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Entry of Women in Masjids

  • 06 Dec 2022
  • 4 min read

For Prelims: Right to Equality, Islamic Laws on Ban on Women’s Entry

For Mains: Legal Issue in Ban on Entry of Women, Right to Equality

Why in News?

Recently, the Jama Masjid in Delhi prohibited the entry of single women or women in groups inside the mosque premises and withdrew after the intervention of Lieutenant-Governor.

  • The authorities reasoned that some women fail to respect the sanctity of the place of worship, making videos etc.

What is the Islamic Law on Women’s Entry?

  • Islamic Law:
    • The Quran, at no place prohibits women from going to mosques for prayers.
      • Wherever the Quran talks of establishing prayer, it talks in gender neutral terms.
    • Before the five daily prayers, a prayer call or azaan is pronounced.
      • The azaan is a general invitation to both men and women for prayers, reminding the faithful, ‘Come for prayer, come for success’.
  • Global Scenario:
    • Across West Asia, there is no ban on women coming to the masjid for prayers.
    • In the U.S. and Canada too, women access mosques for prayers, and even gather there for special Taraweeh prayers in Ramzan and lessons on religion.
  • National Scenario:
    • In India, only a handful of mosques maintained or owned by Jamaat-e-Islami and the Ahl-e-Hadith sect have provisions for women worshippers.
    • Most mosques, while not expressly forbidding women’s entry in masjids, have no provision for women to do ablutions for prayer or a separate prayer zone for them.
      • They are built keeping only men in mind.
      • Under the circumstances, they are reduced to a ‘men only’ zone.
  • Opinion of Scholars:
    • Most Islamic scholars agree that a prayer can be offered at home but can only be established in a group, hence the importance of going to a mosque.
    • Most also agree that women have been exempted, not prohibited from going to the mosque, keeping in mind their child-rearing and other domestic responsibilities.

What is the Legal Issue behind the Ban?

  • According to the Constitution of India, there is complete equality between men and women.
  • In the Haji Ali Dargah case too, the High Court quoted Articles 15, Article 16 and Article 25 of the Constitution to grant women the desired access to the dargah.
  • There are petitions filed before the Supreme Court wherein access has been sought for women in all mosques across the country.

Have there been Similar Bans Before?

  • Back in 2011, a grill was put up on the premises of the vastly popular 15th century dargah, Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai, prohibiting women from going beyond it.
    • Following this, some women approached the dargah management for redress.
    • However, with the requests having been denied, they started a campaign, ‘Haji Ali for All’, winning over more women in the process.
    • Led by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, the women approached the Bombay High Court which ruled in their favour in 2016.

Source: TH

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