The Supreme Court will consider on Tuesday a Pune-based couple’s petition, seeking permission for Muslim women to enter all mosques and offer prayers.
The petition by Yasmeen Zuber Ahmad Peerzade and her husband Zuber Ahmad Nazir Ahmad Peerzade contended that “there is nothing in the Quran and the Hadith that requires gender segregation” and added that “the act of prohibition of females from entering Mosque is void and unconstitutional as such practices are not only repugnant to the basic dignity of a woman as an individual but also violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 15, 21 and 25 of the Constitution.
They claimed there were several women affected by this but were not in a position to approach the court. The petition said “the alleged act of prohibition of entry to mosque is violation of constitutional and fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution as there cannot be any discrimination based on caste, sex and religion.
There are diverging opinions among experts in Islamic theology concerning gender segregation. On one side of the spectrum, an Islamic theologian in Canada, Ahmad Kutty, has said segregation of the sexes is not a requirement in Islam, as men and women interacted in Muhammad’s time without any partitions. On the other side of the spectrum, an Islamic theologian in Saudi Arabia, Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, has issued a death warrant in the form of a fatwa against those who allow the mixing of the sexes. The Prophet Muhammad specifically admonished the men not to keep their wives from going to the mosques…,” the petition said.
At present, women are allowed to offer prayers at mosques under Jamaat-e-Islami and Mujahid denominations, while they are barred from mosques under the predominant Sunni faction. It is submitted that even in the mosques where women are allowed, there are separate entrances and enclosures for worship for men and women…It is submitted that there is no such gender discrimination to offer worship in Mecca, the holy city. The faithful, both men and women, together circle the Kaaba,” the plea said.
The petition alleges that Muslim women are being discriminated against as they are not allowed to enter and pray in the main prayer hall of mosques in violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution” and “this is an encroachment into the realm of personal liberty and social security.
The petitioners alleged “the Legislature has failed to ensure the basic dignity and equality of women in general and Muslim women in particular when it concerns matters related to entry in mosque, wearing burqa”.
Citing the apex court judgment in the Sabarimala matter, where the court said that “religion cannot be used as cover to deny rights of worship to women”, the petition said women are allowed in mosques in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, US, UK and Singapore.