At a time the Supreme Court has clubbed the issue of women’s entry to the Sabarimala temple in Kerala along with similar issues such as the entry of Muslim women to mosques, journalist Ziya Us Salam’s ‘Women in Masjid: A Quest for Justice’ couldn’t have come out at a more opportune time.
In a candid sit-down with Sana Shakil, he says its high time mosques in India opened their doors to women.
There is no ban on entry of women to mosques but your book points out that women are virtually barred from entry to majority of mosques in the country. What is the way forward?
This tacit ban on women’s entry is a result of sustained indoctrination. Many women have forgotten the rights conferred on them by the Quran. The way forward comes from looking back. Look back to the sunnah (way of life) of Prophet Muhammad.
He permitted women to enter mosques. The Quran permits them as well. The answer lies in following the Prophet. Who are maulanas to deny what is sanctioned by the Quran? Also, sooner or later, mosques will have to make provisions for women. They are admitted in West Asia, US, Europe. Why not India?
The book states that Muslim women enjoyed greater freedom during Delhi Sultanate and Mughal rule.
How do you compare those periods with the present-day situation of Muslim women in India?
In medieval India, women financed mosques. There were special sections for them in mosques. Many became Quran haafiz (memorised the Quran).
Today, only a handful of mosques make provisions for them, mostly in Kerala. Otherwise, mosques have been reduced to a male monopoly. There are no women on mosque management committees. Women have to reclaim their space.
What is preventing Indian Muslims for making space for women in mosques?
Women do not figure in the scheme of things when designing mosques. There are no facilities for ablution for women. Also, many erroneously believe that women should pray only at home. They keep drumming this into the minds of women.
What’s your take on court intervention in the matter of entry of women to mosques?
It is sad that women have had to knock on the court’s door as their rights should have been safeguarded by the community. Our women will get their due from the Quran and also the Constitution. There is no way one can deny what Allah has permitted. The court will definitely safeguard their rights.