Mumbai: Muslim women on Thursday staged a protest demanding entry into a restricted area of the Haji Ali dargah in Mumbai, a stir that came amid a campaign by a group seeking right for female devotees to offer prayers at inner sanctum of Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra.

Haji Ali Dargah. IBNLive.Haji Ali Dargah. IBNLive.

Haji Ali Dargah. IBNLive.

Several activists belonging to Muslim women groups held placards demanding entry for females into the sanctum sanctorum of the historic dargah, which receives hundreds of devotees everyday. A participant said it was “male patriarchy”, and not religion, which was imposing restrictions on women.

“This is against tenets of Islam. The Constitution has given you equal rights, Islam supports the Constitution,” she added. A Muslim women’s rights group is locked in a legal battle with trustees of the Haji Ali dargah, which has barred women’s entry into mosque’s mausoleum.

The Bombay High Court is hearing a petition challenging the Haji Ali Trust’s decision to ban the entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum of the dargah (grave of a male Muslim saint). On January 18, the HC said it would wait for Supreme Courts ruling on entry of women in Sabarimala temple of Kerala before deciding on the plea related to the dargah.

A bench of Justices V M Kanade and Reveti Mohite-Dere had said both matters involved entry of women in the religious shrines, and hence they would like to see what view the apex court would take on the issue before deciding on the PIL pending before them.

The next HC hearing will take place on February 3. The protest in Mumbai broke out two days after members of a group, Bhumata Brigade, were prevented by police from entering into Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district to break a 400-year-old tradition banning women from entering its sacred sanctum.

After the high-voltage march to the temple by the Bhumata Brigade volunteers, which was foiled mid-way, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis called for a dialogue between temple authorities and activists to find a way out of the row. The popular shrine is dedicated to Lord Shani, who personifies the planet Saturn in Hindu belief.

Women devotees are not permitted on the ‘chauthara’ (sacred platform) of the temple as per the centuries-led tradition followed at the shrine.


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Religious discrimination revisited: Muslim women want entry into Haji Ali dargah in Mumbai