Why The Babri Masjid Needs To Go
This just in, the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was attacked by four terrorists this morning, to what end I can't fathom, but all were killed and their attack foiled. I don't understand what foiled means here, however, for I can't imagine what they were after in the complex. Idols?
I remember the day when the Babri Masjid was torn down, almost thirteen years ago, and when, a few days later, my hometown erupted in some of the most gruesome riots in recent memory (though Godhra eclipsed even that, we get worse with the years, not better). The dispute is a deep and complex issue, it has historical aspects and entire volumes can be devoted to who has rights over the land, but I personally see no reason for the Muslim community not to renounce all claim over the land and let a Ram temple be built there. For Muslims, the Babri Masjid is just another mosque, not of particularly deep historical or religious significance, for the Hindus it represents the birth place of Rama, perhaps equivalent to Mecca if you had to draw a parallel. Renouncing claim over the land will not only help heal what can only be described a deep wound on the secular character of Indian society, it will go a long way in shaping the dialog that needs to take place between Indian Muslims and Indians of every other religious persuasion. Growing up as a Muslim in India, I think I felt the most threatened only after the Masjid was demolished on December 6, 1992, a day described by it's architect as the saddest/most unfortunate day of his life. Irrespective of whether there historically existed a Ram temple at the same spot and whether Babur demolished it, I believe it is not unreasonable for a temple to be built there, it wouldn't deprive the Muslims of a place to worship and it would give the Hindus some kind of closure. The only reasons not to do this would be
(a) It gives the impression of giving in to the strong arm tactics of radical organizations like the VHP and RSS
(b) It is completely possible similar claims will be made in other Hindu holy cities like Mathura and Kaashi, with or without justification.
Just like changing the names of cities to what they were before the British Raj advances nothing but political agendas, so also will demolishing mosques and building temples in their places do little to advance the secular dialog between the country's religious communities.
UPDATE: This morning I realize, the title of this post is a bit off, the Babri Masjid is already gone, but I'm going to profess the idea of reconstructing the mosque and the claim over the land should go, and will leave the title as it is.
“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”
- Herman Melville
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