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Islam and Pluralism (15 Feb 2009 NewAgeIslam.Com)

A solution for Babri Masjid - Ram Mandir Tussle proposed


Syed Shahabuddin

Before we discuss these conditions/prerequisites in detail, we need to first agree on a few assumptions which form the basis of this proposal:

·         Whatever solution we propose to find, it has to be a win-win solution for both the parties, and not a win-lose situation. Moreover, it should be win-win not only for the two parties (the Hindu extremists and the Muslim extremists), but also for a large number of peace-loving, liberal Indians who are unbiased to any party (irrespective of their own religious affiliations), and wish to resolve this issue without compromising on the secular and democratic values. However, there is a possibility that the concerned parties may have to face some compromises along with some gains.

·         This issue cannot be resolved by the archaeological/historical evidences in favour of any community. It is not possible for historians to tell the "most accurate" truth about any event, as there is always room for different interpretations. (The only archaeological tool that probably would have worked is a time machine, to go back to the past to know the truth, which is rather unthinkable anyway). As the religious zealots themselves point out rightly, it is a matter of sentiments rather than archaeology. Even if you bring the most convincing evidence that Ram was not born there and Babur did not demolish any temple, most believing Hindus will not budge from their stand. Similarly, if you prove that Ram was certainly born there and Babur did demolish the temple, most believing Muslims will not care. Therefore, we have to simply forget about proving or disproving the historical facts now.

·         The Judiciary too (with all due respects), is not likely to find a win-win solution for both parties. Courts (if they remain unbiased) would continue to postpone taking any final decision, or (if they get politically influenced) would end up taking an unwise decision, which might upset one of the parties. However, the judiciary can certainly remain an active part of the larger conglomerate of institutions and individuals who wish to bring a resolution to the issue.

·         The demolition of Babari masjid is an irreversible act – one can never rebuild the mosque with its original feel - whether for aesthetic or archaeological purposes. (The same could be said about the Ram Mandir too - assuming that it was demolished by Babur). Moreover, the 6th December demolition of the mosque was a sort of catharsis for a large number of people who want the Ram Mandir there. Hence, to rebuild the mosque at the same spot would be like 'forcing someone to eat what they have thrown up', as one of them claims. The building of a new mosque on a nearby plot along with the Ram Mandir is something that few Muslims would give a damn about. According to them, when a mosque is built at a certain location, a direct spiritual connection is made between that spot and the heaven. Therefore the mosque cannot be shifted anywhere. But in the present scenario, the rebuilding of only the mosque at the same spot is quite unthinkable.

·         The resolution of Babri mosque-Ram temple issue (resulting from this proposal or otherwise), does not guarantee the end of communalism and religious extremism in India. Babri mosque is one of the many 'time bombs' ticking away on the delicate secular fabric of India. If left unattended, it can blow up, starting a chain reaction amongst other bombs. But if it is defused carefully and cautiously now, it might defuse other bombs as well.

The Four Conditions

There are initially, four prerequisites that should be met strictly before the Muslims can withdraw their claim on the land (or agree to let the mosque be built on an adjacent location). To ensure that these terms are met, a number of institutions such as the Supreme Court, the Parliament, the President of India, prominent personalities, and other responsible organizations, even an outside agency such as the UN, should be made guarantors.

The following are the conditions in brief – the detailed terms would be drafted after consultations and considerations.

o    Condition 1:

A permanent status quo on all historical buildings. The Nation should get a constitutional guarantee that henceforth there shall absolutely be no more claims for any other mosques or historical/religious building to be demolished and turned into something else anywhere in the country. Any body making any such claim would be punished under law.

o    Condition 2:

A complete ban on all organizations, institutions and individuals involved in any kind of communal or sectarian extremism, including violence, hate campaign, excessive nationalism, religious bigotry, or international terrorism, whichever religion, caste or region they belong to. Also, a system to ensure that such organizations or individuals do not become active later with different names. (Some of the organizations that should fit in this category are the RSS, VHP, Shiva Sena, Bajrang Dal, Lashkar-e Toiba, JKLF etc.)

o    Condition 3:

Complete rehabilitation of all the people affected by communal riots - rebuilding of their property, and full compensation for their losses. Also a speedy redressal of the related court cases and punishment to the guilty. This is not restricted to Gujarat riots alone – even earlier cases where the affected people were left with injustice, should be considered.

o    Condition 4:

Educational reforms involving the following: (a) Special courses must be introduced in all schools/colleges for a special subject called Secular Ethics which advises the students on how to live in a multicultural society by respecting everyone. This subject should not involve textbooks or exams, but learning activities such as workshops, excursions, film shows and community interaction programmes. (b) A status quo on all history textbooks published before a certain recent date – no revision or rewriting of them without the approval of a committee of well-known experts from a cross-section of streams.

