Taj Mahal is my property
By Mahfoozur Rahman
Milli Gazette Online
Don’t be surprised. It is perfectly true that the Taj Mahal, the priceless ornament of this earth, is my property. I got it as a legacy from my ancestors. And not only Taj Mahal but Red Fort, Qutb Minar and innumerable and everlasting masterpieces and memorials spread throughout this vast country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari are all my property because I am an indivisible part of the Indian nation. All Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and others who consider themselves a part of the Indian nation without any distinction on the grounds of caste and creed, whose strong loyalties are with India, whose religion, culture, language, region, strengthen their unbreakable relationship with the Indian nation, give them the feeling that Taj Mahal is the joint and common property of all, without any share of foreigners.
The claims of those who are at the helm of affairs in the Sunni Waqf Board or Shia Waqf Board or the Hindutva brigade equipped with trishools are false. A claim which is based on discord, or religion, culture, language, which divides the Indian people in rival groups creating mutual distrust and confrontation, can neither be supported in broader national interest nor can it ever be considered worthy of attention. The trouble, however, is that such types of claims and demands are not only made frequently but their supporters or opponents also come out openly and boldly.
What generally happens is that at first some individual or group mildly or even strongly raises a sensitive issue which excites passions and thereafter meetings and speeches in the name of religion, community, culture, language etc are made. New and exciting slogans are devised and raised. Leaders and supporters on both sides are more interested in getting their speeches and photos published in newspapers for gaining publicity. Simultaneously but silently a campaign for fund collection also starts. Frankly speaking, the hidden idea behind all these exercises and fiery speeches in most cases is collection of funds. All the campaigns, speeches etc serve the purpose of killing two birds with one stone. In the first place it becomes easier to extract money from people’s pockets and secondly their stature in the eyes of the masses goes up as a man or men of sacrifice and selfless service.
If all the movements and campaigns carried on by Muslims or their organisations in the name of religion after Independence are closely examined it will be apparent at some stage or the other that the underlying motive of most of these who have been very active is their own self-interest, access to higher government authorities and other high circles and also to make money. Probably because of these reasons such organisations or people face opposition and criticism and ultimately they are either divided into different groups or lose their very existence. In this connection two important organisations of Muslims, viz., All India Muslim Personal Law Board and All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat can be mentioned as examples.
The Muslim Personal Law Board was basically formed to safeguard Shari’at laws and principles. The stand taken by its leaders on the Shah Bano case and the campaign launched on the national level in their favour received the support of a large body of Muslims but when this movement was at its peak, its leaders probably in their anxiety to be in the good books of the government and to show their loyalty, expressed their agreement to a law regarding the rights of divorced women which was practically useless. Moreover, its very first clause was also in contradiction with Shari’at because under this clause women obtaining khula’ were to enjoy the same rights as those enjoyed by a divorced woman. An idea of how useless, unnecessary and self-contradictory was this law can be had from the fact that so far not only several high courts but also the Supreme Court has rendered it ineffective and the Muslim Personal Law Board remained a silent spectator. It did not even ask the Supreme Court, one of whose verdicts regarding rights of divorced women which was highly objectionable and which virtually had rendered Shari’at law ineffective, to reconsider its verdict. The learned members of this Board remained busy in consulting and discussing the matter with each other and the matter ended there. Even Syed Shahabuddin’s reminders and insistence (to take up the matter with the Supreme Court for reconsideration) proved futile.
The MPLB has also taken up the responsibility of social reform, the reality of which is that in its annual meetings a resolution is passed regarding social reform and the matter ends there. No practical efforts are made to implement and enforce reforms in the Muslim society. For the past so many years the establishment of Shari’at courts is also being talked about frequently but wherefrom qazis will be appointed and how and where they will be trained for this job? Who will bear the expenses of these courts, qazis, employees and overheads? Probably no one has the idea about these things or they don’t have the time to consider these important questions.
Another question in this connection is equally important. Since these courts have no enforcing power, who will obey or accept their orders and in that case what is the use of these courts? Moreover, people themselves if at all they wish, will have to approach these “courts” at their own initiative and for that they could not be compelled. Obviously under these circumstance these courts will neither be of any importance nor of any use. At the most, people can approach these courts for settlement of their disputes and to honour their verdicts for fear of God or Hereafter. Again, the question arises, if people are so much God-fearing and mindful of Hereafter and will lead their lives in accordance with the commands of Allah and teachings of the Qur’an and Prophet (pbuh), why the need will arise for them to approach these courts?
