Inspired by Shani Shingnapur protest, women now seek entry into Haji Ali Dargah

As women activists intensify their protests seeking entry into Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra, Muslim women groups on Thursday staged a protest demanding entry into Haji Ali Dargah in south Mumbai.

ALSO READ: Shani temple row: Women's group approaches CM after thwarted protests

Zeenat Shaukat Ali, one of the protestors and a Professor of Islamic studies, said that it was "male patriarchy", not religion, which was imposing restrictions on women.

Haji Ali. File Pic

"I am an Islamic scholar and nowhere in Islam is it said that women cannot go to graveyards. This is the dictum of the prophet. When Islam has not excluded women, then why should male patriarchy dominate. Male patriarchy is dominating the Hindus, Male patriarchy is dominating the Muslims," she told ANI.

She further said that discrimination against women was against the tenets of Islam.

"This is against what Islam has taught. The Constitution has given you equal rights, Islam is supporting the Constitution," she added.

A Muslim women's rights group is locked in a bitter legal battle with trustees of the Haji Ali Dargah, which barred women's entry into mosque's mausoleum in 2011

While defending its ban on women, the Haji Ali Dargah trust had reportedly said that it was a "grievous sin" as per Islam for women to be in close proximity of the grave of a male Muslim saint.

The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) has petitioned the Bombay High Court seeking a ruling that the ban is unconstitutional.

The protest in Mumbai broke out two days after members of a group, Bhumata Brigade, were prevented by police from entering into Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district to break a 400-year-old tradition banning women from entering its sacred sanctum.

After the high-voltage march to the temple by the Bhumata Brigade volunteers, which was foiled mid-way, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis called for a dialogue between temple authorities and activists to find a way out of the row. 

The popular shrine is dedicated to Lord Shani, who personifies the planet Saturn in Hindu belief. Women devotees are not permitted on the 'chauthara' (sacred platform) of the temple as per the centuries-led tradition followed at the shrine.

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