shariah, no organisation or individual has the right to give or transfer the ownership to somebody of even a part of a property that is a waqf endowment, especially a mosque. According to the rules of Muslim jurisprudence, as soon as a piece of land is made into a waqf for the purpose of prayer and worship, its ownership is transferred from human beings to God, and it then becomes a mosque in perpetuity. Even if the structure of the mosque falls down, and even if all its walls disappear, even then no organisation or individual has the right to transfer its ownership or control to someone else or to shift the mosque or to change its use and function, not even into a madrasa for religious studies. Obviously, from this it follows that to convert a mosque for a purpose totally contradictory to that of a mosque, for instance for promoting idolatry and polytheism, is a grave crime, a heinous sin.”

The Maulana conjectures Babar must have purchased the land where he built Babri or the land must be lying vacant without a legal owner. Babar, in Maulana’s opinion, must not have usurped the land from its existing occupants. It was all legitimate and Islamic on part of Babar. Either the land was ownerless and if there was an owner of the land he was paid off. By constructing a mosque on it Babar made it Allah’s property. There is no question of any negotiations with VHP or anybody else. Come what may, Babri land cannot be given away. That would be a “grave crime, a heinous sin.” However, here is something to confuse the aam Muslim from another Maulana, equally bhaari and equally bharkam, much decorated and internationally recognized:
“The Babri masjid was built in 1528 at Ayodhya by Mir Baqi, the governor of Ayodhya at the time. He built it adjacent to the Ram chabutra, which is held sacred by the Hindus. This was a clear deviation from the Islamic principle. According to Islam, the places of worship of two religions should be built at a considerable distance from each other. It is a well-known fact that the relocation formula has been adopted by Arab countries. When these countries wanted to replan their cities, they found that there were many mosques that were obstacles to city planning. They did not hesitate to relocate such mosques. I said at the time that Muslims in India ought to adopt this same formula and accept the relocation of the Babri mosque.” Maulana said this a few years ago.

Maulana had said this in 1994: “Muslims are commanded by God ‘to endure their persecution’ (14:12), so that a congenial atmosphere may be maintained between them and non-Muslims. How it is possible then that Islam could approve of such acts on the part of believers as would ultimately vitiate mutual relationships. For the above reason, it is incumbent upon Muslims to refrain totally from building a mosque at a site which could become, today or tomorrow, a controversial issue between the two parties.”

Dr A R Mookhi, Mumbai