14 November 2019
Ahead of the Supreme Court verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit, prominent Muslim organisations had resolved to “maintain peace and harmony at all cost, whatsoever the verdict maybe.” Muslim intellectuals who had called for an out-of-court settlement in the protracted dispute to make both Hindus and Muslims happy, appealed to hand over the land to the Hindus for the sake of lasting peace in the country. Nearly all Muslim organisations had vowed to abide by the SC judgment the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid disputed land. But now when India’s top court gives Hindus the site on which the Babri masjid stood for close to five centuries, several Sunni leaders and clerics seem to waver between ‘respect’ and ‘dissatisfaction’ at the Supreme Court verdict. They say that while they respect the SC verdict, they are ‘unhappy’ and can no longer trust a court which favours ‘faith over merit’. Some of them have even declared the Ayodhya judgment as a clear ‘injustice’. For instance— Maulana Syed Ather Ali, executive committee member of the All India Personal Law Board, Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi, head of Mumbai’s MarkazulMa’arif Education and Research Centre and Maulana Shoaib Koti, member of the Dar-ul-Qaza run by the Iqra Foundation are some of those clerics who are of the same view.
In fact, a large number of Sunni Muslim leaders who were expected to welcome the judgment with a big heart, in the case of it being both favourable and unfavourable, express their ‘unhappiness’ over the loss of the Babri land. Some of them had even proposed that they would be willing to gift the land to Hindus if the verdict comes in their favour, and in doing this, they would not put any condition on the other side. But this gesture of pure goodwill which might have been a turning point in Hindu-Muslim relations in India, is no longer seen after the SC verdict in favour of the Hindu temple. This can be gauged from the mood of several Sunni Islamic clerics and leaders in India, after the Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya land dispute case. They feel that the highest court has let them down. For instance—All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has categorically turned down the decision, though they have decided not to file the review petition.
On the other hand, some members of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), the Mumbai-based Raza Academy, Anjuman-I-Islam, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) and some custodians of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah attended a meeting with India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval at his residence. A joint statement has been issued by Mr. Doval and the eminent Muslim leaders, including members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which said, “Those attending the meeting were alive to the fact that certain anti-national and hostile elements, both within and outside the country, may attempt to exploit the situation to harm our national interest.”
It was patently clear that even if the Muslim side had won the case, there are always certain elements in the Indian society who would use it to serve their political interests, thereby leading to escalation of communal tensions. Therefore, the leaders in this meeting resolved to honour the decision of the Supreme Court and appealed to all countrymen to abide by the SC verdict, emphasizing that “the national interest overrides all other considerations.
But while the leaders who participated in this meeting, exhibited a sense of responsibility, sensitivity and restraint in accepting the verdict, the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JUH), one of the largest Muslim organisations, has expressed disagreement with the verdict and termed the ruling “unjust” and said it was in “utter disregard to the truth and evidence”. Therefore, it did not accept the invitation to participate in this meeting. It is worth mentioning the Jamiat was in the forefront in calling for peace and full support and respect for the impending SC verdict. JUH had also demanded the deployment of central paramilitary forces to give “more assurance to the community”.
Thus, there have emerged two viewpoints in the Indian Muslim leadership on the SC judgment on Ayodhya. One calls for complete respect and unconditional support for the verdict and the other expresses dissatisfaction without challenging the verdict outright.
The theological contention of the latter is that, a structure once a Masjid is always a Masjid. It’s not just the structure according to the Islamic Shariat, but also the land on which it stands. For them, the site where the Babri Masjid stood is of universal sanctity and remains holy for eternity. But the clerics of this view fail to understand how a controversial structure can be the appropriate space for Islamic worship. This contention cannot be justified even by the Islamic Shariah, which is based on the attainment of five chief noble objectives, on top of which is Hifz Al-Nafs (protection of life).
According to Imam al-Shatibi, the legal ends of Islamic law “are the benefits intended by the law: the attainment of good, welfare, advantage, benefits and warding off evil, injury, loss of the creatures”.
It is worth mentioning that numerous rulings of Islamic Sharia are changed or concessions in Islamic laws are granted according to changing circumstances of the time and thereby the door of easiness and concession is always open for Muslim Ummah of every age. The basis of changes in such rulings, according to majority of Muslim jurists, revolves around the seven fundamental principles of Islamic Jurisprudence. They are 1) Zaruriyat (absolute necessities), 2) Hajat (necessity), 3) Daf’e Haraj (removing difficulty), 4) ‘Urf (recurring practices of a large number of Muslims), 5) Maslahah (interest/benefit), 6) Izala Al-Fasad (elimination of corruption), 7) Umum-E-Balwa.
Absolute necessities (Zaruriyat) are classified in what preserves one’s faith (din), soul (Nafs), wealth (Maal), mind (Aql) and offspring (Nasl). Some jurists add the preservation of honour to these five popular necessities. Preservation of these necessities is the objective of Islamic Sharia. So in the context of SC’s judgment on Babri Masjid-Ram Janam Bhoomi, even if we believe that a land once a Masjid is always a Masjid, we will still have to take into consideration the objective of Islamic Sharia which preserves one’s life, removes difficulty, eliminates corruption and ensures social interest. This will be in line with the Fiqhi maxim “Necessities cause the prohibited things to be permissible”, (الضرورات تبيح المحظورات)”. That means we must accept SC judgment which, as per some opinions, is a resolution and in conformity with the objective of Islam in preserving lives of Indian civilians. If this resolution is not accepted, there might occur corruption and loss of lives and thereby a violation of objectives of Islam.