The All India Muslim Personal Law Board told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that Islamic texts do not forbid women’s entry into mosques and any fatwas associated with it may be ignored, Bar and Bench reported. In an affidavit, the board said that women also had the option to offer their Friday prayers at a mosque or at home.
“Islam has not made it obligatory on Muslim women to join congregational prayer nor is it obligatory for women to offer Friday namaz in congregation, though it is so on Muslim men,” the affidavit read, according to IANS. “The Muslim woman is differently placed because as per doctrines of Islam, she is entitled to the same religious reward for praying as per her option either in masjid or at home.”
The board’s submission was in response to a plea filed by a Maharashtra-based couple, Yasmeej Zuber Ahmad Peerzade and Zuber Ahmed Peerzade, who had moved the Supreme Court to contest the prohibition of women’s entry into mosques. Last April, the top court had admitted the plea, along with another similar plea.
The board questioned whether it was appropriate for the court to intervene in a matter concerning religious practices, Live Law reported. “In essence, this Hon’ble Court has been invited to interpret the religious beliefs and practices,” the board said. “It is not appropriate for this Hon’ble Court to enter into that area.”
In October last year, then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had sent notices to the Union Ministries of Law and Justice and Minority Affairs to respond to the couple’s plea seeking the entry of Muslim women in all mosques of the country. The plea sought directions for government authorities and Muslim bodies such as the Wakf Board to allow women into mosques on the grounds that denying them entry violated fundamental rights.