The trustees of the iconic Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai told the Bombay High Court on Monday that it was considered a sin for women to be in close proximity to the grave of a male Muslim saint.
The statement was made when the court was hearing a petition filed by the Mumbai-based group Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, reports The Hindustan Times. The organisation filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in 2014, alleging that while women are allowed to enter the dargah, from June 2012, they were not allowed to enter the sanctorum inside the dargah.
According to The Indian Express, the dargah trustees told the High Court that women were never allowed near the saint’s grave; they had held a meeting regarding this issue on 6 August and their unanimous stand was that “entry of women in close proximity to the grave of a male Muslim saint is a grievous sin as per Islam”. They also said that the current arrangements where men and women are segregated helps the women as it prevents sexual harassment, and brings them closer to the tomb than the previous arrangement.
The petitioners claim 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.
The restriction emanates from "a very conservative and extremist Salafi ideology" and in future "there may be an order banning the entry of women in the Dargah complex and banning the non-Muslims wholly," the petition argued.
Raju Moray, the petitioners' lawyer, argued that at other dargahs or shrines women are not banned. Women can enter the sanctum sanctorum at the historic Makhdoom Shah Dargah in suburban Mahim, he pointed out.
During a previous hearing, the court had said, "If the issue is not resolved by the management amicably, then we would hear all the sides and give a decision on merits." After this hearing, the matter was adjourned till 17 November.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Oct 20, 2015 16:06 PM