Women are currently banned from entering the sanctum sanctorum at Haji Ali Dargah, a place of historic significance to the Islamic Community. In response to a PIL filed by a citizen on the ban, the Bombay High Court has asked the Maharashtra government to clear its position on the ban by February 9. The petitioners have claimed that gender justice is inherent in the Quran and the norm at the Dargah contravenes the Hadiths which say that women are not prohibited from visiting tombs. DNA

In October last year, the Haji Ali Dargah told the Bombay High Court, “Entry of women in close proximity of grave of a male Muslim saint is a grievous sin in Islam,” as reported by the Hindu. In a similar case at the Sabarimala temple in Kerela, hearing has been postponed for a detailed hearing till February 8.

According to Article 26 of the Constitution, the Fundamental Right of controlling and managing affairs of a place of religious importance lies upon its trust and third party interference is uncalled for. Though in this case, members from the religious community are seeking redressal of grievance against the Trust.

Haji Ali Bars Women In Sanctum Sanctorum
Haji Ali Bars Women In Sanctum Sanctorum

People who make this argument tend to ignore that women’s constitutional rights to freely profess and practice any religion are also being violated here. Professor of Islamic Studies, Zeenat Shaukat Ali told TOI, “I am an Islamic scholar and nowhere in Islam is it said that women cannot go to graveyards. This is the dictum of the prophet. When Islam has not excluded women, then why should male patriarchy dominate. Male patriarchy is dominating the Hindus, Male patriarchy is dominating the Muslims.”

The Board of Trustees of the Hali Ali Dargah include 2 senior advocates from the Bombay High Court: Mr. Usman Shakoor Vanjara and Mr. Rizwan Merchant. In a Board of 7 trustees, there are no women, which in itself is a sign of how access is restricted to women in certain societies.

If this decision turns in favor of the petitioner, India would prove itself as not only the largest, but also the most practised democracy- going by majority opinion. The bench, headed by Justice VM Kanade, has Advocate General Srihari Aney representing the state.

In the meanwhile, the court has rejected the plea of petitioners to allow entry of women in the dargah until the PIL is in process. In the past few days, a couple of women have made attempts to enter the shrine space, but in vain.

Feature Image Credit: News.Trust