Sadia Dehlvi for rollback of Haji Ali Dargah Trust's decision

New Delhi, Tue, 06 Nov 2012 ANI

New Delhi, Nov 6 (ANI): Criticizing the Haji Ali Dargah Trust's decision to bar women from entering the sanctum sanctorum that houses the tomb of the 15th century Sufi saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari in Mumbai, columnist and author Sadia Dehlvi on Tuesday termed the move to be 'some politics of the Dargah Committee or influence of some extreme elements'.

"Tradition shouldn't be changed. Like in Haji Ali, I think it is not appropriate to change suddenly and suddenly bar women from the scared space because women have been traditionally going inside. So, obviously on that goes the custom and that should be honoured and respected. I think it is some politics of the Dargah Committee or I would call it influence of some extreme elements...I think they should rollback their decision," Dehlvi told ANI.

"Dargahs have their own tradition, each Dargah has a particular tradition. If we look at the Dargah of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz in Ajmer, we see that women have always been allowed into the innermost scared space.... and that's been happening for about 800 years," she said.

"And when we look at Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya or in fact the foremost disciple of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer, which is Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki of Mehrauli in Delhi; there women are not allowed into the inner space. So, I as a devotee, as a seeker of the Sufi path I respect and honour both traditions. I feel it is very reflective of the Sufi's personality," she added.

As per as management of Haji Ali Dargah, women will not be allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum that houses the tomb of Sufi saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari.

However, the trust has allowed women roam freely within the dargah's compound.

"They can offer their prayers, do namaaz and offer shawls and flowers. We are only requesting our sisters not to enter inside the dargah," said Rizwan Merchant, trustee of the Haji Ali Dargah and also a noted criminal lawyer.

The decision to ban entry of women has evoked sharp criticism from several quarters, including the film fraternity.

The revered dargah is located on a bed of rock 500 yards into the Arabian Sea and off the coast of Worli in south central Mumbai. The dargah is one of the most recognisable landmarks of Mumbai. (ANI)

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