Problems in this proposals

It is likely that the above proposal or conditions may not find acceptability by a cross section of people. To begin with, many Muslims have to be convinced of the stakes involved in giving up the mosque. Then, many liberal/secular Hindus and other citizens might not agree to the building of the Ram Mandir at all – after all if it were built, it would stand out for many as an eyesore – an unsightly monolith symbolizing the persistence of Hindu religious bigotry in India for the entire world to see. Some might even say that the safety and security of the Indian Muslims or any community is their fundamental right - why should they buy it by giving up the mosque. Even the government – of whichever party – would be reluctant of letting the temple be build for various reasons - politicians have too much at stake for maintaining a status quo on this issue. Finally, the Sangh Parivar itself, while they would be happy at Muslims' withdrawal, will not agree with any of the above conditions – too big a price for them to pay. However, all peace-loving citizens should agree that the above conditions, if followed strictly, could pave the way for a peaceful future.

There are some more pertinent questions regarding the practicability of this proposal: who is going to present this proposal, and to whom? Who is supposed to accept it, and implement it. How do we represent all the Muslims of India? Or whether it is supposed to represent all Muslims? Similarly, how would it be accepted and implemented by all the Hindus? After all, the vandals broke down the mosque irrespective of all the laws, and in presence of the police. So if they start building the temple tomorrow without bothering about this proposal or the laws, who is going to stop them?

Some tentative answers to the above questions could be: (1) We need to constitute a body of guarantors comprising of responsible people such the President of India, the Chief Justice of India, the MPs, peace-loving organizations representing both communities, Indian or international human rights institutions such as the NHRC, the Amnesty International, the UN, and other NGOs. (2) We need to make the final proposal available to the public, in all the relevant languages, using the popular media and printed pamphlets. We need to especially emphasize that this proposal is not prejudiced against any one community, and it genuinely seeks a peaceful resolution to this issue to everybody's satisfaction. (3) We need to do an exhaustive opinion poll with people from various walks of life and representing Hindus and Muslims, to seek a consensus on this proposal. (4) The Parliament of India needs to add a law/amendment in the constitution ensuring that above conditions would be met strictly - the most important being a new law that prohibits anybody to demand the demolition of further monument or buildings for any purpose. Until this law is made, no work should be initiated on this proposal. If the govt. can make and implement anti-people laws such as TADA and POTA, why not a people-friendly and heritage-friendly law such as what we demand?

The Third Party

A large number of liberal/secular citizens would vehemently object to the Muslims' withdrawal of their claim on Babri mosque, as it would pave the way for the VHP and party to first build the Ram Mandir and then ask for more. Their apprehensions are justified. But as a secular citizen myself, I have wondered: are we (the secular people) depending only on Muslims' claim, to keep the Sangh Parivar from building the temple? If one Zafaryab Jilani withdraws his case for the mosque, do we have any alternative weapon to stop the VHP from building the temple? At least I am not aware of any, besides of course the peace processions and web-activism.

One secular activist (a Hindu by name) wrote to me that Babri mosque is as much her heritage as it is any Muslim's, and hence she would fight for it. I replied that if Babri mosque were still intact even I would have fought for its survival, as a Muslim, as a secular Indian, as a human being. But since it is not there any more, there is no question of Muslims' possessing or letting it go now. And as for the rebuilding of the mosque, I recently saw inside a shop in one Muslim locality of Delhi, a colourful poster depicting the model of the 'proposed new Babri masjid'. It is one brand new building with shiny green paint all over, and looks as out of place to me as would look the model of the proposed Ram Mandir to any liberal Hindu. The plan of the Ram Mandir at least tries to borrow from the ancient Indian temple architecture (with its prefab stone pillars!), but the designer of this proposed mosque, it seems, has never visited a Mughal monument, and reflects a typical Tablighi Jama't mentality. So, whichever house of worship is built, one does not really know what to expect from the architecture.

