Muslims divided over accepting 5-acre land for mosque in Ayodhya

The proposals by Muslim organisations and prominent citizens of the community vary from outright rejection, to payment for the plot, setting up a hospital, college or vocational institute on the land which the Supreme Court has directed the government to give for construction of a mosque in Ayodhya
President of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind Maulana Arshad Madni says the Sunni Waqf Board should not accept the five-acre plot for a mosque awarded to the Muslim community in SC’s Ayodhya judgement.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
President of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind Maulana Arshad Madni says the Sunni Waqf Board should not accept the five-acre plot for a mosque awarded to the Muslim community in SC’s Ayodhya judgement.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Nov 15, 2019 01:59 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Bareilly/Prayagraj/Agra | ByM Tariq Khan, Farhan Ahmed Siddiqui and Hemendra Chaturvedi

There are suggestions aplenty among the Muslim community for the five-acre plot which the Supreme Court, in its Ayodhya judgment, has directed the Centre to allot for a mosque in the pilgrim town.

While some favour rejection of the alternative land, others favour paying for it and a few advocate building a college, hospital or even a library there.

For instance, the Ittehad-e-Millat Council (IMC) and Tanzeem Ulama-e-Islam, the two organisations that wield considerable clout among Muslims in the Bareilly and adjoining regions, have set a condition for the Sunni Waqf Board to accept the five acres of land.

“We honour and respect the apex court’s verdict but then a mosque cannot be built on donated land,” said Maulana Tauqeer Raza of the IMC.

“In case the Waqf Board still decides to accept the land then it must pay the total value of the land to the government before proceeding to build anything on it. This is because a mosque can only be built on a property whose ownership vests with it (that is mosque),” he pointed.

Reacting to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) move on the issue, Raza said some organisations wanted to keep the issue alive and create unrest in society because they had a personal axe to grind.

The AIMPLB has convened a meeting at Nadwatul Ulema in Lucknow on Sunday to take a call on whether to file a review or not against the Ayodhya verdict.

Maulana Raza said the IMC had also convened a meeting in Lucknow on Friday to discuss the fallout of the Ayodhya verdict.

“Whether it is AIMPLB or the Jamait-e-Ulema Hind (JuH) or any other religious organisation, the stated view of the Muslims was that they would accept the court verdict irrespective of the fact if it was in their favour or against them,” he said.

“We had always favoured a negotiated settlement of the dispute just to avoid this situation where one party emerges as a winner and the other as a loser. But then these same religious organisations, which are now advocating a review, had opposed the talks,” said Maulana Shahabuddin Razvi, general secretary of Tanzeem Ulama-e-Islam.

He said AIMPLB, JuH and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi should shun the idea of review and focus on other important issues related to the welfare of the Muslim community.

Razvi made the remark on a day on which head of prominent Muslim body Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (JUEH) Maulana Arshad Madani said the Sunni Waqf Board should not accept the five-acre plot.

In Prayagraj, Chowk Jama Masjid secretary (mutawalli) Colonel (retired) Sayyad Abrar said there could be no better verdict on the issue than the one pronounced by the apex court.

Abrar also said Muslims should wholeheartedly accept the land and propose construction of a library where books on all religions would be available for study, he suggested. A massive library with books on all religions and subjects will benefit people of all communities, he said.

However, Syed Hasan Raza Zaidi, Imam-e-Juma of Shia Jama Masjid, said as the Supreme Court verdict mentions five acres of land for construction of a mosque, the order should be respected and only a mosque should be constructed on the land.

Ali Fatmi, professor of Urdu at Allahabad University, said Muslim scholars and leaders should come together to take a decision on utilisation of the land. A hospital, college or anything, which was in the interest of all communities, should come up on the land, he suggested.

In Agra, former secretary of Collectorate Bar Association Amir Ahmed suggested that a mosque could be built on part of the five- acre land and an institution for imparting job oriented education to students from weaker sections should be established on the remaining land.

‘This institution should be for imparting higher education to students through which they can find jobs and there should be no restriction of caste, creed or religion. However, the fee schedule should be affordable. All this should be managed by a bona fide trust,” he said.

Aamir Rasheed, president of Dara Shikoh Foundation in Aligarh has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking naming of mosque to be built on five-acre land after Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh who, according to him, was a champion of secular values.

A scholar of books of different religions, Dara Shikoh was one of the sons of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan..

“Both Hindus and Muslims have welcomed the decision by Supreme Court. To strengthen unity among Hindus and Muslims, the mosque should be named after Prince Dara Shikoh who had translated 50 Upanishads from Sanskrit to Persian and had great respect for Sikh gurus. The trust entrusted with construction of mosque should have representatives of all sects of Muslims,” Rasheed said.

“If the Muslim Personal Law Board or the Sunni Waqf Board declines the land, then our foundation is ready to take the responsibility,” he said.

Ashfaq Baig, the media secretary for the Revenue and Consolidation Bar of Agra, however, ruled out constructing a mosque on such land offered by the government as ‘namaz’ there could not be justified according to Islamic traditions.

“Instead a charitable hospital or a ‘madarsa’ can be set up there and it should symbolise the policy of ‘sulah-kul’ or religious tolerance,” he said.

Uttar Pradesh Aman Committee chairman Munawwar Ali said the land for a mosque needs to be purchased or can be built after collection of money.

“As such, if land is allocated by government in compliance with the Supreme Court directive, the same can be utilised for a social cause. A hospital or garden can come up there,” Ali said.

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