Mumbai, a city known for its welcoming nature, a city that accepts people from all religions, castes and genders unabashedly, has currently locked horns with a regressive notion.
There has been a recent protest, led by Trupti Desai, so as to revoke the ban of women to enter Haji Ali Dargah sanctum sanctorum.
The Muslim community is at the crossroads, as it stands witness to a confrontation between all inclusive and progressive interpretation of Islam and a more rigorous and regressive form of the religion.
The Bhoomata Ranragini Brigade president, Ms. Desai had launched a forum ‘Haji Ali For All’, along with several other women, NGOs and social groups, to campaign for women’s entry into the shrine.
After battling for women’s right to worship and enter temples like Shani Shingnapur in Kolhapur and the Trimbakeshwar temple, Ms. Desai brought her protest for women’s rights to the Haji Ali Dargah, in support of gender equality and liberation from the conservative and regressive approach of the religion.
Well, there were instances of people supporting Ms. Desai’s stance, while many others didn’t see eye to eye with her vision.
Ms. Desai was all set to enter the Dargah on April 29, with no intention of entering the forbidden area, as it was supposed to be a peaceful protest against gender discrimination. However, she was thwarted and protested against, for her notion.
Leaders from AIMM have threatened to smear ink on Desai’s face, if she enters the Dargah. Also, Shiv Sena leader Haji Arafat threatened to welcome Desai with ‘chappals’, taking the issue to an all-together sophisticated and peaceful stand.
Political parties, such as Samajwadi party, AIMM, Shiv Sena, and other various organizations which are against the movement initiated by Ms. Desai, strengthen orthodoxy and regressive notions in the society.
The ban of women by Haji Ali Dargah Trust to not offer ‘chadar’ on the tomb of Pir Haji Ali Bukhari reeks of patriarchy.
Majoritarian politics feeds on the beliefs of the patriarchal society as it hits a massive chord among the masses, and such a society is highly detrimental to women’s rights.
The Trust, still abides by the age-old tradition of not allowing women inside the Dargah to offer prayers. Interestingly, till 2011, such restrictions were not imposed by the Trust. It cited ‘security reasons’ to invoke the ban. Thus, steps should be taken to safeguard them, banning them is not a solution.
Is it the Shariah or the patriarchal mentality that prevent women’s visit to shrines?
When women are allowed in Mecca, Medina, Najaf and Karbala, the four most sacred places of Islamic religion, on what grounds do they restrict the entry in Haji Ali Dargah?
There’s no place for discrimination in religion, as religion is for one and all. Such conservative acts are not in the name of religion; they are convoyed by the power-play of patriarchy flavoured with misogyny.