For the last few days, Muslims have been in a considerable dilemma over the Salman Nadvi’s controversy. On the one hand is the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), which is in favour of waiting for the Supreme Court’s judgement on the title suit of Babri masjid and Ram Janmabhoomi. On the other hand is maulana Salman Nadvi, the grandson of Ali Miyan Nadvi and one of the ex-executive members of AIMPLB, who, after his meeting with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, wants an out of court settlement by proposing to build a magnificent mosque and an Islamic University on an alternative piece of land. And then there are a few Muslims like me, whose opinion apparently doesn’t matter, who do not align either with AIMPLB or likes of Salman Nadvi because neither of them amplify my voice.
In an interview with IndiaTV, Salman Nadvi earlier hinted at looking for some other lawyer in place of Zafaryab Jilani to represent the Sunni Wakf Board and that AIMPLB has no locus standi in the disputed title suit. He also claimed that AIMPLB does not represent all the Muslims of India and I concur with his claim because some of us are falsely made to believe that AIMPLB is their representative. AIMPLB is excellent at organising gala conferences with extravagant food and in the same breath sermonising Muslims about simple living.
AIMPLB claims to look out for Muslims in India, but the reality is different. It made a fool of itself by supporting the misogynist Triple Talaq and then had to swallow its words when the Supreme Court’s judgement came out. The organisation is highly patriarchal in its outlook as only a handful of men decide the fate of women. For many years now, AIMPLB has been exercising undemocratic and opaque elections of its members and ironically has been advocating for rights in this democracy.
I consider the controversy surrounding Salman Nadvi as divine intervention. I would request readers to analyse the outcomes of all the probable moves. In March 2017, Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar had advised the litigants for peace negotiations instead of a court battle. A couple of days ago, a special bench of the Supreme Court said that it would hear the appeals on March 14 and deal with the matter as a ‘land dispute’.
Let’s take the first probability where the Supreme Court considers the plea of Sunni Wakf Board and Salman Nadvi for an out-of-court settlement. In such a situation AIMPLB may launch an all India agitation and try to prove that Salman Nadvi is not the voice of the Muslims and hence he has no right to interfere with the court process. Nevertheless, Salman Nadvi’s claim that 90% of the Muslims are with him is completely baseless.
His proposal of shifting the Babri masjid site makes sense to very few individuals, who do not want bloodshed in the name of religion. But the majority of Muslims are easily led into believing that their religion is in danger and that they cannot tolerate trading of the land of Babri masjid with another land. The dream which Salman Nadvi is selling to the Muslims, that of a magnificent masjid and an Islamic University, is going to be built on that alternative land. Here, I believe that is not exercising his intellect and is instead invoking the passion.
We have plenty of instances where the Muslims have failed miserably to take care of their institutions, the very recent example is that of the Aliah University of Kolkata, which has become a hotbed of vote bank politics. Aliah University was been established by the funds and expertise of the state government and has been marred with too many controversies. And regarding the magnificent masjid, its construction and management, Allah knows the best.
The second probability is that Supreme Court rejects the out-of-court settlement plea as the deadline set by Justice Kehar has already elapsed and moves on with deciding the matter as a ‘land dispute’. If we do not expect another Allahabad Court-esque judgement then either the judgement will be in favour of Babri masjid or not. If the decision is in support of Babri masjid then no Muslim organisation, be it AIMPLB or Sunni Wakf Board or any other entity, can execute the judgement and reconstruct a masjid in that place.
There are also chances that Shia Wakf Board will lay its claim on the said property tracing its Shia lineage to Babur. Passions will be ignited all over India, but there will be no result because it will only fill the pockets of those who will stand up for the cause and collect donations for the building of the masjid, their political careers will shine but not the politics surrounding Muslims-related affairs.
I have serious doubt whether the state machinery will help and support in the reconstruction of the masjid because this very state machinery failed to protect the masjid in the first place. The judgement in the favour of Babri masjid will give the Hindutva forces a beating stick. They will start the propaganda that in a Hindu dominated country where the matter is of faith; there they have been deprived of their right to practice their religion and the right to their ancestral property. There is every chance that there will be a desperate attempt to repeat the events of 1992. Many Hindus and Muslims are vulnerable and gullible enough to surely fall prey to the communal card played by these claims.
Now let’s analyse the outcome if the Supreme Court holds that the disputed land belongs to Ram Janmabhoomi. The Hindutva forces will bank upon this judgement and beat their chest claiming that it is because of their efforts that their lost heritage has been duly restored and karsevaks morale will be boosted to restart the movement for the construction of a grand Ram Temple. This will also strengthen the Hindutva forces to accelerate their efforts in laying claim to several other mosques all over India.
This controversy will hopefully postpone the bloodshed and chaos which will eventually take place after the final judgement. I hope that with this contention, Muslim camps might get indulged in some inner ideological conflict and some legal loopholes force the Supreme Court to delay the judgement. As a Muslim, I have faith in Iman-e-Mufassal, which states that whatever good or bad, is ordained by Allah. The decision has been getting postponed for years, and so is the calamity that is likely to follow it. And, so be it.