Why Ummah Wahidah Remains Only An Emotional Slogan

For last fourteen hundred years we have heard a slogan one Allah, one Prophet and one Qur’an and so all Muslims should unite and constitute one ummah. Also, interestingly enough our ulama narrate a hadith from Prophet (PBUH) that “my ummah will be divided into 72 sects and only one of them will be naji i.e. will achieve liberation and others will be doomed”. Thus we ourselves contradict ourselves. On one hand, we desire unity and then go on dividing the ummah in 72 sects conflicting with each other.

And fact is that Baghdadi by the end of second century hijrah wrote a book AlFarq Bayn al-Firaq (Difference between Different Sects) and gives more description of more than 100 sects among Muslims by that time. In fact we should understand that emotional slogans will never bring unity and more we raise such slogans, more we will stand divided. In fact differences among Muslims–political, social, economic and cultural began among Muslims not too long after the death of the Prophet (PBUH).

The conquests, if anything, made situation much more complex bringing in more power wealth and foreign influences which sharpened divisions though it took some time for sects to formalize and differences assume theological structure. In order to understand and analyze these differences, we have to go much beyond theology and try to understand much deeper causes.

First of all we must understand that the message of Islam brought about a fundamental change in the then Arab society of much deeper nature than we realize. It completely changed religious, moral, social and political structures and the Arab society could never be the same again. Yet the change was so rapid that Arabs could hardly absorb it. What was more tragic that the Prophet (PBUH) also departed from the scene who was a supreme guide who was listened to reverentially by all Muslims?

Muslims for various reasons turned outward rather than inward to consolidate the gains of deeper Islamic revolution which could have been more beneficial to the nascent Muslim society. The most fundamental message of the Qur’an was moral and to bring in equality and justice in the society. The Qur’an repeatedly emphasizes importance of ‘amal salih along with iman (faith or belief in Allah, His prophets and the Prophet, day of judgment and accountability

Secondly the Qur’an gave a new vision of a just and egalitarian society with due emphasis on human dignity and freedom of conscience. It also found a new middle path in which both ummah and individual was important with freedom of conscience which until then was unknown in the Arab society. The Arabs were highly tradition bound and deeply immersed in their respective tribal cultures.

Islam tried to usher in new culture which was deeply humane and universal rather than tribal. But it was not easy to liberate oneself from pre-Islamic traditions which Muslims themselves called culture of jahiliyyah i.e. culture of period of ignorance. Yet its influence was so deep that mere acceptance of Islam could not bring in deep transformation which was in need for total social transformation.

The Qur’an had given Arabic language a new diction both moral and literary at which great Arab creative poets and others wondered and found themselves unable to match. But this diction was not only full of creative beauty but also morally high as the Qur’anic vision was to create a new society and a new human being literally what Qur’an calls mu’min a man of faith working for new vision as Iqbal put it mu’min hai to naya jahan paida karr (if you are a man of faith create new world and don’t live in the old world).

This new human being of faith not only would have accepted all the Qur’anic values of unity, human dignity, freedom of conscience, diversity, truth, compassion, equality, justice and great courage. But except a few companions of the Prophet (PBUH) there was no one dedicated himself or herself to cultivate this new culture and sustain this new Islamic vision.

What were worse the conquests further damaged this process as new alien values, mostly feudal and authoritarian in nature further damaged the whole process. Now emphasis was more on share state power and newly acquired wealth and splendour than fulfill the Qur’anic moral vision. The process of coming into being view visionary society received serious set back. The Islamic society began to be polarized between those who were engaged in worldly pursuits and squabbling for power and those who engaged themselves in only matters spiritual and almost reduced themselves as recluses.

One more setback came with coming into existence the Umayyad Empire which was highly repressive in nature and authoritarian and build more on the Roman model than inspired by Islamic values and vision. The Umayyads, deeply immersed as they were, in pre-Islamicjahiliyyah culture and tried to revive pre -Islamic culture with emphasis on its poetry. Kitab al-Ghina was written based on pre-Islamicjahiliyyah poetry and became immensely popular.

This jahilliyah culture’s foundational values were simply worldly pleasure completely devoid of high moral values. One can argue well what was wrong with it, after all it was rich Arab heritage and its revival after all was a legitimate act. This argument has of course some validity. After all a powerful Arab empire had come into existence and it needed its own national cultural heritage to be proud of and to trace its own national and tribal roots.

But as far as our present concern of Islamic society we are looking at it from altogether another perspective. What was tragic in this revival was revival of pre-Islamic culture only strengthened tendency to seek pleasure and power and enjoy life irrespective of what kind of society Islam wanted to build up. Secondly, and more damaging was that now this pre-Islamic language and diction became fashionable and even Qur’anic words and their meanings were sought to be understood in the light of how they were used in pre-Islamic poetry.

In fact Qur’an had created a new language rich in its own meaning. Its diction was moral and revolutionary to infuse new values in building a new society and the Qur’an used that new diction for this purpose. Now tragically pre-Islamic poetry became the basis of understanding Qur’an and its meaning. I think it was a great calamity that pre-Islamic poetry constituted the very basis of understanding Qur’an’s meaning. To some extent it was perhaps inevitable but without being conscious of its consequences it cause serious damage to the vision Qur’an was aiming at.

Third thing was the nature of theological debates which began to rage among theologians when the very moral foundation of Islamic revolution began to be weakened. Theological debates whether human being is free agent or divinely determined became supreme in which the ruling class had very high stakes. If human person is divinely determined then Umayyad regime is also divines willed and its oppressive and exploitative base cannot be challenged. After all it is divinely willed.

As we have pointed out Qur’an lays emphasis on freedom of conscience as much as even Shaytan was granted freedom and allowed to choose not to bow before Adam. Now human person was sought to be seen as mere toy destined to act as per divine will. Theologians were polarized according to their political inclinations. Those who did not want to challenge Umayyad power sought refuge in this theological formulation and refrained from political activism and some even sought to benefit from being part of ruling classes.

This is not to say that there were no ulama of great courage and moral integrity who refused to become part of ruling structure and engaged themselves in cultivating and promoting Islamic values and vision. But such were very few and far in between.

Fourthly, the Abbasids, in order to challenge Umayyad power launched an underground movement with the help of Iranian discontents who were feeling marginalised with Arab supremacy in the political as well as cultural areas. They had embraced Islam but never became part of political and cultural processes. The Persians readily agreed to support the Abbasids who promised them substantial part in the political process and Abu Muslim Khorasani organized military and mass support in favour of Abbasids.

The Persians had their own proud cultural and political heritage and they looked upon Arabs with sheer contempt as uncouth and uncultured Bedouins. As soon as Abbasids captured power and Umayyads dethroned, many Persian wives slaughtered their Arab husbands. But this was not to last longer. The Abbasids were after all Arabs and they did not want to share political power, at least substantial part with non-Arabs.

Thus first thing they did was to get rid of Abu Muslim Khorasani who had meticulously built political basis of Abbasid power. But they were shrewd enough to reward Persians for their support in some other way. Many Persian intellectuals were appointed on key bureaucratic posts to give them sense of participation. Though not politically but they became dominant in intellectual and cultural fields.

This also had its own social and moral consequences. Great social and intellectual changes began take place in very approach to Islam. The Mu’tazila movement acquired a new vitality under the Abbasid patronage and controversies like whether the Qur’an is created or uncreated broke out and Muslims were divided never before on such intellectual issues. If the Umayyads encouraged controversy about human determination, Abbasid encouraged the controversy about created-ness or uncreated-ness of Qur’an.

Both controversies, may or may not have philosophical and intellectual importance but helped divert attention from basic political social and economic issues. The theologians debated these issues and were polarized. Also, the Abbasids patronized translations of Greek books on philosophy into Arabic as well as from Persian and Indian sources and Biat al-Hikmah (the House of Wisdom) became centre of great intellectual ferment and enlightenment and Arabs began to lead in science, mathematics and technology and several other sciences.

It was indeed a great intellectual contribution to the world by Arab and non-Arab Muslim thinkers, philosophers and intellectuals, mostly Persians. By all means it was unparalleled intellectual ferment. But it also resulted in further division in the ummah and new sects were born, especially Ismai’lis and Qaramia, also known as batinis i.e. those who believed in interpreting the Qur’an with hidden meaning which were real meanings and the zahiri apparent meanings were meant only for masses, not for initiated.

The Isma’ilis were further subdivided in several sects and sub-sects. The Qaramitas, a sub-sect of Ismailis, were on the other extreme and believed in suspending practicing zahiri shari’ah as those who followed hidden meaning of Qur’an (also called ta’wil), need not indulge in shari’ah practices. Also, Qaramita’s whole emphasis was on communistic living under a da’is command.

