Mumbai, Nov 29: The activists of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) will visit the dargah on Tuesday, after they challenged the ban on women’s entry to Dargah’s sanctum sanctorum two years ago. Haji Ali Dargah Trust had sought four weeks for changes in infrastructure to let women enter the dargah, following Supreme Court’s order. As per the apex court’s verdict, men and women should have equal access to the worship place.
Times of India quoted Noorjehan Safia Niaz, co-founder, BMMA saying, “Around 80 women from the country will be part of the group which will enter the shrine to worship. We will offer shawl and flowers to the revered saint and pray for peace. Our basic fight was against gender bias and for Constitutional rights. Now that both men and women devotees can access the inner sanctum, we are glad and hope equality will be maintained in other spheres of life.”
TOI quoted Haji Ali dargah trustee Suhail Khandwani saying, “Now both men and women devotees can stand almost two metres away from the tomb and nobody can touch it. We are complying with the affidavit we filed in the Supreme Court on October 24 and treating both men and women devotees equally.” (ALSO READ: Haji Ali Dargah Trust agrees to allow entry of women inside sanctum sanctorum)
Earlier, the Haji Ali Dargah Trust had approached Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court order that directed the trust to allow women access to the sanctum sanctorum of the Dargah. On August 26, the Bombay High Court had let the entry of women till the restricted area of the famous Saint. However, the Bombay High Court, while ruling that women can go up to the sanctum sanctorum of the Dargah, had put the operation of its verdict on hold.
While ruling that women can go upto sanctum sanctorum of the Dargah, the Bombay High Court gave time to the Dargah management to manage its affairs and approach the top court. The verdict came after a two-year battle which began in 2014 when a petition was filed by members of the Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) against the restriction. The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by Noorjehan Niaz, Zakia Soman and others. (ALSO READ- High Court verdict on Haji Ali Dargah is “progressive”: Manish Tewari)
Following Bombay High Court’s verdict in August allowing entry of women up to the restricted area of the Haji Ali Dargah, Muslim clerics had questioned that the ruling goes against Islam. They were of the opinion that while Constitution gives right to Indian citizens to follow the religion of their choice, then the person must also follow the rules of that religion.
However, women activists across the board rejoiced about the Bombay High Court’s verdict. This shrine of the Sufi Saint in Mumbai was built in 1431.