The Supreme Court heard a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking permission for Muslim women to enter and offer namaz inside mosques without any restrictions, and issued a notice to the government, the Central Waqf Council and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.
“We are hearing this case because of the Sabarimala verdict. We will see…” the top court said. In a landmark verdict, the decades-old ban on entry of women of menstruating age to the hilltop shrine in Kerala was lifted by the Supreme Court in September last year.
The plea was filed by a Muslim couple who asked the apex court to declare the prohibition on entry of women inside mosques in the country as illegal and unconstitutional as it violated the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution, various news agencies reported.
Pointing out that there was no mention of any gender segregation in either Quran or Hadith, the couple’s counsel Ashutosh Dubey said: “….such practices are not only repugnant to the basic dignity of a woman as an individual, but also violative of their fundamental rights…”
The petitioners said there were no records stating that the Quran and Prophet Muhammad opposed women entering mosques and offering prayers, and in fact men and women have equal constitutional rights to worship, according to their beliefs.
At present, women are allowed to offer prayers at mosques under the Jamaat-e-Islami and Mujahid denominations but they are barred from mosques under the predominant Sunni faction, said the petition.
The petition also mentioned that in mosques where women are allowed, there are separate entrances and enclosures for worship for the two genders.
The petition said there should not be any gender discrimination at all, and that all Muslim women should be allowed to pray in all mosques, cutting across denominations.
The petition also alluded to the practice in Mecca, where “the faithful, both men and women, together circumambulate the Kaaba”. Besides, most sacred mosques in the world equally embrace both men and women, the petitioners said.
To support their argument, the petitioners cited the recent Supreme Court judgement allowing the entry of women in Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple.
“The hon’ble court in the case of Sabraimala held that ‘religion cannot be used as cover to deny rights of worship to women as it is against human dignity’. Prohibition on women is due to non-religious reasons and it is a grim shadow of discrimination going on for centuries,” the petitioners said.