All the members of the sect contributed all their earnings to the da’i who ran common kitchen. Private possession was allowed only in arms like swords and bows etc. The Qaramitas succeeded in establishing their state in Bahrain for thirty years. Nasir Khusrro whoseSafarnameh, critical edition edited and published by Zakir Husain in Germany, has given detailed account of Qaramita’s state in Bahrain and has refuted unfair charges against them like possessing common wives etc. It is interesting to note that some scholars maintain that Mansoor Hallaj who was put to death by Abbasids, also belonged to Qaramita movement and was put to death not really for his slogan of ana’l haq but for conspiring, along with Qaramita, to overthrow Abbasid regime.

Qaramita also became rivals of Fatimids in Egypt and Tahir Qarmati established his regime in Syria when he took away Hajar al-Aswadfrom Ka’aba and kept it in his possession for thirty years and the Fatimids had to persuade him with great difficulty to release it and they (Fatimids) restored it to Ka’ba and thus relieved the whole Islamic world of great anxiety.

Also, there was sharp polarization in the Sunni Islam. As a reaction to new intellectual trends due to transfer of philosophical treasures of the world to Baghdad which then established itself as greatest intellectual and philosophical centre of the world, brought about sharp reaction to intellectual trends among mainstream theologians. They used the weapon of philosophy and developed what came to be termed as ilma al-kalam i.e. dialectical knowledge.

They began to refute all claims of philosophers through ilm al-kalam. The famous debate between al-Ghazali and Ibn Rushd is well-known. Al-Ghazali wrote his tract Tahafut al-Falasifa (Bewilderment of Philosophers) to which Ibn Rushd replied by counter-tract Tahafut Tahaful al-Falasifa (Bewilderment of Bewilderment of Philosophers). Ash’ari, another theologian took extreme positions on all theological issues and naturally as against philosophers who had limited following among the intellectual elite, theologians like Ash’ari found mass following and established themselves as great theological leaders.

Ghazali himself wrote classic work Ihya’ al-Uloom (Revivification of Knowledge to revive traditional theology). It became a classical ash’arite theological work in Islamic world and is referred to by all traditional scholars. Some scholars maintain that it was after al-Ghazali’s work that all gates of ijtihad were closed in the Islamic world. But this seems to be oversimplified position. There are very complex causes for this. Fall of Baghdad, end of central Abbasid regime what the great historian Toynbee calls universal
Islamic state and development of weak regional states are some among them.

What is to be noted here is that this polarization could have been avoided with some caution to avoid division in Islamic world. The traditional theologians and ulama reacted too sharply to the intellectual and philosophical movement; some philosophers too, on the other hand, went to extremes. And Qaramita, as already discussed, even suspended shari’ah causing alarm among all.

A section of Isma’ilis who later established Fatimid regime first in Western Africa and later in Egypt exercised due caution in creating balance between what was zahiri and batini but their political rivalry with the Abbasids proved no less divisive on theological front too. Unfair accusations were made against them by mainstream theologians. In fact it was Fatimids who persuaded Qaramitas to return hajar al-Aswad back to Ka’ba.

There was another division too: the philosophers and intellectuals tried to grasp truth through intellectual efforts while the Sufis laid stress only on spiritual aspects and experiences. In this the Qur’anic middle path was lost. Qur’an had evolved a unique approach which was very comprehensive. It was approach based on all important components of life – spiritual, intellectual, moral and material.

It invited believers to live in this world, contribute to its material prosperity, reflect deeply on Allah’s creation, enrich spiritual relations with its creator so as never to become arrogant of ones material achievements, to maintain high moral standards to keep order and balance in the world and to constantly learn lessons from the past how people suffered because of their misdeeds. The Qur’anic language was a new contribution of all these aspects.

However, theological debates and efforts to understand Qur’an in the light of pre-Islamic Arabic diction destroyed much of this uniqueness. What was worse many commentators of the Qur’an not only depended on this pre-Islamic usages of Arabic words but also on myths and legends from Judaic and Christian sources which completely destroyed the Qur’anic spirit and Qur’anic commentaries became a mythological labyrinth.

Commentators like Imam Fakhruddin Razi tried to use Aristotelian deductive logic to write commentary on Qur’an. All this went on causing sterile theological debates. More such debates took place more theology became complex and beyond the reach of common Muslims. For jurists Qur’an was more a source of legal wrangling and sterile debates on various sterile issues like whether to raise hands or to do masah this way or that way and so on. Fiqh, instead of becoming a source of high morality became cause of division among Muslims on very petty and ridiculous issues.

Now we have reached a stage wherein sharp divisions have taken place among Muslims through out history. As explained these divisions were political, theological and intellectual and it is very challenging to undo these differences. The present political climate in the Muslim world is further sharpening these differences. That is why one ummah has become an empty slogan. What is worse every effort to unite results in further division.

The Arab worlds itself stand divided along their political interests and then there are Arab and non-Arab divisions. They do not get united even on major political challenges like those from Israel and United States of America. This reality should not be lost sight of. To evolve common strategies one has to be realistic and should not be swayed by any kind of rhetoric.

Muslims tend to be often emotional and more divisive forces work, more insecure they feel and more insecure they feel more emotionally they react. Attacks on Islam have multiplied like never before and it makes Muslims react more emotionally than strategically and intellectually. It requires great maturity and political shrewdness to respond these attacks. Our emotional reactions and street protests, and worse, terroristic and violent response benefits only our enemy and attacks on Islam further sharpen.

We may not be able to overcome our differences resulting in complete unity of ummah but certainly we can work out strategies to reacts un-emotionally and more intellectually so as to project a peaceful and dignified image of Islam. It will greatly enhance respect for Islam and Muslims in the world.

Every Vote Counts

By M. Zajam,

No one knows the importance of one vote than Rajasthan Congress president C P Joshi who lost the election in Nathdwara constituency by a single vote, defeated by BJP rival Kalyan Singh Chouhan. C P Joshi not only missed the chance to become an MLA but also lost his chance to become chief minister as he was the main contender for the post.

In India, voting percentage has been on decline and this has worried politicians and intellectuals alike. Rural India has larger share in total percentage of votes. Educated, urban middle class only likes to give opinions about sad state of country, corruption and immoral politics. But when it comes to act even in form of voting, they fail miserably. Worst terrorist attack, water logging and numerous other problems failed to move residents of Mumbai. Mumbai recorded only 45.98% in 2009 assembly election despite the fact that film stars and celebrities campaigned hard to promote voting and came out to vote in large numbers. Colaba area that witnessed terror at Taj Mahal Hotel, Nariman House and Cafe Leopold during the 26/11 attacks recorded dismal 36 percent voting. Nearly 11 months after the attack in and around Nariman House, the turnout was dismal.

Muslim backwardness is now well known and documented fact. In spite of all the problems and issues Muslim participation in election is always below the average. Low turnout of Muslim voters is one of the reasons for drop in Muslim representation in Lok Sabha and in assemblies. The last general election saw Muslim representation dropping from 37 to 30, whereas there are around 80 constituencies with sizeable Muslim population.

More or less similar situation is present in state assemblies. Bihar, which is going to poll in few days time, has only 15 Muslim MLAs. Out total 243 seats, 54 seats have sizeable Muslim population. Thirty seats of them have Muslim population between 20 to 30 percent and remaining seats have more than 30 percent.

The seats with 20-30 percent Muslim population have 16 BJP MLAs in the outgoing Assembly and in the 30 to 40 percent range, BJP has managed to win 5 seats. In seats having 40 percent and above Muslim population BJP has 2 MLAs. Araria with 59 percent Muslim population is represented by Pradeep Kumar Singh of BJP and Kasba seat with 45 percent Muslim population is represented by Pradip Kumar Das of BJP. Muslim apathy toward BJP is well know but still BJP comfortably winning Muslim dominated seats is something to ponder on.

BJP candidates defeated Afaque Alam of RJD in Kasba and Moidure Rahman of Congress in Araria by 6009 and 3151 votes respectively in the October 2005 Assembly poll.

BJP win from Muslim dominated seats is often attributed to the fact that many Muslim candidates jump in fray and this leads to division of votes. Parties will give tickets to Muslims in these seats either to attract Muslim votes or to spoil chances of other Muslim candidates. It will be Muslims duty to understand the motive of parties and choose the right candidate. Muslims are themselves to blame if BJP is able to snatch these seats from Muslims.

This time too, Shahnawaz Alam of LJP and Md. Afaque Alam of Congress are in fray from Kasba. In Araria, Zakir Hussain Khan of LJP and Moidure Rahman of Congress are in the fray. To take the advantage of division of votes, BJP has fielded Narayan Jha from Araria and sitting MLA Pradip Das from Kasba.

Effect of division of votes can be minimised by voting sensibly and heavily. It should be every Muslim priority to increase Muslim representation. Muslim representation has reached alarming level. Common man’s anger against elected representative is justified due to fact that majority of them just disappear after winning and lack of constructive work in their area. It is possible that Muslim MLAs will not do much for community after getting elected but their mere presence does make difference at local level administration.

