From Dr Hamid Hussain. Dr Hamid is what might be described as a “secular” or “liberal” Muslim. These are his personal thoughts on the Ram Mandir judgement.
11 November 2019
Someone had sent me excerpts of Spinoza’s God a day before the Indian supreme court verdict. I was pondering over those words when I was asked about my comments. Following was the result and all credit goes to Spinoza.
“If you are desirous of obtaining a great name, of becoming the founder of a sect or establishment, be completely mad; but be sure that your madness corresponds with the turn and temper of your age. Have in your madness reason enough to guide your extravagances, and to not forget to be excessively opinionated and obstinate. It is certainly possible that you may get hanged; but if you escape hanging, you will have altars erected to you”. Voltaire (1698-1778)
Babri Mosque Verdict
“The toughest kind of forgiveness is self-forgiveness and the road that leads to it is a lonely one but is also where mad meets the divine”. (1)
On November 09, 2019, Indian Supreme Court announced its judgment about the long standing dispute between Hindus and Muslims about a religious site in Ayodhya. Muslims claim that a mosque has been at this place since sixteenth century. Hindus claim that it was built on the site of a Hindu temple. The place has been locked since 1949 for fear of threat to public order. On 06 December 1992, a Hindu mob demolished the mosque resulting in riots that resulted in death of over 2000 people. After a three decades court battle, court awarded the site to Hindus to build a temple explaining that the sixteenth century mosque was built on the ruins of a Hindu temple.
99.99% percent people accept and carry on beliefs that they are born in. This is the starting point. Any knowledge or inquiry is based on correctness of their own belief system and then they cherry pick information that confirms that original belief. It is a powerful conviction and people are willing to die and kill for it. Blaise Pascal is correct when he says that “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”
A 2.7 acre piece of land that at sometimes in past; to be precise centuries ago had a stone structure that one group believes was a Hindu temple and another group a Muslim mosque. Both completely forgetting the essential principle of their own faiths about the sanctity of human life are perfectly at ease to kill each other for stones that their forefathers worshipped centuries ago. This is the story of Ram Mandar/Babri Masjid. If it was up to me, I would convert this property into a peace garden where everybody is welcome to reflect and pray in whatever way he wished to whatever God he wished.
Eleventh century blind Syrian poet and philosopher Abul’ Aa’ala al Ma’ari said that “there are only two types of people in the world; One with lot of intellect and very little religion and other with lot of religion but very little intellect”. Post script to above quote is an interesting saga. In his life time, al Ma’ari was denounced as heretic by Orthodox Muslim clerics. Ideas and words are so powerful that followers of rigid dogma fear them even centuries after the author is dead. In 2013, militants of Da’esh took control of the Syrian city of Ma’arat al Noman. City center had a statue of Abul’ Aa’ala al Ma’ari. They decapitated the statue claiming that the chap was a heretic. Beheading living souls was not enough, and even powerful statues had to be decapitated.
Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) was also clear and his words are so powerful, and God surely would have said to quarreling Hindus and Muslims, “Stop going to those gloomy, dark and cold temples that you built yourself and that you call my house. My home is in the mountains, in the forests, the rivers, the lakes, the beaches. That’s where I live and express all my love for you ……… Stop blaming me for your miserable life; I never told you that you were a sinner …… Forget about any kind of commandments, of any kind of laws; those are wiles to manipulate you, to control you and only to create guilt in you. Respect your peers and don’t do to others what you don’t want for you”. After uttering such words, it was no surprise that he was excommunicated by Orthodox Jewish Rabbis.
These are words of philosopher’s and worth pondering over. However, more important is conduct of individuals who listen not to their priests but their own inner voice. Balbir Singh; a Rajput of Panipat was active member of right wing Hindu organizations Shiv Sena and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He had vowed to demolish Babri mosque and built the Ram temple at its site. In early December 1992, Balbir was part of the large crowd that had gathered at Babri mosque to demolish it. He was one of the first who climbed on the central dome of the mosque and removed brick after brick with pick axe. He was given a heroes’ welcome when he came back to his town. He had brought back a brick from the destroyed mosque to be kept at local Shiv Sena office as victory trophy. However, his father Daulat Ram; a school teacher denounced his actions. It was time for reflection for Balbir and he was crushed with the guilt. He found a novel way to atone for his actions. He converted to Islam (he was renamed Muhammad Ameer) and vowed to restore one hundred decrepit and abandoned mosques. So far, he has cleaned and rebuilt over ninety abandoned mosques in north India. The message of this simple man is as powerful as that of a sage. Even if he had not converted to Islam, remained Hindu and repented in any other way to atone for his destructive act, he would have been a wonderful human being. He became exceptional by his conduct regardless of how rival communities view him.
The inner souls have turned into lifeless dry branches resembling a dead tree devoid of water. It is from an affliction of the hearts where volcano of hatred meets the darkness of fear. Rather than addressing the disease, people are trying to find redemption in rushing to claim and re-claim the stones that their forefathers worshipped.
Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi wrote a poem when Babri mosque was destroyed on 06 December 1992 and over two thousand people were killed in ensuing violence. It is worth remembering the poem today.
رام بن باس سے جب لوٹ کے گھر میں آئے
یاد جنگل بہت آیا جو نگر میں آئے
رقص دیوانگی آنگن میں جو دیکھا ہوگا
چھ دسمبر کو شری رام نے سوچا ہوگا
اتنے دیوانے کہاں سے مرے گھر میں آئے
جگمگاتے تھے جہاں رام کے قدموں کے نشاں
پیار کی کاہکشاں لیتی تھی انگڑائی جہاں
موڑ نفرت کے اسی راہ گزر میں آئے
دھرم کیا ان کا تھا، کیا ذات تھی، یہ جانتا کون
گھر نہ جلتا تو انہیں رات میں پہچانتا کون
گھر جلانے کو مرا لوگ جو گھر میں آئے
شاکاہاری تھے میرے دوست تمہارے خنجر
تم نے بابر کی طرف پھینکے تھے سارے پتھر
ہے مرے سر کی خطا، زخم جو سر میں آئے
پاؤں سرجو میں ابھی رام نے دھوئے بھی نہ تھے
کہ نظر آئے وہاں خون کے گہرے دھبے
پاؤں دھوئے بنا سرجو کے کنارے سے اٹھے
رام یہ کہتے ہوئے اپنے دوارے سے اٹھے
راجدھانی کی فضا آئی نہیں راس مجھے
چھ دسمبر کو ملا دوسرا بن باس مجھے
Murali Menon. The Forgiveness special, Mumbai Mirror, 31 December 2017
10 November 2019