Let me begin with a confession: the Allahabad High Court decision on Babri Masjid title suit has brought a silent, deep despair into Muslim hearts. Et too, Brute?
But, instead of Shakespeare (“the subtle-souled psychologist” that I respect as much as anybody else”) I have decided to seek solace in the soothing Quranic text: “With every hardship there is ease. And with every hardship there is an ease”.
I am sorry I cannot reproduce the auditory effect of the alliterative, internally-rhymed, stately text of the holy Quran here as it is not easy for the uninitiated to grasp, much less to savour. However, the bare translation of the text is enough to dispel despair.
Enlightened by the revelation I approach the copious judgment to find clues to the ease that the Quran so convincingly talks about. For putting things in context, first let me explain our (the Indian Muslims’) stance towards Shrim Ramji. We take him as our respected ancestor from the hoary past (born 900,000 years ago, according to the honourable judges).
No Muslim has ever uttered an unkind or disrespectful word about him, or Sitaji, nor one can ever imagine doing that. No Muslim can ever even think of writing a Rama Retold or different versions of Gadbad Ramayana. For us this is sacrilege, a taboo. For quite a lot of our Hindu brethren and sisters, it is fun. We take our respected ancestor seriously as “Imam-e-Hind”, to quote Iqbal.
We hope that if Shri Ramji comes to Ayodhya again, he will have no complaints against us.
From this perspective, let us look at the judgment that seems to promise some ease. The honourable judges have suggested that it was Shri Ramji’s wish that the Babri Masjid land should be partitioned three-way: two parts for Hindus and one part for Shri Ramji’s lesser descendants, the hapless Muslims. This sounds plausible, even if it does not come up to contemporary legal standards.
Now, why does it sound so plausible? Because Shri Ramji was a fair-minded person rightly called “Maryada Purushottam” (the Perfect Man of Honour). He would be the last person to tilt in favour of any one group and the least likely to deprive any group of his descendants of its rights.
What the judges have said is, in fact, the basis of a larger principle of sharing the country’s economic and natural resources. That fills my heart with joy: we are entitled to a third of the economic and natural resources of our motherland, duely sanctioned by Shri Ramji.
I wonder how quickly our Prime Minister, the learned Dr Manmohan Singhji, had come to this principle (much before the verdict) when he said that the minorities had the first claim on our resources. Nice, heartwarming sentiment.
Let me explain a crucial point here: Our Islamic faith enjoins upon us to respect our ancestors, but we cannot worship our ancestors, prophet (or prophets), parents or pir. No form or material manifestation is to be worshipped, only a formless, Eternal God.
Despite our love and respect for our prophet, parents and pir, we stop short of worship because God is formless. However, that does not deprive us of our share in parental property, or our place in the prophet’s circle.
This is a reassuring thought. God’s ways are many, and we mere humans cannot hope to understand everything. I don’t know in how many other ways God will give us ease, but ease is always there in every hardship. Being Muslims we accept that and believe in it.
--- Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam is the Chairman of the Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) and General Secretary of the All India Milli Council (AIMC).
(Courtesy: Current Affairs, IOS, New Delhi)