The Babri Masjid was a historic Masjid in the Uttar Pradesh province of India. It was built in the 16th century by the Mogul Empire who ruled India at the time. The Masjid area has historically been a site of aggression from Hindu activists who claim that the Masjid area is the site where Ram (a Hindu deity) was born. The first recorded aggression took place in 1853. During the British raj, or direct British rule over the Indian subcontinent, separate areas of the site were set up for Muslims and for Hindus. In 1949, after India was partitioned and became independent, images of Ram were brought into the Masjid. In the ensuing controversy, the site was closed off to both communities, but the images were not removed.
A campaign was launched in 1984 to remove the Masjid and build a Hindu temple in its place. The movement led to riots in 1990 in which thousands of Muslims were killed. It further led to the collapse of India’s ruling coalition and helped bring the Bharatiya Janata Party to power in several states, including in Uttar Pradesh, and on December 6, 1992, security forces stood by as a Hindu Mob destroyed the Masjid.
From that point on, numerous court cases were held on this matter which culminated in the judgement of the Supreme Court of India on 9 November 2019. The Supreme Court, while acknowledging the illegal destruction of the Masjid, ordered the land to be handed over to a trust to build the Hindu temple. It also ordered the government to give an alternate 5 acres of land to the Sunni Waqf Board for the purpose of building a Masjid.
Faizan Mustafa, vice-chancellor of NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, termed the verdict “controversial”. “The judges tried their best to have a kind of a balance but ultimately it’s the mystery of the faith over rule of law, because they [judges] said that we can’t be doing anything about the Hindu belief and if they believe that Ram was born here … we have to accept it,” he said. “Belief is good for the purposes of religion, but can it become a basis to resolve property disputes?”
Muslim religious authorities in India have expressed disappointment with the outcome but have strongly advised the Muslim community, as well as other faith groups, to respect the decision of the Supreme Court. At the same time, they are considering all legal options available.
The judgement is, without doubt, a bitter pill for Muslims to swallow. We urge the Muslim leadership of India to address this matter in protecting the interests of the Muslim community within the parameters of the law and pray that no further bloodshed and violence occurs.
Whilst the Muslim Ummah laments the loss of the Babri Masjid, our local Masjids remain in our hands. The true honour of the Masjid is to respond to the call of the Muazzin five times a day. Let us honour our Masjids and value our freedom to access them by giving the Masjid its due right. May Allah Ta’ala strengthen our resolve to perform our Salaah in the Masjid and protect our Masjids and all Masjids across the globe, Ameen.
Mufti Moosa Salie
Jamiatul Ulama KZN
Jamiatul Ulama (KZN)
Council of Muslim Theologians
223 Alpine Road, Overport
Durban, South Africa
Tel : +27 (0) 31 2077099
Fax : +27(0) 31 2074163
Website : www.jamiat.org.za