Women restricted from entering popular Sufi shrine

November 29, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Six other dargahs in Mumbai apart from the Haji Ali dargah have also banned women from visiting their tombs.

Haji Ali Dargah (shrine) in Mumbai

Haji Ali Dargah (shrine) in Mumbai

Mumbai, November 6, 2012: The famous Haji Ali Dargah (shrine) in Mumbai has banned the entry of women in its sanctum sanctorum, a move that is being criticized by people from all walks of life.

The sanctum sanctorum of the Sufi shrine is a place where the remains of saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari are buried.

The shrine, 500 yards into the Arabian Sea off Mumbai, has invoked Islamic law, the Sharia, to stop women from going into its interiors.

“According to the Sharia, this is a sin. It is un-Islamic. We cannot allow it,” said Mohammed Sharif Kadri, the maulana (cleric) at the shrine.

Six other dargahs in Mumbai apart from the Haji Ali dargah have also banned women from visiting their tombs.

“If Islamic scholars have issued a fatwa, in accordance with the Islamic law of Sharia, and have demanded that women not be allowed in dargahs, we have only made a correction,” Rizwan Merchant, trustee of the Haji Ali dargah, said.

Merchant said that women are allowed in the dargah’s compound but are restricted from entering the sanctum sanctorum.

“They can read their prayers, do namaaz and offer shawls and flowers. We are only requesting our sisters not to enter inside the dargah. Women will not be allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum,” he said.

The decision was taken more than six months ago, but the issue came to light only when women’s group Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) voiced objection.

The move by the dargah’s trust board has sparked protests from several quarters who found it to be “highly discriminatory and grossly regressive”.

Congress leader Digvijaya Singh other political leaders in condemning the move:

“I am not in favour of this, all Muslims should oppose,” the Congress general secretary said.

Shahnawaz Husain of the Bharatiya Janata Party said that the trust should “rethink and take back their decision”.

Author Dilip said, “anything that (says) women should not be allowed in a certain part of our society is certainly regressive.”

– ibtimes

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