Monday, October 11, 2010

What Should Muslims Do?

What Should Muslims Do?
Saeed Naqvi

What should be the Muslim attitude to the Ayodhya verdict? He had, at the very outset, agreed that he would accept a court verdict. The verdict is out. And now?

“Bahut khamosh, bahut pursukoon samandar hai,
Magar woh shor jo paani ki teh ke andar hai!”
(The sea is silent, peaceful. But, oh, the turbulence beneath the surface!)

Justice Sibqat Ullah Khan in his 285 page judgment has given the example of the Treaty of Hudaibiya which Prophet Mohammad signed with the hostile tribe of Quraish in 628, barely four years before his death. It had been six years since the prophet and his followers left Mecca for Madina.

After these years, the Prophet with a caravan of 1,000 men on his way to Mecca for Haj reached Hudaibiya. Quraish had made it known that they would block Muslim entry to Mecca. The Prophet consulted his companions: should the caravan return to Madina or proceed, risking a battle. Intermediaries carried messages both ways. All that the Muslims wanted was to perform Haj at Mecca. This the Quraish were adamant to prevent. Eventually a truce was agreed upon. Ali, the Prophet’s cousin, drafted a treaty. The prophet dictated that it was a treaty between “Mohammad, the Prophet of Allah, and Quraish”. Interlocutors for Quraish objected. They did not recognize him as God’s prophet. Ali, his cousin, refused to drop the preamble. The Prophet intervened and himself deleted the phrase, thus paving the way for a Treaty which declared a truce between the two sides.

The terms of the treaty were obviously insulting to the Muslim. For instance, despite the compromise, they would not be allowed to perform Haj that year. Next year they could, provided they stayed in Mecca for only three days. There were other apparently demeaning clauses. The pact was loaded in favour of the Quraish. Many described it as abject surrender.

In modern military terms, the treaty turned out to be a sort of tactical retreat, because in a matter of a few years Muslims had conquered Mecca.

What “conquest” is recommended in Justice Khan’s sermon, for that partly is what it is? If you study the parable of Hudaibiya alongside Iqbal’s couplets Justice Khan so aptly quotes, his message is clear: communal disharmony has to be conquered. What tactical surrender must Muslims make towards this end?

Where is the national leader of sufficient stature who can distil the message from the treaty of Hudaibiya and from Iqbal, and give it contemporary relevance? Or, in a more narrow focus: where is the Muslim leader to manage the post verdict mood? I believe the Congress has two or three but the nation has not seen them in the past week.

Ofcourse, the judgment is faith, folklore, mythology superceding facts. How should the Muslims cope with the verdict? Bear the judgment with dignity. Ofcourse, go in appeal to the Supreme Court, but let the secular Hindu occupy the foreground. See how many there are willing to take up cudgels for the rule of law. It is not only a Muslim battle after all.

There is a great deal in Justice Khan’s judgment which makes for fascinating reading.

For instance, Tulsi Das (1532-1623) wrote Ram Charit Manas from 1574 to 1577 less than 50 years from the date of the building of the mosque after the alleged destruction of the Ram temple. Would a Ram Bhakt like Tulsi not have been aware that a temple to the Lord of his adoration been destroyed five decades ago? And if he knew why would he not write about it?

The judgment records:
“Several learned counsels appearing for different Hindu parties tried to explain this vital omission on the ground that Tulsi Das was afraid that in case he mentioned it, the Moghul Emperor of the time would not like it and he would be harmed.”

In other words, cowardice has been attributed to Tulsi Das by the defenders of Ram before the Allahabad Bench. If they only knew that Tulsi Das was one of the most respected names in the Moghul court. Surely the considerable rapport between Tulsi Das and Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khana, possibly the most influential nobleman in the Moghul court, is proof enough. The greatest Sanskrit Poetry in praise of Ram in the medieval period was written by Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khana, Tulsi’s contemporary.

So, what should the Muslim do? Take a back seat in the Babari Masjid – Ram Janambhoomi arena. Why? Because while you remain embroiled, the communalist will use you as a fulcrum for his politics. And the secular Hindu?…………… well, let him stand out and be counted. Rule of Law is very much his business too.

When the Monsoon session of Parliament opened, the Prime Minister invited opposition leaders for dinner. The BJP declined because of action against Gujarat Home Minister, Amit Shah. Result: not once was Amit Shah mentioned throughout the session by the ruling party. On foreign policy, Palestine, economy, Nuclear Liability, forward trading in food grains, Kashmir, Pakistan. Can you locate the dividing line between the BJP and the Congress? Also, remember the Ayodhya related dates: 1949, 1986, 1992 and now 2010 – Surely you know which party was in power on these dates, just as you know the Rath Yatris.

Step out of the Ayodhya arena. Justice Khan suggests, remember your Prophet at Hudaibiya. Then watch the intra-Hindu dynamics without anyone blaming you for communalism. Watchfully, take stock of friends and foes and respond electorally, in the most democratic manner available.

Ghalib said:
“Laag ho to usko hum samjhein lagao.
Jab na ho kuch bhi to dhoka khaaen kya.”
(If there was even an inclination, I would have accepted it as affection. When there is neither, why should I fool myself.)


  1. Saeed Naqvi should have come out with a better comment which should act as an accelerator to peace.
    I wish he had come out with some similar article covering the treatment of Pandits in the valley and the number of temples demolished in ruins,with huge mosques adjoining them still functional.
    Why has he remained silent when atrocities are rained on innocent people in the name of God by the same people whom he is sympathising with?

  2. The comments, “Of course, the judgment is faith, folklore, mythology superceding facts “, come as a disappointment; but Sri Naqvi is not alone in holding this view. Which fact has been superseded? The place gets its importance as it is ‘believed’ to be the birthplace of Ram. There is no historical evidence of events related to Ram, but the mosque was built there, right in the midst of the other temples, only because of this belief. So was Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi and the mosque/idgah at Mathura at the Krishna janmsansthan. Mosques were built in those days at the sites considered holiest by hindus. This was the trend at that time, the invading powers considered it their duty to spread islam by the sword and it suited their political purpose as well. In this case of Ayodhya, we should not look at events only from 1949 onwards; some consideration should be made for the sense of injury carried forward for so many years which kept on surfacing in the shape of riots and disputes in the past. Both communities had been worshipping there.
    Our ancestors have performed some good deeds and some terrible deeds. We should look at them dispassionately. The main objective before us is find means of living peacefully together, no community should feel threatened by the other. These disputes are only as big as we choose to make them to be. The judgment should be taken as a right step in this direction.

    - Pratap

  3. The Judgment is not legally sustainable because faith can not be substituted for the evidence. It is only the evidence lead by the parties to the suit should be considered by of the courts while deciding the Title. Since two members of the bench held that (majority view of the bench)parties failed to prove their title over the land in question, then in the title suit the land in question has to be vested in the state.
    But in the present scenario the judgment has saved the country from a genocide or it has postponed the genocide which was very much suspected even by the Governments.

    Syed Ali Murtaza
    Allahabad High Court