For the first time, hundreds of Muslim women on Thursday offered namaz on the occasion of Eid at the three-century-old Aishbagh Eidgah in Lucknow. The city's main mosque made provisions for a separate enclosure for women namazis, ANI reported.
Imam of Aishbagh Eidga Maulana Khalid Firangi Mahali told the Hindustan Times that with this move, they want to rubbish the misconception that the clergy and Islamic leaders are against women. "We want to tell them that we are not against any right that is granted to women by Islam," he added.
According to the imam, a small space was allotted to women till last year, and nearly 50-60 women offered namaz on Eid. "Following demands...we made special provisions this year, and a separate hall with a capacity to hold 7,000 [people] was allocated for women namazis," he said.
The move gains significance in the backdrop of women being denied entry inside Mumbai's Haji Ali Dargah, Sabarimala temple in Kerala and the inner sanctum of Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra. It was welcomed by those fighting for equal rights for women.
Former member of the National Commission for Women Shamina Shafiq told ANI, "A big thanks to Muslim religious leader Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali for giving women this authority to come out and offer namaz."
Calling it a progressive step, co-founder of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, Zakia Soman, told India Today, "It is ironic because the Quran nowhere states that women should be barred from entering mosques or offering prayers." The Muslim women's body had filed a petition with the Bombay High Court, challenging the restrictions that barred women from entering Haji Ali Dargah.