A delegation of 11 activists from the Mumbai forum ‘Haji Ali Sab Ke Liye’ walked into the Ajmer Sharif dargah where the grave of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti is, yesterday. This multi-religious team comprised Mumtaz Shaikh, Nasreen Contractor, Shabana Ansari, Varsha Vidya Vilas, Jyoti Badekar, Sujata Bhise, Javed Anand, Feroze Mithiborwala, Shahbaz Khan, Satyen Bordoloi and Amol Madame. The aim was to show the Haji Ali dargah trustees that if women had access to the inner sanctum here, then, the same should be allowed by Haji Ali too.
A delegation from Mumbai forum ‘Haji Ali Sab ke Liye’ offering prayers at the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer. Pic/PTI
“We were there for three hours and were greeted by Syed Liaqat Hussain Moini Saheb who is from the family of khadims at the Ajmer dargah. It was a wonderful experience and was a first time for many members of the delegation. After experiencing true Sufism where caste and gender are not considered, we will demand entry for women into Haji Ali with more enthusiasm,” said Javed Anand from the forum who called the visit, “a learning experience.”
Women make their way into Haji Ali dargah from the special entrance which stops them short of the mazaar of the Sufi saint. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi
It was a first time visit for Mumtaz Shaikh from the forum, but she says that she felt like she was at home at the Ajmer dargah. “Men, women and children come together and pray at Ajmer Sharif which has a legacy of more than 800 years of allowing all into the mazaar. Muslim women should read the Quran and Hadith, rather than accept patriarchal interpretations. Mumbai is otherwise an advanced city, but sadly when it comes to religious equality of women, we have to fight so hard. I am confident of our success and hope the Haji Ali trustees follow the Ajmer example and allow women into the mazaar again, like it was before 2011,” said Shaikh.
“The ziyarat (visit) is part of our continuing effort to create public awareness that, contrary to the claims of the trustees of Haji Ali dargah, the restrictions forced by them on women have more to do with creeping Wahhabism than anything else,” signed off Feroze Mithiborwala, of the forum on an emphatic note.