Muslims should vote in large number not only to increase representation but also to keep the importance of their vote intact. BJP star campaigner Narendra Modi was refused entry in Bihar by Nitish Kumar as this could have polarised Muslim votes. Another star campaigner and hero of Ram Mandir movement L K Advani is not campaigning in the first phase where majority of seats are having large Muslim population. During campaigning leaders like Nitish Kumar, Sharad Yadav, Lalu Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan are accompanied by person sporting beard and skull cap like Abu Talib Rahmani and Ghulam Rasool Baliavi, just to show their pro Muslim image. It is different matter that many Muslims will not consider them as their leader. In this battle for survival, RJD-LJP alliance has realized the importance of Muslim votes and offered Deputy Chief Ministership and 15 percent reservation to Muslims. Even BJP has joined this race for Muslim votes when its state president C P Thakur appealed to Muslims.

It is unfortunate that everyone except Muslims realizes the importance of votes. In democracy, number only matters and counts. If Muslims, even with number on their side, are failing then they are themselves to be blamed. Right to complain comes with right to vote. One act of voting has affect on everyone’s life for next five years. It is too important to miss. Every vote counts and if you do not believe it, ask Mr. C P Joshi.

First The Mosque Disappears, Then The Law

By Shafeeq Rehman Mahajir,

In the Ayodhya matter, has the judgement of the Allahabad High Court unwittingly taken the law to the ideological right, and conferred legitimacy on questionable doctrine of majoritarian supremacy, while at the same time succeeding, I cannot say inadvertently or otherwise, in concealing it ? Are the judges of today capable of being seen as magicians creating illusions that make settled principles of jurisprudence magically disappear ? The verdict has the distinction of leaving us wondering if we are watching an illusion, in effect, though obviously such a situation would never have been ever intended by any Court, to distract the citizens from seeing the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Why is it said that justice must not only be done but it must be seen to be done ? That is because the message matters as much as the outcome. In the Ayodhya matter, the judgement of the Allahabad High Court has with consummate skill allowed certain established principles of civil law to go for a toss, caused the law to morph before the very eyes of a stunned section of the country’s population, even as the right itself was delirious at what it could hardly believe was happening.

Magicians have certain stock tricks and are adept at creating illusions so that audiences reach the conclusions magicians want. The judgement by picking stands and claims so devoid of any verifiable content and so completely divorced from the normal realm of evidence, proof, documentation, verification, legal sustainability, precedent, etc., and alleged facts so impossible to prove, walked such a perilous path that it appeared to it perfectly logical to resort to reliance on blind faith… and in doing so it created so compelling an illusion that it successfully blinded itself to not only binding precedent but also threw overboard all canons of judicial propriety in decision making, to such an extent that from that warped viewpoint, only one outcome seemed possible. Then it seems to have used the reasonable-seeming outcome to reverse engineer “reasons” to “decide” the matter in the way it did and the result was to inadvertently push the law in the right direction.

Just about all that most Indians will be interested in, in the matter of the Babri Masjid – Ram Janam Bhoomi case, is who won or lost — the outcomes of the cases. The court perhaps omitted to keep in mind one other crucial factor : any judgement as a tool of legal thought-shift is powerful because ratio decidendi of judgements forms the legal maze in which the citizens must in future navigate for securing their rights. So, while most public discourse is confined to simplistic issues of who won and who lost, the courts in fact write legal manuals to govern the future of a billion people, impacting (now in unsettling ways at that) what the legal fraternity smugly believed were settled jurisprudential principles of limitation, res judicata, dispossession of persons in settled possession being by only another provided that another could prove better title, lis pendens (no party can transact to affect any other party during the course of litigation), evidence, probative value and more.

Given there was a mosque there for four centuries and a half, given the rules of evidence, given the doctrine of lis pendens, given the problem of limitation, given the problem of a video record of demolition of the mosque by illegal means, the judges came up with a brilliant solution : ignore the demolition of 1992 altogether and focus on the alleged demolition of centuries in the past… So what if there is no proof of that alleged demolition ? So what if there is no proof of who executed that alleged demolition ? So what if there is no proof, if even there is actual controversy, about a specific place being a birthplace as claimed ? So what if there is no proof of that alleged structure allegedly demolished being a temple ? Shift focus from 1992, of which time and act of demolition there is available evidence, to another century, another set of allegations (as against proved fact) of which there cannot be any proof… and fall back on the legally dubious and logically questionably theory that because it is the faith of millions it must be accepted. Behold, the magical result is there ! What cannot be, suddenly is ! What is, suddenly disappears… and there is “justice for all” !!

Arre bhai, koi aur kyaa karey ? What’s a judgement by a set of conservative justices to do, faced with a nation on the boil, an issue that is insurmountable, a 1994 Supreme Court refusal to answer a reference but to rush in where a Higher Court declined to tread ? Unaware perhaps that by their judgement they erode the Law, all the while the set of conservative justices assiduously wrote volumes in the convenient belief that the integrity of the very nation itself was otherwise in jeopardy. But to enable the set of conservative justices to do their amazing work without itself getting caught in the nets of precedent, law and logic, the judgement has been brilliant at choosing to present resounding in its content only those claims in which what the alleged invaders did centuries ago was not just clear, but clear enough to adequately to sustain a legal argument on, whereas what was seen in 1992 was… wait, how could the judgement wish that away ? Simple – it did not ! It caused learned judges to simply ignore the demolition of 1992 !!

What the judgement achieved is so fantastic, you would be amazed beyond your imagination ! While the nation is watching, the Constitutional mandate of upholding the law is sidestepped skilfully, the principle that a change in situation during litigation cannot inure to the advantage of any party is quietly buried, four centuries and a half of history is disbelieved, mythology is elevated to the status of fact, the rules of evidence are scuttled, the doctrine of lis pendens disappears, the problem of limitation is overcome, the video record of demolition of the mosque by illegal means evaporates, so the learned judges can then turn their attention to the task they set themselves – preserving the national peace while the judgement continued at its task of destroying the rule of law.

Obviously the learned judges had no faith in the capacity of the executive to ensure peace, prevent outbreak of violence… After all, they did have as a stark reminder a precedent : the precedent of a State Government holding out to the highest Court in the country the guarantees and assurances of the protection of the mosque, and the grand spectacle of that edifice come crumbling down… So how could any Court now rely on the executive ? They had to ensure peace themselves ! So what if that is not the mandate of a Court ?

Did you think the reference to “the grand spectacle of that edifice come crumbling down” was a reference to the mosque that was demolished ? No, since the judgement chose not to refer to it I will not either – my reference is instead to the edifice of Rule of Law. What was reflected in that act of demolition of the mosque was aggravated first by the very majesty of law being trampled upon by a State that breached undertakings given to a Court, aggravated further by a Court that did not react. When mob violence takes over, reason, logic and law take a back seat, and edifices do come crashing down. That is in essence the way the mob works. Which is why decisions in disputes are not left to mobs to take, for fear that those decisions taken by mobs would not correctly be reflective of what the law prescribes, what the decisions of past stalwarts of legal and constitutional thought have held, and what would uphold the highest traditions that once prevailed in the land. Decisions in disputes are therefore left to Courts of Law.

Courts of Law to operate on the basis of Law. If however, judgements of a Court of Law were to proceed to do to the edifice of the majesty of law and to Rule of Law exactly what a mob did to the edifice of the mosque, would what happened to the mosque not also happen to the structure of the Law as we know it ?

So who thinks it is the Sunni Muslim Wakf Board that is affected by the judgement, or the Amrohi Akhara, or the Ram Lalla idol ? The persons affected one way or the other by the demolition of the mosque may be those, but the persons affected by the demolition of Rule of Law at the hands of the judgement are the likes of you and I, make no mistake of that !

If a right is claimed and denied, the law step to correct any imbalances. Sorry, let me correct myself, the Law would have stepped in to correct imbalances. Now, with a verdict of three learned judges vapourising so many legal principles at one stroke, what will now step in will be not Law as we knew it, with inconvenient doctrines and principles and requirements of evidence and proof and so on and so forth disrupting national harmony, but Law as we now are told it shall henceforth be : the belief of millions shall be the effective substitute for the law. With that substitute there is miraculously achieved, before your very eyes, a magical transformation, a legal-morphing causing the law of the land to disappear and stand substituted with the belief of a majority of the people living in the country.

Three litigants got three months’ more time to settle, or else. The country got for free the magic of the disappearing legal rules ! Ab Supreme Court jaaiye, das saal wahaan latgegaa maamlaa… by which time the magical result of today would have been operational for a decade ! And who ever saw anything once granted in our country being taken back again ?

