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[LISTEN] India: Gyanvapi Masjid Just One in a Series of Right-Wing Hindu Claims on Mosques


Umm Muhammed Umar

3 min read

18 September 2022


Radio Islam spoke to Sayed Obaidurrahmaan about the situation regarding Gyanvapi Masjid in Uttar Pradesh, India. The masjid is situated in Varanasi, and, according to Obaidurrahmaan, more than 300 years old.

Obaidurrahmaan explained that the latest court verdict related not just to the freedom of Hindus to observe prayer at the masjid, but to a petition by 5 Hindu women to pray regularly in the mosque. He said that the Places of Worship Act 1991 read that the status of a religious place as it existed on August 15, 1947, could not be altered. The only exception was the Babri Masjid because a there had been a court concerning the masjid since British rule. He said, “So, we can be sure that the court verdict should not go against it.” He added, however, “but with the sort of development that has been taking place over there, in Varanasi, over the last three or four months, we cannot be sure that there would not be an effort to sort amend the Places of Worship Act, as well.” The Hindu protagonists claim that the mosque had been built on the ruins of a temple, but Muslim scholars say that there is no evidence whatsoever for that claim, and that there had been a mosque on the site of Gyanvapi Masjid.

Obaidurrahmaan said that it was not to be expected that this case should follow the sad fate of the Babri Masjid. He said, “I believe, and I pray that things don’t go the same way, but we should realize that this is not the only mosque on which right wing Hindus have staked claim.” He said, “There is another mosque in Mathura on which they have staked claim, and this is not all. There are quite a few other mosques, and tombs of Muslim saints also, they have claimed that those were the temples, and that Muslim Kings and Muslim Nawaz, had demolished those temples and built Muslim place of worship on them.” The same has been claimed of Qutub Minar.

Muslims have gone to the High Court to challenge the permissibility of the petition of the 5 women to allow Hindu women to pray inside the masjid, “because it goes against very the very objective of the Places of Worship Act of 1991.” Obaidurrahmaan said, “Actually, the Places of Worship Act 1991 was introduced in Indian parliament to assure Muslims that after Babri Masjid, no other mosque will be demolished, or no other mosque will face the same fate as Babri Masjid has faced.” He added, “So, if the court goes against it, if the court again decided that it was actually a temple, like the court decided in the case of Babri Masjid, then this will be very difficult, and Muslims are going to go into Supreme Court in the days to come.”

Meanwhile, latest reports indicate that, a mosque in Badaun is now seeing Hindu right-wing activists claiming it to be a temple. A petition has been filed by one Mukesh Patel, the so called ‘state convener’ of the All India Hindu Mahasabha. Patel claims that the Jama Masjid complex in Badaun was once a fort of King Mahipal. The petition claims the 800-year-old Azimusshan Jama Masjid was built by Muslim ruler Shamsuddin Altamash, by demolishing an ancient temple. The masjid is one of the largest and oldest in India.


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