The Gyanvapi mosque complex is embroiled in a conflict that has yet again fuelled communal tensions in India. On Monday, September 12, the Varanasi District and Sessions Court rejected The Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee’s appeal evoking the 1991 Places of Worship Act against the civil petition filed by a group of five Hindu women.
This civil petition by these women sought permission to worship Hindu deities inside the grounds of the Gyanvapi mosque complex. The “Anjuman Intezamia Masajid” is the Muslim committee that manages the Gyanvapi mosque complex.
Brief History of the Gyanvapi Mosque Conflict
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque conflict began last year. In August 2021 a case was first registered and presented to the local court by five Hindu women. Then, in April 2022 the district court in Varanasi appointed an advocate commissioner namely Ajay Kumar Mishra to this case. In the same month, an important announcement was made by a civil court that affected the Hindu-Muslim tensions significantly. The announcement was a verdict that ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) that inspection be done in the mosque. This inspection demanded a video survey of the Gyanvapi mosque be done.
One significant development happened on May 19 when this video survey was apparently “leaked” by the Hindu group. The controversial video apparently revealed a stone shaft that allegedly is a symbol of a Hindu deity, inside the mosque. However, even this claim has been refuted by many people. After that, the court sealed off a portion of the mosque without allowing the Intizamia committee to argue their case.
The Hindu group claimed the presence of a “shivling”, the holy Hindu artifact, inside the mosque. Simultaneously, after a petition by the Anjuman Iztizamiya Masajid, the supreme court was also looking into this case. The petition by the Intizamiya committee sought the intervention of the supreme court. The committee doubted the nature of the investigation being carried out by the district and civil court. The committee questioned the very basis of the petition.
The supreme court at that point in time didn’t comment much on the presence of a shivling inside the mosque. However, it did order that security is provided to the Muslim worshippers in the Gyanvapi mosque. At the same time, the supreme court also said that the district court may continue to address this issue. The case will now be heard on September 22.
Also, read What’s Happening to the Muslims of India?
Historical claims at the Gyanvapi Mosque Complex
Many Hindu petitioners claim that the Gyanvapi Mosque was made after Muslims demolished the historic Hindu temple Kashi Vishwanath. They also claim that it was under the orders of the Muslim Mughal emperor Aurangzeb that the temple was razed. Many Hindus still ascertain that the mosque is still the original sacred site of Hindu worship.
Along with the Ram Janmabhoomi Temple- Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Ram Temple movement also sought to “liberate” the Kashi-Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque site and the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi in Mathura. The Gyanvapi mosque is one of the three mosques that make up some catchphrases of the Hindutva. One of the popular ones is “Ayodhya toh jhaanki hai, Kashi-Mathura baaki hai,“. The BJP and other Hindutva organizations in the 1980s popularised this slogan. The slogan reads, “Ayodhya is just a trailer; Kashi and Mathura are next.”
The Intizamiya Committee approached the court claiming the nature of the petition of the Hindu group is in itself questionable. The mosque’s management committee claimed that the mosque next was Waqf property. What serves as the foundation for the defense of the Muslim committee is the Places of Worship Act of 1991.
Places of Worship Act of 1991
The long title describes it as “An Act to prohibit conversion of any place of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”
A place of worship belonging to any religious tradition cannot be converted entirely—or even partially—into a place of worship belonging to another tradition, or even into a different branch of the same tradition, as stated in Section 3 of the Act.
According to Section 4(1), a place of worship “must continue to have the same character as it was on August 15, 1947” in terms of its religious affiliation.
As per Section 4(2), any lawsuit or legal action related to the conversion of a place of worship that existed on August 15, 1947, and was pending before any court, shall be dropped, and no new lawsuit or legal action shall be brought.
Section 5 states that the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case and any related lawsuit, appeal, or action are exempt from the Act’s application.
The Ram Temple movement was at its height when the then Prime Minister PV Narsimha Rao introduced the Places of Worship Act. L. K. Advani’s rath yatra had increased communal tensions even before the extremist Hindutva mobs demolished the mosque. Attempting to avoid any further communal violence, the congress government passed the bill in the parliament.
What did the Courts say about the Places of Worship Act in its Varanasi judgment?
