The Supreme Court on Friday is going to hear a plea challenging the Bombay High Court order allowing women to enter inside the inner sanctum of Mumbai’s Haji Ali Dargah. Earlier this year, the court’s order on August 26 came after a public interest litigation which was filed by activists in 2012 to challenge the ban on women’s entry inside the 585-year-old shrine of Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, located on an islet off the Mumbai coast. The Haji Ali Dargah Trust had decided to deny women access to the grave in 2011, calling the practice un-Islamic.
“The ban imposed by the dargah trust, prohibiting women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali Dargah, contravenes Articles 14 (equality before law), 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth) and 25 (free profession and practice and propagation of religion) of the Constitution… Women should be permitted to enter the sanctum sanctorum at par with men,” the HC division bench had observed.
The trust had stated that it would be a grave sin in Islam if a women is allowed to be near tomb of a male saint. They had cited verses from the Quran and Prophet Mohammed to claim that Islam does not permit women to enter dargahs/mosques. The court had replied, “There is nothing in any of the aforesaid verses which shows that Islam does not permit entry of women at all into a dargah/mosque, and that their entry is sinful in Islam,” adding that, women were permitted entry in the sanctum sanctorum till about 2011-2012.