Lucknow: The 26-year-old Ayodhya land dispute has now reached the world forum. Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is considered a religious authority among Shias around the world, has issued a fatwa, pointing out that the Waqf properties can’t be handed over for construction of temple or any other shrine.
Al-Sistani, who heads one of the most revered Shia seminary at Najaf in Iraq, was replying to a query posed by an educationist Dr Mazhar Naqvi from Kanpur.
Sistatni’s opinion assumes significance in the wake of repeated statements by UP Shia Waqf Board Chairman Waseem Rizvi to hand over the disputed land at Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya for the construction of a temple. The cleric has argued that the mosque was constructed by a Shia ruler, and hence, the Waqf property belongs to the community.
Reacting to Sistani’s fatwa, Rizvi said, “There is an international pressure on Shia Waqf Board to support the Babri Masjid litigants. This fatwa from Ayatollah Sistani is a part of that tactic. Shia Waqf Board will work as per the norms laid by the Indian Constitution and not as per any pressure from terrorists or according to any fatwa. We are not ready to abide by the cleric's opinion. The advise was taken after misguiding him on the issue.”
“Ram Temple in Ayodhya is a question of faith for Hindus and Shia Waqf Board is concerned about development of the society and the country. Hindu’s should get their right and Muslims should refrain from taking away anyone’s right. Shia Waqf Board will maintain its stand even if all the Muslims of the world stand in our opposition,” added Rizvi.
The Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board had urged the Supreme Court to act as a mediator in the Ayodhya case and has suggested that a Ram Temple be built at the disputed site and a mosque in a nearby Muslim-dominated area as a way out of the bitter court battle over the land.
The UP Shia Waqf Board had cited historical references to Mir Baqi, the person who built the Babri mosque, as being a Shia Muslim and hence the mutawali (caretaker) of the mosque was also the Shia Waqf Board.