Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 29
All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Wednesday said the Supreme Court can’t decide if Muslim women should be given entry into mosques as it involved interpretation of Islamic religious principles which the courts should not enter.
“In essence, this Hon’ble Court has been invited to interpret the religious beliefs and religious practices. It is not appropriate for this Hon’ble Court to enter into that area. Hence, the respondent is of its firm view that the averments/pleadings in relation to Articles 14, 15, 21, 25 and 29 of the Constitution of India cannot be considered and looked into for the prayers as claimed in the present petition,” AIMPLB said in an affidavit filed in the court.
The affidavit has been filed in response to a PIL by a Muslim couple from Pune seeking direction to allow Muslim women to offer namaz in all mosques.
Asserting Muslim women’s right to equality, right to non-discrimination and right to religion, petitioners Yasmeen Zuber Ahmad Peerzade and her husband Zuber Ahmad Nazir Ahmad Peerzade—who hail from Pune – said Muslim women should be allowed “to pray in the musalla without being separated by a barrier, including in the front and in mixed-gender congregational lines.”
The board said, “The questions are directly in relation to tenets of Islam as professed and practiced by followers of Islam in different Islamic religious denominations in India. The questions in the present petition are in relation to purely religious principles/ beliefs and it shall not be appropriate for this Hon’ble Court to enter into the religious practices based upon beliefs of the religion by invoking Articles 14, 15, 21, 25 and 29 of Constitution of India.”
However, the board said entry of women in the mosque for offering prayer/namaz, inside the mosque, was permitted and they were free to enter Masjid for prayers.
“It is her option to exercise her right to avail such facilities as available for prayers in Masjid. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board does want to comment on any contrary religious opinion to this effect. Islam has not made it obligatory on Muslim women to join congregational prayer nor is it obligatory for woman to offer Friday namaz in congregation though it is so on Muslim men,” the board said.
The top court had on October 25 asked union ministries of Women and Child Welfare, Law and Justice and Minority Affairs and the National Commission for Women to respond to the petition which termed the restriction on women’s entry into mosques as violation of right to equality guaranteed under the Constitution. It had sought response from Maharashtra State Wakf Board, Central Wakf Council and AIMPLB.
The petitioners had cited the example of 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, they submitted.
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