Age Islam Special Correspondent
02 December 2019
The immediate response of the Muslim community to the Supreme Court
verdict on Ayodhya was a sense of relief. There was a great deal of fear and
uncertainty all around before the verdict as to what will happen if the Supreme
Court does do real justice and give the Babri land to its rightful owners, the
Muslims, who had prayed in the mosque for almost 500 years. So, the judgement
was by and large welcomed as a great conflict resolution in view of the
But now, politicians of various affiliations have started coming out and
seeking to revive discord that helps them keep their politics in the limelight.
Anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition—is around the corner. Before this Black
Day falls, we Muslims should have consistently been advised by our community
leaders and Islamic bodies to bury the hatchet for our own progress. But to our
disappointment, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JuH) will file a review petition in the
Supreme Court seeking review of the Ayodhya verdict on the very Black Day. The
petition will be filed through the Jamiat’s UP general secretary, Maulana
Ashhad Rasheedi, one of the 10 litigants from the Muslim side in the Ayodhya
case. Maulana Wali Rahmani, general secretary of All India Muslim Personal Law
Board (AIMPLB) claimed on Sunday that “99% of Muslims stand with the review
petition”, a press statement which does not stand to scrutiny. An
inconsistently changing dynamics in the position of Islamic bodies like the JuH
and AIMPLB during the past weeks—before and after the Ayodhya verdict, reek of
serious intellectual disturbance, internal disagreements and lack of collective
consciousness. This also shows how the Ulema fraternity has come at loggerheads
with the Islamist politicians in the community.
For instance, Ilyas Azmi, former two-time MP from Uttar Pradesh and one
of the Aam Aadmi Party's founder-members who quit the party alleging that it
was “ignoring Muslims”, has now severely criticised the Ulema fraternity of the
Indian Muslim community.
In his opinion piece in the Urdu daily, Akhbar e Mashriq, which has itself been quite critical of the
Supreme Court Ayodhya verdict, Azmi has castigated some Ulema and imams for
their ‘deafening silence’ or ‘un-Islamic’ stances on the verdict. Headlined in
the standardised Urdu tenor as “Aye Kushta-e-Sultani-o-Mullai-o-Peeri”,
his article appeared in the daily as a sharp rebuttal to the leading Ulema and
Islamic clerics in India who the author accuses of being either ‘hypocrites’ (Munafiq)
or rapacious sellers of the Babri mosque (‘Babri Farosh’). Azmi writes:
“Hypocrites have existed in the community since the Prophetic times throughout
the Islamic history but now our mothers have given birth to hypocrites not only
in the forms of Waseem Rizvi and Zafar Farooqi, but also in the circles of
Deoband Sharif, Bareilly Sharif and Nadwa Sharif. Successors of Abdullah bin
Ubbay have emerged in these institutions and are not just indulged in
illegitimacies and internal mischief, but rather they are getting more honoured
Azmi cites an instance from the 1935 incident in Punjab, now in
Pakistan, where a Naqshbandi Sufi cleric and mass leader of the traditional
Barelvi Muslims of South Asia, Pir Syed Jamaat Ali Shah was accused of handing
over a land of mosque to the Gurduwara Shahid Gunj, which exists even today.
The case is historically known as Masjid Shaheed Ganj vs. Shiromani Gurdwara
Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar. Pir Jamaat Ali Shah was a prominent Muslim
leader in the region. The mosque was originally named Abdullah Khan Masjid and
was built by Abdullah Khan, a cook of Prince Dara Shikoh during the Mughal
reign of Shah Jahan. Later, Taru Singh, a man who supported the Sikhs fighting
the Mughals, was punished and scalped. Thus, the Sikhs declared Taru Singh as a
martyr and named the public square as the Shaheed Ganj or the martyr square.
When Bhangi Sikh Sardar conquered Lahore in 1762 and occupied the mosque,
Muslims thereafter were denied entry and prayers in the mosque, although the
Sikhs were allowed to pray. A Sikh temple known as Gurudwara Shaheed Ganj Bhai
Taru Singh was built in the courtyard and the building of the mosque was given
to the Sikh priests.
