The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that Islamic texts do not bar the entry of women into mosques for namaz, reported Live Law.
The religious body made the statement in an affidavit in response to a public interest litigation that had sought a direction from the top court to declare the practice of prohibiting Muslim women from entering mosques as unconstitutional.
The plea was filed by a Pune-based woman named Farha Anwar Hussain Shaikh in 2020. She also sought direction on permitting women to pray without being separated by a barrier, including in the front and mixed-gender congregational lines.
“There is no such gender discrimination to offer worship in Mecca, the holy city in Western Saudi Arabia and the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, where both men and women together circle the Kaaba,” the plea contended, reported The Indian Express.
But the board in its affidavit said that the free intermixing of genders in the same line or common space does not conform to Islam’s position. It noted that segregation of space within the mosque premises by a management committee is advised.
The board added that even in Mecca and Medina, arrangements have been made to provide separate spaces for women and men during prayers, reported Live Law.
While Islam does not make it obligatory for Muslim women to pray five times a day or offer Friday namaz in congregation, they are permitted to pray in the mosque, the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board said.
“The Answering Respondent [All-India Muslim Personal Law Board], and this Hon’ble Court for that matter, cannot enter into the arena of detailed arrangements of a religious place, which is completely privately managed entity for religious practices of believers in religion,” the affidavit said, reported Bar and Bench.