By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
09 March 2018
In my lifetime, I have not only seen Babri Mosque but have also offered prayer inside it. Unfortunately, the challenge we face in this case is that the issue has been emotionalized and an emotional issue cannot be resolved easily.
My stand on Babri Masjid-Ram Mandir issue is the same since day one. In my view, whenever a possibility of a peaceful resolution exists, one party to the conflict must avail it and not sink into quarrels or controversy. After the mosque was demolished, I suggested that Muslims could adopt the same model of relocating mosques which had been adopted by Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt.
Post Islam when the requirement to offer congregational ‘Namaz’ (form of worship in Islam) emerged in many places, Muslims made mosques wherever the need arose and this continued for almost a thousand years. Following the oil revolution, the Arab countries had enough wealth to take up the task of city planning. In doing so, they realized that several mosques were built at locations that were acting as a hindrance to their amenities and infrastructure planning framework.
This issue was brought up to the Ulema (Islamic Scholars) for discussion and the renowned Arab cleric, Sheikh Abdullah bin Baaz gave a fatwa (unanimously accepted) to relocate these mosques. And this is exactly what followed. For instance, Masjid-e-Bilal, which was made adjacent to the boundary of Haram (Kabah), was also relocated and today it is at a location different from where it was originally built. Physically the relocated mosques were made out of new infrastructure; however they shared the same lineage as to the mosque which existed in the original location. The only loss was archaeological in nature.
In line with my view, the then UP Chief Minister had proposed that if Muslims were to agree to relocation, he would be the first person to carry on his head the first bricks to be placed in its foundation. While the Government appreciated my suggestion, many of the Muslim leaders unfortunately did not accept the proposal.
Many Muslim leaders incited the masses by saying that the Arab model would not work in India. They did not realize that this was a matter of an Islamic principle, which does not have two versions. If it was implementable in Saudi Arabia, then it was implementable in India as well. So, the issue which would have been resolved amicably was not done so.
The Court of Law will indeed find it difficult to resolve this matter. In 1991, 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 Indian soil as it stood in 1947. But there was an exception to 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.
In a nutshell, what is needed is an objective evaluation of the case to see what is possible and not what is ideal. This was the theme of my article on this topic in the Hindustan Times, which was titled “Acceptance of Reality”—the message remains the same—we must accept what is possible as well as practical and not run after unrealistic ideals.