The conservative judgement couldn’t simply overrule the problematic legal issue of an inconvenient set of “precedents” staring at the judges : faced with the national uproar both ways, for and against the verdict, no one notices the silent but crucial collapse, at the hands of the judgement, of settled legal principles. Court decisions based on highly fragile, judicially unknown and logically unacceptable lines of reasoning will unfortunately invariably impact all who live in a land with “millions” subscribing to certain beliefs. If the faith of those millions is to be the determinant of what is proper and what is not, then things like law, precedent, judicial decision making, rule of law, etc., pale into insignificance and stand substituted by an uncertain, absolute, unverifiable, impossible-to-prove something else – the will of the majority. That spells the end of the India that Babasaheb Ambedkar, Bhagat Singh, Mahatma Gandhi, Moulana Azad, Swami Vivekanand, and others of that calibre thought would come into being. We are now looking at a dubious legal construct based on a thought-shift from the secular to the fascist, from the multicultural to a monochromic, from the inclusive and pluralistic to the exclusionist. What we leave for our children is up to us but one factor is not a variable : if we are not to allow a malevolent drift, we need to act before it is too late.

No match to Narendra Modi’s Muslim obsession

By Soroor Ahmed,

The Muslim obsession of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi continues even eight-and-a-half years after the communal riots of February-April 2002. If in the past he used expressions like Mian and not General before President Musharraf of Pakistan, during the recent election for the six civic bodies in Gujarat, which the BJP won, he targeted the Congress by alleging that it wants to install the statue of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, while he himself is eager to build the statue of Iron Man of India, Vallabh Bhai Patel. According to him it would be double the height of the Statue of Liberty in the United States––it would be 182 metres tall––and would be known as the Statue of Unity. Ironically the latter as India’s first Home Minister after independence played an important role in getting the RSS banned for some time after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

Though Indian Muslims have nothing to do with Musharraf, who was the ruler of Pakistan, and Sohrabuddin, who was a gangster, expressions like Mian, which is used to address Muslims, were deliberately used to tease them and consolidate the Hindu votebank.

However, of late Modi has been trying to improve his image and during the recent election for six Municipal Corporations the BJP floated the name of Abdullah Ibrahim Saiyad, a retired IPS for the post of Mayor of Ahmedabad. But not surprisingly the said man, a former Additional Director General of Police, lost from his own seat of Sarkhej in Ahmedabad and thus Modi’s move received a big blow. This notwithstanding the fact that Narendra Modi personally supervised the election of Abdullah Ibrahim Saiyad.

This is not the first time that Narendra Modi made an attempt to woo Muslims. A year back he did put up some Muslim candidates for election of Municipal Corporation in Junagadh, which has a sizeable Muslim population. All of them lost and the Congress won.

In fact 11 out of 12 Muslim candidates of the BJP who contested in the six Corporations on October 10 election lost. The lone Muslim to win on BJP ticket was Bibben Sama, wife of Habib Sama, from Rajkot. Habib has been Rajkot BJP general secretary for the last 11 years. In contrast 34 out of 66 Muslim candidates put up by the Congress romped home. This in spite of the fact that the overall performance of the Congress was very bad. The BJP won two-thirds of the 555 corporation seats in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot, Surat, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar. The BJP won 444 against Congress 101––34 of them Muslims. Modi did succeed in branding the Congress as a Muslim party.

As a part of exercise to win over Muslims sometime back Modi appointed Shabbir Hussain Shekhadam Khandwawala, as the first Muslim DGP of Gujarat. He has recently been given a three-month extension. Similarly when the BJP won the by-election of Kathlal a few weeks back, Modi claimed that 65 per cent Muslims voted for his party.

Modi and his party desperately need some Muslim faces for image makeover in the state. Saiyad fits the bill. Like Modi he also comes from Mehsana district and actively campaigned for the party.

Saiyad was an IG, when he almost became a victim of mob violence on February 28, 2002. A mob surrounded him looking at the name on his uniform badge. After the riots he was not given important posting during most part of Modi regime till the last year of his retirement in 2008, when he was promoted to the post of additional DGP and put in charge of police administration.

Still after the retirement he chose to join the BJP and not Congress or any other party. Now he downplays the incident which took place with him during the infamous riots day in 2002.

The Mayor seat for Ahmedabad has become a sort of prestige issue for Modi too as a year after the Gujarat communal holocaust of 2002 Congress candidate, Aneesa Mirza, managed to become the first woman Muslim Mayor of the state. To be precise she became Mayor of Ahmedabad on April 16, 2003.

The greatest irony of all is that, it is Modi’s anti-Muslim image, which is being used by the BJP’s alliance partner in Bihar, the Janata Dal (United), to woo Muslim votes. Notwithstanding past friendship and handshakes Nitish Kumar has publicly dissociated himself from the Gujarat chief minister and tried to create an impression that he does not want him to campaign in Bihar. After the Ayodhya verdict of September 30 his party started avoiding Lal Krishan Advani and party spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad as well. Whether the move will click or not is an altogether a different matter.

When sometimes back Nitish did try to keep Modi away from the Bihar campaign the BJP was quick to explain its position. The party leaders argued that Modi is not coming to Bihar because he is busy in the civic poll in his own state. But now that the Corporation elections are over, yet he has not turned up for electioneering yet.

So eight and a half years later, Modi-Muslim relationship continues to bewilder the people.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan: His Life And Contribution

By Azhar Mohammed K,


Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (1817-1898) was a great visionary, statesman and Muslim reformer of the 19th century, the like of whom is rare. He wanted to make the community and country progressive and take them forward on modern lines. His supreme interest was intellectual development of the people through modern education. He was the first Indian Muslim to contribute to the intellectual and institutional foundation of Muslim modernization in Southern Asia. Interest of community and country was dearer to him rather than anything else. He was successful in making the Muslims understand the importance of modern education and endeavour their best to achieve it in order to stand on their own legs and live a dignified life in accordance with Islamic thoughts.

Dr. Allama Mohammed Iqbal says :

“Mubtalaayay dard koi azu ho roti hai aankh
Kis qadar hamdard saray jism ki hoti hai aankh”
(The eye weeps for the suffering of any and every part of the body, How sympathetic it is to the entire organism)

To the Muslim community Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was and is like the eye which weeps for the suffering of any and every part of the body. The sufferings of the community worried him. He took an oath to reform, educate and empower the Muslim community and was successful to a great extent in implementing it despite strong opposition from a section of the Muslim community which hated the British and their language. Today we can see the products of the Aligarh Muslim University adoring in every field of activity in India and neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh. They have earned a name for the community and country, thanks to the Aligarh movement.
Sir Syed’s educational caravan reached everywhere including Tamil Nadu from where I hail. It inspired and encouraged people to take to modern education by establishing educational institutions.

His birth and childhood

Sir Syed was born on 17 October 1817 in Delhi. His family was highly regarded by the Mughal dynasty. His maternal grandfather Khwajah Farid was a ‘wazir’ (minister) in the court of Akbar Shah II. His paternal grandfather Syed Hadi held a ‘mansab’ of the title of Jawwad Ali Khan in the court of Alamgir II. Syed Ahmed’s father, Mir Muttaqi was also close to Akbar Shah but rejected the position and titles offered to him due to his interest in mysticism. Perhaps he abhorred the way the materialistic world functioned. He died when Syed Ahmed was about 21 years of age. Mother, Azizunnissa Begum was, however, a strong willed woman of clearly defined principles. She showed extraordinary interest in the education, character building and upbringing of her son. She was a strict and God fearing lady.

His education

Sir Syed received his education under the old system prevailing at that time. He learnt to read the holy Quran under a female teacher at his home. After this, Maulvi Hamidud Din, became his private tutor. He completed a course in Persian and Arabic, and later took to the study of mathematics, which was a favourite subject of the maternal side of his family. He later took interest in medicine and studied some well-known books on the subject. At the age of 19 his formal education came to an end but he continued his studies privately. He started taking a keen interest in the literary gatherings and cultural activities of the city.

The passing away of his father left the family in financial difficulties, and after a limited education he had no option but to work for his livelihood. Starting as a clerk with the East India Company in 1938, he qualified three years later as a sub-judge and served in the judicial department at various places.

