Mumbai(dna): After the Shani Shingnapur and Trimbakeshwar temple row, the next religious place, at the target of women rights activists, is the iconic Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai. Some NGOs, Muslim scholars and leftist parties have joined hands to launch a “peaceful movement” at Haji Ali on April 28 seeking entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine.
As part of their movement, the activists have launched a forum called Haji Ali Sabke Liye (Haji Ali for all). Their movement would be led by none other than Trupti Desai and her Bhumata Brigade who has been the mascot of successful movements at the two Hindu temples.
The forum also stated that after this they are planning similar movements in the Mosques across India where the entry of women is banned.
“We would hold a peaceful dharna (protest) on April 28 outside Haji Ali gate so as to convince the Dargah’s management to allow women’s entry which was banned five years ago without any logical reason. We want them to revoke the ban before high court directs them to do so,” said senior journalist Javed Anand and chief of “Muslims for secular democracy”, which is the part of the “secular progressive forum” created a week ago for the Haji Ali movement. The forum insists that its fight has nothing to do with the religion but only against discriminatory traditions.
Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, an NGO has filed a petition in the Bombay High Court a couple of years ago in which hearings are over but the judgment is still awaited.
Questioning the Haji Ali’s management decision, the forum insists that there is no rationale behind banning women in Haji Ali as same management runs Mahim Dargah also where women are allowed. “Besides, women are allowed in Mecca, Medina, Najaf and Karbala, the top four scared places of Islamic religion. Even at most popular Dargah like Azmer Sharif and Deva Sharif, there is no discrimination with women.”
Other organisations, which have extended their support to the movement are – All India Democratic Women’s Association, Rahstriya OBC Parishad, All Indian Students Association, Democratic youth federation of India, Vaghini, Sarvoday Mandal, Bharat Bachao Andolan, and Sadbhavna Sangh.
The forum, however, sought to play it safe possibly not to anger the hardliners. Anand insisted, “We are fighting against the so-called tradition and culture which discriminates women, not against the Shariyat.” The conference was, however, interrupted by two Muslim men who sought to refute speakers claim and insisted that allowing women in the scared place was indeed against Shariyat. Zeenat Shaukat Ali, the Islamic scholar, however, rejected their claims and insisted that Shariyat gives women equal rights.
Desai who was also present at the conference said, “While our organisation fought alone for the entry in temples, I am happy that so many organisations and scholars have come forward to support the movement for Haji Ali.”
When the verdict is expected soon, why forum wants to jump before the gun? Desai responded, “Our demonstration can lead to faster court verdict like what happened in the case of Shani Shingnapur. The matter was pending in the court since 2001, but court expedited the matter and gave the verdict within a month when she launched the movement.
Maharashtra has favoured entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali Dargah in February, conveyed the government’s stand in an ongoing petition filed by Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan in the Bombay High Court which has reserved its judgement on the issue. After hearing the arguments of the parties concerned, court has asked all the parties to submit their arguments in writing in two weeks.
Appearing before the division bench of justices VM Kanade and Revati Mohite Dere, the State Advocate General had said unless the Dargah Board was able to prove that ban was part of their religious practice with reference to Quran women should be allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum of Haji Ali.