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Ayodhya title suit: Is mosque essential part of Islam? | SC to decide today on plea for hearing by larger Bench

The Supreme Court of India, in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty

The Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce a judgment on Thursday on whether to refer the question if a “mosque as a place of prayer is an essential part of Islam” in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid appeals to a Constitution Bench.

A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer had taken up the long-pending Ayodhya land title appeals against the Allahabad High Court judgment of 2010, which ordered the three-way partition of the disputed land.

Chief Justice Misra had in the beginning observed that the appeals would be decided like any other civil suit, shorn of any “religious sentiments” displayed by the parties.

However, as the hearings progressed in the appeals, the Muslim appellants pressed that the place of a mosque in Islam and the importance of the practice of offering prayers inside a mosque should be first decided by a five-judge Bench. They said this question should be answered before the court goes into the main title dispute.

The bone of contention here is an observation made in a 1994 judgment of the Supreme Court in Ismail Farooqui case that “a mosque is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and namaz (prayer) by Muslims can be offered anywhere, even in open.”

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, for the Muslim appellants, argued that the observation in the Ismail Farooqui judgment has affected the status of mosques in Islam.

“If the congregation part of Islam is taken away, a large part of Islam goes worthless. Mosques are meant for congregation and prayer,” Mr. Dhavan had argued on why mosques are “essential.”

Senior advocate C.S. Vaidyanathan, for one of the contesting Hindu bodies, had countered that the observation in the 1994 judgment, read in its entirety, only points to the fact that all places of worship are equally susceptible for government acquisition.

In fact, the particular paragraph in the judgment reads that “a mosque is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and namaz [prayer] by Muslims can be offered anywhere, even in open. Accordingly, its acquisition is not prohibited by the provisions in the Constitution of India. Irrespective of the status of a mosque in an Islamic country for the purpose of immunity from acquisition by the State in exercise of the sovereign power, its status and immunity from acquisition in the secular ethos of India under the Constitution is the same and equal to that of the places of worship of the other religions, namely, church, temple etc. It is neither more nor less than that of the places of worship of the other religions”.


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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 10:06:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ayodhya-case-is-mosque-essential-part-of-islam/article25052278.ece

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