The sum and substance of all this is that taking every thing into account, MPLB has to a large extent failed in the fulfilment of its aims and objectives for which it was originally and primarily formed, the main reason of which is probably that from day one it was being controlled by the ulama of a particular group and school of thought. This group has not only been dominating it completely but has also been using it for its own personal and sectarian interests, as a result of which it came into limelight and also became in the good book of the government. It also became possible for them to have easy access to corridors of power and when all these things are at one’s disposal, many concessions and facilities are available automatically and easily. Probably because of these reasons many people who were kept away from this Board in a planned and considered manner have now intruded into the field. The newly formed Sunni Personal Law Board (Barelwi), Shia Personal Law Board and Women’s Muslim Personal Law Board can be explained in this background. When the fulfilment of personal and group interests becomes the main objective, why should others remain behind?
Another example is that of the Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat. This institution, which was formed by sincere leaders and well-wishers of the community for the practical realisation of their dream of unity of action, i.e., joint and combined action for the benefit of the Muslim community, has now virtually become a shadow of its past. The institution which had come up as a bright symbol of the unity of the Muslim community, which instilled in them new hopes, which encouraged them to build a new life, which opened for them new dimensions of hope, has with the passage of time, descended into the bottomless pit of diffidence, mutual rivalries, clash of interests and egos. Internal bickerings, intrigues and conspiracies of colleagues deprived it of life and influence and rendered it ineffective. For a long time it was simply pulling along under the firm grip of a particular group with the result that it got divided into two factions. The bigger and comparatively active faction came under the control of Syed Shahabuddin and the other group was led by Maulana Salim and his supporters. Each faction is vying with the other to claim itself as the real Mushawarat. Both are sailing in the same kind of boat. The only difference is that in order to perpetuate his hold on his faction of Mushawarat, Maulana Salim and some of his close colleagues have very secretly (and without taking most of the executive members of his faction into confidence) got it registered under the Societies Act.
The institution which at one time represented the thinking and aspirations of the Muslim Millat, whose activities, resolutions and decisions reflected the views of the Muslim masses, was reduced to a common society run by a handful of people for whom their personal and vested interests were every thing and who had no consideration for the interests of the community as a whole.
If viewed dispassionately, it appears that Mushawarat, especially the Salim faction, is concerned only with one objective, i.e., to convince Muslims, political parties and government circles through statements and press interviews, that he and his faction is the real and true representative of the Indian Muslims and therefore all dealings should be made with them.
The features and objectives of other political, social and other so-called “Muslim” organisations can be understood in the light of these two great organisations of the Indian Muslims. The condition of many Hindutva organisations is no different from those of the Muslim organisations. In their case also the main objective in the long run is political, personal benefits and self-aggrandisement. The interesting thing is that in practical life there is no clash of interests between the Muslim organisations which claim to represent Islamic views and practice and the Hindu organisations which harp on Hindutva. Howsoever inimical and hostile they may be outwardly against each other, they appear to be complementary to each others’ interests.
It is said that it takes two to make a quarrel. The two that are required to start a quarrel based on communalism and communal disturbances are these Hindu and Muslim organisations. If one of them does not cooperate in this sinister intention or attempt the other will become ineffective.
If Shia and Sunni Waqf boards shouted at the top of their voice about the ownership of Taj Mahal, the matter would have ended there but with the Sangh’s claim that Taj Mahal was in fact a Hindu temple and therefore it is the rightful property of Hindus, the two are now in the field for a quarrel. It can be expected that quarrel will start and be fierce. Sangh will form a “sena” and harp on the protection Hindu swabhiman in every town and village. The Muslim Personal Law Board which is already involved in the Babri case will get another issue because of which it will try to regain the centre-stage. The Shia Waqf Board also will also get an opportunity to make known its existence. Things of this type had taken place earlier also and will continue to take place in future unless reasonable people from Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian communities come forward with firm determination that they will, at all cost, protect the grand Taj Mahal which is the symbol of India’s secular and democratic tradition, the sole guarantor of a bright future of India and its people.
(Translated from Urdu)
The writer is a veteran Urdu journalist
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