His vision

The supreme interest of Sir Syed’s life was education in its widest sense. He wanted to create a scientific temperament among the Muslims of India and to make the modern knowledge of Science available to them. He championed the cause of modern education at a time when all the Indians in general and Indian Muslims in particular considered it a sin to get modern education and that too through English language. He began establishing schools, at Muradabad in 1858 and Ghazipur in 1863. A more ambitious undertaking was the foundation of the Scientific Society, which published translations of many educational texts and issued a bilingual journal in Urdu and English. It was for the use of all citizens and were jointly operated by the Hindus and Muslims. In the late 1860s there occurred some developments that were challenges to his activities. In 1867 he was transferred to Benares, a city on the Ganges with great religious significance for Hindus. At about the same time a movement started at Benares to replace Urdu, the language spoken by the Muslims, with Hindi. This movement and the attempts to substitute Hindi for Urdu publications of the Scientific Society convinced Syed that he should do something. Thus during a visit to England (1869-70) he prepared plans for a great educational institution. They were “a Muslim Cambridge.” On his return he set up a committee for the purpose and also started an influential journal, Tahzib al-Akhlaq “Social Reform” for the uplift and reforms of the Muslims. A Muslim school was established at Aligarh in May 1875, and after his retirement in 1876, Sir Syed dedicated himself to make it a college. In January 1877 the Viceroy laid the foundation stone of the college. In spite of opposition to Syed’s projects, the college made rapid progress. In 1886 Syed organised the All-India Mohammadan Educational Conference, which met annually at different places to promote education and to provide the Muslims with a common platform. Syed advised the Muslims against joining active politics and to concentrate instead on education. Muslims generally followed his advice and abstained from politics. This advice is applicable even today. We have to concentrate our attention more on education for the uplift of the backward Muslim community. Many reports have clearly noted that the Muslims are educationally and economically more backward.

Throughout his life Syed Ahmed Khan showed concern with how Indian Muslims could adapt to intellectual and political change accompanying Western rule. His first mission became reinterpretation of Muslim ideology so as to reconcile tradition with Western education and science. He argued in several books on Islam that the holy Quran rested on a deep appreciation of reason and natural law and therefore did not preclude Muslim involvement in scientific methodology. These themes, mixed with a call for Muslim education, regularly appeared in his journals, the Mohammedan Social Reformer and the Aligarh Institute Gazette.

Syed Ahmed’s ideas became institutionalized despite criticism from theologians. In 1862 he formed a scientific society, and 13 years later he assisted in establishing the Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental College, which prospered and became the key intellectual center for Indian Muslims – The Aligarh Muslim University. The success of the college was largely due to his leadership and a curriculum embodying both Western and Oriental studies.

His contribution

Sir Syed’s contributions for the betterment and empowerment of the Muslims are great. His position in the judicial department left him time to be active in many fields. His career as an author in Urdu started at the age of 23. In 1847 he brought out an important book “Monuments of the Great” on the antiquities of Delhi. Even more important was his pamphlet “The Causes of the Indian Revolt”. His interest in religion was also active and lifelong. He wrote on the Life of Prophet Muhammad (Sal-am) and devoted himself to write several volumes of a modernist commentary on the holy Quran. In these works he explained how the Islamic faith could go with progressive scientific and political ideas of his time.

His literary works

Sir Syed was a government civil servant and s scholar. The 1857 revolt was a turning point in his life. The following are his important works:

1) “ASARUS SANADEED” – It is an archaeological masterpiece providing a wealth of information on countless historical monuments in Delhi from the eight hundred long Muslim rule. This book was published in 1847.

2) “ASBAB-E-BAGHAWAT-E-HIND” – (The causes of Indian Revolt) This book was published in 1859 after the 1857 revolt after witnessing the atrocities committed by the British on the inhabitants of Delhi. He saw an uncle, a cousin and an aunt dying before his eyes. He saved his mother but she died due to privations she had experienced. Muslims were the main targets of the government’s wrath.

3) “THE ALIGARH INSTITUTE GAZETTE” – It was an organ of the Scientific Society started in 1866. It made the people think and use their wisdom.

4) ‘”TEHZIB-UL-AKHLAQ” – It succeeded in making people realise the value of modern knowledge. It also gave new directions to Muslim social and political thoughts.

His golden sayings

1) Sons (of MAO college later AMU)) shall go forth throughout the length and breath of the land to preach the message of free inquiry, of large-hearted toleration and of pure morality.

1. Acquisition of knowledge of science and technology is the only solution for the problems of Muslims.

2. Call me by whatever names you like. I will not ask you for my salvation. But please take pity of your children. Do something for them (send them to the school), lest you should have to repent (by not sending them)

3. We will remain humiliated and rejected if we do not make progress’’ (in scientific field)

4. Get rid of old and useless rituals. These rituals hinder human progress.

5. Superstition cannot be the part of Iman (faith).

6. The first requisite for the progress of a nation is the brotherhood and unity amongst sections of the society.

7. Yes the main purpose of this college (MAO) is to impart modern education to Muslims who are suffering because of lack of it but this institution is for all, Hindus and Muslims alike. Both of them need education.

8. We (Hindus and Muslims) eat the same crop, drink water from the same rivers and breathe the same air. As a matter of fact Hindus and Muslims are the two eyes of the beautiful bride that is Hindustan. Weakness of any one of them will spoil the beauty of the bride (dulhan)

9. We (Hindus and Muslim) have evolved a new language Urdu

10. I wish that youth of India should follow the example of young men and women of England who are religiously engaged in the hard work of industrial development of their country” (During the stay of Sir Syed in England).

11. Look forward, learn modern knowledge, and do not waste time in studies of old subjects of no value.

12. Ijtihad (innovation, re-interpretation with the changing times) is the need of the hour. Give up taqlid (copying and following old values).

13. Do not show the face of Islam to others; instead show your face as the follower of true Islam representing character, knowledge, tolerance and piety.

14. We should not (by remaining ignorant and illiterate) tarnish the image of our able elders.

15. All human beings are our brother and sisters. Working for their welfare is obligatory for Muslims.

16. Remember that the words Hindu and Muslim are only meant for religious distinction: otherwise all persons who reside in this country belong to one and the same nation.

His achievements

Sir Syed’s greatest achievement was his Aligarh Movement, which was nothing but an educational venture. He established schools at Muradabad in 1859 and Ghazipur in 1863. He also founded a scientific society in 1864. When Sir Syed was posted at Aligarh in 1867, he started the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental School in the city. During his visit to England in 1869, he studied the British educational system and appreciated it.

Sir Syed wanted MAO College to act as a bridge between the old and the new systems. His famous quote is that ‘’a true Muslims is one who must have the holy Quran in one hand and the science in the other’’. Today we can see the Aligarh Muslim University offering different courses like Medical, Engineering, Science, Arts, Management, Languages etc.

Sir Syed’s aim was not just to establish a college at Aligarh but he was interested in spreading education and empowerment among the people by establishing educational institutions in every nook and corner of the country. He, therefore, started an organisation called ‘’All India Muslim Educational Conference’’to achieve this goal. It motivated the Muslims to open a number of educational institutions in India.
Although the Indian Muslim community has made some good progress in the educational arena, still they have to go a long way to achieve the goal that Sir Syed visualised. Only the vision and enthusiasm of Sir Syed can help us – Muslims to improve our educational and economic conditions further. It is,therefore, incumbent for us to revive the Aligarh movement once again to make the people understand the value of modern education fully.

I take this opportunity to request the Vice-Chancellor, Aligarh Muslim University to start a movement and come to the rescue of the suffering Muslim community in India. There is no point in blaming others. One feels that the main cause for our backwardness is lack of education. Education alone in the present context can empower us and nothing else. We can create a modern Islamic society only by taking Muslims to modern professional education like medical, engineering, teaching, management etc. No options or short cuts at all. God has given the eyes to see and mind to analyse. We must see what is happening around us and use our intellect to arrive at a conclusion. This is what Allah wants us to do. There is no point in toeing an outdated concept and blaming fate for every misery. Dr. Allama Mohammed Iqbal’s call should be taken seriously and march forward. He has said beautifully in the couplet which we read and hear quite often sometimes it echoes even in the Parliament but we do not give serious thought to it.

Khudi ko kar buland itna ki har taqdeer say pahlay,
Khuda banday say khud poochay bata teri raza kya hai

(Raise your position so much that God himself may ask you ‘’tell me what is it that you want?’’). It echoes the holy Quranic strong dictate that we should endeavour to achieve his rewards. In short we must develop a scientific temper among the people as the holy Quran says in different verses. We are mainly responsible for backwardness.

Sir Syed also brought out a journal ‘Tehzibul Akhlaq’ and succeeded in infusing a new desire amongst Muslims for acquiring modern knowledge.

Sir Syed finally reached to the conclusion that lack of education was the main cause of the backwardness of the community.

Sir Syed became successful in his mission and gave a firm foundation of Aligarh College (Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College) which afterwards became Aligarh Muslim University by an act of the government. It is meant for all- Muslims as well as non-Muslim students. All live and study here in a friendly and peaceful atmosphere. It has got a rich cultural heritage, which is its special and inimitable one.

The intellectuals produced in large numbers by Aligarh Muslim University served and continue to serve the country in various capacities. The first graduate of this University was the great revolutionary Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh. The late Dr. Zakir Hussain, former President of India and Dr. Syed Mahmood were also Aligarh educated dignitaries. The university has produced innumerable doctors, engineers, teachers, scientists, poets, writers, journalists, etc.

