On Wednesday, January 8, 2023, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board passed an affidavit to the Supreme Court. According to the affidavit, Muslim women can now perform Namaz (Prayer) at the mosque. The board issued the affidavit in response to a petition filed by Advocate Farha Anwar Hussain Shaikh, a Muslim woman and activist from Pune.
According to the law, Muslim women can perform Namaz in a separate area of a mosque where only they can offer Namaz. While praying, men and women must sit separately from one another. The board further ruled that creating a separate area for women in a mosque is entirely up to the members of that specific mosque. The development of a separate place for women is also dependent on whether or not there is space for construction. The AIMPLB argued in its counter-affidavit that religious acts in places of worship such as mosques are completely private actions governed by Muttawalis and mosques.
“The Answering Respondent, and this Hon’ble Court for that matter, cannot enter into the arena of detailed arrangements of a religious place, which is a completely privately managed entity for religious practices of believers in religion," the affidavit stated.
In support of her appeal, advocate Farha Anwar Hussain claimed that women can perform namaz in mosques since Islam allows women to worship in mosques. She also stated that the most sacred places for Muslims, Mecca and Medina, allow women to offer Namaz but in a separate place from males. In reality, women have the option of praying in a mosque or at their homes.
Some Mecca ritual practices, like Tawaf, are limited to a specific space, according to the declaration. This activity is undertaken by men and women in the same area, however this does not imply gender equality, according to AIMPLB. There are rules in place to protect the sacredness of religious sites and practices.
The etiquettes of prayer, particularly with respect to no free-intermingling of men and women, are adhered to willingly, strictly, and sincerely by all worshippers, the affidavit stated further.