As the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seek to build a Ram mandir, or temple, in Ayodhya, the Muslim community is divided on how to bring "closure" to an issue that continues to mobilise the Hindu right-wing.
A section of the Muslim community—which includes members of the clergy—feel that some kind of compromise, either before or after the Supreme Court verdict, would be the best and most prudent course of action.
Meanwhile, an equally influential section—which includes members of the state and bureaucracy—feel that any compromise would embolden the Hindu right to launch similar agitations against other mosques in the country, and would leave the negotiators of this compromise vulnerable to the charge of selling out.
Some Islamic scholars like Maulana Salman Nadwi of Lucknow's renowned Islamic Nadwa seminary have favoured shifting the site of construction of a new mosque (to replace the destroyed Babri Masjid) to a spot away from Ayodhya. Maulana Nadwi has cited the example of the second Caliph, Umar Bin Khattab, (584 CE – 644 CE) who shifted a masjid in Kufa (present day Iraq) to another site, and established a market of dates in its place.
Maulana Nadwi has also drawn attention to the Treaty of Hudaibiyah, signed between the Prophet Mohammed and the Quraysh clan of Mecca in 628 CE. The treaty, which resulted in the acknowledgement of the Prophet and his followers as a legitimate political and religious force, is often cited as an instance of a short-term compromise that resulted in a far-sighted victory.
Maulana Nadwi's call to avoid conflict and clash has not gone down well with many Muslim community leaders. In February 2018, Nadwi was expelled from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), an informal but influential body of various Muslim sects in India.
A significant section of...