NEW DELHI: Muslims in India have criticized the Supreme Court’s refusal on Thursday to revisit its 1994 ruling that said mosques are not essential to Islam.
Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam, chairman of the New Delhi-based Institute of Objective Studies, said the court had ignored abundant Islamic literature on the necessity of mosques in Islam.
“Hindu religious extremists may use this verdict as a ruse to trouble us in the future,” he told Arab News.
New Delhi-based academic Dr. Anwar Sadat said mosques are “where we understand religion and its interpretation. It’s a place where we form associations. The court hasn’t done justice to us.” Thursday’s ruling paves the way for determining ownership of the disputed Babri mosque site in Ayodhya, a town in the eastern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Ayodhya’s mostly Hindu population believe that their supreme deity Ram was born at the site. They wish to build a huge temple there, but the Muslim community opposes this.
The court has set Oct. 29 as the start date for the hearing on ownership of the site.
“The court has refused to examine whether essentiality of any practice of any religion can be decided without examining the religious texts of that religion,” said Dr. Faizan Mustafa, a constitutional expert and vice chancellor of the NALSAR University of Law in the city of Hyderabad. Sadat said: “By declaring mosques as not integral to Islam, the court has given a broad hint as to which way the verdict in the title suit will go.” He added: “Leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other Hindu organizations are celebrating the ruling.” After Thursday’s verdict, Uma Bharati, a BJP leader and a minister in the current government, said: “It is an important day for me.”
Bharati, allegedly one of the leaders of a mob that demolished the Babri mosque in 1992, added: “Ayodhya is an important religious place for Hindus because it is the birthplace of Lord Ram.”
He said: “For Muslims, it is not a religious place. For them it is Makkah, just like Vatican City is for Christians.”