Ban is Pushing Muslim Women out of Sri Lanka’s Public Spaces
Heroes Fearless Muslim Worshippers Risk Lives To Rescue Hundreds Of Women And
Children From Tower Block Blaze
Impaired Women Praise Services in Madinah
Set For Woman Who Took Items from Arizona Mosque
Compiled by New Age Islam News
a PIL on women’s entry at the Nizamuddindargah cannot be compared to Sabarimala
HazratNizamuddinAuliyadargah in Delhi is the only major shrine of a sufi saint
which does not allow women access to the inner sanctum sanctorum. SARAVANA
BHARATHI S B FOR THE CARAVAN
6 December 2018, three female law students from Pune filed a public-interest
litigation in the Delhi high court, seeking the entry of women to the inner
precinct of the HazratNizamuddinAuliyadargah in the capital. The PIL was filed
barely weeks after a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court lifted the ban on
women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. Evidently, the Sabarimala
judgement has had a cascading effect, with the Supreme Court now hearing
another PIL, filed by a Muslim couple, demanding that the prohibition on the
entry of Muslim women in any mosque be declared illegal in India.
policies of social reform have arisen from the political branches of the state.
Throughout the 1950s and the 1960s, a wave of social-reform legislation created
a state-supervised infrastructure that managed prominent religious institutions
and removed caste-based restrictions on entry. But in the last few years, the
courts seem to have become the chief interlocutors in the social-reform
process, raising enthusiasm for the judicial process as its main mode.
there is a deep and unresolved tension at the centre of our constitutional
practice. We care about religious freedom—the right of individuals and groups
to autonomously conduct their religious lives and practices. But our
constitution also requires that we be sensitive to removing the entrenched
practices of subordination and domination. These two values are often in
problem is not that the practices of organised religions are inherently
hierarchical and exclusionary. Religions discriminate against genders and
classes to restrict access to religious spaces or religious offices, exclude
certain social relations from religious recognition and follow practices that
manifest a deeply patriarchal culture. If that were the problem, then reform
would require most of what we know as religion today to give way to state
the problem is that religious practices in India have a material and symbolic
impact on excluded individuals and groups, far beyond the acts of worship.
Religion in India has consequences for people’s civic rights and their right to
live with dignity. The constitution-framers recognised this and consequently
regarded religion as one of the crucial domains of reform. The constitution not
only prohibits the state from discriminating on the grounds of caste, religion
or sex, but also empowers it to reform Hindu religious institutions and
criminalise abhorrent practices, like untouchability.
there are good reasons to be suitably circumspect about the courts driving
social reform. This is not only because social reform is politically risky, as
became evident from the reaction to the Sabarimala verdict, but also because
courts must work within the constraints of legal principle and reasoning. They
must show that they have given due regard to all the constitutional values at
stake, even if they are in tension with each other, and deliver a legally
tenable result independent of the judges’ personal views. The PIL demanding the
opening of the inner sanctum at the Nizamuddindargah to women embodies these
descendants of the Sufi saint Muhammad NizamuddinAuliya conduct religious
ceremonies at the dargah under the guidance of the AnjumanPeerzadganNizamiyaKhusrawi
Coordination Committee—an organisation comprised of the direct descendants of
the saint who handle the running and maintenance of the shrine. The
NizamuddinDargah Trust—which handles the financial affairs of the shrine along
with the committee—has no power over these customs. While women are free to
access the shrine, they are not permitted inside the small inner room that
houses the saint’s grave. As any visitor to the shrine will testify, this does
not come in the way of women participating in other facets of worship. Women
usually sit around the room, facing the sanctum sanctorum while offering
religious institutions be made to respect egalitarian values in all their
practices? What is the limit for state intervention? And how should this
conflict be resolved while being equally respectful to both the values? The
answers to these questions are contingent on the context. The legal assessment
of egalitarian claims in religious practices cannot generalise, despite the
temptation to do so, and must make nuanced distinctions based on the nature of
religious customs and the historical role of state institutions.
Nizamuddindargah case differs markedly from the Sabarimala case. The Sabarimala
temple is governed by legislation—the Kerala Places of Public Worship
(Authorization of Entry) Act, 1965—which is based, in part, on the
constitutional mandate of opening Hindu places of worship to “all sections and
classes of Hindus.” This anti-caste value, derived from the constitution, was meant
to override all the contrary religious customs.
this legislation, in 1991, the Kerala government passed a rule recognising the
customs and practices that restricted women between the ages of 10 and 50 years
from worshipping at Sabarimala. In the Sabarimala case, which challenged this
rule, the judges did not offer uniform reasoning—three opinions held the
exclusion unconstitutional and one dissenting opinion rejected the petition.
