In a new development, the Juma Masjid of Bombay Trust has invited non-Muslims for a meet and greet session at the masjid on Sunday (March 21) at 11 am in the morning.
A Twitter account named Indian Muslim history shared the invitation by the Juma Masjid on the social media site. “Humara Masjid mein aayiye, Humein samajhiye, humein jaaniye (Come to our mosque. Understand and learn about us),” read the invitation card.
It further emphasised, “An opportunity to meet, share and experience the values and culture of Indian Muslims. Please visit us to know and understand us better and experience our Masjids are all about.” Interestingly, the invitation is only addressed to non-Muslim men, as specified by the usage of ‘brothers’.
Questions are now being raised whether non-Muslim women have not been deliberately invited by the Juma Masjid of Bombay Trust. The entry of Muslim women, let alone non-Muslim women to mosques, have been the subject of controversy. In a statement by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on January 29 last year, it claimed that Muslim women are allowed to offer ‘Namaz’ at mosques.
Muslim women allowed to pray at mosques, claims AIMPLB
AIMPLB had filed the response to a petition by one Yasmeen Zuber Ahmad Peerzade in the Supreme Court. The petitioner had sought the intervention of the apex court in the matter pertaining to entry of Muslim women to Masjids. Interestingly, AIMPLB emphasised, “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.”
But the question remains whether a Muslim woman can avail such facilities at all. President of the All India Muslim Women’s Personal Law Board, Shaista Ambar had asked, “If the Law Board is admitting that women are allowed to pray in mosques, then why isn’t it making any arrangements for women to do that?” She further added that Islamic clerics have always told women that they weren’t allowed entry in mosques.
Fatwas have called for ‘prohibition’ of Muslim women in Masjid
At the height of the Sabarimala debate, several Muslim men on social media had dismissed claims of Muslim women not being permitted entry in Masjids. This is despite the fact that several fatwas have been issued by Darul Uloom Deoband categorically stating that it is ”prohibited” for women to visit mosques and that such a ‘wrong practice must be stopped.’
While speaking to Opindia, a 21-year-old Muslim girl (on the condition of anonymity) said, “I was always told that I should stay home and pray and not go to mosque. Islam allows it. When a mosque is built, why can’t they make provisions of purdah for Muslim women? The fact that most mosques do not have such provisions show they intentionally don’t want us to enter Masjids.”
Given that the entry of Muslim women to most masjids are restricted, it is not difficult to understand why the invitation by Juma Masjid of Bombay Trust makes specific mention of ‘non-Muslim brothers.’