District Judge A K Vishvesha noted in his ruling that one of the defendant’s “principal contentions” was that the plaintiff’s lawsuit was barred under Section 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991. The judgment did note that the plaintiffs claimed that “they were worshiping…at the disputed spot ceaselessly from a long time till 1993”. After 1993, they were only permitted to worship the aforementioned deities once a year under Uttar Pradesh’s regulated administration. Thus, according to the plaintiffs, they continued to frequently worship at the contested location even after 15 August 1947. “Therefore, The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, does not operate as a bar on the suit of plaintiffs, and the suit is not barred by…the Act”.
The constitutional validity of the 1991 Act was not under challenge. Nor had it been examined before the Supreme Court Bench that heard the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit. Even so, the court, while disagreeing with certain conclusions drawn by the Allahabad High Court, about the act made specific observations in its support.
Hindus and Muslims have prayed side by side in Varanasi. The heavily guarded structure serves as a reminder of this sight’s tense past. It is also a reminder of communal disputes and unrest in India. A country where Hindus make up the majority and Muslims constitute the largest religious minority.
Is anti-Semitism essential for the survival and growth of Zionism and Jewish peoplehood?
Unlike any other state around the world, Israel is constantly whining about its international image being tarnished and unfairly sullied. The apartheid entity routinely blames “anti-Semites” for ” seeking constantly to lynch the Jewish state’s image.” Israeli Hasbara (propaganda) doctors would voice all sorts of unreasonable and preposterous “rationales” to explain the utter lack of love for the pariah state among the peoples of the world.
Israel, which the late American evangelist Jerry Falwell referred to as “the nation-state of the Lord” has effectively been transformed in the eyes of the bulk of humanity into the nation-state of the devil. Well, but even the devil itself is probably learning “useful” lessons from Israel.
While insisting that Israel’s ugly image suffers due to anti-Semitism, not Israel’s abominable behaviour in occupied Palestine, the professional twisters of truth would eventually invoke the mantra that “boys will always be boys and goys will always be goys”! (goys or goyem is a derogatory Jewish term for non-Jews)
Israel firsters, whose Chutzpah often transcends reality, would never attribute the sullied image of the apartheid entity to its unceasing and unmitigated crimes against the helpless Palestinians. We all know that not a single day passes without a Palestinian boy, child, woman, worker, farmer, doctor, student or journalist getting murdered or maimed by the Gestapo-like Israeli army or the even more murderous paramilitary Jewish settlers all over the Occupied West Bank.
We kill them knowingly
Israeli officials and spokespersons are well aware of the utmost gravity of these crimes. However, they would argue that these crimes, however nefarious and barbarian, should not lead to tarnishing Israel’s image.
Moreover, the Zionists would argue that international critics of Israel’s “actions” are guilty of singling Israel out for their scathing criticisms, while conveniently ignoring other villains on the world’s arena, such as Russia, the Syrian regime, and even the U.S. and its allies who killed and maimed thousands of innocent people in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Being hated is essential to being Zionist
Yes, the Zionists do admit, though begrudgingly, that they indulge in all sorts of heinous crimes, including crimes against humanity, against the Palestinians.
Generally speaking, the Zionists don’t claim that these crimes are correct and ethical, although religious Talmudic settlers thugs, such as Ben Gvir and Smotrich, who won recent Israeli elections, would cite numerous quotations from the Torah and Talmud “proving” the utter morality and perfect legitimacy of these crimes, including burning Palestinian kids alive.!
None the less, the Zionists would insist that Israel has the right to defend itself as if self-defence justified an evil military occupation, dehumanizing repression and humiliating apartheid for over half a century. One settler leader from the settlement of Kiryat Arba near Hebron had the audacity to say “if Joshua did exterminate the Canaanites, why can’t we do the same to the Palestinians”?
A little story that speaks volumes
Exposed and demoralized before the entire world, Zionist spokespersons would reveal, often inadvertently, one of the most outrageous aspects of their collective evil mindset. A few days ago, an Israeli right-wing activist wrote in Ynet that Jews can survive only if they are hated by Goyem, but in order to be hated, Jews must indulge in every evil act in order to draw hateful reactions from non-Jews.”
I really had thought that perhaps only a small esoteric Jewish cult did indulge in this strange behaviour. But then a friend intimated to me a little secret. He told me a story he said he had heard from his father who died many years ago. According to the friend, when Arab kids in a given Palestinian town were playing near the small local Jewish neighbourhood, the mother of the only Jewish kid who was playing with them, gave the Arab kids some sweets and a few piasters , asking them to hit and curse her own kid!. I remembered this little story when a Zionist settler activist told me during an internet chat recently that “we need to be hated in order to survive as Jews.”
