Should Ram temple be built at Ayodhya?

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Supreme Court judge, Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, who will take over as the next Chief Justice of India, rightly called ‘Ayodhya title dispute’ case or ‘Ram temple case’ as one of the most important cases in the world today. He was a part of the five-judges Constitution bench that heard appeals for 40 days in the 2010 verdict of the Allahabad High Court in this case. Ayodhya dispute over Ram temple was historical as well as socio-religious debate in India. The issues revolve around the handling of control of the land. But, due to emergence of right wings in 90s, led more political debate than historical and socio-religious debate. Actually, this issue was started back in 19th century.

The Babri Masjid was built in the early 16th century. For the four centuries this site was worshipped by both Hindus and Muslims. In 1822, an official of the Faizabad court first claimed that the mosques stood on the site of a temple. Consequently, the Nirmohi Akhara used this verdict to claim the site in the disputes. The status quo remained until 1949. In 1949, both the sides filed civil suits against the dispute. The government locked the gates by saying that the matter was sub-judice and declared the area disputed. After 40 years of independence, this matter got a new heat due to political uprising.

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Galvanized people for ‘JP Movement’ bifurcated after the formation of Janta Party. One of them went for ‘Mandal’ (OBC reservation) and another for ‘Kamandal’ (Ram Temple). Kar Sevak started marching and campaigning for Ram Temple. Firstly, Samajwadi party used this issue for political interests by ordering police for open firing at Karsevak in which 56 civilians were killed as claimed by former Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Mulayam Singh had tried to justify this state sponsored massacre on the name of unity and integrity.

After Samajwadi party, Congress party also used this issue for its own political interests. Babri structure was demolished during Rajiv Gandhi government. It is believed by historians like Ramachandra Guha and Bipin Chandra that it was done to please Hindus against the Muslim appeasement done by overturning the SC Judgement of Shah Bano Case. Arif Mohammed Khan claims that demolition of Babri mosque was a deal between Rajiv Gandhi and AIMPLB (All Indian Muslim Personal law Board).

Arif Mohammed Khan was the then minister in Rajiv Gandhi government, and gives three reasons to justify that demolition was a deal. First, he acknowledges that Rajiv Gandhi replied him that before unlocking mosque gate, AIMPLB was informed. Second, he gives another argument that the then chairman of AIMPLB, Ali Miyan, also accepted the same in his biography. Third, he argues that till the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, AIMPLB didn’t revolt against demolition of Babri structure.

From then till today, matter is being discussed in courtroom. BJP added this into its manifesto to gain political mileage. Allahabad high court pronounced verdict on 30 September 2010. The verdict is seen more ‘compromised’ than ‘justice’. In the hearing, the bench three judges of the Allahabad High Court ruled that 2.77 acres of Ayodhya land would be divided into three parts, with 1⁄3 going to the Ram Lalla represented by the Hindu Maha Sabha, 1⁄3 going to the Sunni Waqf Board and the remaining 1⁄3 going to Nirmohi Akhara.

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The petitioners moved to the Supreme Court due to dis-satisfactions with the judgement and the apex court stayed the HC verdict. In 2016, the Supreme court started a fresh hearing of the case. In 2017, the Supreme court said that since the matter was sensitive, it was suggested to be settled out of court through mediation.

Supreme court asked stakeholders to hold talks and find an amicable solution so that it could be accepted by all. The mediation proceedings were held confidentially and the court banned the media from reporting it. Mediation process was failed in building consensus. The Supreme court bench, led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi, declared the mediation process as a failure, as it did not result in any settlement.

The Supreme Court set up a five-judge Constitution Bench to hear the land dispute case. The five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, started day-to-day hearing on the matter from August 6, 2019. CJI, Rajan Gogoi, intends to solve this particular issue in a given time. He also announced and directed the advocates to finish the argument by October 16. It is expected that before the retirement of Rajan Gogoi the verdict will come.

That’s the whole story of Ayodhya disputes. But, I think Ayodhya dispute is only an “Ego Issue”. If it was away from political touch then it would have solved. This is the same reason due to which ‘mediation process’ was failed. If healthy discussion was done and proper reasons were submitted without making it an ego issue, then it would have been solved. Main problem is that Muslim masses are looking the issue of Ram temple through the prism of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP). By saying bye to ego, Muslim brothers need to understand the following points regarding the Ayodhya dispute.

First, Muslim brothers need to look this issue as the matter of faith of Hindu brothers. They must stop looking at this issue as a debacle in the hands of Hindus if judges give verdict to make Ram Temple. They should feel that for them, at birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad “The Kaaba” is there. For other religions like Christine, Church in Bethlehem is there, which is the birth place of Jesus. For Buddhist, Mahabodhi Temple in Gaya is there. For Sikhs, Golden temple is there. Unfortunately for Hindus, where the Lord Rama got birth is still staying in ‘Pandal’. This is only possible in India as here democracy is not enjoyed by majoritarian but by all. It’s a matter of embarrassment that it was asked in court to prove that Lord Rama got birth over there. The matter of paradox is that the same supreme court declares holiday on Ram Navami. 

