This year’s Eid-ul-Fitr was a special one for many women who were welcomed with open arms by Lucknow’s Aishbagh Eidgah. This is a historical moment because it is one of the first times that news about women entering a mosque has been reported in India. There was a separate entry gate and a separate enclosure from which the ladies offered their Namaz. However, given the fact that women are largely not allowed within a mosque’s premises, permitting women to offer prayers inside the mosque is a progressive step in the right direction.
Objection by clerics”
According to many clerics, women should still not be allowed within mosques. For example, Maulana Abul Irfan, a noted cleric stated to NDTV, “It is not about women or men. It about the issue that anyone’s character can slip. And such situations should be avoided inside the Idgah,”
Crusade against their opinion:
This is flawed logic at best. The need of the hour is to educate men about respecting the space that women justly occupy and not trying to “put them into place”, meaning within the confines of the house. It is on this basis that women activists in India have been crusading for the entrance of women in mosques. Also, they point out that there is nothing in the Quran that prohibits the entry of women in mosques.
The most noted one who has been in the news recently is Trupti Desai who has founded the Mumbai-based pro-gender equality Bhumata Bridage which is a social activist organization. For her, it was not a matter of Hindu or Muslim women – she had been challenging the traditional practice of women being forbidden to enter Shani Shingnapur and the sanctum sanctorum of Trimabkeshwar temples in Maharashtra as well as Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai.
No wonder she is one of the most elated personalities in India, referring to the event as a big move and hoping that it would be followed by all other trustees.
What does the mosque’s Imam say?
Maulana Khalid Rasheed Fargani Mahli has accepted that there is no such stricture in Quran which restricts the entrance of women in mosques to offer prayers. He has been reported as saying, “There is a perception that the Ulema does not want women to progress. That’s why we are making special arrangements”.
The Logical Indian community hails this big step in the right direction taken by the management of Lucknow’s Aishbagh Eidgah. It is a recognition of the rights of women to enter their places of worship and measures may be taken to address the concern of other clerics that it might pose threat to women from stranger men. It is to be noted that women are allowed in mosques in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, USA, and the UK and in Singapore, Masjid-e-Haram in Makkah and in Masjid-e-Nabawi in Madinah. Clerics in Indian mosques would do good by following suit.