Pune couple seeks entry for Muslim women in mosques, SC issues notices

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice on a Writ Petition seeking permission for Muslim women to enter all mosques and offer prayers.

The petition moved by Pune-based Yasmeen Zuber Ahmad Peerzade and her husband Zuber Ahmad Nazir Ahmad Peerzade contended 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”.

The Justice SA Bobde-headed bench issued a notice to the Centre, asking it to respond to the petition. Waqf Board and All India Muslim Personal Law Board have also been served notices. The petition filed by a Muslim couple places heavy reliance on the SC verdict in Sabarimala case, which had overturned the ban on entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 years to the temple.

The petitioners, in the plea, said that no records suggest that the Quran and Prophet Muhammad forbade women’s entry into mosques for offering namaz.

The petition states that the Quran does not differentiate between man and woman. They have also alleged that there are no records stating that the Holy Quran and Prophet Muhammad had opposed women entering mosques and offering prayers.

“There should not be any gender discrimination. Allow Muslim women to pray in all mosques, cutting across denominations. 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 petitioners submitted in their petition.

The couple said they had approached several Islamic religious heads on the issue, but received no positive response. In fact, the petition said, “The Imam of Jama Masjid, Bopodi, Pune had written that since no permission can be granted, he is not sure about entry of women in mosque. Yet they have written a letter to Darul Uloom Deoband and would respond to petitioner’s request.”

At present, women are allowed to offer prayers at mosques under the Jamaat-e-Islami and Mujahid denominations (follows the principles of Salafism). Muslim women are barred from mosques under the predominant Sunni faction.

Even in mosques where women are allowed, there are separate entrances and enclosures for men and women.

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.