Faith and Law
If the Allahbad High Court judgment on the vexed Ayodhya issue has disturbed any community in India the most it is the so-called secularists, who are essentially a bunch of Left-inclined and rabidly anti-Hindu intelligentsia dominating the Indian media, academia and foreign-funded non-governmental organisations. This community, ably supported by blatantly fundamentalist elements and practioners of vote- bank politics, particularly from the Congress, CPI, CPM and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Socialist Party, has literally coerced the Muslim representatives to reject any path of consensus and reconciliation between the Hindus and Muslims so as to construct a temple and mosque simultaneously, something that the High Court judgment had literally facilitated. By defying and disregarding the national mood for a such a reconciliation, as evident from the reactions from every corner in the country and talks between the Hindu religious leaders and Muslim litigants, these “secularist fundamentalists” have prompted some vocal self-appointed leaders of the Muslim community to approach the Supreme Court to reject the High Court judgment and give its own. Incidentally, the oldest litigant in the Ayodhya title suit, Mohammad Hashim Ansari, who is strongly in favour of reconciliation and against going to the Supreme Court, is now facing a threat to his life from “certain quarters”, and it is obvious who they are.
The essential argument of this group is that the High Court has erred in its decision by preferring “faith” (that is Hindu religious belief on Lord Ram) to “law”. This argument is simply untenable because the judgment was primarily based on the “evidence” of the existence of temple-structures below the demolished mosque as discovered by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI). The secular fundamentalists’ argument that the ASI work was debatable does not stand scrutiny because of the facts that the excavation work was done by a team that consisted of both Hindus and Muslims, that the entire excavation process was under the supervision of the High Court, and that the High Court had heard all the objections to the ASI findings before certifying them, which, incidentally, were finally accepted by both the Hindu and Muslim experts in writing. Needless to mention here is that these secularist fundamentalists were the ones who had contested the ASI findings and the High Court had given them ample scope to prove their contentions, and in doing that they failed to convince the Court.
The problem with the Indian secularists is that they are over-arrogant. They claim always to be omniscient. They pretend to know laws better than our judges. In fact, in no other country will one come across comments, such as those coming from our “secularists”, that the pronouncements of a High Court are “illegal” as if it is not a part of Indian legal system. But the most absurd thing happens to be their contention that a country’s laws must not have anything to do with its religious faith or beliefs. It is universally accepted that reconciliation between faith and justice is a fundamental goal of any law. And in doing this, every secular country’s legal system, as distinct from the practices of countries based on religion, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, tries to strike a balance between religious “ideas” and “practices”. For instance, if someone believes that Prophet Muhammad flew at night on al-Buraq, an animal white and long, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule, to the temple mount in Jerusalem, we should have no problem in respecting that. But, the real rub comes when we have to accept abhorrent religious practices such as amputating limbs, stoning adulterers, child marriages etc. In other words, any secular law will find it easier to deal with religious ideas or faith than with religious practices. But then it is the task of the law to bring about reconciliation between the two for the sake of justice.
In fact, pursuing any literature pertaining to jurisprudence will tell you that “law” can be thought of as the ordering principle of reality; knowledge as revealed by a God defining and governing all human affairs. Law, in the religious sense, also includes codes of ethics and morality which are upheld and required by the God. Examples include customary Halakha (Jewish law) and Hindu law, and to an extent, Sharia (Islamic law) and Canon law (Christian law). In Hindu law we have a system of personal laws (i.e., marriage, adoption, and inheritance) applied to Hindus, especially in India. Modern Hindu law is thus a part of the law of India established by the Constitution of India.
It may be pointed out here that faith and belief matter more to the Indian Muslims than any other community, something the secular fundamentalists will like us to overlook. Take, for instance, the “Uniform Civil Code” that will make India a really secular country. The Supreme Court has emphasised its enactment in a number of judgments and though Article 44 of the Constitution stipulates that, “The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India”, “secularists” oppose this move on the ground that it affects Muslim “faith”. So much so that they accept the practice of Muslims being allowed four wives in India though even Muslim countries like Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria etc., permit only one wife.
The “secularists” expose their deviousness by going to every extent of supporting the self-appointed leaders of the Muslims in their demand to curb free speech and freedom of artistic expression (all sanctified by our “laws”) when anything remotely seen as offending their “faith”. We all know how Salman Rusdie’s novel, Satanic Verses, was banned in this country. When the death sentence against Rushdie was pronounced by Ayatollah Khomeini, on February 14, 1989, many “secularists” advised Rushdie to apologise and to withdraw the book since it offended Muslims’ “faith”. Similar was their stand when the so-called cartoon controversy arose in Denmark. Though ordinary Indian Muslim had nothing to do with it, our “secularists” created numerous law and order problems in India by openly organising public demonstrations and rallies against the Danish cartoons and demanding the rupture of diplomatic relations with Denmark. And all this was because the cartoons offended the “faith” of the Muslims. It is the same “faith” of the Muslims that has seen the “secularists” justifying restrictions on the activities of Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin.
The “secularists” are simply hoodwinking the nation when they say that by demanding the Supreme Court’s intervention, they are simply reposing their faith in the Indian judiciary. After all, they argue, the Supreme Court’s is the country’s last judicial voice. But, one need not be an astrologer to predict that these “secular fundamentalists” will be the last to abide by the Supreme Court’s decision on Ayodhya if that goes against the contentions of the Muslims again. They will be at the forefront in demanding that the Parliament must nullify the Supreme Court’s verdict by legislating specific laws that will give the disputed property to the Muslims unconditionally. After all, we have seen how, in the name of Muslims’ “faith” and sensitivity, the Rajiv Gandhi government nullified the Supreme Court’s judgment on Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum (AIR 1985 SC 945) by passing the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 which made section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code inapplicable to Muslims!
What all this underscores is that for the “secular fundamentalists”, the subject of “faith” is a selective matter; it is important for Muslims but carries no meaning for Hindus. However, such subjectivity on their part makes the “secular fundamentalists” the real enemies of Indian Muslims. Because, they want permanent tensions between the Hindus and Muslims so that the latter are represented always as “victims” and their “secular shops” do a thriving business by selling that victimhood, which, in turn, goes a long way in their career- promotions. If there is communal amity and reconciliation between the two communities, then literally they will become unemployed. But then it is high time for them to lose their vicious jobs so that India becomes genuinely secular and vibrant!
By Prakash Nanda