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Second, Once Mohammed Iqbal called lord Rama as “Imam-e-hind”. Muslims in India also understand the same lord Rama as “Imam-e-hind” and Hindus as their brothers. But they are adamant against the temple construction. Even, Hindu parties have proposed to make mosque at the bank of Saryu river for them if they give up their ego. There is flexibility in Islam to shift Mosque. Masjids in Middle East have been shifted for public purposes in the recent past. It’s matter of faith for Hindus where Lord Rama was born, therefore, Ram temple must be built. I believe if it is built on the basis of consent between Hindus and Muslims then it would be a great gesture of brotherhood between Hindus and Muslims in India and a great message to secular structure of India for which India is known.

Third, One of the biggest perceptions among the masses is that all Muslims are against lord Rama. Some may be but not all. In fact, they are against the ideology which projects Ram temple as a cricket match between India and Pakistan. Thus, Muslim brothers need to understand ‘Ram Temple’ without politics. The day Muslim people start thinking through the secular structure, it would not be a big deal to accept this truth. Muslim people should not forget that for saving Ottoman empire in the west Asia, Hindus fought against Britishers in India. We called that event as “Hindu-Muslim Unity”. Hindus were part of the Khilafat Movement. ‘Khilafat Movement’ had nothing do with India’s independence. If it had then why congress rejected to participate in second world war against the Britishers.

Fourth, India has always respected Muslim sentiments since independence. India has never intervened in the international affairs where Muslim conflicts have happened. Generally, Head of state as well as head of the government has been a Hindu. India has been neutral in Israel-Palestine conflict so that India could save its own interest as well as respect the sentiments of Indian Muslims. In context of middle east, India has maintained the principled distance because India respects all sects of Muslims living in India. Hindus have never interfered in the matter of faith of Muslims in India. If we ignore some incidences of the recent past, Hindus have always lived in peace with Muslims.

Fifth, It’s time to assess the past. Assessment must be done by both Muslims as well as Hindus at individual level. This is not a subject of rocket science that will need special knowledge. Just think, by far what did we got of all this? It should have solved on socio-religious basis. Unfortunately, Hindus as well as Muslims became the part of the political circus knowingly or unknowingly. So far, only politicians were benefited out of it. Muslim elites successfully saved ‘Patriarchal power’ after overturning of Shah Bano judgement. Some Muslim politicians and pseudo-secular were successful in achieving vote banks. The right-wing party developed itself through this process. All these happened in the blood of common civilians.

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Sixth, Muslims need to understand that Hindus are not in the mood to take revenge of what happened in the Medieval past, as it is projected by the government of Pakistan. It is also true that, Medieval past has not been good for the Hindus faith. Even Muslims may know that Islamic invasion in India brought many ill effects on Hindu society along with vandalism of temples either it was Jizya system, Purdah System or Jauhar system. Invaders attacked two things – Temple and Women. Both were close to the emotions of the people. There have been a lot of temples destroyed by the Mughals. We don’t want to restore all of them, but just few which holds utmost value to Hindus. It is a reasonable demand in a secular Hindustan on which Muslims need to ponder upon.

I think the decision of the government in 1947 to lock-down the disputed area was wrong. It could have been solved at that time. Muslim leaders would not offer resistance to this move since Muslim leaders in 1947 were more secular than today. History says that Babri Mosque was made upon Ram temple in Ayodhya, Shahi Idgah was made upon Krishna temple in Mathura and Gyanvapi mosque was made upon Vishwanath temple in Banaras. Mahmud Ghazni vandalized the Somnath temple. These are the core temples in which Hindus’ faith is dissolved.

PM Nehru, an agnostic, was strongly opposed to the participation of Sardar Patel in the reopening of the Somnath Temple, destroyed by Mahmud Ghazni in 1025 AD. President Rajendra Prasad flatly refused to abide by Nehru’s advice and participated in the opening, averring: “I believe in my religion and cannot cut myself away from it.” Ideally, after independence at least these structures need to be restored like Somnath.

Thus, Ram Temple holds a sentimental value to Hindus. Every Hindu, as well as Muslim, should unconditionally apologize to each other for the violent incidents. Muslims should acknowledge the existence of an older religious site as per ASI excavations. Only then Hindu parties will stop doing politics around it. The status quo is not helping anyone. The majority parties use this issue to give a mileage to their “agendas”, the opposition tries to appease the minorities, and the rest of us use it to bash the religion, that we hate.

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