The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Wednesday filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court on the issue of women's entry into places of religious worship. The affidavit said that entry of women into mosques to offer prayers, as per Islamic texts, is permitted. It also said any fatwa barring the entry of women “may be ignored”. The AIMPLB submitted the affidavit in response to a petition seeking direction to allow women to enter a mosque to offer prayers.
The Board’s affidavit came on a petition filed by a Maharashtra-based Muslim couple who asked the top court to declare prohibition on entry of women into mosques as illegal and unconstitutional. The petition by Yasmeen Zuber Ahmad Peerzade and her husband Zuber Ahmad Nazir Ahmad Peerzade contended that “there is nothing in the Quran and the Hadith that requires gender segregation”
It added that “the act of prohibition of females from entering Mosque is void and unconstitutional as such practices are not only repugnant to the basic dignity of a woman as an individual but also violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 15, 21 and 25 of the Constitution." They claimed there were several women affected by this but were not in a position to approach the court. The petition said, “the alleged act of prohibition of entry to mosque is a violation of the constitutional and fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution as there cannot be any discrimination based on caste, sex and religion."
The development comes as the Supreme Court’s nine-judge Constitution Bench continues to hear the matter of women's right to pray. A separate bench led by Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde said that the Constitution bench would only deal with legal questions in the case. "It cannot take more than 10 days. Even if someone wants more time, it cannot be given," said the bench which also comprises Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant.
The Supreme Court had earlier observed that the debate on the constitutional validity of religious practices like the bar on entry of women and girls into a place of worship should not be confined to the Sabarimala case only. On September 28, 2018, the Supreme Court in a majority 4:1 verdict had allowed women and girls between the age of 10 and 50 to enter the famous Lord Ayyappa shrine at Sabarimala in Kerala. The court had held that the centuries-old Hindu religious practice was illegal and unconstitutional. Despite this, however, the order wasn't allowed to be enforced.
(With agency inputs)