Nevertheless, the underlying view among the majority opinions was that this
exclusion violated the legislative imperative of opening Hindu temples in the
state to all Hindus.
imperative is missing in the case of the Nizamuddindargah. There is neither a
clear constitutional mandate of opening Muslim places of worship to all Muslims
nor a legislation that demands it. However, the absence of the legislative
imperative does not automatically mean that the exclusion is legally justified.
Ordinarily, the courts are expected to enforce existing customs. This is where
the Bombay high court’s decision in the Haji Ali dargah case appears to be
distinct from Nizamuddin.
2014, a PIL filed by civil-society members challenged the denial of women’s
entry into Haji Ali, a mosque in Mumbai. The dargah administration asserted no
custom that barred the entry of women to the inner shrine—evidence before the
court suggested that women were not prohibited till as late as 2012. The dargah
administration merely asserted that their decision of exclusion was based on
Islam. Since this interpretation of Islam was tenuous at best, the court was
bound to side in favour of the entry of women.
even in the Sabarimala case, some petitioners challenged the very existence of
the exclusionary custom on the ground of its inconsistency over the years. Only
the judge DY Chandrachud accepted this argument and relied on it as one of his
many grounds for holding the exclusion illegal.
the legal assessment of the exclusion must significantly depend on the
historical tradition and custom in the case of the Nizamuddindargah,
particularly its continuity and consistency over the centuries. If the
petitioners show that historically, the dargah authorities restricted the entry
of women inconsistently, the high court is likely to not recognise the practice
as a custom altogether and hold the exclusion to be without the authority of
course, the mere existence of the custom would not necessarily make it legally
acceptable. The Article 25 of the constitution enumerates religious freedom as
“freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of
religion,” which is subject to “public order, health and morality.” The
provision also makes the freedom subject to other fundamental rights as well as
the need for “social welfare and reform.” But the courts have not always laid
down clear and consistent guidelines to govern the application of these
constitutional safeguards. For example, in an important 1962 case, the Supreme
Court considered a legislation that sought to prohibit the practice of
excommunication among DawoodiBohras because it violated the civil rights of the
affected individuals. Despite this, the court held the law unconstitutional,
noting that it was neither a social-reform legislation nor could religious
practices be restricted on grounds of protecting civil rights.
there appears to be a pattern of courts holding religious institutions and
practices to the constitutional standard of civil rights. One route was offered
in the Haji Ali case, where the court held that since the dargah was a public
trust, all fundamental rights were enforceable against it. Under Indian
constitutional law, fundamental rights are ordinarily not applicable against
non-state entities. Consequently, enforcing them wholesale against religious
institutions would be both unusual and unlikely in future cases.
opinion in the Sabarimala case offers hints of a different strategy. Among
other things, he held that the practices that stigmatised some classes of
people based on conceptions of “purity and pollution” would run counter to the
constitution’s prohibition of “untouchability.” In his view, what made the
proscription at Sabarimala unconstitutional was the belief that menstruation
made the female body ritually impure and hence taboo in religious spaces.
innovative interpretation of untouchability significantly shifts the question
from the fact of customary exclusion to the reasons for exclusion. It provides
a crucial link to the constitutional mandate of social reform and articulates a
persuasive legal principle that demands intervention in those religious
practices that are harmful because they deepen subordination and domination.
the Nizamuddindargah case, the court must not only ask if the exclusionary
custom exists, but also if the custom is based on conceptions of female
inferiority and impurity that would run counter to the constitutional
prohibition of untouchability. It must assess the nature and basis of the
custom, in the eyes of those who enforce it and those who are subjected to it.
key to this inquiry is to understand the social meaning of the exclusion.
Specifically, it is to ask what the exclusion means to the community of
believers, and whether the exclusion is understood to be either based on or seen
to deepen subordination. This cannot be done seriously without considering
whether women among the community of believers consider the exclusion
stigmatising and objectionable. From the perspective of rejecting stigma, the
identity of the petitioners may not be determinative, but the inclusion of the
voices of the excluded must remain pivotal.
she did not lay it out like I have, the judge Indu Malhotra’s dissenting
opinion in Sabarimala voiced the concern that it may not be appropriate for the
courts to intervene in religious practices on the basis of petitions filed by
non-believers. Hence, there is a good reason for the courts to be more careful
in determining the social meaning of exclusion where the excluded believers
have not filed petitions. This seems to be the case in the Nizamuddindargah
case, where the petitioners have not indicated any spiritual or religious
association with the shrine in the petition.
court’s decision in the Nizamuddindargah case, like the other recent cases on
religious reform, will be interesting because it will chart the ways in which
the courts will navigate religious freedom and constitutional equality after
the Sabarimala judgment.
