New Delhi: Citing the example of Masjid-al-Haram in Makkah and quoting from the narrations of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), a group of Muslim women has decided to move on Monday the Supreme Court demanding entry into all mosques in India.
The petition says that the Quran does not contain any verse or commandment that prohibits women from entering a mosque or praying there. It adds that the Quran casts the same religious duty on both the sexes - women are not subject to less religious duties or obligations. Further, both sexes are promised the same spiritual rewards - men are not promised more.
The petition argues that "historical sources also show that Prophet Muhammad had himself encouraged women to actively participate in mosque congregations and prayer".
"The most sacred mosque in the world for Muslims embraces both men and women. Also, there is complete unanimity in the Muslim community on the Masjid-al-Haram in Mecca being the most sacred mosque to all Muslims in the world; every able bodied Muslim is required to visit it at least once in his lifetime. Does this mosque allow women to enter into it and pray inside it? Absolutely," the petition points out.
"The Masjid-al-Haram in Mecca has always invited Muslim women from every part of the world to pray in it. It does not discriminate between men and women simply because any such discrimination would have violated the Quran.
"Therefore, it could be said that mosques in India that receive monetary aid from the government violate both the Constitution of India as well as the Quran by prohibiting women from entering."
The petition further says: "In fact, the Quran greatly frowns on efforts to keep believers away from the mosque and a plain reading of many Quranic verses will show that no special distinction is made between men and women believers."
The petitioners have also quoted the Quran to prove that entry of women into mosques is not barred.
Socially, Indian women are not encouraged to regularly pray at mosques even if they do have separate enclosures. Most women visiting the Jama Masjid, for instance, would be Muslim tourists in Delhi rather than residents of the capital.
On the other hand there are mosques controlled by Ahle Hadees sect in almost every part of the country, with a majority being in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where special arrangements are made for women worshipers.