His educational revolution

The Aligarh movement launched by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan influenced the Muslims in the country, particularly in South India. The Souvenir brought out on the occasion of the Centenary Celebration of Ambur Muslim Educational Society on 4th September 2006 mentions as follows inter-alia:

Sir Syed organised the Mohammedan (later Muslim) Educational Conference. Its branches were established in cities and towns to report on the educational needs of the community. This conference used to meet annually at several important cities in the country and carried the message of modern education far and wide.

The 5th session of the Conference was held at Madras in 1901 and set in a brainwave all over the South. Like their brethren in other parts of the country the Muslims of the Madras presidency were also antagonistic towards the English education and therefore they were far behind their other fellow countrymen in public service. Nawab Mohsinul Mulk Mohsinud Dowla from Aligarh inspired the Conference with the saga of adventure which Sir Syed has brought into being in the North.

On 16th December 1905 the Management of the Chowk Masjid madrasa which was in existence then was taken over and later re-named as Madrasa-e-Mazharul Uloom. Janab T.Abdullah sahib visited Aligarh, observed the educational developments there and inspired by it prepared a plan for a Muslim school in Ambur meant for all religions and communities without any discrimination whatsoever. It was primarily his aim to create for young Muslims a good institution for their educational, cultural and social developments.

Many educational institutions came up in Tamil Nadu as a result of the Aligarh movement. Today by the grace of Allah there are 11 (eleven) full fledged engineering colleges and hundreds of Science and Arts Colleges, Higher Secondary and Elementary Schools in difference parts of Tamil Nadu. Many Muslim organisations like All India Islamic Foundation, Sadaq Trust, The South India Education Trust, The Muslim Educational Association of Southern India, Ambur Muslim Educational Society, Vaniyambadi Muslim Educational Society etc. have been playing a very important role in establishing institutions and imparting modern education to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

His rational approach

Muslims were in the forefront in the struggle for freedom. They suffered a lot. Many Ulema (religious scholars) were hanged in Delhi and other places. Sir Syed was worried. He was of the view that Muslims should not be so vigorous in opposing the British at their own cost and ignore everything including education and government placements.

Sir Syed wanted Muslims to have friendship with the British if they want to take their due rights. He quoted the examples of other religious communities benefiting from the government. While he tried his best to convince the British that Muslims were not against them, he persuaded the Muslims repeatedly to befriend the British to achieve their goals. He also wrote many books and published journals to remove the misunderstanding between Muslims and the British by writing booklets like “Loyal Muhammadans of India” and “Cause of Indian Revolt”. Sir Syed asked the Muslims of his time not to participate in politics unless and until they got modern education. He was of the view that Muslims could not succeed in the field of Western politics without knowing the system. He was invited to attend the first session of the Indian National Congress and to join the organization but he refused to accept the offer. He gave importance to the education of the Muslim community and succeeded in it. His institutions such as the College and the Muslim Educational Conference continued to influence intellectuals till this day and will continue to do so in the years to come unhindered.


1) Dr. Allama Iqbal:
‘’The real greatness of the man (Sir Syed) consists in the fact that he was the first Indian Muslim who felt the need of a fresh orientation of Islam and worked for it’’

2) Pandit Jawaharlal Nehruji:

‘’Sir Syed was an ardent reformer and he wanted to reconcile modern scientific thought with religion by rationalistic interpretations and not by attacking basic belief. He was anxious to push new education. He was in no way communally separatist. Repeatedly he emphasized that religious differences should have no political and national significance.’’

3) Mr. Inder Kumar Gujralji:

‘’Sir Syed’s vision and his laborious efforts to meet the demands of challenging times are highly commendable. The dark post 1857 era was indeed hopeless and only men like Raja Mohan Roy and Sir Syed could penetrate through its thick veil to visualize the Nation’s destinies. They rightly believed that the past had its merits and its legacies were valuable but it was the future that a society was called upon to cope with.
I offer my homage to Sir Syed for his vision and courage that withstood all obstructions both from the friends and the foes.’’

This great visionary and reformer, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, whose relevance is felt even today and who will always remain green in our memory inspiring wise thoughts and absolute principles in the right Islamic thinking passed away after a brief illness on 27th March 1898 and was buried the next day in the compound of the mosque in the College. May his soul continue to live in peace.

It Is Back To Square Minus One For NDA In Bihar

By Soroor Ahmed,

A few days before the September 30 verdict of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court the entire Minority Cell of Lok Janshakti Party, the junior alliance partner of Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar, merged with the ruling Janata Dal (United) of chief minister Nitish Kumar. Though Lok Janshakti Party of Ram Vilas Paswan is not as strong as Lalu Yadav’s outfit nor were the Muslim leaders of much reckoning yet it was quite an embarrassment for both the leaders.

That is ancient history now. Five days after September 30 verdict on Ayodhya the Minority Cell president of the ruling Janata Dal (United), Abu Talib Rahmani, almost with all the Muslim leaders, joined the Rashtriya Janata Dal. Sensing that the entire JD(U) Minority Cell will merge with the RJD the Janata Dal (United) state president, Vijay Chaudhary, dissolved the organization. So it was back to square minus one for the ruling party in Bihar as those who joined its Minority Cell recently were left high and dry.

Abu Talib Rahmani, though new to politics, was much promoted by the chief minister Nitish Kumar, who badly needed a Muslim face. Some of the Muslim LJP leaders joined the Janata Dal (United) before September 30 because Izhar Ahmed, the sitting MLA of the party, was denied ticket on the plea that he had neglected his assembly constituency. As Izhar himself quit the LJP and engineered a coup of a sort by taking away the Minority Cell of his party the Janata Dal (United) was quick to give ticket to him.

But the case of Rahmani is rather different. By the time he quit the Janata Dal (United) and with all his supporters joined the RJD the ticket distribution work was almost over. So it was not just lure of ticket which forced the cross over as in the case of the LJP Minority Cell. It was the sudden change of situation at the grass-roots level and pressure from below that these Muslim politicians, who care more for their own political ambition rather than anything else, were forced to switch sides.

The situation has changed to such a level that now the chief minister Nitish Kumar is reluctant to share dais with none else but the former deputy Prime Minister, Lal Krishna Advani and party’s chief spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad, lawyer of Sri Ram Lalla Virajman in the Ayodhya case. Though Nitish has a very good personal relation with both these leaders, the revival of old Babri Masjid memories is coming in the way of sharing platform with them publicly. The by-product of the verdict is that it opened the old wounds and demolished the media-created moderate image of Advani. So Nitish now wants to maintain distance with him.

Secondly Ravi Shankar’s address to the media at Lucknow just after the court verdict has embarrassed the Janata Dal (United) no end. That television shot is no less damaging to Janata Dal (United) than the June 12 advertisement showing Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar clasping each other’s hand.

So while Ravi Shankar was felicitated elsewhere in the country in Bihar the BJP people are not rejoicing over the court verdict because of the pressure from Janata Dal (United). This notwithstanding the fact that Ravi Shankar belongs to Bihar and hails from the family of Sangh Parivar.

As Nitish had one leg each on two boats sailing in opposite direction the crisis was bound to crop up sooner or later. Unfortunately for him this happened just on the eve of the Assembly election, one of the greatest political challenges of his life.

While the Congress too is trying to win over the heart of Muslims the problem with the party is that it has no leader in Bihar. Besides, the verdict also revived the Congress’ suspicious track record on the issue. So none else but the RJD-LJP alliance is likely to reap the benefit. For all his faults Muslims still trust Lalu Yadav so far secular commitment is concerned. He is a time-tested leader known for his tough stand against the communal forces. Nitish lacks that quality. His silence on Gujarat when he was the railway minister is being discussed openly in the Muslim society now.

True Nitish did try to win some support of Muslims but being a partner of BJP he had repeatedly succumbed to the pressure of the partner. For example he often claims that he had opened some of the old cases of Bhagalpur riots and constituted N N Singh Commission in this regard yet the appointment of K S Dwivedi as the IG (Operation) some months back is being openly discussed in the Muslim society now. This notwithstanding the fact that none of the Muslim leaders or Urdu media dared to raise the issue earlier. Dwivedi was the SP of Bhagalpur during the infamous 1989 riots and was indicted by the Bhagalpur Riots Inquiry Commission way back in 1995. The Report held him ‘wholly responsible’ for that anti-Muslim pogrom.

Though Lalu Yadav too did not take any action against him yet during his and his wife’s regime Dwivedi was at least denied promotion and dumped in the police hierarchy. Nobody heard of him during the rule of husband and wife.

Political situation often changes when the battle line is drawn and not when the society is in dormant stage. So the election campaign provides an opportunity for many pressure groups to operate in favour or against some political party.

As the Ayodhya verdict came just before the assembly election in Bihar where Lal Krishan Advani was arrested on October 23, 1990 by the order of none else but Lalu Yadav history is bound to haunt. A week after the verdict those Muslims who deserted the RJD, LJP and Congress to join the Janata Dal (United) are suddenly finding themselves in no man’s land.

