Hindu masjids personify the deep chasm, or the sharp conflict between the Hindu ethos
and Muslim zealotry. The conflict must be resolved. Why are we anxious? For the simple
reason that without resolution, India cannot acquire the spirit of collective honour. And
without national pride, the country cannot leap forward.Individual citizens may flourish
or shine, as they do even now, whether at home' or overseas. But the collective
performance of the country disappoints.
Many a Samaritan has tried to bridge the Hindu/Muslim chasm. Perhaps no
one tried more than Mahatma Gandhi who went to extraordinary lengths by leading the
khilafat movement in 1919 whose logical conclusion was anti-national.Yet his mission
failed and eventually India was partitioned. The reason, possibly was that well meaning
bridge builders did not comprehend the mismatch between the Hindu psyche and Muslim mind.
It is well known that the conceptual purposeof an average Hindu is self actualization. Or
fulfill himself by the best of karma which should eventually lead to moksha,
mukti or nirvana. The Hindu universe consists of all living beings including
animals, birds, reptiles et al. Since souls transmigrate, ideally violence should not
On the other hand, the Judaic approach, whose most assertive vanguard
is Islam, divides humanity whether between Jews and gentiles, Christians and heathens or
between momins and kafirs. Islam enjoins on the momin to convert as
many kafirs as possible to his religion. While doing so, he has to try and dominate
whatever and whomever he can. Domination therefore is the central thrust of Islam. Whereas
accommodation is the core of Hinduness. To bridge the gulf between the desire to dominate
and readiness to accommodate is the challenge before all Indians.
This book is based on personal visits of the author to all the masjids
that have been described. Visits were made in 2000 and 2001. The photographs that
accompany the text bear out what was discovered. Until the advent of the Lodhis, most
masjids were merely converted from mandirs by replacing the idols with mehrabs and
by defacing the temple statuettes. Little wonder that the masjids still look mandirs.
Mosques which were constructed by recycling the rubble of desecrated temples have a
different look. This is the first time that this distinction has been made between the
directly converted (temples into masjids) and temples rubble that has been recycled
into new mosques.
So much for the Hindu/Muslim conflict at the macro level. A smaller
although more poignant challenge, is that of the area that surrounds each Hindu masjid.
Toa majority of the people, the long remembered temple in the neighbourhood was about the
only reachable point of pilgrimage. Nothing broke their heart more than its desecration.
Do we not owe them back their mandir?