Accepting alternative land to build mosque to set wrong precedent, think some Muslim leaders
Waquar Hasan | Caravan Daily
NEW DLEHI — The offer of alternative land for building a mosque, given by the Supreme Court in the Ayodhya verdict, has not enthused many in the Muslim community and the general feeling is that this must be rejected.
On Saturday, the apex court ordered that a temple be built on the site where the 16th Century Babri Masjid had stood. The court also ordered that the government provide five acres of land to Muslims to build mosque at another place.
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi was the first to reject the offer, saying Muslims could do without such a ‘khairat’ (charity). The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), a party to the Babri Masjid title suit, will hold a meeting on Sunday to decide about the offer and the plan to file a review petition at the apex court.
Convener of the Babri Masjid Action Committee Qasim Rasool Ilyas, who is also a member of AIMPLB, feels Muslims should reject the offer, as their fight was not for land but for the mosque. “By taking the alternative land, you will justify this decision of the SC bench by acknowledging that the court gave something to us. This is wrong. Our issue was not about the land. It was about the mosque. We can neither gift nor buy nor shift the mosque’s land. We fought for 70 years for our mosque. We lost it and the land too. If we accept the alternative land offer, it will set a precedent that if a mosque’s land is encroached upon in future, another land can be accepted in exchange for that,” said Ilyas.
Prominent Muslim figures like Bollywood lyricists Javed Akhtar and Saleem Khan and former AMU VC Zameeruddin Shah have suggested that Muslims take the five-acre land and build a school or hospital there. Ilyas termed such views as “insane”, and stressed that “we did not fight the case for 70 years for a piece of alternative land.”
Muslim leader Arshad Madani, who is president of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, echoed Ilyas’ argument and said the fight was not for land but for the mosque. “The case was about Babri Masjid and that it existed on a site that was under dispute. It was never about seeking an alternative site. We don’t need five acres of land as compensation. We have lost the case and we accept the top court’s verdict with dignity. Now, building a mosque elsewhere does not make any sense to me,” Madani said.
However, Mufti Mukarram, Shahi Imam of Masjid Fatehpuri, is in favour of taking the alternative land, building a mosque there and naming it as the ‘Supreme’ Masjid. “This is not compensatory land. If a land is being given as compensation, it should not be taken. But, in the court’s judgment, there is no mention of compensation. The Supreme Court is giving this as per provisions of Article 142. There should be no issue in taking this land and building a mosque on that,” said Mufti Mukarram, reasoning that there existed a lot of Waqf land with the government.