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Ban on entry of women into Mumbai's Haji Ali shrine evokes mixed reactions

New Delhi, Tue, 06 Nov 2012 ANI

New Delhi, Nov.6 (ANI): The ban on the entry of women into the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali shrine in Mumbai drew mixed reactions from activists on Tuesday.

As per the orders of the shrine management, 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 to roam freely within the dargah's (shrine) compound.

The decision to ban entry of women has evoked sharp criticism from several quarters.

Member of Muslim Personal Law Board Naseem Ektadar Ali supported the move and said that there are some elements who visit the shrine and do not respect its sanctity at all.

"In Islam, it is anyway not allowed for women to go to graves. The structural pattern of every religion, whichever superpower has created that religion and its rules are for the benefit of humans. This is to avoid any fight or controversy and to streamline the social system. The second is that when women and men go to a shrine, there are some elements that do not respect the sanctity," she said, while speaking in Lucknow.

Criticizing the Haji Ali Dargah Trust's decision to bar women from entering the sanctum sanctorum, Chairperson of All India Women's Personal Law Board, Shaista Amber said that both men and women have equal rights.

"If such a thing is brought up, I do not think they should say such a thing. A lot of people say things, but as per Koran, women are considered as the better half. So, both the husband and wife have equal rights. We are not less than anyone," she said.

Meanwhile, columnist and activist Sadia Dehlvi said that every shrine has their own rules and traditions and added that there have been some shrines which have not permitted women to the sanctum sanctorum that houses the tomb ever since.

"Every shrine has different rules and traditions. If you look at Ajmer Sharif, the biggest shrine in South Asia, women go and offer prayers. So, women are permitted to go there. But, if you see Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya shrine, women are not allowed there, so they are both right in their own way. It has been said that women are not permitted to enter since the last 700 years," she said, while speaking to a reporter in New Delhi.

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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