New Delhi: The entry of women into mosques to offer prayers is permitted and 'fatwas' contradicting this tenet should be ignored, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) told the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
In an affidavit filed in the apex court, the board said while a Muslim woman is free to enter mosques, it is not mandatory for them to do so. Women also have the option to offer prayers at home instead of at a congregation or in mosques, it said.
The AIMPLB was responding to a petition filed by two Muslim women seeking directions from the Supreme Court to allow women to enter the place of worship.
Resisting the court's interference in the matter, the AIMPLB said mosques are privately managed bodies and courts cannot get into the arena of detailed arrangements of a religious place.
It further said the court can only render its advice but not issue directives.
Last October, the court had issued notice on the plea of Yasmeen Zuber Ahmad Peerzade and Zuber Ahmad Nazir Peerzade who contended that restrictions on the entry of Muslim women in mosques across the country were unconstitutional and violated the fundamental right to life, equality and gender justice.
The plea sought direction to the government authorities and Muslim bodies to allow Muslim women entry into mosques to offer namaz. It also contended that in mosques where women are allowed, there should be no segregation -- separate entry, exit or a separate praying area.
The AIMPLB said it does not want to comment on any contrary religious opinion to this effect.
"Islam has not made it obligatory on Muslim women to join congregational prayer nor is it obligatory for woman to offer Friday namaz in congregation though it is so on Muslim men. The Muslim woman is differently placed because as per doctrines of Islam, she is entitled to the same religious reward for praying as per her option either in masjid or at home", said the affidavit.
(With inputs from agencies)