On the entry of women in masjids

Source– The post is based on the article “On the entry of women in masjids” published in The Hindu on 30th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS1- Social empowerment. GS2- Mechanisms and laws for protection and betterment of vulnerable sections

Relevance– Issues related to women

News– The article explains the issues related to prohibition on entry of women inside Jama Masjid premises.

Following a meeting with the Lieutenant-Governor, the mosque authorities withdrew the ban.

What is the Islamic law on women’s entry?

Among Islamic scholars, there is less disagreement on a woman’s right to offer prayers inside a masjid. Most Islamic scholars agree that a prayer can be offered at home but can only be established in a group. Hence, there is the importance of going to a mosque.

Most also agree that women have been exempted, not prohibited from going to the mosque. 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.

In Mecca and Medina, both men and women pray. Both places have separate halls earmarked for men and women. Also, across West Asia there is no ban on women coming to the masjid for prayers.

The denial of access to mosques for women worshippers is a largely subcontinental phenomenon. 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.

Have there been similar bans before?

In 2011, Haji Ali Dargah prohibited women from going beyond it. 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. It ruled in their favour in 2016.

What is the legal issue?

According to the Constitution, there is complete equality between men and women. In the Haji Ali Dargah case too, the High Court quoted Articles 15, 16 and 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. The apex court has clubbed them with the Sabarimala case.

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