The All India Muslim Personal Board (AIMPLB) clarified to the Supreme Court on Wednesday that Islamic doctrine, tenets and beliefs do not prohibit Muslim women from entering mosques to offer prayer.
The counter affidavit filed by the Board, a 47-year-old expert body which works to protect the Muslim personal law, is in response to a PIL plea filed by Yasmeen Zuber Ahamed Peerzade in 2018, challenging the prohibition on Muslim women from entering mosques to offer namaz (prayer) as unconstitutional and an affront to their right to life, equality and dignity.
“Considering the religious texts, doctrine and religious belief of the followers of Islam, it is submitted that entry of women in the mosque for offering prayer/namaz, inside the mosque, is permitted. Thus, a Muslim woman is free to enter masjid for prayers. It is her option to exercise her right to avail such facilities as available for prayers in masjid,” AIMPLB, represented by advocate M.R. Shamshad, countered.
Islam has not made it obligatory on Muslim women to join congregational prayer nor is it obligatory for them to offer Friday namaz in congregation though it is for Muslim men, the Board explained by quoting from the Hadiths (record of the traditions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad).
“The Muslim woman is differently placed. As per doctrines of Islam, she is entitled to the same religious reward (sawab) for praying as per her option either in masjid or at home,” AIMPLB said.
But the Board added that it has no State powers and issues only advisory opinions based on Islam as a body of experts.
The practices of religion on the places of worship (which in the present matter are masjids) are purely private bodies regulated by muttawalis of the mosques, the affidavit said.
The Board however discouraged the apex court from entering into an arena of “detailed arrangements of a religious place, which is completely privately managed entity for religious practices of believers in particular religion”.