Coming back to the secularist's objection on letting the Sangh Parivar build the temple if Muslims back out. I have the following suggestion for such a situation: If, following this proposal, the Muslims forgo their claim on the disputed land or allow the mosque to be built at an adjacent location, the secular minded citizens should put their foot down on something like the following: Since the Muslims would be allowed to build a mosque on the nearby plot, we must rework on the present architectural plan of the VHP's Ram Mandir, and design a larger complex of buildings that includes the temple and the mosquewith architectural styles that are different yet harmonious and complimentary to each other. This could also be considered as the fifth condition in our original list discussed above. This way, we may be able to build something more aesthetically acceptable for everyone. It may also be somewhat like a win-win solution for the two (rather, three) parties - of course with some compromises for everyone.

All this is, of course, too much of wishful thinking. This proposal may look too naive and fragile in front of the wrathful hooligans who want their house of worship at any cost. We need more feedback, dialogue and active participation in this process from everyone. Currently the proposal may not represent the extremist Hindu viewpoint at the moment, and we are open for a positive and constructive dialogue with them.

Mandir-Masjid issue may not be the gravest problems in India – Indian people have much more serious issues of livelihood to deal with but it is certainly a big roadblock to peace. It is unfortunate that Indians are out to become the world champions in cricket, are building missiles and nuclear weapons, have some of the best talent in IT, and so on, but the best creative minds of the one billion Indians cannot think of a workable solution to the Mandir-Masjid issue. The educated and liberal class of India has assumed that this it is too complicated and messy an affair to get into, and have simply allowed the religious fanatics to exploit it their way – and far too long. We also have to tell the world that this is not simply a Hindu-Muslim tussle – the liberal Indians have as much stake in its resolution as the extremists.
I request all liberal and secular minded people of India to give their feedback on this proposal. If you find it completely non-feasible, please suggest other solutions that may work, or tell us how can this be improved. And let us be practical and realistic, rather than sentimental. We are posting all your comments and suggestions on this website. Also needed are names of many more people to endorse this proposal. Please send your comments to ysaeed7@yahoo.com, or post your views in our web forum.

New Delhi
20th March 2003 http://www.alif-india.com/rambabri/index.html
URL for this page: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-pluralism/a-solution-for-babri-masjid---ram-mandir-tussle-proposed--/d/1196



to the Proposal for Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid Tussle

(Responses arranged chronologically - earliest at the top)


zafar anjum <zafaranjum@hotmail.com> wrote

Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2003 05:24:22 +0000

 Dear Yusuf,

 Thanks for sending me the document's url. It is indeed well drafted and very sensical (as opposed to non-sensical). However, I am not sure if VHP would agree to concede to the four conditions that you have mentioned.

Agreeing to your agenda would mean the end of the RSS/VHP brand of communal politics. Therefore, your idea seems to be utopian to me. If it were a Congress govt. I guess they have implemented your agenda. But the present lot of politicians in power would not allow this kind of a sensible thing to happen.

 I guess your document can be entered as a PIL in the Supreme Court. It has much chances of getting accepted there.

 I wish you all the best in your rational and secular endeavours and am with you on this issue.





Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2003 14:14:43 +0530 (IST)

Yousuf - I have commented on your proposal, and given a lawful, constitutional alternative.

Foreword - Indian muslims never had a claim to the Babri mosque - like with all mosques, the only stake holders are people who live in the hinterland, in this case, those muslims who lived in Ayodhya. It is the masjid committee there which has a stake and a claim.

My comments on the proposal in the same sequence as issues Yousuf has raised.


1. In such mindless situations, there cannot be a win win situation, for what constitutes a win here is itself not clear. Will muslims (those few who live there) win if they get back the mosque? Will the Sangh parivar win if it gets the land and builds a temple there (paradoxically it loses out on its biggest slogan)?

2. In the absence of everything else, secular citizens will have no choice but to go by archaeological findings... which might very well discover a Buddhist monastery there.

3. In any society that believes in the rule of law, the courts are paramount and their decisions must be enforced, even if it means using the police to do so.

4 and 5, I completely agree with and have nothing further to say.

 The four conditions:

 1. The status quo has already been declared - the act passed in 1993 by the Parliament forbids any claims on any other monument and makes an exception only for Babri masjid where it asks the court to decide. But this entire problem arises because the rabble rouser hardly cares for the law.

