“By this my humble yardstick, Mr. Sultan Shahin, you seem to be doing excellently. I like your prose. I like your ideas, mostly. The people like you are often accused of speaking the language of the critics of Muslims. Your article “Muslim Penchant for spinning state-sponsored conspiracies….”
was an eye-opener. I particularly liked your response to one or two rejoinders. However I can not agree with you very much on the subject of Babri Masjid. There can be no doubt that the resolution of the Babri dispute is in the best interest of the Muslim community. However from a Muslim’s point of view the problem is not as trivial as you make it out to be. They demolished a mosque in the full glare of the television camera. There is no Muslim who won’t be seething with anger at the memory of that sight on the television. You have said that the mosque being demolished was a functioning temple! Pardon me but you have rubbed it in. You have spoken the language of the Hindu Right who have called the Masjid a “dhancha” where for over 40 years no namaz was offered. I am sure, Sultan Shahin Sahab, you know why it had become the functioning temple since 1949 and why no namaz was offered for over 40 years”, wrote Dr Mookhi Amir Ali.
Dear Dr.Mookhi Amir Ali Sahab,
Thanks very much indeed, for your kind words and also for your constructive criticism. This is the spirit we should maintain when expressing one's views, even those that may be critical of others. I liked your earlier article. Please keep writing on the burning issues of the day.
I respect your views on the Babri issue on which you think you differ with me. But reading your letter closely I found that we may not be that far apart. Your last but one paragraph starts with the following sentences: “It is surprising that Muslim groups are silent over the silence of the BJP and others on whether they will abide by court order. Are they expecting the site to be given to them on a platter if they win?” You are clearly alive to the dangers that lie ahead, though you seem to have greater faith in the so-called Muslim leadership’s foresight than I have.
In all my writings ever since the demolition of Babri Masjid and indeed for much longer before I have been laying particular emphasis on the urgent need for introspection about what we can ourselves do to help ourselves. We have already done a lot of complaining and they have not served any purpose. Not that we should not articulate our legitimate grievances. Of course, we should complain, put our grievances on record and protest, but peacefully and within limits of civilized behaviour that both the Holy Quran and the constitution of India prescribe for us.
Sometimes, though it may not be a good idea to put certain things, our weaknesses, for instance, or certain undesirable facts to be put on record through articulation. This only strengthens that undesirable fact or the fact of our weakness in a certain situation and hampers our efforts to change the situation for the better and to our greater liking. If I can illustrate with an example, suppose someone is in love with someone who doesn’t like him very much and he is trying to win her love and affection. Now it may not be in his interest that the fact of her dislike is articulated by either of them and is put on record. This will only hamper his endeavour and certainly not help his mission.
Now let us take another example. Suppose we feel that while our constitution is a lovely document, gives us all our rights, without any discrimination of any kind, the guardians of that constitution are not capable of implementing it fully either because they are not committed enough or even strong enough, in the face of a total lack of faith, indeed antagonism to that constitution among millions of people in the country who would prefer either an Islamic or a Hindu Raj. The job of the votaries of this constitution would be to try and persuade both the votaries of Islamic Khilafat and Hindu Raj to the virtues of a secular, multi-cultural Indian constitution, the only one that will clearly work in India. While we are engaged in this task, would it suit us that the fact of this constitutional system’s weaknesses – that the implementing authorities are not committed or strong enough – is brought out, put on record and debated. Would that not merely weaken the constitutional system further? If we believe that this constitutional system suits us most and that we desperately need it to be implemented in all sincerity, then does it make sense for us to weaken it further, while we are engaged in the task of persuading our fellow-citizens that this is the best system for our country?
Taking the analogy further, does it suit us to put the Supreme Court, one of the strongest and most vital pillars of our system, to test over the issue? After all Supreme Court is also run by human beings, who may have the same weaknesses and strengths, biases and prejudices as other people in the country, who may also not like passing a judgement that cannot be implemented, who may also harbour some people in their midst who are not fully committed to the secularism and multi-culturalism of our constitution, even while having to perform the task of being a guardian and interpreter of that constitution. Many a time this Supreme Court has shown its strength and come to our rescue. Inevitably, it has also failed us at times. But we are the votaries of an Indian system that needs a strong Supreme Court capable of delivering just and fair judgments and being able to enforce its full implementation. Does it suit us, then, to put it to a test that it may not be able to pass and thus expose its weaknesses?
As for the Babri Masjid, we always had a strong case. It was not because of the weakness of our case that even a stalwart leader like Jawaharlal Nehru, enjoying unquestioned sway over the Indian government was not able to get the status quo ante restored in 1948. If we want to strengthen our secular system, if we do no want to become a Hindu Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or a Taliban-run Afghanistan, then it would be best that we do not put our system to any further strain. We can always negotiate and exchange the Babri land with another plot nearby and build a mosque there.