The point Ilyas Azmi tries to make in his rebuttal to the contemporary
Indian Ulema is that for 125 years in the Indian subcontinent, there has always
been a section of ‘Ulama-e-Sou’ (sinful clerics) who indulged in the
profitable Piri-Muridi (business of spiritual disciple-hood) and sold
out even the mosque lands of the community.
Azmi goes to the extent of writing that ‘millions of Maulanas in the
Indian subcontinents cannot even stand on the high pedestal where Mullah Omar
rose as Mujahid (fighter) and Shaheed (martyr)”. The exact words in Urdu he
wrote are as following:
(Of the contemporary age, Mullah Omar, who was a Mujahid and a martyr,
and was just a mullah, not a Maulana. In my view, the millions of Maulanas in
the subcontinent cannot even be equal to the dust of his shoes) See:
Akhbar-e-Mashriq, 28th November, 2019, page 7.
Azmi’s argument might not hold water but it shows an internal
despondency and sense of complete dissatisfaction within a section of the
Muslim society. Islamist politicians like Azmi seek to perpetuate this
disturbing trend by provoking extremist sentiments on the Supreme Court’s
Ayodhya verdict which continues to persist. In all likelihood, it will create
more communal and societal tumult, if not controlled, and ultimately will be
detrimental to the community interests. At a time when there is a political
consensus in this country in favour of the SC Ayodhya verdict, there was no
need for arejection of the verdict by creating and furthering dissatisfaction
in the Muslim community.
More to the point, there was no need to carry reactionary articles like
the above, but a large section of the Urdu press continues to do that.
Akhbar-e-Mashriq in its special Friday edition this week has published several
pieces which again highlight the religious sanctity, significance and virtues
in protecting mosques. The Kolkata edition of the Urdu daily carries an article
written by one Maulana Sarfaraz Ahmad Milli al-Qasmi (Hyderabad) which,
headlined as “Apne Ka’ba Ki HifazatTumhen Khud Karni Hai”, calls upon
Muslims in India to get proactive about rehabilitation and protection of
mosques. “There will be no more Ababil now”, concludes the article.
Ababil, according to the Qur’an (chapter 105), were the miraculous birds
that protected the Ka’aba from the Aksumite elephant army of Abraha, the
governor of Himyar, Yemen, by dropping small clay stones on them as they
approached. This incident is said to have happened just before the birth of
Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), although some say it happened a couple of decades before
Another article in the same Urdu newspaper heaps praises on the Muslim
Personal Law Board for its ‘guts’ in going for a review petition on the SC
verdict, and tries to build a narrative that the board remains the true
representative and saviour of the Muslim laws in India. It also criticises
other Muslim organisations that oppose the review petition and says that “by
holding contradictory views on the martyrdom of the Babri Masjid, these Ulema
and religious leaders have created internal schism within the Muslim society”.
Also, Akhbar-e-Mashriq has
interviewed Maulana Syed Arshad Madani in this context and posed several
leading questions like the following: “Are you satisfied with the Supreme Court
handing over the Babri land to Hindus”? In his answer, Arshad Madani maintains
that the verdict is “unjust”, based on politics not on legality, and
“overwhelmingly one-sided”. He reiterated that ‘there existed a mosque for
several hundred years which was demolished by Hindu extremists and now the court
has paved the way for construction of a temple over its site’. He further
stated that ‘nothing can substitute the mosque’ and rejected five-acre plot in
Ayodhya in an alternative place. But the most astonishing part of his response
is the following: “Maulana Abul Kalam Azad had said, ‘I’m wondering whether the
Hindu majority will accept Muslims in India as a national community. If the
Babri Masjid is restored, the answer would be yes. And if not, the answer is in
negation. Wait and behold! Other mosques in India will face the same fate’.
These apprehensions of Maulana Azad have come true now”.
The full stories can be seen here:
What Ilyas Azmi tried to convey in his article in Akhbar-e-Mashriq, has also been
expressed, though slightly differently, in a section of the English press.
Saeed Naqvi, senior Muslim journalist and political commentator, wrote in The Asian Age: “The Ayodhya verdict is
only a brick in the larger architecture. Leaders whom Muslims would listen to
were duty bound to explain the “politics” of it to the community. They did not.
Religious leaders and lawyers took over”.
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