The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Muslim board looks to court

Bhopal, March 31: The chief of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board believes that in the present circumstances, a court verdict seems the “best option” to settle the temple-mosque dispute in Ayodhya.

Maulana Abdul Rabey Nadwi said he had received many feelers from the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and the sankaracharya of Kanchi for an out-of-court settlement. But the talks fell through as “they” — the emissaries from the Prime Minister’s Office and Swami Jayendra Saraswati — failed to give any assurance regarding construction of a mosque at the disputed site.

“They were in touch with us, but when we sought clarifications and tried to gauge what they intended to do about the ‘whole issue’, there was not much progress,” Nadwi told The Telegraph at the Taj-ul-Masajid mosque here. “Under the present circumstances, a court verdict seems the best option,” he added.

The maulana was in Bhopal for a seminar on the role of Islamic literature in character building organised by the Universal League of Islamic Literature, Barkatullah University and the Taj-ul-Masajid mosque.

Nadwi said he was still in favour of a negotiated settlement provided it was arrived at in a spirit of “give and take” and held in a harmonious ambience.

The media-shy Arabic scholar, who avoids controversies, gave a clean chit to a group of board members who had entered into negotiations with the Kanchi seer and the PMO. The move, he said, had his blessings. The political component in the board has been in private accusing the pro-negotiation members of “striking a deal” with the government and “mortgaging Muslim interest”.

Nadwi, a moderate voice in the board and a protagonist of reforms, favours inter-faith dialogue, but feels that narrow sectarian outlook and the political class’ eagerness to derive mileage from the controversy was making the task more daunting. He said the Kanchi seer had good intentions, but the move failed to take off as the “others” were not so accommodating.

The rector of the Lucknow-based Nadwa school of Islamic learning said there was complete unanimity among Muslims on abiding by the court verdict. “…We, in the law board, are now unanimous that the community should abide by the verdict in letter and spirit,” he said, adding that Islamic laws, Shariat and Hadith, do not permit namaz at sites if it is established that they were forcefully occupied.

“Let the court give a verdict. Once it gives a ruling on the title suit, we will accept it whichever way it goes.”

The maulana said he was satisfied with the Supreme Court’s observations regarding the “undisputed area” and pointed out that the law board’s stand had been vindicated. He said the board had also accepted Allahabad High Court’s directive on excavating the site.

About the Iraq war, Nadwi, who is respected in the whole of West Asia, said: “In civil societies, people should have a right to make choices about the destiny of their nations. Nothing should be imposed.”

Asserting that Islam and terrorism had no link, he said the present-day turmoil in the region had more to do with politics, tyranny and political disputes of historical nature. Terrorism and violence should be condemned in all shapes and forms, but civil societies must examine the “root cause” of such disputes, he said.

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