"Everyone kept saying Muslims welcome the Ayodhya verdict. That there is no resentment. That there is no despondency. That there is no disappointment. So much so that civilised protests that should have happened, and rightly so in a democracy, also did not happen," Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), who broke the news that the Ayodhya verdict was going to be reviewed on 17 November, said.
From shock to despondency that gradually seeped in with every passing day, Muslim leaders held several meetings and deliberations before announcing on 17 November that they will review the Ayodhya verdict.
With the Ayodhya review petition being filed anytime now, here’s a detailed look at the various considerations and conversations that led up to the final decision.
The Quint tracked how the AIMPLB as well as the Jamiat-Ulema-E-Hind organised deliberations, talks and consulted common people through their networks of madrasas and mosques leading them to develop the confidence to file for a review. This attempt described by them is a last attempt to remain 'truthful to their faith while ensuring they maintained peace'. They are to file an appeal by 8 December.
Displeasure of Muslim Leaders at Ajit Doval’s Meet ‘Ignored’
While the verdict was announced on 9 November, India's National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval invited religious leaders from the Hindu and Islamic faiths to make a plea to maintain peace on 10 November. Mohammad Salim Engineer, who is vice president of Jamaat-E-Islami-Hind, said:
“Doval saab said that this meeting was to be called before the verdict, but since the verdict came earlier than expected, rather than cancelling it he found it important to be held. The agenda of the meeting was to discuss ways to ensure there is 'peace and harmony,” he said.
Among the Muslims who were present, were representatives from the Jamaat-E-Islami Hind, Jaimiat Ahle Hadees, the Ajmer Dargah, Muslim Musharat, Dargah Nizamuddin and others.
Even as the agenda was to maintain peace and harmony, several Muslim leaders including Salim Engineer and All India representative Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat Navaid Hamid, expressed their outright displeasure to the NSA.
"Everyone spoke for four-five minutes each. I told them that I was hurt, shocked and disappointed by the verdict. Many others raised similar concerns," Engineer who was represent the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind at the meet said. "The displeasure was completely blacked out by the media, only the positive reports came out," Engineer added. Also a sentiment echoed by AIMPLB's SQR Illyas, who is also associated with Jamaat.
Not only that but the Muslim leaders had insisted their displeasure was noted in the resolution of the meeting. A note taken down by Ajit Doval himself, however it was not done, Engineer says.
When asked if the NSA engaged with the Muslim leaders who were upset, he recalls, "Ajit Doval did not respond to us. He just started the conversations but did not deliberate much after. In the end again he said thank you to everyone. He did not ask if we were going to petition the verdict or anything."
As More Leaders Met, Meetings Were Called
Two emergency meetings were called simultaneously.
One by the Jamiat-Ulema-E-Hind on 14 November in their headquarters in Delhi and another by the AIMPLB on 16 November at Lucknow.
All aforementioned parties feel the SC ruling has been unfair, particularly perplexed by how the SC could pave the way for the construction of a Ram temple. "The SC itself says that firstly, the evidence does not conclusively prove that a temple was destroyed to build a mosque. Second, that the placing of idols in 1949 was a crime and finally that the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid was a crime too. How can the final verdict then allot the land for the building of a Ram mandir?," all are left wondering.
Behind Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind Meet: Rigorous Translation Of Verdict
Arshad Madani, the head of the Deoband-based Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind, which has the largest network of organised mosques and madrasas across India, reveals how Muslim representatives met within days of the meeting. Madani, who was in Bangladesh on the day of the verdict, returned on 12 November. "The first thing I did was call for an emergency meeting. Whoever could make it for the meeting on the 14th did."
Young men at the Deboand madrasa frantically worked to translate the 1,045-page long order into Urdu for the comprehension of the Muslim leaders.
Meanwhile, a committee of five on behalf of the Jamiat was formed at the 14 November meeting, held at the headquarters of the Jamiat at ITO in Delhi. This included Maulana Arshad Madani himself, Maulana Mehmood Madani, Maulana Malunan Fazir ur Rehman, Maulana Habir ur Rehman and Advocate Eijaaz Maqbool.
