Religious Freedom

Supreme Court of India highlights Baha'i views on communal tolerance in Ayodhya decision

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court of India, in a decision last October concerning the religious dispute between Hindus and Muslims over the Ayodhya Mosque, cited the Bahá'í teachings on tolerance and unity as an example of communal harmony.

In a decision rendered on 24 October 1994, India's highest court wrote: "A neutral perception of the requirement for communal harmony is to be found in the Bahá'í =46aith." The Court then quoted several passages from a Bahá'&ia= cute; statement entitled "Communal Harmony- India's Greatest Challenge," which had been submitted by the Bahá'í community of India.

"'Lasting harmony between heterogeneous communities can only come through a recognition of the oneness of mankind, a realization that differences that divide us along ethnic and religious lines have no foundation,'" quoted the Court. "' Just as there are no boundaries drawn on the earth of separate nations, distinctions of social, economic, ethnic and religious identity imposed by peoples are artificial, they have only benefited those with vested interests. On the other hand, naturally occurring diverse regions of the planet, or the country, such as mountains and plains, each have unique benefits. The diversity created by God has infinite value, while distinctions imposed by man have no substance.'"

The decision concerned the dispute between Hindus and Muslims that followed the destruction of the Babri Mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya by Hindus, who objected to it on the grounds that it had been erected on a spot where the Hindu god Rama was said to have been born. The destruction of the Mosque, which had been built in 1528, enraged Muslims and ignited a grave crisis in India in 1993.