Some audacious rabbis would privately explain such bizarre behaviour by arguing that if Jews found absolute love and acceptance by non-Jews, they would eventually assimilate and perish as a people.
In other words, anti-Semitism is essential for the survival and growth of Zionism and Jewish peoplehood! One Israeli rabbi reportedly argued that if there were no anti-Semitism, it would be the moral and religious duty of the Jews to create “some” anti-Semitism to make Jews feel that they are different”!
Startling Open Secret
This startling open-secret should explain the fact that numerous trumped-up anti-Semitic incidents, including torching synagogues, scrawling anti-Jewish graffiti, and vandalizing Jewish grave headstones are often committed by Jews, not anti-Semites! Just ask Law-enforcement authorities in the U.S. and UK, and they would tell you some shocking stories in this regard.
And, yes, there are numerous rabbis and Talmudic sages who would argue that Jews will not survive and prosper if they were readily accepted and loved by goyem, since such cordiality and friendliness would lead to slackness, integration assimilation and ultimate extinction of Jews . Jews in America are often cited as a classical example. Due to their complete integration into the American society, most American Jews blended completely and thoroughly, melting away into the general fabric of American life, leaving themselves, their children and their grandchildren only nominally Jewish.
In light, Jews must accordingly show off their brutal ugliness and evilness to Goyem in order to generate a certain amount of anti-Semitism which would be highly beneficial, useful and even vital for Jewish survival and growth.
There is absolutely no doubt that Israel’s 75-year-old ongoing holocaust against the Palestinians can be explained, at least in part, in light of this criminal mentality, which actually constitutes a creed and ideology for millions of Zionist Jews.
Some readers, stunned by the utter shamelessness and diabolic oddity of this mentality might be prompted to think that the author of this article is perhaps exaggerating and blowing things out of proportion.
But there is no exaggeration here. I remember the late American Jewish author Alfred Lilienthal quoting a Zionist rabbi in his masterpiece-book, the Zionist Connection, as saying that “a little anti-Semitism is always useful since it reminds us of who we are.”!
Chasing the Mirage of the desert
Today, Israel and its tails, mouthpieces and allies in the U.S. and some European countries are fighting an anti-Semitism that doesn’t really exist except in the sick mindsets of Zionist leaders. Thus, every legitimate criticism of the brutal Israeli occupation, including the apartheid regime in the West Bank, is twisted to imply hated for Jews.
The Zionists would argue cunningly and tendentiously that opposing Israel is opposing Jewish self-determination. They conveniently ignore the fact that Israel’s right to exist is inextricably entwined with Palestine’s right to exist and the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. And. Yes, Israel has no right to exist as a criminal entity, practising open-ended occupation and apartheid and indulging in all forms of repression and savagery against a people whose only “crime” is nothing other than being non-members in the “chosen-tribe club” So, let the Zionists chase the mirage of the desert for as long as they wish.
In the final analysis, humanity is under no legal or moral obligation to accept, condone or tolerate Jewish apartheid in Palestine than it was to accept the apartheid of the former White supremacist regime in South Africa. Meanwhile the Zionists may seek to vent their endless frustration at humanity by threatening to unleash their stale scarecrow of anti-Semitism in the face of critics. It is too late for them. The peoples of the world have already wakened up. The magic has been annulled! and we will continue to tell the truth about the evil entity even if telling the truth is perceived as anti-Semitic
What Does Shraddha Walker’s Murder Mean for Love in India?
Earlier this month, India was shocked by the news of the murder of 28-year-old Shraddha Walker by her live-in partner Aftab Poonawalla. Aftab had killed Shraddha merely three days after they moved into their new home in Delhi in May this year. Aftab had cut the body of Shraddha into 35 pieces and stored them in a fridge. He was gradually disposing of the body parts in a nearby forest area.
Interfaith Couple and Sensational Murder Trial
After the news of Shraddha’s murder broke in mid-November following the arrest of Aftab Poonawalla, it became a sensational murder trial. The murder was debated on prime-time debates on TV.
While the murder was chilling and one could expect it to cause a sensation, it became a sensational murder trial for very wrong reasons in India. The fact that Shraddha and Aftab were an interfaith couple made it a sensational murder.
