Ayodhya case verdict: Unjust and unfair, says Muslim board
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board on Saturday described the Ayodhya verdict as “unjust” and “unfair” but appealed to all communities to maintain peace and refrain from protests.
Board secretary Zafaryab Jilani said the verdict had “provided neither equity nor justice” while a board lawyer, M.R. Shamsad, said the judgment was “questionable” and hoped that no “mosques will be touched” in future.
“The verdict has been pronounced and it says a lot of things about the Constitution and about secularism. We are not satisfied with this judgment,” Jilani told a news conference outside the Supreme Court. “We are dissatisfied that the inner courtyard, where prayers were offered, has been given to the other side. It’s unfair and unjust. We will discuss the verdict within our executive committee and evaluate our legal options, including the filing of a review petition.”
He added: “A mosque does not belong to Babar or anyone else; once it has been constructed, it belongs to Allah. We have nothing to do with Babar. We have said that if you have a problem with Babar, please name the mosque after Ram. We don’t have any problem with that.”
Jilani, one of the most prominent Muslim voices on the dispute, was part of the board’s legal team that fought the case in Allahabad High Court and subsequently in the apex court.
Asked about the allocation of five acres to Muslims, he said the decades-long dispute was about the mosque and never about the land. “You cannot exchange land for a mosque. The apex court has accepted that placing the idols in 1949 was desecration but the verdict still favoured the other party.”
Jilani said that Sharia law did not allow Muslims to give away a mosque or gift a mosque to any other party.
“However, we will abide by the court’s verdict. There is no evidence about what happened on that plot between the 12th century and AD1528. The Hindus claim that the temple was present since Vikramaditya’s era but there is no evidence of that.”
He added: “This is not somebody’s defeat or victory. We appeal to everyone to maintain peace.”
Jilani clarified that the board did not believe that the judgment was delivered “under pressure or duress”.
“The entire country must respect the dignity of the top court. We have a right to disagree with the verdict but will never say there was any pressure,” he said. “Anybody can make a mistake. The Supreme Court has reviewed its judgments many times in the past. We are considering filing a review petition.”
Shamsad, the lawyer, said the judgment had to be respected because it was final. “But it is a questionable judgment,” he said.
“Despite all the findings in favour of the mosque and statements that the title cannot be decided on the basis of faith, the faith of one religion has prevailed. This will remain one of the questionable judgments in the history of India.”
Another board official sounded extremely disappointed. “What is the point in reviewing a unanimous judgment?” he said.
Prominent Muslim community leaders appealed for peace and harmony.
Navaid Hamid, president of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, an umbrella body of several Muslim organisations, expressed “concern” at the judgment.
Mufti Abul Qasim Nomani, vice-chancellor of the Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband, said the judgment was “beyond my understanding”.
“I feel there were enough evidence in favour of the mosque but these were not taken into consideration,” he said.
The spiritual head of the Ajmer Sharif dargah welcomed the verdict, saying the judiciary was supreme and everyone should respect its decision.
“It’s time to present a united face before the world because the entire world is looking at India today,” dargah deewan Zainul Abedin Ali Khan said. He said honouring the law of the land was part of basic Islamic teaching.
Saadat Ullah Hussaini, president of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, said: “We are not fully satisfied with the judgment but appeal to all Indians to accept the verdict and maintain unity, harmony and peace.”
Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, who is a member of the law board, said: “In my personal opinion, we should reject the five-acre land because this is a legal fight. This country is becoming a Hindu Rashtra. They have started with Ayodhya and will follow up with the NRC, citizenship bill, etc.”
In Kerala, the Indian Union Muslim League said it would meet on Monday to discuss the judgment.
“We will also consult the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Sunni Central Wakf Board before making detailed comments on the verdict,” League general secretary P.K. Kunhalikutty said.
Several clerics expressed anguish at the verdict but appealed for peace. “The nation’s integrity is more important than victory or defeat,” said Kanthapuram A.P. Aboobacker Musaliar, general secretary of the All India Sunni Jamiyyathul Ulema and a venerated leader of clerics.
Additional reporting by K.M. Rakesh