Very soon, Muslim women will be allowed to offer namaz on the premises of two heritage mosques in Kolkata, throughout the year. Provisions like separate entries, special halls, and washrooms are being created for the same. These two heritage mosques are the Nakhoda Mosque and Tipu Sultan Mosque. Authorities of these mosques are creating separate entries for women, and other such provisions after a written request by the Bengal Imam Association.
Nakhoda Masjid is popularly known as Badi Masjid. Imam Shafiq Qazmi of Nakhoda Masjid said that the plans are being implemented and hence confirmed the letter. “Yes, we have received the letter. Many women still come and offer namaz at one corner of the masjid but now the managing committee is making better arrangements for women. There are three entrances to Nakhoda Masjid and none of them is exclusive for women. A separate place for women to perform ablutions, offer namaz and take rest is planned within the masjid,” said Qasmi.
Women can offer namaz where there is provision for purdah
Chairman of Bengal Imam Association Md Yahiya said, “We have seen that there is no proper provision for women to offer namaz in these two renowned mosques. According to the Sharia, women can offer namaz where there is a provision for ‘purdah’. However, such provisions are not available. Women visit these mosques even from abroad but can’t pray here under present circumstances. Therefore, after discussions, we decided to send a letter to the two mosques”.
The letter written by the Bengal Imam Association is not only sent to the two heritage mosques but also to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. The letter puts forth three requests, those being, a separate purdah arrangement for women to offer namaz, a separate washroom for women and another one for people with disability. The letter adds that many people including foreigners visit the mosque with the intent to offer prayers but they feel uncomfortable due to no separate washrooms. Authorities of the two mosques have agreed and have started planning for the same.
Another plea seeking women’s entry in mosques
Last month, a couple from Maharashtra moved to SC seeking the right for women to pray at mosques. This was in reference to the court’s judgment on Sabarimala and the petition filed said that all women have the right to offer prayers in mosques. However, it is to be noted, there isn’t a ban on women entering the mosques as such. It is just that the practice isn’t highly encouraged. At Mecca the faithful, both women and men together circle Kaaba. “The most sacred mosques in the world embrace both men and women,” the petitioners named Yasmin Zuber Ahmad Peerzade and Zuber Ahmad Nazir Ahmad Peerzade said. The petitioners also added that a life of dignity and equality is the most sacrosanct fundamental right.
Back in November 2018, Kerala Legislative Assembly speaker, P Sreeramakrishnan had also urged that Muslim places of worship should also become a part of the modern world and hence, should allow women’s entry. In June 2018, the Tipu Sultan Mosque had arranged for iftaar and evening prayers for women.