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Sunday 5 July 2020

AIMPLB makes nuanced case of women’s entry in mosques

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board today said through an affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court that while Islam did not forbid women's entry in mosques, the state should not question religious practices

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) today appeared in the Supreme Court to share its view on the issue of entry of women in mosques. The AIMPLB said women were allowed inside the mosque to perform namāz. However, it added that the state should not question the practices of any religion.

The AIMPLB said in the court it was not compulsory for women to join namāz (the Persian word for the Islamic mass, technically referred to as salāh) with the jam’aat (society). The board submitted this affidavit in response to a petition filed by two Muslim women who want to enter the mosque and offer namaz with everyone.

The Supreme Court had issued a notice to the AIMPLB on the petition and asked them to respond to the issues raised in the petition.

The apex court had ordered the entry of women of every age group into the Sabarimala temple on 28 September 2018. The court termed the ban on the entry of women of 10 to 50 years (menstrual age) into the temple as gender discrimination.

On the basis, Yasmin and Zubair filed a petition in the apex court demanding permission for women to go to mosques and offer salāh.

The petition states that while women can enter mosques currently under the Jamaat-e-Islami organisation in India, there are restrictions on the entry of women in mosques of other sects including Sunni.

The apex court is these days hearing the review petitions filed against its verdict of September 2018. More than 60 such petitions had been filed following the secular verdict on a religious issue. The nine-judge constitutional bench that is hearing the petitions will study the case of the entry of women in Parsi places of worship too, a proposition that had made a judge of the faith lose his composure inside the Supreme Court when the verdict was challenged.

As for Sabarimala, the devotees of Ayyappa say he is in a state of perennial celibacy and it was this deity who had willed to not be in the company of women, an order that the female followers of the sect have no problem with.

The petitions say that those trying to impose feminism on the shrine were not interested in the place of worship until recently. The AIMPLB submission and the Hindus who have petitioned the court are similar to the extent that both urge the state not to meddle in religious affairs.

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