A senior doctor who has a house in a Muslim dominated locality of Delhi has an interesting story to tell. He said that a day before the Ayodhya court verdict the son-in-law of one of the leading lights of the Babri Masjid movement rang him up asking him that he wants to shift to his house for a couple of days as he is not feeling very comfortable and secured in that posh-locality of the National Capital Region.

As the said son-in-law of the leading light of the Babri movement is a very good friend of the doctor, who narrated the story to this correspondent, the latter said that you are most welcomed. What is surprising is that his wife’s elder sister is now contesting assembly election in Bihar from the Janata Dal (United).

Do We Need Leaders?

By Dr Wasim Ahmad,

We probably do not. Why? In the modernized set-up and the institutions that have developed in the collective life, every organized segment of it – from family to government – has a leader and an in-charge. This is already in practice. Beyond this we do not need a leader per se. We only need intuitive individuals who may give ideas and show a different dimension or perspective as per the situations. We may value them as givers of ideas and as individuals. Beyond this we do not need to revere them and gravitate around them for some charisma. This is anathema to Islam, our ideal that we aspire to follow despite all our failings.

If a ‘leader’ was always going to be a requirement, the prophets would have continued to be sent. However, there is a strong reason for the discontinuation of prophets. Prophets are, in fact, a supernatural source of knowledge. If this door is kept open for ever the human beings will not be challenged and will always rush for readymade answers. This is exactly what was discouraged by the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) and he trained his Companions into the art of thinking (the most difficult job on earth).

It is in order to remember here what Iqbal has said in the context of the reasons for the finality of Prophethood (khatm-un-nubuwwah). He writes: “…. The Prophet of Islam seems to stand between the ancient and the modern world. In so far as the source of his revelation is concerned he belongs to the ancient world; in so far as the spirit of his revelation is concerned he belongs to the modern world. In him life discovers other sources of knowledge suitable to its new direction. The birth of Islam is the birth of inductive intellect. In Islam prophesy reaches its perfection in discovering the need of its own abolition. This involves the keen perception that life cannot forever be kept in leading strings; that, in order to achieve full self consciousness, man must finally be thrown back to his own resources. The abolition of priesthood and hereditary kingship in Islam, the constant appeal to reason and experience in the Qur’an, and the emphasis that it lays on Nature and History as sources of knowledge, are all different aspects of the same idea of finality (of prophethood).” (The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam; edited and annotated by M Saeed Sheikh, Institute of Islamic Culture, 2-Club Road, Lahore, 4thedition: April 1999 pp 100-101) More details could be found in the chapter titled ‘The Spirit of Islamic Culture’. The philosophy behind the finality of Prophethood needs to be understood more.

Our main problem is lack of resourcefulness of the individuals due to a number of factors, education being the biggest of those. Yes, the community invests a lot (of time and resources) in the education but does not get proper results especially from the traditional religious institutions.

Contrasting our situation with the West we find that it does not crave for ‘leaders’ in our sense of the word. This is because of the prevalence of that education system which makes everybody a ‘leader’ and makes him more and more resourceful, thoughtful and critical in outlook, generally speaking. Once this is achieved there is no need for a leader.

We need that education system which fosters more critical thinking, de-conditions the individuals and teaches them to utilize their latent capacities to the maximum extent possible. We need more teachers who are better prepared for the job in our classrooms than we need leaders.

(The author is Dept. Head of Islamic Studies, Preston University Ajman, United Arab Emirates. Email: malikwasimahmad@gmail.com)

Ayodhya Judgment: Triumph Of Faith or Constitutional Legality?

The much awaited judgment of Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court in the title suit filed by Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and others was at last delivered and has been welcomed by some and criticized by others, mainly by litigant parties. Those who want to see the controversy end for once and all are arguing that the judgment will help bring about resolution of the dispute as all three parties (Ram Lalla Idol has been treated by the judgment as a legal entity). Now Hindus can build a temple and Muslims a mosque, if they so desire and India can move on.

After all the controversy has to end somewhere and India should move on. Had the judgment achieved that it would have had some merit. But both the litigants are far from satisfied and want to challenge it in the Supreme Court. The judgment has utterly failed to bring about any reconciliation. And apart from this the judgment has set a dangerous precedent.

While peace and reconciliation is very important if it is achieved at the cost of Constitutional democracy and rule of law, it can do more harm than achieve such objective, if it succeeds. The judgment is based on faith, not on law. The two judges, without any historical proof and law of the land straightway invoked faith of Hindus that Ram was born at that place and that a 12th century temple existed there (while admitting that they do not know anything about history and archaeology) and given land to Ram Lalla on one hand, and Nirmohi Akhara on the other and as if as a concession to Sunni Muslim Wakf Board also.

Many legal experts, therefore, apart from the litigants, have strongly criticized the judgment and feel now only the Supreme Court may examine the whole dispute strictly from legal and constitutional viewpoint and deliver the final judgment though it may take along time. Justice Khan, the third judge, though feels there is no proof of any temple being there yet felt that in the interest of peace and reconciliation the land may be divided among three litigants.

Thus all three judges have invoked values of peace and reconciliation rather than constitutional values of democratic India. Law is and must be indifferent to the faith of litigants and even of judges and the judgment, in a democratic country like India which has maintained its independence of judiciary and constitutional values for last sixty years, must be based only on law without any compromise.

It is for the first time that High Court Judges have invoked faith disregarding historical facts and legal values and such invocation of faith can prove injurious to rule of law. It is not Court’s concern whether reconciliation takes place or not, it has to function strictly accordingly to law. It is different thing if it appeals to the litigants to find solution through negotiations rather than waste their time and resources in fighting in the court and it is for litigants to decide whether to accept the court’s appeal or not. If they do not the judges have to consider law as supreme and deliver their judgment.

Those who are celebrating the judgment today as victory of peace and an end to a long standing dispute, are either unaware of long term consequences of such a judgment or do not care for our constitutional democracy. Whatever their reason for celebration, either way it is setting dangerous trend in court of law. Tomorrow other judges motivated by their faith may use this judgment as a precedent and deliver other judgments invoking faith. One judgment often becomes precedent for subsequent judgments.

Thus, stretching the augment one can say as in a democracy after all numbers count and so faith of majority community will play greater role than faith of minority community and court of law will thus become majoritarian in their attitude and all the legal values and protection of minorities and their faith in the constitution may be ultimately subverted. This judgment must be seen in this light if we care for majesty of law and our Constitution.

While faith is very important for individuals and communities constitution is of seminal importance for the country and the nation. India is a country of great diversity and multiple faiths and Constitution guarantees freedom of faith and conscience for all, law is as important for the nation as faith to a community. And the Allahabad High court judgment must be seen in this perspective.

Even Hinduism is not a homogenous religion. Today among Hindus are counted, among others, Dravidians of South also. But Dravidian traditions are far different from Aryan traditions. If one goes by Karunanidhis statement he has complained of Aryan deities being imposed on Dravidian ones. Thus even invoking faith of Hindus in the Allahabad High Court judgment is problematic. Apart from secular Hindus having faith in constitutional values, other Hindus having different culture and linguistic roots also may not subscribe to same faith. Also such tendency of invoking faith may generate pressure on minorities in general, and certain religious minorities in particular, to give in to majoritarian values.

However, having said all this it does not mean that such disputes should not be solved through dialogue, negotiations and mutual agreements. No one will be more happy than myself if the Ayodhya dispute is resolved through dialogue and in the spirit of give and take. It is indeed a great initiative on the part of Shri Hashim Ansari, one of the main litigants who has been fighting this case since early sixties to meet Hanumangarih temple’s main Pujari Shri Gyan Das after the judgment to intervene with Nirmohi Akhara and put and end to the whole controversy through negotiation.

India is a great democratic country and such disputes about the past either must not be invoked at all, as future is much more important than the past, or having invoked must resolve it through mutual understanding so that both the sides should not feel a looser. It is very dangerous that politicians should raise questions of history and use it for their political objectives. The BJP has done precisely that.

It is also regrettable that those who committed crime of demolishing the mosque which was both unlawful, unconstitutional and undemocratic and also against tenets of Hindu faith and yet they are celebrating victory of faith over law. This is even more dangerous. The culprits of demolition have not been yet punished which is another violation of Indian Constitution. Least one can expect is to punish whoever the guilty is or are.

Here in such cases civil society must play vibrant role; our intellectuals, historians, religious leaders litterateurs, peace activists and all those who stand for democratic and constitutional values must come forward and put pressure on both sides to carry on meaningful dialogue to find solution outside four walls of legal chambers to resolve this controversy.

Earlier also Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham had taken initiative along with Muslim personal Law Board in early 2000 to resolve the controversy but VHP and others gheraoed him and stopped him from doing so. This time Shankaracharya of Jyotish Peeth and Dwarka Peeth Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati has once again indicated his intention to do so and this should be heartily welcome and members of Muslim Personal Law Board should join hands with him.

