India awaits Supreme Court verdict in a decades-long dispute between Muslims and Hindus over a centuries-old mosque site known as the Babri Masjid which was destroyed by Hindu activists in 1993.
Hindus claim that the mosque was built by Moghul emperor Babar at the birthplace of their god Rama. Widespread communal violence, following the destruction of the mosque, had resulted in more than 2000 deaths, mostly of Muslims.
The leading Hindu preacher Sri Sri Ravi Shankar raised a controversy by saying that “If Ram Mandir issue is not solved, we will have a Syria in India.”
“Muslims should give up their claim on Ayodhya as a goodwill gesture. Ayodhya is not a place of faith for Muslims. We cannot make Lord Ram to be born in another place,” he said.
Such a claim by the leading Hindu preacher is the evidence of psyche of majority Hindu community in the current environment when Hindu extremism is on the rise in the country. Muslims are living in constant fear as Hindu extremists keep raising controversial issues to harass more than 180 million Muslims living in India.
There is a section among Muslims who are willing to hand over the site in order to seek goodwill from the majority community.
The leading Muslim scholar Maulana Salman Nadwi had suggested an out of court settlement saying “There is scope in Shariyat for shifting the Mosque’. He claimed that such a gesture would help in bringing about Hindu-Muslim unity & solving this issue.”
However, Nadwi received a rebuke from many corners of the Muslim leadership leading to his expulsion from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB).
Muslims reaction is not without basis. For hardliner Hindus, it is not the only site which they claim to be a temple.
They claim that Muslim invaders forcefully converted thousands of temples into their tombs and mosques. Muslims believe that if they hand over this site to Hindus without adequate legal process, they will continue to pursue the cases of hundreds of other mosques, creating a polarised atmosphere in the country over a long period of time to come.
The fact is that while Hindu extremists have developed to become a very strong political force in India while Muslims have failed in creating a leadership who can represent Muslims in an effective manner.
It is important that Muslims form a Congress/Shura council to lead Muslims of India. The members of such council shall include political, social, religious leaders as well as intellectuals including leading Muslim servicemen, academicians, business leaders and professionals.
Its manifesto should be drawn by the leading intellectuals who are not only experts in social and political science but also the scholars of Quran and Sunnah. The decisions by the leadership of the council should be binding on everyone. However, they should only make such decisions after a proper consultative process.
Surely under current situation of extreme crisis for Muslims in India, some tough decisions may need to be made.
Prophet Mohammad (s) did so in Suleh Hudaibiya. Muslims are not only the weaker party but they are also the weakest link.
Hindutava leadership have been playing their cards wisely to reduce Muslims to an insignificant group politically despite them being the second largest religious group in the country.
Muslims need to develop strategies to counter Hindutava game plan, not by being adamant on each and every issue but by taking initiatives including seeking friendship and goodwill at times, if circumstances demand so.
Giving away Babri Masjid land with the announcement from above Muslim Shura/Congress as a step towards friendship and to create religious harmony and goodwill towards Majority community will not be detrimental to the Muslim cause. If this offer comes from Muslims, rather than from courts, it will have a different impact on Hindu masses.
However, with the rapid rise of Hindu extremism under PM Modi, Hindu leadership is unlikely to accept any offer as they are determined to harm Muslims in order to take revenge for a thousand years of Muslim rule in India.