With the Urdu translation at their disposal, the committee spent all of 15 and 16 November in a close huddle to understand the legal basis to push for a review.
Expressing a hint of cautious optimism, he says, "Ye dekh liya jaaye, ki kya vakayi mein ye sahi baat hai ki jo faisla diya hai vo sahi diya hai. Ya kuch cheez rahain gayi hai? (It should be ascertained whether it is true that the verdict that has come is the correct verdict? Or have some important parameters been overlooked?")
Continuing his thought, which reflected a sense of betrayal, the 78-year-old Maulana said, "Faisla jo SC ne di hai vo aastha ke mutaabik diya hai, saboot ke mutabik nahi. (The SC's verdict is based on faith and not on evidence.)"
Behind AIMPLB Meet: Consultations Through Madrasas & Mosques
Dr SQR Illyas, who is a part of the nine-member team of AIMPLB's Babri Masjid committee, said his initial reaction was surprise. "In my opinion, not only had we demolished their side, but we had also given evidence on our end," he says with perplexed helplessness.
"Thought the disputed site will not be given to anyone and in the 67 acres land would be given to both sides to build a temple and a mosque. This verdict was however shocking," he added.
The call for a meeting was made for 16 November. The AIMPLB has representation from the Shia and Sunni communities and consist of religious leaders, scholars, lawyers, politicians and other professionals.
"Over the week, members of AIMPLB have spoken to each other. There have been a plethora of calls and inquiries to understand how the people feel. In the absence of open protests this happened in meetings at madrasas and mosques across. Meetings were held by everyone, including the Jamaat-E-Islami Hindi, Jamiat-Ulema-E Hind, The Indian National League, Indian Union Muslim League. The unanimous response was, that if there continues to be a legal option available, then all options must be exhausted," Illyas said.
Finally on 16 November not only were the 51 executive members of the AIMPLB called but also the six petitioners in the case.
"We have the support of three of the six petitioners. Mufti Badshah Khan, Mohammad Khaliq, nominee of a litigant Maulana Mehfooz-ur-Rehman and Mohammad Umar," Ilyas said.
While the three others including the Sunni Waqf Board are against the decision to review. Speaking to The Quint, Iqbal Ansari, one of the petitioners who is staunchly against a review said, “My father was the original petitioner. When he passed away he made it clear he did not want to review any decision. His and my understanding is that these issues are used by men for politics. I am tired of it.”
After the talks Illyas tells us the decision to review was not a unanimous one. "Around thirty to thirty-five percent of the AIMPLB was not in favour of the review."
The Last Resort
A major emotive reason for all parties to huddle for a review is because of the Islamic belief, that the land of the mosque belongs to Allah and under the Sharia and cannot be given to anybody.
Those involved in the decision-making process conveyed that a sense of guilt combined with fear has pushed them to exhaust all possible legal remedies so that they can confidently assert they stood up for their faith. They said that a hope for a larger divine justice motivated them to push for a review despite them believing it will not lead to anything, the filing of review is crucial to them.
"Hum chahte hai ki ye saaf tareeke se log jaane ki humne apne marzi se khuda ki zameen nahi di hai. Humnein darke nahi diya hai. Humne lalach main sauda nahi kiya hai. Allah ke saamne humaari jawaabdahi nahi hogi. (We want everyone to know that we have not given this land willingly. That we have not given this out of fear either. That we did not get greedy and strike a compromise. So that when we depose before Allah, we are not blamed)," Salim Engineer said.
Echoing how it is imperative that all possible courses are exhausted for the Muslims to find closure, Madani says, "Masjid ek dharam sthal hai. Hum jahaan tak ja sakte hai vahaan tak jayenge bina kanoon ko apne haath lete hue. (This is about our religion. We will go as far as possible while respecting the rule of law)," Madani said.
"Humein lagta hai ki insaaf nahi hua hai, lekin ooper vaale ki adalat mein insaaf zaroor hoga. Humaare bas main jitna tha humnein kiya (We do not think the verdict stood for justice. However, in the court of Allah there will be justice. We did everything we could)," Ilyas says.