It is also heartening and we must duly praise the efforts of people of India to reject street violence decisively and stand for peace. Our common people have truly stood by peace and very firmly. They have displayed much more wisdom than our politicians whose lust for power never ends.

Along with this we should also recognize the fact that Muslims of India have shown great initiative for peace and practically every Imam in every mosque appealed for peace consequently for two Fridays preceding the judgment, told Muslims to accept the judgment whatever it is in favour or against. Contrast this with mid eighties and end of eighties when Muslims were greatly agitated for Babri Mosque.

Our democracy has indeed made them realize that it is in democracy and secular values lie their future and they must assert themselves for peace and prosperity of people of India together. Confrontation will bring only violence and destruction. All Hindus and Muslims and others have shown great solidarity this time to maintain peace marginalizing even extremists who used to issue statements in very shill tone. They are issuing statements in much more muted tones. It is people of India who have made them behave. I, therefore feel civil society must assert itself and give direction to our political leaders how to behave.

If such initiative could be taken before the highest court’s doors are knocked it will be much better. Only peace is our future and it civil society alone which can ensure this in a democracy.

Ayodhya Dispute: Let’s Change The Equation

The thinking is near unanimous among Muslims; Babri Masjid verdict should be appealed in the Supreme Court. Indeed, the case should go to India’s highest judiciary body and all arguments should be made and heard because Allahabad High Court’s faith-based ruling has implications for not only Muslims but India as a whole. For this and some other reasons, the pleading group in the Supreme Court doesn’t need to be a Muslim group at all. In fact, by not being a party to this case, Muslims set to gain more.

From the night of December 1949, when idols were first placed in the mosque in an act of vandalism to the day of December 1992, when the Babri Masjid was demolished and even after that Muslims of India have always been on the side of law. Imam of Babri Masjid, when he was informed of the placement of idols, did not take the law in his hand rather he went to the local police. Since then, Muslims have pleaded their case patiently in the court of law and hoped for the best. It was their firm belief in Indian Constitution and judiciary that had them waiting for the justice for 60 years.

Indian Muslims have little confidence in police, administration, media or people claiming to be their leaders but their full trust in judiciary, even with its slow movement, was what kept them going. Be it the case of communal riots, fake encounters, or arrests of youths on terror charges- Muslims always cooperated with inquiry commissions and Indian courts. Many youths who were falsely accused of terrorism were later released and these small victories meant that Muslims’ faith in the higher power of judiciary was not unfounded.

They knew that Indian system is corrupt and at best indifferent to them or at worst works actively against them, but not Indian justice system which rules according to the Constitution and decides based on the evidence placed before them. But this latest ruling on Babri Masjid title suit which was based on faith rather than evidence shakes the Muslim trust on judiciary. If they don’t have faith in judiciary where else can they go for justice and enforcement of their rights which are trampled upon by the system?

Planning to go to the Supreme Court is the only option that Muslim leaders can give to their community at this time. But what if the Supreme Court also gives its ruling based on faith rather than evidence? Will it not completely stop Muslims from having any faith in any Indian system? What will be the implications of such a loss to the community and its future in India? What are the options will Muslims have, at that point, for justice?

To be realistic is to realize that it is near impossible to take control of the land where Babri Masjid stood for four hundred years. Promise of rebuilding Babri Masjid by the then Prime Minister is also not going to be fulfilled. Whether Lord Ram was born at that exact spot is disputed by Hindus themselves but the movement against Babri Masjid had millions of Hindus believe that to be Ram Janmsthan. In this situation, it is impossible to build a masjid in that place. Even if Muslims win the case, sooner or later they have quit their claim on the land in the interest of peace and harmony.

Given that the Babri Masjid case sets a bad precedent and it has implications beyond this or some other masjid, and also that a loss in the Supreme Court can make Muslims more alienated and marginalized in India, the best option is to have the case in the Supreme Court be petitioned by a non-Muslim group or people not representing Muslims. Muslims do not need to be party to this case to get justice. Babri Masjid had become a symbol of Indian secularism and rule of law, which means any Indian can be party to this case.

Doing this also pull the rug from under the feet of the Sangh Parivar. Their standing in this issue and using this issue to spread hate is only when they use the language of Hindu vs. Muslims, Babar vs. Ram. As soon as the equation changes and Muslims are not the ones opposing the temple, Parvar’s position will be weakened.

When the case becomes a fight between Hindus and fanatic Hindus then the potential fallout from losing the case will be minimal to Muslim psyche and if justice is served then they set to gain two-fold- first, Sangh Parivar will not be the sole authority speaking on behalf of Hindus and secondly Muslims will benefit from the judgment even though they were not a party to it.

Babri Mosque Dispute: Muslims’ Options

By Kaleem Kawaja,

The flaws in the UP High Court judgement on the title to the Babri mosque land are so basic and so numerous and have been so succinctly pointed out by a lot of people, about half of them Hindus, that there is no need to discuss them any further. The anguish and lament that is pouring out of the Muslim minds is a natural occurrence. It is because we think of ourselves as such integral parts of India that we expect justice every step of the way. However it is time for the Muslim community to pay serious attention to their real options in today’s India vis-a-vis the High Court judgement (where one judge in the panel was a Muslim), and the future of their community.

This High Court judgement took away many options that the Muslim community had to come to a negotiated settlement and earn some goodwill from the Hindus of India by giving up something that was their. However there is still time left and a few options left for the community where it can make the Hindus acknowledge gratitude to the Muslims for resolving a major national and Hindu-Muslim problem that has severly damaged the Indian nation. And then be able to re-build the Muslim community in the nation’s mainstream and make progress with needed cooperation from secular Hindus. Muslims also need to stop VHP, BJP etal from converting more secular Hindus to their side, something that they were successful in doing with their Ram Janambhoomi campaign.

Yes, Muslims have every right to appeal to the supreme court and point out the flaws in the High Court judgement. But we should be realistic about what the supreme court may say. The govt will again play the same game and put 1 Muslim judge in the supreme court bench to demonstrate its even handedness. If we think that the Supreme Court will reverse the High Court judgement and award the entire site to Muslims, we are living in fools’ paradise. Are supreme court judges angels? Are they not the same judges who populate the High Court? Are not the same compulsions at work in the supreme court as they are in the High Courts? Will it really be possible for the Hindu supreme court judges and the lone Muslim judge to negate the High court conclusion and say that Hindus have no claim to that site? Think about it.

The most generous result that we can expect from the supreme cort appeal, which will again create much tension between Muslims and Hindus, with Muslims bearing the brunt, may be that the supreme court may give one-half of the site to Muslims and the other half to Hindus. We should understand that no power on earth, let alone supreme court can make Hindus vacate the part of land where the makeshift Rama twmple exists now. We should also understand that any supreme court proceeding will give yet another opportunity to VHP, BJP, Advani, Modi etal to whip up poison in the Hindu mind against the Muslims. Another cycle of hatred, violence and retribution against innocent Muslims may result and its negative effect last for decades .

It is also likely that supreme court may refuse to hear the Muslims’ appeal on some technoical legal ground. Regardless, after the supreme court review that may take another 3 or 4 years it may be established beyond the shadow of any doubt that VHP/BJP were always right and not only Muslims were wrog, the secular Hindus were also wrong. VHP, BJP will be able to say with full confidence that Muslims always exaggerate the resolution of national problems with a Muslim bias and without being even handed. Ofcourse at that time Muslims will have absolutely no options or ability to make suggestions in this matter. Also it will embolden VHP, BJP and extremist Hindus to say with certanity that Muslims and secular Hindus are wrong on the other 2,000 mosques also. And they will intensify their campaign to take over those mosques. It will give much fodder to BJP to surge as the lead political party in India.

However at this time while Muslims still have some options, if they express their revulsion at the flawed High Court judgement, but say that in the interest of the welfare of the Indian nation and their own community, they want to close the chapter on this very damaging national dispute and not pursue it any further, it will leave a very positive and very lasting impression on millions of Hindus who populate India. As to their share of the land, they can simply give it away to the Hindus, or decline to take possession. That may make a lot of Hindus who think negatively about Muslims, to rethink and at least become neutral on Muslims. This is just as it happened among many Hindus after the genocide of Muslims in Gujarat.

Unfortunately many Muslims who speak on this issue have hardly any communication with Hindus as their lives have always revolved in Muslim circles only. Instead of looking at today’s real India they think of an idealistic divine India where every Hindus should be a Gandhi. Look at the long history of India where a minority of upper caste Hindus have dominated over an overwhelming majority of low caste Hindus for many milleniums, despite countless Hindu saints, reformers and do-gooders.

Today it behoves Indian Muslims to think of their future with cool heads, evaluate their real options, not their idealistic dreams, and advise their leadership to take the right step forward that can bring the community out of the doghouse and into the mainstream and pinnacle of the nation.

The writer is a community activist in Washington DC.