Ban is Pushing Muslim Women Out of Sri Lanka’s Public Spaces
| Updated:May 9, 2019
the deadly attacks that killed more than 250 people in the country’s capital on
Easter Sunday, the Sri Lankan government banned the burqa. It is forcing women
to stay indoors.
Ban is Pushing Muslim Women Out of Sri Lanka’s Public Spaces Representative
year-old Farzana Hussain* from Wellampitiya, a town about 4kms east of Colombo,
Sri Lanka, has been wearing the burqa since she was 11.
the deadly attacks that killed more than 250 people in the country’s capital on
Easter Sunday, the Sri Lankan government banned the covering of face that
“hinders the identification of individuals in a way that threatens national
security.” This includes the burqa and the niqab, face coverings worn by
several Muslim women.
the ban on April 29, Hussain hasn’t left her house.
schoolteacher by profession, who teaches the Qur'an – the way of reading and
memorizing it – she says the ban has made it ‘difficult’ for her to go out.
says she’s lucky that the school holidays haven’t ended yet, but if the ban
isn’t lifted by the time schools reopen for the new session, it will be hard
for her to teach.
have been advised to stay at home unless there is a dire need to go out. If I’m
not allowed to cover my face, I will stop going out to teach because I prefer
covering to teaching,” Hussain says, hoping the ban is lifted soon.
18 year-old Zareen Rashid* from Colombo is scared that even if the ban is
lifted, it will be hard to avoid the racism.
niqabis are still going to go through racial discrimination and will be asked
to remove it in public places. Going out with the niqab after the ban being
lifted will be equivalent to walking in hell because people will call you a
terrorist. Staying indoors will be a better option than going out,” she says.
may be right.
in 2016, after France banned the burkini – a swimming costume that adheres to
the Islamic rule of dress that requires women to cover much of their body and
heads – following a terror attack, photographs and videos emerged showing the
police stripping women at the beaches.
hasn’t left her house since the ban. However, she knows she will have to remove
her niqab as soon as college begins. Rashid started wearing the niqab at 14
after her father advised her to.
she says, wearing it has strengthened her connection with God; making her feel
brave and confident, and it hasn’t stopped her from achieving anything she has
wanted to. Without her niqab, she says she feels ‘naked’.
Mariam Wadood, a lawyer and activist who works with the Colombo-based NGO Women
In Need, wants the ban to be imposed permanently.
believes “everyone's rights and liberties must come with limitations. Freedom
must stop at the beginning of someone else’s fear or discomfort.”
who herself does not cover her face, believes that the burqa and niqab are
Wahabi influences and although they are not a symbol of terror, they are a
symbol of radical Islam. “The burqa and niqab create disconnect and division in
the country, among communities, and even within the community,” she says.
must now put our country first. National and public security is threatened, and
if it is law that the niqab and burqa must be removed then we must adhere to
it,” she says adding that the niqab is not compulsory is Islam.
women’s rights activist and researcher Mariya Salim agrees that the niqab is,
in fact, not compulsory in Islam adding that the tradition is itself dictated
these are deeper questions and the state cannot impose these restrictions by
force,” she says.
says that while banning the burqa and niqab might seem like a progressive thing
to, the reasons for the ban are completely wrong.
restricts the mobility of those women who use it to navigate spaces. They are
anyway living under severe patriarchy in the name of religion, and now their
movement will also be restricted, especially if they come from conservative
families that require them to wear niqab. It will make life more difficult for
women who are dictated by patriarchy in their everyday lives.”
33 year-old Ayesha Muhsin in Colombo, wearing the niqab made her feel safe and
secure, even if sometimes she felt she was being judged.
alone with the niqab is easy, as you don’t feel uncomfortable about the trishaw
driver acting funny,” says Muhsin, who has given up wearing the niqab after the
ban to make sure her face is very visible but is still faced with suspicious
glares because she wears the hijab that covers only her head.
is a garment that covers the entire body from head to toe, while niqab covers
only the face, leaving slits for eyes. The hijab, on the other hand, covers
only the head and the face remains revealed. The burqa and niqab are banned in
Sri Lanka, while the hijab isn’t.
she believes, not wearing the niqab is equally dangerous. “There’s a lot of
hatred towards the Muslim community at the moment and wearing the niqab in
public might result in the niqabi becoming a victim of some serious harassment.”
like Hussain, Wadood, and Muhsin believe that the ban will indeed help with
“public protection”, a narrative the Sri Lankan government has sold to its
think the ban is a sensible move as it was taken due to security reasons and
not for racial reasons,” says Muhsin, who has been wearing the niqab for twenty
the women’s rights activist and researcher, believes that by banning the burqa
and niqab the Sri Lankan government is “clearly putting forth the ‘all
terrorists are Mulsim narrative’.”
an attack like the one in Sri Lanka happens, it affects the entire sub
continent. Muslims across South Asia have been trying to prove that it is not
‘their Islam’ the kind that ISIS claims to be representing because they fear
the backlash of this decision which is nothing but Islamophibic.”
