The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has informed the Supreme Court in an affidavit that the entry of women into mosques for offering 'namaz' inside is permitted.
However, free intermixing of genders in the same line or common space is not in conformity with the position prescribed in Islam and that needs to be taken care of by segregation within the premises by the management committee, if possible, the board said in a statement.
"Considering the said religious texts, doctrines and religious beliefs of the followers of Islam, it is submitted that entry of women into mosques for offering namaz inside mosques is permitted," the board added.
Apart from this stated position in the affidavit, the board also appealed to the Muslim community that wherever new mosques are constructed, this issue of making appropriate space for women be kept in mind.
The apex court is seized of a plea relating to the entry of Muslim women into mosques for offering namaz.
One Farha Anwar Hussain Shaikh had filed a petition in the top court in 2020 and has sought a direction that the alleged practices of prohibition of entry of Muslim women into mosques in India are "illegal and unconstitutional". The plea is likely to be heard by the apex court in March.
The board also said a Muslim woman is free to enter a mosque for prayers and it is her option to exercise her right to avail such facilities as available for prayers in a mosque.
"It is submitted that the questions raised in the present petition are not in the background of state action. The practices of religion in the places of worship (which in the present matter are mosques) are purely private bodies regulated by 'Muttawalis' of the mosques," the affidavit, filed through advocate M.R. Shamshad, said.
The affidavit added the AIMPLB, being a body of experts without any state powers, can only issue advisory opinion based on Islamic principles.
The affidavit also said the AIMPLB and the apex court, for that matter, cannot enter into the arena of detailed arrangements of a religious place, which is completely privately managed entity for religious practices of believers in the religion.
The affidavit said that Islam has not made it obligatory on Muslim women to join daily five-time prayers in congregation nor is it obligatory for woman to offer weekly Friday namaz in congregation, though it is so on Muslim men.
(With inputs from IANS)