How Muslims could save the Babri Masjid?

A fatwa was sought from Maulana Khalilur-Rahman Sajjad Nomani, a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). He gave a detailed reply in which he elaborated, in pretty emphatic terms, that no body on earth can make any agreement or a compromise on a mosque. He further wrote that if Muslims were bogged by the circumstances and are not in a position to defend a mosque, God might forgive them but no body can make an agreement.

Lucknow: This is now more than two months when, on Sep 30, the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court, comprising Justice SU Khan, Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Justice DV Sharma, decreed the title suit of Ramjanambhumi/Babri Masjid case by making it a partition suit due to Courts inherent powers, in favour of the Hindu side, and thereby, giving two thirds of the Babri Masjid site to the Hindu side and one third to the Muslim side. This is how the net result finally came of the move which had started on Dec 22/23, 1949 when surreptiously idols of Lord Rama and others were planted inside the Babri Masjid by the complicit role of UP Congress Chief Minister Govind Ballabh Pant and his Faizabad Commissioner KKK Nair. Babri Masjid, built in 1528 was located in Ayodhya near Faizabad in UP.

As soon as the verdict came there were cries from all the sides that it was time to abide by the verdict and that there was no need to knock at the Supreme Court’s door in appeal. Self-proclaimed ulama, government-sponsored leaders, middlemen, power-brokers, makeshift and heads of letterpad outfits, one-man-parties/organisations, government cronies and midwives, pseudo-secularists, paid agents, doctors, engineers, vice-chancellors, academicians, intellectuals and MPs (all Muslim) were putting their heads together to somehow dissuade the Muslim side from filing an appeal in the SC. What a great show of solidarity. Yes, all from Muslims ready to see a mosque converted into a place of idolatry. Would Islam ever forgive such uncouth elements? How would such people see Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) on the judgement day?

Imagine what would have been the situation by now, when after the status-quo of three months from Sept 30, was to end with all the fascistic and anti-Islam and anti-Muslim organisations and parties canvassing for building the temple at the site of the demolished mosque? The buddies of Dayananad Saraswati, Swami Sharadananad, RSS, Hindu Mahasabha, VHP and BJP would have been too elated to build the Ram temple over a mosque, armed with a Court’s verdict, and with all the administrative help. Who knows, Muslims were to be expelled from Ayodhya. How would these Muslim cronies compete to find a way for abiding by the Court order while going to SC is a right given by the Constitution? Do these cronies know that on Dec 6, 1992 there were 28 mosques in Ayodhya which were targeted and burnt by Hindu terrorists and 14 Muslims were massacred but no FIR was lodged?

An effort should have been made to find out as to why the Muslim side lost the case despite overwhelming and supportive evidence in its favour. There is no evidence which has proved that Babri Masjid was built after the demolition of a temple. The judgement has gone in favour of Hindus by virtue of Hindu faith with the Court recording that the site of Babri Masjid has always been ascribed as a place of Hindu worship on account of Lord Rama’s birth (9,000,000 years back) on that piece of land, hence that land became a deity, and a deity as per Hindu Law is a juristic person which cannot be acquired, and even if acquired, would never lose its right against being acquired. So, Babri Masjid even if it stood for over four centuries would not get even the benefit of adverse possession, and hence the site belongs to Hindus - as simple as that and this is how the verdict has come to favour the Hindus. Law has sided with the majority community undermining the lawful claim of the minority community. The judicial process has belied itself by being partisan and has belittled the secular credentials of modern India’s Constitution.

It would be worth mentioning here that the issue of Ram Temple could not have erupted without the official support of the then ruling Congress party. If PM Indira Gandhi was not killed, she would have herself seen the opening of the locks of Babri Masjid, something which her son Rajiv Gandhi accomplished on Feb 1, 1986, paving the way to a never healing wound in Indian polity and Hindu-Muslim relations. Soon Rajiv supervised over Shilanyas at Ayodhya (land worship) on Nov. 9, 1989. The same Congress government later let the Babri Masjid be demolished on Dec 6, 1992, and now has gifted the majority community with a pro-temple judgement. There is an inexplicable relationship, official and non-official, between votebank politics, party compulsions, majoritarian agenda, sops to judges, Hindu persecution complex, balancing of history etc. These dichotomies are always at work but with an exception - never would it let down Hindus. This happens only in India.