Even though Aftab has claimed that he killed Shraddha in a fit of rage while they were fighting, the police are yet to establish the motive for the murder. The media trial, however, has given a religious colour to the murder. Some people, including those on TV debates, have dressed the murder in the language of religion.
The religious colour given to the Shraddha murder and the transcending of the murder beyond its context is a result of the Love Jihad discourse adopted by the ruling right-wing party BJP. BJP used Loved Jihad as an electoral issue in many state elections.
At present, eleven states where BJP is in power have passed legislation against Love Jihad. The argument by the Hindu nationalists is that Muslim men intentionally fall in love with Hindu women and then these men force the women to convert from Hinduism to Islam.
There are also attempts to demonize Muslims after the murder of Shraddha. A man from the UP state recently went on TV to support the actions of Aftab. He claimed to be a Muslim, named Rashid Khan and justified the cutting of Shraddha into 35 pieces.
When the police arrested the said man, it was found that he is a Hindu, named Vikas Gupta.
Vikas Gupta’s statement went viral on social media and Muslims were called out and demonized for his statement.
A Setback to the Freedom to Love in India?
Shraddha’s sensational murder trial has raised questions about love in India. It will hurt the hard-won right of freedom to love.
There are two aspects to be considered. First is the freedom of young people to love or live in live-in relationships. Since the news of the murder reached almost every home in India, it will scare people from getting into live-in relationships. Further, society will also be suspicious of these relationships. Live-in couples already face difficulty in negotiating the conservative society in India and the case will only exacerbate it. For instance, live-in couples in India find it difficult to find a house or rented accommodation. Aftab and Shraddha also lived in rented accommodation. More people than ever before will now hesitate to rent their accommodations to live-in couples.
Second, as discussed above Shraddha’s murder will make it worse for interfaith couples to negotiate everyday life in India. Even though India was never a safe place for interfaith couples, the case is going to make society hostile to interfaith love. Those who were already against interfaith love will use this case to further cement their position on Love Jihad.
Further, society in general parents of young people in particular will turn hostile against love.
A Difficult Task Ahead
The sensational murder trial and the media trial of Shraddha’s murder by Aftab have raised questions about love in India. Further, the discourse of Love Jihad is also back. Hindu nationalists will make sure that the case is exploited to its full to make a case for Love Jihad.
For those in India, who want to preserve the hard-won right of freedom to love, the task ahead is very difficult. Even though the case has already become sensational, they must make sure that it is restricted to its immediate context. If the case transcends its immediate context, hate will win against love. Love must triumph!
The Scope of inter-religious pluralism within Islam
Even though pluralism is a loaded term, its generic meaning suggests a phenomenon of peaceful coexistence between entities of diverse cultural, religious, and political inclinations. It is important to remember that pluralism does not mean the elimination of difference, nor does the word “tolerance” do justice to its intended purpose. Pluralism is not merely tolerating the other but engaging with the beliefs of others with peaceful dialogue and action. The scope of inter-religious puralism within Islam proposes this kind of pluralism.
What does Pluralism mean in Islam?
Looking at the subjective meaning of pluralism within the ambit of Islam, the proponents of various Islamic discourses have proposed that pluralism is a pronounced feature of Islam. Many Muslim intellectuals claim that pluralism is central to the fundamental essence of Islam. A convincing case can be made for the presence of a compelling pluralistic ethos within the Islamic scriptures.
In his essay, Reformist Islam in Comparative Perspective, Mehran Kamrava claims that the rise in the level of religiosity amongst Muslims has given rise to other forms of Islam. One of which according to him is “likely to have the most resonating consequences for Islamic jurisprudence in both the near and the distant future” and calls it “intellectual Islam”. He claims that it is through this form of Islam that a Muslim reformist discourse is introduced. Which has produced significant work to locate the place of inter-religious pluralism in Islam. He further derives some themes out of the reformist discourse, very important with their reference to pluralism in Islam:
“First is a deep and abiding conviction in Islam as faith and a system of belief. In its current manifestation, the discourse of reformist Muslim intellectuals does not seek to instrumentalize Islam for purposes of achieving modernity in a manner palatable to the masses at large. Islam is not a means to an end; it is an end in itself. It simply needs to be re-thought and reformulated. The reformists’ reliance on and endless references to the Qur’an bespeaks of the text’s cultural centrality to them.”.
