Clerics of the Jama Masjid in Jaipur have reportedly backtracked on a decision to open its doors to women devotees, disappointing many who were hoping to offer prayers at the city’s biggest mosque.
“We were very happy to read about the announcement that a place has been marked for women in Jama Masjid, and we will be allowed to enter it. I was even looking forward to go there on Friday with my friends and family. But then, they announced the following day that women should pray at home. That was very disheartening,” said Khushboo Ali, a teacher residing in Hasanpura. “Women should be allowed to pray in mosques. Islam is all for equality.”
Khushboo’s mother, Naseem Akhtar, said Jama Masjid Committee chairman Naim Qureshi had backtracked under pressure from fundamentalists.
However, Qureshi – when contacted over the phone – told HT that the published reports were false, and no such arrangement for women devotees had been made. Then he hung up.
Dr Iqbal Siddiqui of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind echoed his sentiment. “I had a word with Naim Qureshi, and he told me that no special provision for women was created. There is only a space for women who are out shopping, and want to offer prayers,” he said.
Nishat Hussain, Rajasthan convener of the Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, couldn’t hide her disappointment. “We were so happy to know that women were getting their rights. But discouragement followed the very next day, when they said that the space is for women who have come to shop – and female devotees should pray at home. The mosque authorities should have stood their ground,” she said.
Had the Jama Masjid committee stuck to its decision, the mosque would have been the first to open its doors to women in the state. “Mosques in Kerala have separate spaces for women. The Jama Masjid in Delhi and Hazratbal in Kashmir also have spaces marked for women,” said Navaid Hamid, president of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawrat.