Mumbai: In a fresh controversy that sparked agitations across the women’s liberation group in the country, Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) is going to approach the state authorities on 'restricted entry to women at dargahs’ diktat.
The ban has existed for a year at the Haji Ali dargah, which allows women to offer prayers and chaddar from behind a barrier, thus preventing them from touching the resting place of the saint.
On this Digvijay Singh tweets, “Not allowing Women to visit Haji Ali is a regressive step. Liberal Muslims must rise to oppose it.”
"This is shocking and shameful. This is a regressive step that will further fuel Islamophobia and encourage the detractors of Islam to allege that the religion practices discrimination against women," said distressed Javed Anand of Muslims for Secular Democracy (MSD).
Urdu columnist Hasan Kamaal has expressed serious disagreement over the issue naming it as "extreme misogyny". "If women and men are allowed to go around the holy Kaaba, and perform haj and umrah (mini-haj) together, why cannot they pray at the dargahs together? It is an insult to the legacy of Sufism, which is moderate and inclusive," said Kamaal.
Suhail Khandwani, trustee of the Haji Ali dargah and managing trustee of Mahim's Makhdoom Shah Baba's Dargah asserted that the law will be implemented in every dargah eventually, as the Sharia law claims that no woman can visit a cemetery or a grave.
Incidentally, several women liberation organizations feel that public profile has not led to equality or an end to oppression for women. More freedom about sex has often meant exploitation rather than liberation for the fairer sex. "Managements can't run dargahs according to their whims and fancies," said Hasina Khan, Awaaz-e-Nizwaan, an NGO expressing her concern on the issue.
On the contrary, Sunni and Deobandi clerics support this decision. "The sharia does not allow intermingling of men and women at any place. The visit of women to graves is forbidden. It is welcome that the dargahs are following this rule," said Maulana Athar Ali, a Sunni cleric. Senior Deobandi cleric Maulana Mahmood Daryabadi is echoing a similar view.
BMMA had recently surveyed 20 dargahs in Mumbai and had offered prayers inside the sanctum sanctorum last year.
(With inputs from TOI and HT)