Personally I feel that that we should gift the controversial plot to the state and leave it to its best judgement to do what it likes without demanding anything in return. There are some people in the country, our neighbours, brothers and sisters, who believe, rightly or wrongly, that it was the birth-place of Hazrat Ramchandra, who should be as venerable to us as any other prophet, for the Quran asks us to treat all prophets equally, even if they are now called avatars or gods or sons of God. If we can find the generosity in our heart to gift the piece of land to these Ram-Bhakts without asking for a piece of land or anything else in return, for we can very well afford to buy a piece of land for our mosque in Ayodhya, we will earn the goodwill of our neighbours and friends among the majority community that is far more valuable than anything else we can get through negotiation or a court of law.
It is this goodwill that will actually help us solve all our problems. No amount of power to this party or that will ever be able to help us in living peacefully and end discrimination against us in various walks of life unless we create goodwill for us in the majority at a community level. Individually, all of us have the best of relations with individual members of the Hindu community. But community-level relationship is getting worse by the day. This is partly due to our unjustified Islam-supremacist attitude and our despicable contempt for other religions and votaries of other religions in violation of the dictates of the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). This is also partly because of our faith in raucous protest, strident grievance-mongering and fruitless litigation alone for solving our problems. Some well-meaning Hindu friends of ours also encourage us to dot that, at great cost to themselves too, but to our predictable detriment. Young jihadis or Bajrang Dalis do not monopolise bravado.
Inevitably, this is leading some of our youth to the path of violence, something which we are even unable to accept that it could be happening. Sometimes you have to stoop to conquer. I am not saying that the Hindutva leadership is a paragon of all virtues and it is not committing any mistakes or that it does not harbour terrorists and that all fault lies with us alone. No. That would be absurd and contrary to known facts. But I was trained by my Maulvi father, who was imbued with the spirit of Islam, to look within and see what I can myself do to help my own situation as well as that of the society in general rather than fighting with someone else who maybe in the wrong but beyond my reach. My father also instilled in me the idea that tilting at windmills is rather futile and leads nowhere. As a Muslim I try to see what I or my community can do to ameliorate the situation we are in.
Does this mean I am advocating we take no help from the system, from our fellow-citizens, the authorities, the Supreme Court? No, I am not saying that at all. What I am saying is: do not put any more strain on the system that is best for you, don’t weaken it further by demanding that it do the impossible in the present circumstances, and see if there is something you can yourself do to help yourself. I am only saying do what Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) did in similar, though less trying circumstances. Go to:
and read the heart-warming story of the Prophet’s statesmanship.
This is what Maulana Wahiduddin Khan writes in his book Din-o-Shariat: Din-e Islam Ka Ek Fikri Muta'al: According to a report also contained in the Sahih Bukhari, the Prophet told his wife Hazrat Ayesha that when the Qureish rebuilt the Kaaba they did not do so on its original foundation as set by the Prophet Abraham, but, rather, had changed it. Hearing this, Hazrat Ayesha asked the Prophet why he could not restructure the Kaaba on its original foundation. To this the Prophet replied that the Qureish had only recently renounced infidelity for Islam, and it was possible that if he were to do so, it might cause them to agitate. He added that had there been no danger of this happening he would certainly have done what Hazrat Ayesha had suggested. If we adopt an ijtihadi approach to view this hadith we can gain a new understanding of what can be called the wisdom of practical living. To leave the Kaaba on the foundations laid by the Qureish, instead of reconstructing it on the foundation laid by the Prophet Abraham, might appear to have been incorrect. But, despite this, the Prophet chose not to reconstruct it in the latter way because in the given circumstances this would have posed additional problems. From this practice of the Prophet we can derive the principle that in life when sometimes faced with certain challenges, for the moment we should look not at what is right and what is wrong, but, instead, at what is possible and what is not. (Translated by Yoginder Sikand)
I would also say, let us try and help others in situations similar to us, like the religious minorities in Muslim countries, particularly those who proclaim themselves as Islamic; that would strengthen our own case to be treated as fairly and justly in our own country.
