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Women’s entry to Haji Ali finds support in Rajasthan

The delegation of 11 activists paid obeisance at the dargah on Monday to affirm that women are allowed into the shrine.

The group, interacting with activists here on its way back to Mumbai, said the Ajmer dargah had remained for the last 800 years a sacred place where all were welcome, irrespective of their caste, creed, religion or gender.

Men and women sat together and offered supplications at the mausoleum of the Sufi saint of the 13th Century. “This rich culture of the Ajmer dargah of granting the right of access to all must be celebrated and saved,” said the delegation members.

‘Symbolic victory’

Challenging patriarchal interpretations of religious customs, the Mumbai group said performing ‘ziarat’ with women members at the tomb of the Sufi saint, popularly known as Khwaja Gharib Nawaz, was a symbolic victory for the fight for access in the Haji Ali shrine in Mumbai and other religious places.

People’s Union for Civil Liberties-Rajasthan president Kavita Srivastava pointed out that Dalits and women in the State did not enjoy easy access to temples at several places. The State’s civil rights groups are planning to organise a convention on asserting equal right to worship for women and men, to which a member of the “Haji Ali Sab Ke Liye” campaign would also be invited.

It was also decided that a group from Jaipur would be in Mumbai on July 25, when the Bombay High Court’s judgment on the public interest litigation of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan on the Haji Ali dargah issue is expected. Besides, the Supreme Court’s order in the Sabarimala temple of Kerala may precede the Bombay verdict.

‘No justification’

National Muslim Women’s Welfare Society president Nishat Hussain said there was no justification for the Haji Ali dargah administration to block the entry of women when the Ajmer dargah allowed women to enter the sanctum. The Mumbai group was led by writer and activist Javed Anand, who is also founder of “Muslims for Secular Democracy”.

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