On 5th August 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi performed the bhoomi pujan ceremony for the Bhavya Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. On 9th November 2019, the Supreme Court of India gave a verdict in favour of Ram Lalla virajman, thereby paving way for the construction of the Ram Mandir.
Subsequently, the ‘liberals’ and Muslims, who were quite visibly upset at the Supreme Court verdict, claimed that the new Ram Mandir will be a symbol of hate.
In fact, many even vowed to demolish the under construction temple and rebuild the ‘mosque’ there.
However, to call Ram Mandir a symbol of hate is as preposterous as claiming that the demolition of the disputed structure called Babri Masjid led to Indian Muslims ‘asserting’ their religious identity and subsequently to radical Islam.
On December 6, 1992, Ram bhakts brought down the disputed structure called Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, birth place of Lord Ram. The moment was culmination of decades long struggle of reclaiming the place where the temple once stood and was destroyed by the barbaric Mughal invaders.
Many people believe that this one incident ‘ruined’ the ‘secular fabric’ of the nation. That before the demolition of disputed structure, the Hindus and Muslims lives in peace and harmony where neither went out of their way to assert their religious identity. But, after the demolition, Muslims in India felt the need to wear their identity on their sleeves. More and more women started wearing burqas and the Muslimness became a major identifier. Many even blame the event for sowing seeds of radical Islam on the Babri demolition.
However, truth is far from reality.
And we do not even need to go as far back as the partition of India after the Independence. When Muslim hardliners carved out a chunk of India into a separate Islamic country. And let us also not talk about how millions of Bengali Hindus were slaughtered. Or in 1921 Moplah Massacre in Kerala where thousands of Hindus were killed just for being Hindus.
It started somewhere in the late 70s and 80s with Saudi Arabia started the international propagation of Salafism and Wahhabism. Funded by petroleum exports, this was world’s largest propaganda campaign. Hundreds of Islamic colleges, Islamic centres, mosques, madarsas were built in countries with Muslim as well as non-Muslim majority. Millions of copies of the Quran were printed and distributed worldwide.
In around 70s and 80s, many Indians, especially Muslims went to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries for work. They would return as ‘purer’ version of Islamic belief. With the monies, bigger mosques and madarsas were built in India, including in rural parts.
The Muslims in India had now started identifying themselves as Muslims and wanted to know and embrace their religion unadulterated.
A research paper ‘Stoking the Flames: Intra-Muslim Rivalries in India and the Saudi Connection’ states that the Saudis began to aggressively promote Islam in the world including India after the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Author Yoginder Sikand says that this promotion of Islam was rigidly and narrowly defined and was primarily concerned with ‘correct’ ritual and belief and was viciously sectarian. It also branded Shias and Sufis as ‘enemies’ of Islam.
The research paper also states that Saudi Arabia funded various Islamic organisations in India like Ahl-i-Hadith, Jama’at-i Islami and Deobadis.
This was followed by the reversal of Shah Bano judgement by the Rajiv Gandhi government. In 1986, the Indian state headed by Rajiv Gandhi set a dangerous precedent of catapulting to Muslim hardliners. The Mohd. Ahmad Khan vs. Shah Bano Begum & Others case and the subsequent legislation passed by the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1986 is often remembered as one of the most important moment in India’s political history.
In April 1978, 62-year-old Muslim woman Shah Bano filed a petition demanding maintenance from her divorced husband Mohammed Ahmad Khan, a renowned lawyer in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Her husband divorced her by uttering triple talaq and stated that he was not obliged to pay her any maintenance as she is not his wife under Islamic law.
The two were married in 1932 and had five children. Shah Bano was forced by her husband to move out of the house where he lived with his second wife. Shah Bano moved court and claimed maintenance for herself and her five children under Section 123 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
In August 1979, Shah Bano won the maintenance case in the local court, which ordered Khan to provide her with the maintenance of Rs 25 per month. Khan contested the same claiming that as per the Muslim personal law, he was only required to pay the maintenance during the iddat period after divorce.
Years later, Shah Bano filed another plea seeking for revised maintenance in Madhya Pradesh High Court. In April 1985, in a historic judgment, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Shah Bano and upheld the decision by the High Court stating that she was entitled to be paid for maintenance by her husband.
This led to massive controversy, especially political one wherein claims were made that the judiciary overreached in the case attached to Muslim personal law. The historic judgement that laid ground for equal rights of Muslim women in matters of marriage and divorce did not go down quite well amongst the Muslim community.
To pacify the Muslim hardliners, the newly formed Rajiv Gandhi government passed Muslim Women (Protection on Divorce Act) in 1986 which essentially overturned the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Shah Bano case. The Act diluted the Supreme Court judgment and allowed maintenance to a divorced woman only during the period of iddat, or till 90 days after the divorce.
This move by Rajiv Gandhi government set the bar quite high for Muslim appeasement in Indian political landscape.
The reversal of Shah Bano judgement showed how the religious identity of Muslims was non-negotiable.
Radical preacher Zakir Naik, who is believed to have instigated and inspired Islamic terror attacks in India and neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, founded his institute, “Islamic Research Foundation” in 1991. Naik believes and propagates that Islam is the best religion ‘because Quran says so’. He also has various other problematic views and believes in Islamic supremacy.
In 2016, his NGO Islamic Research Foundation was banned under anti-terror laws. It was believed that the NGO had links with ‘Peace TV’, an Islamic channel of the radical preacher Zakir Naik, which is accused of promoting terrorism. Naik has regularly made provocative speeches on this channel. The channel, too, is banned in India.
And Zakir Naik became a radical Islamic preacher before 6th December 1992.
You know what else happened before 6th December 1992? 19th January 1990 when lakhs of Kashmiri Hindus were forced out of their homes by radical Muslims and Islamic terrorists. Mosques in Kashmir openly called for killing of Kashmiri Hindus. Mosques in Kashmir issued declarations that the Kashmiri Pandits were Kafirs; Kashmiri Pandits were left with only 3 options — to leave Kashmir, convert to Islam or to be killed.
Over the years there has been a systematic effort to whitewash this exodus. From blaming Hindus for being raped, murdered and driven away by Islamic terrorists to claiming that they left on their own because of some conspiracy to paint Kashmiri Muslims as the victims, the ‘liberals’ have tried all tricks in the books to whitewash the crimes of Islamists. A journalist even went on to report once that the Kashmiri Pandit genocide and exodus happened because there was an economic parity between the Valley’s Hindus and Muslims – almost giving context to the murderous rage that the Islamic terrorists went into.
The seeds of Islamic radicalisation and terrorism were sowed much before the demolition of Babri Masjid. But ‘liberals’ just found it convenient to blame the Hindus. To borrow the essence from what former PM Dr Manmohan Singh once said, the right to assert religious identity also lies with Muslims.