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2008 00:39:51 +0000 [06:09AM IST]
From: Dr A R Mookhi
To: NewAgeIslam <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear Sultan Shahin Sahab,
Any Muslim who claims to be saying or writing in the interest of Muslims of India should write responsibly. He should expect or pretend that his word carries weight and it may influence the mindset of Muslims for the better or for the worse. He should remember that his words may enhance or mar the image of a Muslim which, in turn, influences the factors which are responsible for the safety of his life, property and dignity. Indian society is secular, liberal and plural. The Indian Muslim must have his appropriate place in it. A Muslim opinion maker must keep this in mind. By this my humble yardstick, Mr. Sultan Shahin, you seem to be doing excellently. I like your prose. I like your ideas, mostly. The people like you are often accused of speaking the language of the critics of Muslims. Your article “Muslim Penchant for spinning state-sponsored conspiracies….” was an eye-opener. I particularly liked your response to one or two rejoinders. More on it some other time.
However I can not agree with you very much on the subject of Babri Masjid.
There can be no doubt that the resolution of the Babri dispute is in the best interest of the Muslim community. However from a Muslim’s point of view the problem is not as trivial as you make it out to be. They demolished a mosque in the full glare of the television camera. There is no Muslim who must not be seething with anger at the memory of that sight on the television. You have said that the mosque being demolished was a functioning temple! Pardon me but you have rubbed it in. You have spoken the language of the Hindu Right who have called the Masjid a “dhancha” where for over 40 years no namaz was offered. I am sure, Sultan Shahin Sahab, you know why it had become the functioning temple since 1949 and why no namaz was offered for over 40 years. Our readers should know.
On 22nd of December 1949 after night prayers the Muazzin of the mosque found an idol of Lord Ram surreptitiously planted in the mosque He did not dispose it off.. The law abiding Muazzin did the right thing. He reported the matter to the police. The police did not do the right thing. They did not remove the idol from the mosque. They sealed the mosque. Within days, on 5th of January 1950 the Magistrate attached the mosque, permitted Hindus to worship and look after the idol and barred Muslims from coming closer than 300 yards from their own mosque. The 450 years old mosque became what you called a “functioning temple”. Incidentally the Magistrate was an RSS man who later got elected to Lok Sabha on Jan Sangh ticket
If the law had taken its course the vandalism would have been undone. Mosque would have been standing where it stood. Indeed, the then Prime Minister P.V.Narasimharao promised it on 6th of December 1992. Narasimharao lived many years since, without mentioning his own promise again. L.K.Advani who witnessed the demolition said it was the saddest day of his life. Sadly, he is waiting to enjoy the fruits of vandalism. Do you remember Uma Bharati and Murli Manohar Joshi dancing gleefully at the site? Do you remember the rejoicing all round as the four and a half century old mosque was flattened in four and a half hour? Please forgive 140 million Muslims if they are seething at the memory. Even large number of Hindus are unhappy with the event.
Having some steam off the chest, let me surprise you. I had always been in favor of gifting the Masjid site to Hindus. Remember BJP had offered to shift the mosque brick by brick to a site nearby so that they get what they believe to be the birth place of Lord Ram. What was the harm if we shift the mosque if they get what they have been asking for over a century. This had been my thinking. At this juncture let me digress and tell you an interesting incident. It happened in Saudi Arabia. It was in the days before the demolition of the mosque. An illiterate Saudi driver asked me what the trouble about a mosque in India was. I told him there is a mosque. Hindus want the land on which the mosque is standing; because they believe their God was born there.
I was talking to a Saudi whose religion was steeped in Wahabism. I expected him to ask me how God can be born. He surprised me by asking if they are offering an alternate site. I told him not only are they offering the site nearby but they are offering to shift the mosque brick by brick. The illiterate driver of Saudi Arabia bowled me over when he said, “Then, what is the problem?” Our leaders missed the opportunity to grab at this solution which an illiterate driver from an Islamic country wondered why it is not acceptable to Indian Muslims.
What should Muslims do now? “Masjid wahin banayenge?” The Supreme Court judgment is not very far away. Muslims have declared faith in the judiciary and have agreed to accept the judgment. If the judgment goes against Muslims the Babri Masjid Action Committee will have done its job and close shop. But in all likelihood, the judgment may go in favor of Muslims. What, then? Are Muslims hoping that they will be allowed to rebuild the mosque?. The Hindu groups have not given any assurance that they will abide by the judgment. Will the government of the day have the will and ability to implement the court’s decision? Or will it be back to strife, violence, bloodshed and perpetual communal tension?
It is surprising that Muslim groups are silent over the silence of the BJP and others on whether they will abide by court order. Are they expecting the site to be given to them on a platter if they win? Or, is there something up their sleeve? Are they planning a compromise from the position of strength? One hopes so. After all, let us not forget that the Shankaracharya has said that he will beg our Muslim brothers to give the land to us..
That a temple was demolished to build the Babri Masjid is a myth. That a mosque was demolished to construct the Ram Mandir will be a video-recorded fact.
Dr.Mookhi Amir Ali,
Sushma,Dadabhai Rd.,Santacruz West,