So, once the Ram Temple movement started, as BJP’s LK Advani went on with his chariot of fire in 1990, which led to widespread chasm, bitterness and riots between Hindus and Muslims, the Muslim minority also started to scurry for defence. The high cost of being a minority took the better of them and soon it was speculated that peace would finally dawn on Bharat if Muslims forsake their claim in the mosque. A fatwa was sought from Maulana Khalilur-Rahman Sajjad Nomani, a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). He gave a detailed reply in which he elaborated, in pretty emphatic terms, that no body on earth can make any agreement or a compromise on a mosque.  He further wrote that if Muslims were bogged by the circumstances and are not in a position to defend a mosque, God might forgive them but no body can make an agreement.

Thereafter, a special meeting was held under the aegis of the AIMPLB on Nov 18, 1990 and the above fatwa was adopted verbatim, as is available in the minutes of AIMPLB which approved the line that once a mosque always a mosque. It is ironic that later Sajjad Nomani and AIMPLB Vice President Kalbe Sadiq got involved into parleys with Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati to forge a compromise on Babri Masjid in 2003. The talks failed as the Hindu seer wanted Muslims to surrender Kashi and Mathura mosques too, in addition to the Babri Masjid. Jayender Saraswati was later accused in the murder of his math manager A Sankararaman in 2004. He had a history of patronising criminals whom he used to settle scores against his opponents. Sajjad Nomani later in 2009 organised a dinner of his son’s marriage on the very date of Babri demolition.

Now, with days to go for the appeal in SC, it is understandable that the Muslim side counsels would advance their arguments for once-a-mosque-always-a-mosque while the legal position is that in independent India, after Jan 26, 1950, any property, i.e., masjid, mandir, dargah, church, gurudwara or a trust, all can be acquired by the State for public purpose, and as per SC judgements, the state is absolutely free to acquire and the only limitation is that if, by acquisition of religious property, any integral and important religious practice of a particular religious community is extinguished, only then it cannot be acquired.

The law in the country is also equally settled that if a property cannot be acquired, then it cannot also be lost even due to adverse possession, and as such not only for the present Babri Masjid but for all mosques, it has to be ascertained whether maintaining a mosque is an integral religious activity of Muslims as only on this score a mosque can be saved. In other words, if a mosque is demolished, destroyed or defalcated, and its land is put to another use, would this amount to extinction of an essential religious practice of Muslim Shari’ah?

This throws a situation totally in context to fiqh (jurisprudence) and the persons having knowledge of fiqh are expected to enlighten the aspect. Perhaps, the job is not that difficult considering the availability of communication services today. Thus, a solution can be very conveniently found.

The first situation for Muslim side is to put forward the arguments about the status of an Islamic saying that namaz (Muslim form of prayer) can be performed at any place, and whether this would diminish or reduce the sanctity of a mosque? What exactly is the status of a mosque in Muslim fiqh? Can it be eliminated? These aspects ought to be found with an answer and a one-line reply would not suffice. It has to be a satisfactory argument, convincing enough for the Courts, to ponder over and understand the sanctity of a mosque in Muslim fiqh i.e., through citations from Ijma’, Qiyas, Hadith and Qur’an.

It is time for Muslims to take stock of the whole issue. One is therefore, compelled to refer to a Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in which he had said that he would like to get a house burnt if its inhabitant offers prayer at his house and not at the congregation in a mosque, as Allah has provided mankind with his umpteen gifts. So, offering prayers in a mosque is highly recommended to the extent of inviting the wrath of Allah. It is also worth pointing that a mimbar (pulpit) on which the priest stands to address the Friday sermon is symbolic of the mimbar on which Prophet himself had stood. Every mosque has it, Babri Masjid also had it. The sanctity ascribed to a mimbar is such that a priest don’t usually scale it for non-Friday speeches, for the sense of association it has with the Prophet.

Another cue is from the first Caliph who, after the death of the Prophet, had slightly got his musalla (prayer mat) adjusted back so that whenever he would go into sajda (prostration), he was able to keep his head where Prophets feet had once touched. Babri Masjid, like every mosque had such a musalla. All mosques, thus, apart from facing Mecca in Arabia are also sanctified for their association with the Prophet. Every mosque is called as a daughter of Masjid-e-Nabawi (the Prophet’s mosque in Madina). Babri Masjid too belonged to the same genre. 

Last and not the least is the Islamic binding that even a property from a mosque cannot be transferred to another mosque. So the question of dislocating or replacing or transferring a mosque just does not arise. That too when, if on its place, a temple is to be built.