For those of us following the issue of women’s entry into religious places closely, mark June 28 on your calendars. This is the date that the Bombay High Court has chosen to announce it’s verdict on a petition filed by a women’s group challenging ban on entry of women inside the sanctum sanctorum of Haji Ali dargah. The issue of women’s entry into this prominent shrine in Mumbai escalated after activist and Bhumata Brigade leader Trupti Desai’s campaign in May where she with her follower activists’ marched to the dargah, protesting the denial of entry into the inner shrine.
Here’s all you need to know:
- A division bench of justices VM Kanade and Revati Mohite-Dhere asked the petitioner and trust officials to submit orders passed by the Supreme Court and the Bombay high court in Haji Ali, Sabrimala and Shanisingnapur temples. These places had banned from entry of women in certain areas of the shrines. The bench is finally studying the cases and will get to a conclusion after considering all these aspects.
- The court has received the plea filed by two women, Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Niaz, who challenged the ban on women’s entry in the sanctum sanctorum of the dargah.
- The PIL states that Quran doesn’t allow gender inequality and the decision contravenes the Hadith that women can visit graves like men do.
- The stand of the Maharashtra government is that women’s entry should be barred only if the holy book, the Quran states so.”If the religion (Islam) is going to fall if women are allowed entry, then the ban should prevail over fundamental rights”, said the Maharashtra advocate general Shrihari Aney to TOI. The ban on women’s entry cannot be justified if it is on the basis of an expert’s interpretation of the Quran, Aney also states.
- On the other hand, the dargah trust defended its stand by stating that the Quran preaches that allowing women close proximity to the dargah of a male saint is a grievous sin.
- Answering to that statement, Advocate Shoaib Memon had said, “Women are not allowed inside mosques in Saudi Arabia. They are given a separate place to pray. We (trust) have not barred women. It is simply regulated for their safety. The trust not only administers the Dargah but also manages the affairs of religion.”
Women’s entry into religious places has been in the news for a while now, thanks to Trupti Desai and her campaigns to enter the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra. All eyes at present though on Bombay High Court, where it remains to be seen whether equality will win over religious dictates.
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