Supreme Court of India refuses to allow offering of Namaz by outsiders at the Taj Mahal : Reports

The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday in its judgment, refused to allow prayers by outsiders at the mosque on the premises of Taj Mahal, maintaining that the monument’s preservation is paramount.

The three-judge bench of the apex court headed by the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, in its judgment stressed that the Taj Mahal must be preserved as it is one of the seven wonders of the world. It further added that there was no need to conduct prayers within the complex of the Taj Mahal.

The decision comes after a petitioner moved the Supreme court, against a district magistrate order which came on 24th January this year, ordering locals with valid identity proof to be allowed entry to the monument complex to offer ‘Namaz’ every Friday.

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In January, the district administration had ordered that people should produce valid Id proof showing that they were residents of Agra, before entering the complex to offer Namaz, barring outsiders to enter the complex, which remains closed for tourists every Friday.

It is being reported that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) maintained that in the past the government had allowed the religious practices inside the Taj Mahal on a limited scale to demonstrate its concern for religious tolerance, as there has been a persistent demand from Muslims of the surrounding areas for such concession. Interestingly, the decision to open the mosque inside the Taj complex for Friday prayers between noon and 2 PM was taken by the ASI and it was further decided that during this time, tourists will not be allowed inside the monument.

Last year, however, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-linked organization had demanded that Friday prayers at the historic monument located in Agra should be banned. The demands to ban Friday prayers had come from Akhil Bhartiya Itihaas Sankalan Samiti – the history wing of the RSS. Dr Balmukund Pandey, one of the members of the organization said that the Taj Mahal is a national heritage so Muslims should not be allowed to use it as a religious site. Permission to perform ‘namaz’ at the Taj Mahal should be withdrawn.

He went on to say that if ‘namaz’ is allowed then Hindus should also be granted permission to perform Shiva prayers at the Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal, with all its beauty, grandeur, historical significance and cultural importance has been encompassed by a lot of controversies. Not long back, The Supreme Court had asked the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board to show documents signed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to prove its claim that it owns the iconic Taj Mahal.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had then asked the board counsel to show it documents to substantiate that Shah Jahan, who had built the Taj Mahal in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal in 1631, had executed a ‘waqfnama’ in favour of the board. (Waqfnama is a deed or a document through which a person expresses the intention to donate a property or land for charitable purposes or waqf).

“Who in India will believe that Taj belongs to the waqf board,” asked the bench, comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, and had added that such issues must not waste the time of the apex court.

When the waqf board counsel told the court that Shah Jahan had himself declared it a waqf property, the bench irked by the ridiculous claim, asked the board to show the original deed executed by the Mughal emperor.

Stephen Knapp, in ‘Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence’ also delves into the history and traditional sources of the Vedas and tries to prove the Vedic influence found in such buildings as the Taj Mahal, Red Fort, and other structures in India.

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