2. Again such a ban already exists. The IPC makes such acts illegal and the Election laws forbid the same. So what???? Thackeray, Modi and their ilk can hardly be bothered with such trivia.

3. Modi has declared that he has rehabilitated everyone and the situation is normal. And so does every chief minister and home minister who claims to have brought situations under control within hours each time riots break out.

4. The suggestion (a) in this point is superb. (b) has a problem - you can either be secular and say that research and the quest for truth must go on, or be communal and fundamentalist and say we shall freeze knowledge in a warp.

 I personally think that the only option is for the courts to declare that this is a local dispute. Outside and vested interests will not be tolerated. Then the local chaps sit down together and negotiate. And if the local temple committee agrees to buy out the land, the Muslims sell it (and they will get a huge price if they bargain well) and open a school, a mosque, a film club, children's park and an old age centre somewhere close by - there is enough land in Faizabad and it is cheap.

 This is not without precedent - a number of temple lands have been sold, mosques given away, churches given on rent..... This is a win win situation - however, the administration has to be tight and throw into jail any outsider seen loitering around with intent to create harm.

 Amir Ullah Khan


"AIMMM" <muslim@del3.vsnl.net.in>

Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 13:13:16 +0530

Subject: Re: [peace_initiative] a proposal for mandir-masjid tussle

 28 March, 2003


Your proposal is one-sided, ignores law and justice, rewards the aggressor, fails to comprehend the long-term objectives of the organizations which believe in Hindutva ideology and assess the certainty of non-fulfillment of

the conditions in practice.

As compared to yours, the Ayodhya proposal is more balanced despite some flaws.

I would be glad to discuss your proposal in detail with you. In the meantime, I do NOT endorse your proposal.

Syed Shahabuddin

URL for this page: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-pluralism/a-solution-for-babri-masjid---ram-mandir-tussle-proposed--/d/1196



  • Built all religions worshipped in India on the piece of land being disputed.
    By Naveen - 3/21/2017 10:29:56 AM

  • This is in response to "A solution for Babri Masjid - Ram Mandir Tussle proposed".

    By A.M. Jamsheed basha.

    Before discussing the proposal contained in the article, one should ask these Hindutva leaders that if a Ram Mandir is built on the rubbles of the demolished mosque, would it not carry the stigma that it was built on the ruins of a mosque and over the dead bodies of hundreds of people who were killed in the riots over its demolition? Would it be a fitting tribute to Great Lord Rama, in whose name this is proposed to be built, who always stood for humanity, courtesy, peaceful co-existence and love for all? Even if they ignore these and wanted to build a mosque, what difference it makes between them and Aurangazib, who was accused of building mosques over temples? What difference it would make between them the Christian rulers of Spain who converted mosques into Churches in large numbers in Sourthern Spain after Muslim rule was wiped out?

    Why not our Hindutva leaders just think of other benevolent Muslim rulers of South India who have donated a large chunk of lands to build Mandir complex. If one happens to visit Chennai, in a place called Triplicane, where a big Parthasarthy Temple complext exists  there today in a sprawling land which was donated by the then Nawab of Arcot. Go to Kanchipuram, 74 KMs from Chennai, a predominently Hindu town, where Muslims also live, where  a Hindu priest had allowed Muslims to convert temple into a mosque. It is still there where Muslims offer prayers, regularly. Let's now move to Srirangapattinam, the capital city of the then Tiger Tippu Sultan, a true secularist King and the first Freedom Fighter. One can find there, a temple and a mosque exist side by side for centuries without a tension. Tippu Sultan was a true secularist and the first freedom fighter who fought with British invasion single handedly to save India. He was incidently was a benevolent Sultan, who never gave a Muslim name to Srirangapattinam, his capital town as normally Muslims rulers used to do. Why people of India, especially, Hindutva leaders do not take a lesson or two from such benovolences? Muslims of India have not come and settled from any Arab land. They are own Indians but converted to Islam like other faiths like Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism etc.

    Take the case of Lord Buddha. He was born in Bihar and attained his sainthood under a tree  at Gaya, which is revered even today by Buddist monks. But its religion spread not in India but in  far east. What is the status of these Buddists in Srilanka, Phillipines, Tahi,China, Vietnamese and Lagos and other places? Will the Communists there call them Indians, because they profess a faith that was originated in India? We are educated people. Let us think positively as facts of history are before us. Why should we harbour any ill will against any community?

