Slowly but steadily, the Muslim society is beginning to embrace progressive laws. In a recent move, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s newly-expanded Ishaat-e-Islam mosque in southeast Delhi has reserved an entire floor for women, not only for Friday prayers but also for five daily prayers.
The mosque has been allowing women worshippers for long, but this is the first time that they are being involved right from the stage of planning.
According to media reports, the hall can accommodate up to 850 women, with separate entry and exit points. Women can also opt for Quran lessons every afternoon. This isn’t the first time that a mosque has opened its doors to female worshippers, but it is the only mosque providing ample space for hundreds of women, along with parking facilities.
The decision comes in after senior Muslim clerics held informal meetings to arrive at a consensus regarding women’s right to pray in mosques, before any intervention by India’s apex court.
In recent years, Jama Masjid in New Delhi earmarked a room for women to pray. Although the move was heavily criticised by various Muslim organisations, the imam took a step forward to smash generations of patriarchy, and continued with this facility for women.
A few years ago, Pune-based couple Yasmeen Zuber Peerzade and her husband, Zuber Ahmad Peerzade filed a petition, demanding equal access for women in mosques and equal rights to pray, as guaranteed by the Constitution.
As per the petition, some mosques belonging to certain Islamic denominations allow women to enter and pray in separate enclosures.
Responding to the petition, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), in an official statement had said that it supports the entry of women inside mosques, informing the Supreme Court that Islam neither restricts women from entering mosques nor praying there.
“A Muslim woman is free to enter Masjid for prayers. It is her option to exercise her right to avail such facilities as available for prayers in Masjid,” the statement said, adding that previous fatwas barring the entry of women in mosques must be “ignored”.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)