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No bar on Muslim women offering namaz at mosques

Context:

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court Wednesday stating that there is no prohibition on Muslim women offering namaz in mosques.

Relevance:

GS I: Women’s Issues, Government Policies & Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Muslim women offering namaz at mosques
  2. Conservatism surrounding Muslim Women
  3. Need for Muslim Women in Public sphere
  4. Exclusion of Women

Muslim women offering namaz at mosques:

  • Recently, a Pune-based activist filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking a direction that the alleged practices of prohibition of entry of Muslim women into mosques in India are illegal and unconstitutional.
  • In response to the petition, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court.
  • The Board stating that it is consistent with its terms with its opinion in terms of Islamic texts that there is no prohibition on Muslim women entering Mosques and offering namaz or for congregational prayers.
  • However, it also said that intermingling between genders is prohibited in mosques

Conservatism surrounding Muslim Women:

  • Women visiting graveyards:
    • The provision of Muslim Women entering graveyard is still a matter of discussion among the Muslim Community.
    • The subject of women visiting graveyards is a contentious one in the Sunni practice of Islam.
    • It is also believed that the Prophet forbade women from visiting graves.
    • A second narration holds that the prohibition was recanted and all believers were asked to visit graveyards — to remind themselves of their return to the Divine.
  • Muslim Women entering the shrines:
    • Haji Ali dargah in Mumbai banned women from entering the shrine’s inner sanctum.
    • However, this ban was upturned by the judiciary.
    • But it still remains a bone of contention amongst shrine leadership and management.

Need for Muslim Women in Public sphere:

  • All these debates has less to do with religious stipulations and far more to do with the deep discomfort that emerges from seeing Muslim women occupying public spaces in India.
  • Muslim Women Representation:
    • Most voices that claim to politically or societally represent Muslims in India have been male.
    • Even in the electoral sphere, this remains a historically underrepresented group.
    • Muslim Women make up to 6.9% of the Indian population. However, their representation in Lok Sabha is mere 0.6% as per the latest report released in 2019.
  • Personal Law: On the matter of Personal Law, after the volatility of the Shah Bano judgment and the passing of the dilutive Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, the country’s Islamic leadership had the opportunity to treat the misuse of legal provisions as an internal matter.
    • A better mode of communication: The Muslim community has the rare, inbuilt grassroots communication system of Friday prayers and the khutba (sermon). This platform can be utilised to address the issue better. However, this mode community remains underutilised.
    • But, a majority of mosque doors remain closed to women.

Exclusion of Women:

  • Women denied entry into Mosques:
    • Mosques in India do not allow Muslim women to worship.
    • Few critics argue that the exclusion of women from spaces of prayer and community is a deep injustice and a consequence of ignorance.
    • Impact:
      • The spiritual and social needs of women are compromised for masculine comfort.
      • This has a larger impact on the entire social fabric of Indian Islam.
      • All these emphases on the need for the Uniform Civil Code as an act of rescue.
  • Triple Talaq: As mediaperson Sonali Verma puts it, the declaration of triple talaq, while posturing as a pro-women move, remains mired in communal politics.
  • The invisibilisation of the Muslim women means that there is an artificial lacuna in which multiple bodies claim to speak for them.

-Source: The Indian Express


February 2024
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