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  Opinion   Oped  23 Nov 2019  Ayodhya land for Muslims not ‘charity’

Ayodhya land for Muslims not ‘charity’

Published : Nov 23, 2019, 2:29 am IST
Updated : Nov 23, 2019, 2:29 am IST

As citizens of the country, Muslims have as much right to acquire land in this country as other citizens.

The judicial verdict regarding this should be viewed as an order, commanding the responsible authorities to ensure that the Muslim outfit is allocated what it is entitled to.  (Photo: AP)
 The judicial verdict regarding this should be viewed as an order, commanding the responsible authorities to ensure that the Muslim outfit is allocated what it is entitled to. (Photo: AP)

One is extremely perplexed by the notion being spread about the five-acre piece of land expected to be allotted to Muslims as per the Ayodhya verdict as “charity”. Why should it be considered as charity? First, the bench has not spent its own money to purchase the land and then given it away to a Muslim organisation as charity. Nor has it any such intention to do so. Let us accept clearly that laying claim to the land and ensuring that it is allocated to them, as per the judicial verdict, is now the right of Muslims. The question of charity would have had some credibility if the same decision had been taken by an international body, or if it was granted to foreigners and/or was allotted outside India.

As citizens of the country, Muslims have as much right to acquire land in this country as other citizens. With India being a multi-religious, secular nation, constitutionally as well as socially, Muslims and other religious communities’ places of worship, in various circumstances, need the legal/judicial stamp. Rather than view the five-acre-land as “charity”, it would be more appropriate to consider what they, the Muslims, have a right to. Yes, they have the right to the five acres of land. The judicial verdict regarding this should be viewed as an order, commanding the responsible authorities to ensure that the Muslim outfit is allocated what it is entitled to. This judicial verdict does not have nature of an appeal, plea or even a request. It is an order. The word “charity” does not figure in this verdict.

 

Besides, the way in which the verdict has been delivered does not from any angle give the impression that the Supreme Court was doing a favour to Muslims. A different impression may have been created if the option of allocating the five-acre land to Muslims was not even considered. Let us look at the issue from another angle. The key legal issue was over the possession of a piece of land by different religious communities. The dispute was not over whether they should be accorded an alternative site or not. So, from this angle, the bench was apparently bound to consider primarily whom should the disputed land be allotted to — the Hindu group or the Muslim? Against this backdrop, some credit should be given to the bench for having gone a little overboard by taking the decision that a five-acre plot of land should be allotted in Ayodhya to Muslims. Rather than let this decision of the court be turned into another legal battle, it would be wise of the Muslim organisations to accept it.

 

A few core points on the ground on which some Muslim groups have chosen to oppose the acceptance of the land must be considered. The most redundant is that of a few still being insistent on being allotted the disputed site, on which the temple will be built, as per the ruling. Pursuing this is equivalent to chasing a mirage. Another objection, as mentioned earlier, rests on some considering the land as a kind of “charity”, on which a mosque cannot be constructed. Stating this seems equivalent to blowing out verbal bubbles. The land, as per the judgment, would be allotted either by the Central government or the state government. Both governments have been democratically elected.

 

There is a difference between a judicial verdict being implemented by those holding political office; and power holders granting a favour to any group/community out of their own choice. The latter move may be indulged in to enhance a party’s political image for electoral purposes, or for any similar gain. But in the case of a judicial verdict, the chances of it being directed towards serving electoral gains of any one party may be viewed as practically non-existent and/or extremely limited. If the decision to allocate the five-acre land to a Muslim outfit was not taken, the verdict might have then seemed one-sided. The voices which are now opposing the verdict would then have probably blamed it for having ignored the Muslims’ interests.

 

Viewing the five-acre land as “charity” also amounts to forsaking the earlier right to and possession of the Babri Masjid as Muslim property. It is because the Supreme Court has tacitly acknowledged that Muslims had a right to the property, the destruction of which was a violation of the law, that the judges decided to allocate the five acres’ land. Of course, the five-acre land is not what Muslims claiming the right to the disputed site had legally fought for. Its allocation, however, also symbolises that they have not lost the battle entirely. Their claim to their legal right in Ayodhya has been acknowledged. Perhaps, prior to making a noise over this being “charity”, the Muslim leaders and parties should seriously deliberate on the matter. Also, there have been comments from several quarters about it being inappropriate to build a mosque on a land that is given in charity. Well, this aspect needs reconsideration. It is difficult to accept that each and every mosque in the country has been built, without any contribution and/or aid from various sources. The same may be said about Islamic institutions being run in India. Should the contribution or aid received also be viewed as charity?

 

Charity or aid may be defined as the grant of some kind of help to those in need. A contribution is understood as a gift or payment in aid of some cause/deed. Neither of these terms seems appropriate in being linked with the allocation of the five-acre land. The verdict has used the word “allotted” for the five-acre land. Synonyms of this word do not include charity or aid. Allotted or allocated implies the Muslim organisation would be given what it has a right to possess. Just like other mosques are being run on land which Muslims have a right to, the same should be assumed to be status of the five-acre land. Whether a mosque is built and/or the land is used for any other progressive purpose, it hasn’t been granted as a donation or charity. As Muslims have a right to it, they have been judicially, rather judiciously, allotted the five-acre land!

 

Tags: ayodhya verdict, muslims