    As for the four suggestions contained in the above article, I fully agree that in the present circumstances, rebuilding a mosque is a near impossibility as Hindus attach a faith wrongly or rightly as a birth place of Lord Rama. They may not agree to such an arrangement even if the court rules in favour of Muslims. Besides, the Babri Mosque was like any other mosque but was in disuse for decades after a miscreant kept the idols of Lord Rama there. Since 1949 though it was under lock and key but people continued to worship and offer prayers there. It became a virtual temple. Rajive Gandhi, the then PM, was guilty of opening up the gates for Shilyanas as a quid pro quo to Shah Bano case legislation. That was the turning point in the struggle for a movement to build a Ram Temple. BJP was desperate to capture power and Ramanada Sagar's epic serial "Ramayana" acted as perfect fodder to arouse peoples sentiments for building a Ram Temple at Ayodya. For its short sightied objective and gain and to capture power, Advani took up his infamous Rath Yatra and successfully mobilised Kar Sevaks, that finally vandalised the mosque in the full presence of elite leadership of BJP with Narsimha Rao, the then PM watching its destruction sitting in his cosy room which was beamed live all over the world.

    Now the question is whether other mosques at Kasi and Mathura are in imminent danger? The answer to it is no because there exist a guarantee to protect all monuments of historical importance. However, there is still a possibility of out of court settlement of the whole issue with a give and take policy. Muslim leaders and Hindu seers should sit and try to solve the problem without politicising it in the larger interest of India's unity. What is required here is to tell the people that do we need to build such a temple over the ruins of a mosque and dead bodies of the people who were killed during the destruction? Will it be essential at this stage when we are busy buildidng a country and its economy to match with other economies of the world? Should we have to march forward or backward? It is for people to decide.

    Narendra Modi has no love for Muslim community, though the Muslims of Gujarat voted in larger number for him. He still carry a grudge against them. When Irfan Pathan and Yousuf Pathan, the great cricketers returned after T20 World Cup triumph, he refused to honour them, because they were Muslims, while all other states in India honour the players who were part of the winning team. Even today, he did not honour the Pathan brothers, who brought glory to India in the recently concluded one-off T20 match against Srilanka. Advani was guilty of ordering change of Muslim drivers during his last visit to Kerala for security reasons. Though officials denied it later but facts remained the same. What it all speaks nothing but the deep seated animosity against the Muslims. Let the Hindutva leaders  first come out clean and spell their stand and how they propose to rehabilitate Muslims who lost everything during the pogrom in Gujarat, for which Modi was solely responsible (Condition 3). Will they are willing to implement all the suggestions of Sachar Committe Report on Muslim reforms?

    In order to fulfill the condition No.2, a complete ban of all communal organisation is essential. But will it work. All politicians have their stake in the governance and they need their support. Unless there is a political will to tackle the issue of communalism, these elements would continue to thrive or re-emerge in some other names. Take the case of Sri Ram Sena which was in news recently for wrongs done to Pub going women in Mangalore, MNS of Raj Thackery, TMMK in Chennai etc.

    Which educational institution is teaching secular credentials in the country. They are busy giving modern education. There is no time for moral education. They start the school with a prayer either from Hindu bajan in Hindu schools, a Muslim prayer in minority institution, a religious song, if it is a christian run school. All govt functions starts with Hindu rituals. There is no sign of secular outlook in any office in the country. One can see the picture of Hindu Gods hanging from the walls of offices and a small temple at the entrance of each office. Officers even offer pubjas in the office premises every Friday or on festive occasion. Where is secularism in Govt offices? It is only for name sake that secularism exist. We have no objection to the such practices but is it fair to perform in a secular place like govt offices? Govt has to seriously ponder. Charity begins at home. Secular practices should begin at Govt offices first.

    Since rebuilding a mosque at Ayodya is near impossibility, Muslims can be benevolent and gift the place to Hindus as a gesture of good will in the larger interest of peace and unity, with a condition that a mosque should also be built side by side as we see in Srirangapattinam. Many Muslims may not like the idea especially Shahbuddin who is spear heading the movement. Then what better one can offer at this stage, let our intellectuals come out in open to solve this vexed problem.

    By A.M.Jamsheed Basha, Chennai, India -

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