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'Entry of woman into mosque for Namaz is permitted in Islam': Muslim board to SC

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New Delhi, Jan 29: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that Muslim women were free to enter a mosque for prayers but highlighted that it was not obligatory on women, unlike men, to offer Friday prayers in congregation.

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The Board's submission comes after a petition filed by a Maharashtra-based Muslim couple who asked the top court to declare a prohibition on entry of women into mosques as illegal and unconstitutional.

It will be considered by a nine-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde. The bench is dealing with legal and constitutional issues relating to discrimination against women in various religions and at religious places including Kerala's Sabarimala Temple.

"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. "The All India Muslim Personal Law Board does not want to comment on any contrary religious opinion to this effect," Mohammed Fazlurrahim, Secretary of AIMPLB, said in his affidavit filed through lawyer M R Shamshad.

However, the AIMPLB has contended it would not be appropriate for the Court to enter into the religious practices based upon beliefs of the religion by invoking Articles 14, 15, 21, 25 and 29 of Constitution.

The petition by Pune couple, Yasmeen Zuber Ahmad Peerzade and Zuber Ahmad Nazir Ahmad Peerzade contended that "there is nothing in the Quran and the Hadith that requires gender segregation".

"The act of prohibition of females from entering Mosque is void and unconstitutional as such practices are not only repugnant to the basic dignity of a woman as an individual but also violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 15, 21 and 25 of the Constitution", it added.

The plea said there was no gender segregation in Islam and claimed separate enclosures for women in certain mosques were a form of discrimination that violated their fundamental right to dignity.

In April 2019, a bench led by Justice S.A. cited the majority verdict in the Sabarimala case - that devotion can't entail gender bias - and asked the central government, the AIMPLB and the Central Wakf Board to submit their views on the petition.

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