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Sunday, July 14, 2024

New Mosque Construction in Ayodhya: A Fresh Start After Decades-Long Dispute

As the anticipation builds for the inauguration of a grand temple in Ayodhya by Hindu devotees, India’s minority Muslim community is gearing up to commence the construction of a new mosque in the same city later this year. The Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation (IICF), under the leadership of Haji Arfat Shaikh, has revealed plans to initiate the mosque project in May, following the holy month of Ramadan. The construction is expected to span three to four years.

Background of the Ayodhya Dispute

The roots of this development trace back to the demolition of a 16th-century mosque in Ayodhya in 1992 by Hindu zealots. They claimed that the mosque was constructed over an ancient temple, believed to be the birthplace of the Hindu god-king Ram. The incident fueled a decades-long dispute, straining relations between the Hindu and Muslim communities. The aftermath saw nationwide riots, resulting in the tragic loss of 2,000 lives, predominantly Muslims.

Legal Resolution and Land Allocation

In 2019, India’s top court declared the demolition of the mosque as unlawful but acknowledged evidence indicating a non-Islamic structure beneath it. The court directed that the site be allocated to Hindu groups for the construction of a temple. Simultaneously, it mandated the provision of an alternative piece of land within the city for the Muslim community to build a mosque.

Temple Construction Progress and Funding Challenges for the Mosque

While the construction of the $180 million temple gained momentum, with the first phase set to open soon, Muslim groups faced hurdles in securing funds and initiating work on their designated site, located approximately 25 km away. Zufar Ahmad Faruqi, President of IICF, revealed that the lack of public movement for funds contributed to the delay. In contrast, Hindu groups aligned with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) successfully collected over 30 billion rupees ($360 million) from 40 million donors over three decades.

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Overcoming Challenges: Mosque Redesign and Fundraising Efforts

Redesigning the Mosque Structure

The mosque project encountered additional delays as it underwent a redesign, incorporating more traditional elements such as minarets. Athar Hussain, a secretary at IICF, highlighted the need for these alterations. Furthermore, plans for a 500-bed hospital within the complex were introduced, enhancing the project’s scope.

Launch of Crowd-Funding Website and the Role of BJP

In an effort to expedite funding, Haji Arfat Shaikh, also a BJP leader, announced the upcoming launch of a crowd-funding website. Unlike the extensive fundraising efforts by Hindu groups, Muslim counterparts faced challenges in mobilizing financial support for their mosque project.

Mosque Renaming and Promoting Unity

The new mosque, named “Masjid Muhammed bin Abdullah” after Prophet Mohammad, seeks to distance itself from the historical “Babri Masjid” label. The latter was named after the emperor Babur, who established the Mughal empire. Haji Arfat Shaikh emphasized the mission to transform enmity and hatred into love among people, irrespective of their stance on the Supreme Court judgment. He expressed the belief that fostering positive values among children and the community would bring an end to strife.

Looking Ahead: A Symbol of Unity Amidst Controversy

A Vision Beyond Dispute Resolution

“Our effort has been to end and convert enmity, hatred among people into love for each other…irrespective of whether or not you accept the Supreme Court judgement,” said Shaikh. “All this fighting will stop if we teach good things to our children and people.”

As the mosque construction gears up to commence, it represents not only a physical structure but also a symbolic step toward unity and reconciliation in Ayodhya. The evolving narrative suggests a collective aspiration to move beyond historical disputes and build a future where diversity is embraced, and communities coexist harmoniously

Lillian Hocker
Lillian Hocker
Lillian Hocker is a seasoned technology journalist and analyst, specializing in the intersection of innovation, entrepreneurship, and digital culture. With over a decade of experience, Lillian has contributed insightful articles to leading tech publications. Her work dives deep into emerging technologies, startup ecosystems, and the impact of digital transformation on industries worldwide. Prior to her career in journalism, she worked as a software engineer at a Silicon Valley startup, giving her firsthand experience of the tech industry's rapid evolution.

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