New Delhi, Aug 10 (IANS) The new ‘Babri Masjid’ in Ayodhya, that is all set to come up in Dhannipur, will not be named after Mughal Emperor Babar. In other words, the new mosque won’t be called ‘Babri Masjid’. In fact, it won’t be named after any emperor or ruler, said Athar Hussain, the Secretary and spokesperson of the newly formed trust Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation (IICF) which is entrusted with the task of building the mosque in Ayodhya, in an exclusive interview to IANS.
Just days after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath made it clear that he would not attend any events pertaining to the new mosque in Ayodhya, he asserted that the trust would extend an invitation to not just Yogi Adityanath for the ceremony relating to the other community projects that fall under the purview of the upcoming mosque, but also to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Q: What is the status of the trust right now?
A: Look, soon after we were provided the land on February 24 this year, immediately the COVID-19 pandemic broke. Things were not as bad at that time as they are today. Meanwhile, the India Islamic Cultural Foundation was founded by the Sunni Waqf Board and was entrusted with building the mosque and adjoining facilities. We held our first virtual meeting on July 19 where we decided on the functionaries and their responsibilities. We still have six vacancies in the trust to fill. Meanwhile, we have already got office space in Lucknow and our PAN cards. However, none of the members have met across the table so far.
Q: When can we expect you to start the construction of the mosque?
A: It is very unfair to compare our activity and our speed with the other trust. We have been handed over the papers of the land only on August 2 and there was an event attended by the PM on August 5. We haven’t been there since we were given those papers. In a day or two, we will go and formally take possession of the land. Once that’s done, we will try to sit across and plan the mosque and some public utility facilities like Indo Islamic Cultural Centres, hospitals among others.
Q: Will the mosque in Ayodhya be called Babri Masjid?
A: The Islam we believe in, there is no importance of the name of the mosque. The ‘sajdah’ that one offers is all that matters. The size, name of the building or structure does not matter. All this hue and cry about the name of the mosque is about identity politics. As far as the religious aspect is concerned, the mosque has nothing to do with the name. But we have deliberated that we will not name the mosque after any emperor or any ruler, that is for sure.
Q: There has been opposition from bodies like the All India Muslim Personal Law Board to taking the land. What’s your stand?
A: I completely disagree with the argument of the AIMPLB or anybody who is making a similar argument. The issue has gone through the entire judicial process from the lower courts, to the High Court and finally to the Supreme Court. All the stakeholders said in one voice that they will abide by the final verdict. When a mediation committee was constituted, the AIMPLB said they won’t be part of such deliberations as they will abide by what the SC decides. Now, it’s a contradiction itself.
Q: Recently there was a controversy over Yogi Adityanath saying no if he is invited to the mosque ceremony. Do you wish to still extend an invitation for the other public utilities that are there along with the mosque?
A: In Islam, there’s no ground breaking ceremony of a mosque. I have gone through the entire Islamic jurisprudence of all 4 schools of thought that cites a precedence. But since we are also providing public utilities like community kitchens or hospitals, the priority of any chief minister of any state is to provide the same. I hope he will come and also contribute to our efforts.
Q: Will there be any ground breaking ceremony for these public utility facilities?
A: Yes, once we have a plan, we will definitely have one.
Q: Will an invitation for these utilities also be sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi?
A: Public utility facilities are for the entire population. Whosoever is likely to give an impetus to our efforts that includes the Prime Minister, Chief Minister, several other opposition party leaders, NGOs and activists, saints, ulemas and academicians — we will definitely invite them.