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This Muslim Woman’s Plea To Allow Women To Enter Mosques Has Gone To The Supreme Court. This Will Start An Important Dialogue

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I have often wondered why women aren’t just given access to all the things men are. Then I remember that it’s not always about just gender, most of the time it’s about men having an innate need to prove they are superior. Women just aren’t allowed to do certain things and though it might not be a law per se, it’s so frowned upon that it might just as well be. Has the last decade had a massive impact on opening up more channels for women? Yes. But there are still certain things, like where women are allowed to worship, that will take quite a while to change and even more for us to see the change in action.

However, that fact mustn’t discourage us from doing the things that we can do now to at least initiate the long process to bring about said change. Like this Pune-based Muslim woman is doing to ensure Muslim women around the country are allowed to enter mosques. Can you imagine taking on something that no woman has ever dared to defy? It’s truly brave.

Farha Anwar Hussain Shaikh and her husband Anwar Shaikh have started a legal fight, moving the Supreme Court to seek permission for Muslim women to be able to enter mosques. In response to a plea that Farha filed, the SC has issued notices to the Union government, Central Waqf Board Council, All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Jamiat Ulama I Hind and Darul Uloom Deoband asking them to file their say and respond before July 6th.

Also Read: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board Says Women Were Never Prohibited From Entering Mosques. Is This A Step Forward?

The plea stated that women should be allowed to enter mosques all around the nation and that these restrictions were unconstitutional and violated the right to equality. It also referred to the constitutional provisions said that there shouldn’t be any discrimination against any citizen on the basis on race, sex, caste or place of birth.

The petition also alleged that the legislature had failed to honour the dignity of women in general and Muslim women in particular. It has claimed, “It is very unfortunate that not a single political party or a chief minister, women included, has thought of advancing the interest of Muslim women by providing them access to mosques that receive monetary aid from taxpayers’ money.”

The plea alleges that Muslim women are being discriminated against since they are not being allowed to enter mosques to pray. This is a violation of Articles 14 (equality before law) and 2l (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution.

Anwar Shaikh told a publication that, “The petition pointed out there are no records stating that Quran or Prophet Muhammad opposed women entering mosques… A ban on women entering mosques to offer prayers is also against the Constitution and it is a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 15, 21, 25 and 29 of the Constitution…”

The petition also pointed out that the SC had allowed women into the Sabrimala Temple after a long-standing legal battle. While doing so the SC had said, “Religion cannot be used as cover to deny rights of worship to women and it is also against human dignity. Prohibition on women is due to non-religious reasons and it is a grim shadow of discrimination going on for centuries.”

Also Read: A Supreme Court Bench Will Review 60 Petitions Related To Women And Religious Practises. The Bench Includes One Woman. One!

The petition has asked direction to permit women to pray in the “musalla”. It said they wanted to pray, “without being separated by a barrier, including in the front and in mixed-gender congregational lines”. It has also sought to declare the practice of prohibiting the entry of women in mosques, in India, as illegal, violative of constitutional rights and unconstitutional.

The brains behind this strong movement, Farha is a resident of Dampodi, Pune. She lives with her husband Anwar and their two children. The reason that they decided to take up this fight is because of an incident that happened last year.

Farha told Indian Express that, “Last year, during Ramzan, we had gone to Pune Camp area for shopping. Around 5.30 pm, it was time for namaz. But it suddenly started raining. My husband was allowed to enter the mosque to offer prayers, but I was not allowed to enter. This was wrong. I had to stand outside with my children in the rain… that’s when we decided to take up this matter of why Muslim women are not allowed to enter mosques.”

Just like the Sabrimala Temple case, there is no doubt that this legal battle will go on for a while. But just like that case, I am sure the women will prevail and even if (god forbid) we don’t, at least this case will start a much needed and essential dialogue. It will get people talking about how women too need to have the right to pray in any manner they wish to.

Let’s hope change is just around the corner and all the Muslim women get to exercise their right to worship.

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