I recently visited the city of nawabs. Lucknow, like other cities, is changing with an accelerated speed. As of now, the domes and minarets co-exist with the stone world of Mayawati. Gomtiji has also managed to retain and consolidate her identity. In the daylight, one can admire the beauty of the past and after dusk, get smitten by the well-lighted fountains and symbols of Mayawati's 'reign and glory'. Whatever i could get of the existing culture, I loved it as it was quite similar to the culture of my native place.
But I was prevented from falling in love head over heels with this city when my heels stumbled upon the ruins of an ancient mosque and i was asked to control myself.
The signboard read "Non Muslims cannot proceed further from this point". I would have been less disappointed(comparatively less) if the barrier was a gender one. I don't know if this is the case with all mosques or was it because this one belonged to the supposedly more orthodox, shia sect. But it is really farce that the house of God has to be exclusive. And when they say that only Muslims can enter, they should define one. Because according to the Quran, anyone who believes in God is a muslim. If they mean that a Muslim is one who follows the Quran, well then there are hardly any Muslims around.
There are some temples in the south which forbid the entry of lower castes and non-Hindus. But Hinduism acknowledges inequality of castes. So in this case, unlike Islam which emphasis on equality, Hinduism does not contradict itself. I don't know if this discrimination is in the Quran or not. But how does it matter if it is not? For every accusation of rigidity, people say, "this is not in Quran. It is because of the society." I fail to understand that if all religions have developed in the same regions and societies then why are they not so rigid? And if for every god-damn issue, a fatwa is imposed. then when such serious blows like deviation from the Quran takes place, then why are fatwas not issued?
Islam has always tried to be very exclusive. The political scenario in which it originated and developed is the reason for it. It has definitely absorbed from other beliefs and practices but it has always tried to retain a certain degree of rigidity. Even in 21st century, there comes a fatwa that only two Muslims can marry each other. This exclusivity also clashes with modernist forces, most important of which is that of secularism. In an India where the a-political, common people would have agreed for a temple and mosque to co-exist on the disputed Ayodhya site, such discrimination is farce and intolerable. People want to rise above their personal faiths and accept and respect other faiths. This exclusivity will retard this growth. Exclusivity and Rigidity are also breeding grounds for the deadly germs of stereotyping 'the other'. Intermingling of cultures is not only inevitable but also necessary for their survival. Rigid cultures cannot survive and if they do, they decay the society, the economy and ofcourse, politics.
Another point in the case is that these mosques are more of historical monuments. They are of academic interests for many. So they are not just the religious domains. Thus, the personal beliefs of people should not be overriding. Like other historical monuments with mosques, these mosques should also be closed only on Fridays. Monuments are pride of the nation, not exclusive properties of any individual or community.
In the end, i shall conclude by saying that I don't know how far-reaching and equality will be the economic development in Mayawati's Lucknow but weeding out this irrationality and inequality will definitely be one of the real developments.