Plea filed in SC to let women pray inside all mosques
A Muslim couple from Maharashtra moved the Supreme Court seeking the right for women to pray at mosques.
The petition, which refers to the top court’s September judgment on Sabarimala, says Muslim women have the right to worship in mosques. To be sure, there is no explicit ban on women worshipping in mosques, although it isn’t generally encouraged. Not all mosques also have a separate space for women to pray.
In Islam, there is no ban on the entry of women in mosques and Muslim women are not barred from offering prayers in the mosques. In fact even in the holiest of the places of Mecca and Madina, women offer prayers in the mosque, said Zarfaryab Jilani of All India Muslim Personal law Board.
In its Sabarimala judgment, currently under review, the Supreme Court said women of all ages would be allowed into the holy shrine. “There is no mention of any gender segregation in Quran and Hadith,” the couple’s lawyer, advocate Ashutosh Dubey, said, explaining the ground on which the petition has been filed. The Hadith is a broad guide to Islamic law. “.. Such practices are not only repugnant to the basic dignity of a woman as an individual but is also violative of the fundamental rights,” read the petition. The Union of India, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Central Wakf Council, Maharashtra State Wakf Board and All India Muslim Personal Law Board have been named as respondents in the case. Currently, women can offer prayers at mosques of the Jamaat-e-Islami and Mujahid denominations, the petition said. However, they are barred from mosques under the predominant Sunni denomination. And even if they are allowed, there are separate entrances and enclosures for them to worship, it added.
According to the petitioners, Yasmin Zuber Ahmad Peerzade and Zuber Ahmad Nazir Ahmad Peerzade, there are no records stating that the Holy Quran and Prophet Muhammad opposed women from entering mosques and offering prayers.
The petition under Article 32 is based on last year’s judgment in the Sabarimala case where it was held that “religion cannot be used as cover to deny rights or worship to women and a prohibition on women to offer prayers is against human dignity.” “Prohibition on women is due to non-religious reasons and it’s a grim shadow of discrimination going on for centuries,” read the petition.
The practice followed in Mecca, where Muslims go for Haj pilgrimage, has also been cited by the couple in support of the prayer made. At Mecca the faithful, both women and men, together circle Kaaba. “The most sacred mosques in the world embrace both men and women,” the petitioners said.
The petitioners have given their own example to justify their demand. According to them, they requested the Jama Masjid in Pune to let the wife enter the mosque. In response the couple was told that women were not permitted to offer prayers in the mosque in Pune and other areas. The Imam, however, said he would write to higher authorities for considering the petitioners’ request and requisite directions.
Congress Party Spokesperson Pranav Jha said, “since the issue is sub judice, it would be better if the court decides the case.”
Last year, the union finance minister, Arun Jaitely, at the 16th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit criticised the Supreme court verdict in the Sabrimala case and the top courts interference in the personal practices of a religious denomination. He had said “If you want to take a progressive step under article 14 and 21, it will apply uniformly against all religions. It cannot happen that you select a practice and apply it because that will have many social consequences in a pluralistic society like India.”