Most Muslims have welcomed the Ayodhya verdict as it is a balanced scorecard. The Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute was impeding the growth of the community in several ways. Gratitude is due to Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi who led the Supreme Court bench which relieved India of this problem. The government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has managed the fallout of the verdict — as well as of the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A in Kashmir.
It would have been much better if this dispute had been amicably settled out of court, as suggested in 2017 by the then CJI J S Khehar or, recently, by the constitution bench led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi. As a matter of fact, the Muslims should have offered this patch of land to the Hindus, stating that they are doing so as a goodwill gesture for Lord Ram, while leaving the rest to Allah and Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). Certainly, the magic would have worked, and the animosity of Partition would have been history.
No doubt, after this gesture, the Hindus would have built not one but many mosques. Besides, this humane gesture would have obviated all scope for converting any other mosque —any monument, in fact — into a temple. However, owing to the actions of some self-appointed leaders of the community, the Muslims have missed the bus.
The Muslims have always maintained that once a mosque exists, it will always remain till the Day of Judgment — the house of Allah can’t be shifted. That is true in a religious sense, but in view of the circumstances, some settlement was needed. As the Muslims have their Mecca, Christians have Bethlehem, Jews have Jerusalem and Buddhists have Bodh Gaya, the Hindus too must have their most important shrine. Muslims, most of the time, remained occupied with legalities. They couldn’t properly process that their lives and lived realities are attached with the Hindus. If a matter like this was not sorted out amicably, it would have harmed the Muslim cause more than anything else.
We are not living in the Mughal times, nor in the Congress era. The RSS and its political wing, the BJP, are in power. The Muslims should have changed their outlook but, instead, they kept distancing themselves from these platforms. Not only this, a lot of vitriol is being poured against the Sangh Parivar.It is high time that the Muslims stop casting aspersions on the RSS and BJP — especially during elections when many from the community make appeals to vote for any candidate who is capable of defeating the BJP candidate. In a democracy, a capable candidate, no matter from which party he or she belongs to, should be supported.
Even I used to think that the RSS, Jana Sangh and the BJP are against the Muslims. But at some point, I thought of interacting with them and found that this was my misconception. It was based on a misunderstanding. The RSS is a nationalist organisation that has its own strict set of rules and wants Muslims to do well. In fact, whenever Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief, has spoken of Muslims, he has been well-meaning — he has often said, publicly, that if the Muslim community is backward, India will also remain backward. He expressed his opinion too — alongside PM Modi — regarding the Ram temple judgment, and, said that it was a balanced one: Nobody should thump one’s chest in victory or shed tears on defeat.
Some of the baggage Indian Muslims carry is due to the perception they believe the majority community has of them. That perception is, in fact, inaccurate, made up of half-truths and cooked-up charges. The other burden is a result of their own inaction, which has led to the emergence of opportunistic interlocutors — clerics and personal law boards. Muslims must come out of the control of these hypocritical, rigid clerics who lead them astray.
If Muslims want to progress educationally, socially and economically, they must now try to get out of the clutches of the rabble-rousing representatives or faux secularists — these are the very people responsible for their misery since Partition. Around 200 million Muslims have to exist in India with their non-Muslim brethren; they have to live in amity with them to take India towards success and glory.
PM Modi, who tells them to hold the Quran in one hand and a computer in the other, has been their well-wisher. However, Opposition leaders have been misleading them. It is time Muslims stopped being misled by such leaders who keep instigating the community against the RSS and the BJP.
This article first appeared in the print edition on November 13, 2019 under the title 'After the verdict'. The writer is the chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University.