'I can't praise the judgment, but accept it'
Jamiat Ulema e-Hind chief Moulana Mehboob Madani is trying hard to devise a strategy to respond to the Ayodhya verdict.
He is not only chief of the Jamiat, a powerful body of ulemas in India, but is also member of the All India Personal Law Board and aspires to influence the board's decision for a future course of action on Ayodhya.
Many Hindu organisations behind the Ayodhya movement will be surprised to read the intelligent approach he is adopting as a way ahead after the Ayodhya verdict.
It is difficult to say whether it is tactics or conviction that is behind his request to his community to accept the Ayodhya judgment, yet it is a fresh beginning. He spoke to rediff.com's Sheela Bhatt in this exclusive interview.
Click next to read the full interview...
Image: Moulana Mehboob Madani
'The judgment has defied the hopes of Indian Muslims'
Is it true that barring exceptions, a majority of Hindus have accepted the Ayodhya verdict and most Muslims though disappointed are willing to accept it because they want to move ahead away from a divisive issue?
This judgment has defied the hopes of Indian Muslims since they believed the court would rule in their favour. Generally, people expect to win the war. People who find the judgment unfair, may be right in thinking so. I believe the judgment doesn't have enough legal standing, yet the decision of the court with all its failings should be accepted.
Humein ise kabool kar lena chahiye (we should accept this judgment) and the prime reason in doing so is our country's honour and prestige are at stake. We should also ask ourselves for the sake of the next generation, how long this fight will go on?
And finally, taking into account the faith and feelings of most people living in this country, I believe, this judgment should be implemented in Ayodhya.
I am sure there will be many reservations and there will be many more questions if one tries to implement the judgment. I repeat, and please do write this, that this is my personal opinion and not the decision of my organisation or the AIMPLB. Muslims are confused about the judgment and I think, we shouldn't rush to form a final opinion.
Image: Hindu and Muslim school children offer prayers for peace inside their school in Ahmedabad
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters
'We are totally against street fighting on the issue'
Is this stand, a part of the war of nerves between top Hindu and Muslim leaderships involved in the controversy? Are you accepting the judgment only because you don't want to be branded as a peace-breaker? Or, are you waiting for Hindu petitioners to go to the Supreme Court?
It's true that some people believe that such a stance is part of tactics. But, I told some leaders and editors who met me today, that we should first decide what we are proposing through a statement of the AIMPLB.
See, we can keep quiet. Or, if we are saying something, we can stick to it. The Jamiat, my organisation, has supported Muslims fighting this movement in Ayodhya, but we have never been vocal on the issue. And finally, we are totally against street fighting on the issue.
Why has India remained calm? Not a single Muslim has demonstrated against the verdict.
I can tell you with confidence that neither Muslims nor Hindus would come out on the streets and fight it out. People will not join forces with those who harbour such a negative idea.
'Our lawyers say judges followed their hearts and not minds'
What has upset you the most about the judgment?
Our lawyers had assured us that we would win the case. That we would win the case '100 percent'. They said the law was '100 percent on our side'. So, I don't know how this happened. We will get into the details soon. Our lawyers now say that the legal process was not followed. They say they [the judges] followed their hearts and not minds. They [the judges] gave a verdict on the basis of faith.
May be they are right, but let's see. Also, people say that one of the most unnerving things is that even if we accept the judgment, some people would take this as precedence and it is possible this judgment would be used in future by courts of India.
There can be many more decisions by the courts on the basis of faith. That would spoil the shape of the country. People who have shaped Bharat's destiny, who brought it to this stage -- their efforts will be wasted.
What's your take on the support extended by the Congress to the judgment?
Why don't you go and ask the Congress spokesperson whether they support the judgment today? Are they supporting the judgment now? I am not talking of the government.
The government will talk about the court and follow what the court says. If they are supporting the judgment, then well and good, but listen to them now; only then will I give you my reaction.
Yes, they have supported the judgment.
No, the Congress has not supported it. As of today, they do not support the Ayodhya verdict.
Image: An elderly Muslim man takes part in a peace rally in Mumbai
Photographs: Sahil Salvi
'By and large, the reaction by Hindus has been sober... so far'
How did you find reactions of the Hindu organisations?
Dekhiye, hum haar gaye hai (look, we have lost). It's the general feeling among Muslims. The one who has lost the case will always feel bad. I am not above the feeling of defeat. I identify with my community's pain.
And the one who has lost out would not like opposite side even if they were good. That is my honest opinion. But I must add that by and large, the reaction by Hindus has been sober so far.
Will this judgment bring Hindus and Muslims closer or drive them apart?
I told you in beginning that I feel distressed like any other Muslim and like-minded people. I can't praise the judgment. But I want to say that whatever the AIMPLB's decision, we will go with it.
There is one angry lot of Muslims who argue that the one-third land should be given up.
This is bakwas (rubbish). This is humbug. Don't listen to them. Let's make efforts to have a joint venture with Hindus and Muslims. Let's implement the judgment. We don't need any other new idea on the subject. The implementation of judgment will be in national interest.
Image: Sadhus hug each other to celebrate the Ayodhya verdict
Photographs: Mukesh Gupta/Reuters