Such display of absolute faith by Muslim reformists whilst having reformist inclinations bespeak of their balanced position. A flexible modern vision can develop interfaith dialogue. The abiding conviction to Islam earns a sense of authenticity for their thought process in the eyes of fellow Muslims.
Read here, Islamophobia: Impacts on Muslim Women
What is Democratic Pluralism?
The next theme of the reformist discourse is “democratic pluralism”: “Pluralism, the reformist discourse’s proponents maintain, is a salient feature of the spirit of the Qur’an and the hadith.” (Kamrava )
To support his claim he cites another Muslim intellectual Abdulaziz Sachedina who quotes:
The challenge for Muslims today, as ever, is to tap the tradition of Koranic pluralism to develop a culture of restoration, of just intrareligious and interreligious relationships in a world of cultural and religious diversity. Without restoring the principle of coexistence, Muslims will not be able to recapture the spirit of early civil society under the Prophet.
In the globalized world, the facets of modernity like its political model of the nation-state have become a governing principle for all ethnic, cultural, and religious pluralism. This means the only larger identity governing the religious identity of the people is that of the nation-state. In the religiously pluralistic society of today, people may have different identities, but the model of the nation-state promises all of them the same status. People might identify with different religious inclinations, but the state identifies them as either citizens or residents of the state. This is exactly the kind of challenge that Sachedina talks about when he implores Muslims to revive the tradition of pluralism that is central to the Islamic texts for peaceful coexistence in the globalized world.
The Case of Muslims living as a minority
If Muslims live in a minority in a nation-state that runs on one of the political models of modernity like democracy or secularism, then for the sake of the welfare of Muslims they need to fulfill the duties that the nation-state demands from them. Andrew March talks about the jurisprudence of Muslim minorities also called Fiqh al-aqalliyyat al-muslima in Arabic:
Fiqh alaqalliyyat tends to be a discourse where departures from traditional Islamic commitments are not seen as desirable, and certainly not goals in and of themselves, but where creative rethinking often occurs in subtle and pragmatic guises. It is thus an important object of study for those interested in the ideal moral encounter between a public religion like Islam and modern/post-modern secularism. (March 6).
Important questions of interest toward non-Islamic institutions have been addressed from within internal Islamic discourses that advocate for a positive Muslim attitude concerning the issue of pluralism.
Islam’s relation with other Faiths
The third theme within the reformist Islamic discourse is “Islam’s relations with other great faiths”. An important aspect central to the Muslim understanding of pluralism is the conception that god’s message in the Quran is universal and that the revelation was made through more than just one prophet, which means that the revelations had multiple manifestations. The basic underpinning for this idea can be seen in the Quran which mentions the monotheistic traditions of Judaism and Christianity. Far from denying the Quran in fact validates that Torah and Bible were predecessor scriptures affirming that their message has come from the same god. Many Quranic verses echo the sentiments which envisage a world where diversified people are united by their pious intentions and mutual devotion to God.
Also, read Islam in 2075: World’s Largest Religion!?
Some Important Milestones in the Islamic History
Apart from the theoretical contributions to promote Islamic pluralism, efficient action has also been taken within the Muslim discourse on a practical level to perpetuate inter-faith harmony.
One such historic step was the “1981 adoption of the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights, whose article XIII states: Every person has the right to freedom of conscience and worship in accordance with his religious beliefs.”.
Apart from this, another significant step was taken in 1990 when the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam was adopted, Article 1(a) of which states:
“All human beings form one family whose members are united by submission to God and descent from Adam. All men are equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations and responsibilities, without any discrimination on the grounds of race, color, language, sex, religious belief, political affiliation, social status or other considerations. True faith is the guarantee for enhancing such dignity along the path to human perfection.”
Islamic Tradition of Peaceful Coexistence
The Quran recognizes fundamental rights for all humankind whether Muslims or non-Muslims and explicitly forbids compulsion in faith. The Islamic texts also provide a practical model of implementing pluralistic ideals which have greatly affected the treatment of non-Muslims in Muslim lands. Contrary to the Islamophobic stereotypes, Islam not only acknowledges pluralism, but it also goes beyond the reductive concepts of tolerance and intolerance to endorse and encourages a tradition of peaceful coexistence.
Also, read Islamophobia: Impacts on Muslim Women
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