April 17, 2021
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Ayodhya Verdict: Missing The Affirmative Possibilities

Ayodhya Verdict: Missing The Affirmative Possibilities

Lata Mani in the EPW:

I am arguing that to deem the kind of unequal compromise as has been proposed in the verdict by Justice Khan simply as capitulation to majoritarian belief is to ignore the philosophical context of Islam upon which he explicitly draws in the prelude and epilogue to his judgment. His is a view that has struck a chord with many Muslims even though not all agree with the verdict. It elaborates a perspective at once principled and situated, expansive and concrete. The degree to which it resonates with the broader cultural ethos (not just that of Muslims) may be gauged by the space it has opened for conciliation, not in its sense as appeasement or pacification but in its root meaning as “bringing together”. The spirit of Justice Khan’s verdict creates a context in which the Rs 12 lakh donation by a Shia youth group towards construction of the Ram temple or the moves towards amicable settlement by the litigants, alongside appeal to the Supreme Court cannot merely be seen as the response of a besieged and aggrieved community, or as the actions of condescending but undeserving victors. An honourable basis has been laid for these gestures (themselves part of rich pre-history of negotiated coexistence, joint worship and shared culture) though not everyone is rising to the occasion, as is already evident.

...the relative quietude with which the verdict has been met has, at least, something to do with widespread recognition that the spirit behind the proposed trifurcation was neither a meting out of humiliation nor a handing down of the verdict of history but rather, an honourable attempt at legal-moral reasoning with peace as its impetus. To overlook this or decree it just symbolism is to miss the affirmative possibilities inherent in this historical moment.

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