18 year-old Rashid is perplexed about how exactly banning the burqa and niqab
might solve any security issues.
because they (government) think it’s only those that wear the burqa and niqab
are terrorists,” she says.
changed to protect identity.
Muslim worshippers “risked their lives“ to storm a burning 18-floor London
tower block and rescue hundreds of sleeping residents from a fire.
group raced from late-night prayers at Madina Mosque after spotting the blaze
on the eighth floor of Gooch House at 2.40am last Thursday in Clapton, East
Muslim worshippers raced into a tower block fire to rescue sleeping residents
Muslim worshippers raced into a tower block fire to rescue sleeping
residentsCredit: Hackney Gazette/Archant
group stormed into Gooch House in East London and began banging on doors to
group stormed into Gooch House in East London and began banging on doors to
warn peopleCredit: Hackney Gazette/Archant
group had been at late prayers at Madina Mosque in Lower Clapton, East London
group had been at late prayers at Madina Mosque in Lower Clapton, East
LondonCredit: Hackney Gazette/Archant
charged to the top floor and banged on doors yelling “fire, fire” as they spent
an hour evacuating families and children.
came just two weeks before the second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower
disaster in West London, which killed 72 people.
who lives on the seventh floor, told the Hackney Gazette: “They helped my mum
downstairs while I took my wife and checked on an elderly resident on the first
floor who is recovering from cancer.
made sure everyone got out. They knocked on each door until someone opened.
knocked on each door until someone opened. If it wasn't for them we would never
have got out
was six or seven of them and they were only young. If it wasn't for them we
would never have got out.”
group evacuated residents from the 80-flat block before firefighters arrived.
hailed the mosque worshippers’ heroism as "a really important show of
said: “They broke their way in not knowing what was inside. It could have been
a lot worse.
shows there are still people willing to help others and risk their own
worshippers had been fasting for Ramadan, but raced up and down the stairs to
is believed a cigarette caused last Thursday’s fire on a balcony, which was
is the Islam people don't read about. You sacrifice yourself for your
Sidat, Madina Mosque Chair
man from the blazing flat was treated for smoke inhalation and the flat
suffered smoke damage.
of the hero worshippers Zakariya Ahmed, 24, from Clapton, was Mosque in Lea
Bridge Road with three pals when he spotted the blaze.
climbed a wall and smashed a window to enter Gooch House and warn tenants.
told the Hackney Gazette: "Our purpose was to help our neighbours out.
Being a Muslim it's a norm - it's what we're taught.
were not thinking about [the fact that] our lives might be at risk. I had
nightmares of Grenfell at the back of my head
Ahmed, Hero Rescuer
had nightmares of Grenfell at the back of my head."
chair Mohammed Sidat said he was “very proud” of the group and was going to
prepare a big dinner for them after Ramadan.
said: "They were very brave and ran right to the top floor. They didn't
think for their safety and were very courageous.”
fire broke out just two weeks before the second anniversary of the Grenfell
disaster, which killed 72 people
fire broke out just two weeks before the second anniversary of the Grenfell
disaster, which killed 72 peopleCredit: Andrew Styczynski - The Sun
did amazing and it's because of Islam. This is the Islam people don't read
sacrifice yourself for your neighbour."
said fleeing residents were “shaken up” and “crying” over fears of another
said: “I was watching people run down stairs with kids in both arms."
Holsworth, who Ahmed helped down from the first floor, wrote a letter of thanks
to the mosque.
wrote: "Without thinking of danger to themselves, they went from top to
bottom waking people.
thanks and blessings are with them all."
SCARE Headmistress invited paedo boyfriend to spend day at her special needs
Manager Adam Mosely of Homerton Fire Station said the fire was out when crews
arrived as the occupant had tackled it.
added: “Thankfully they were not seriously injured, but we would always advise
people to leave their property immediately upon discovering a fire and to call
you smoke, it is also important to ensure your cigarette is disposed of
carefully by stubbing it out, preferably in an ash tray.”
impaired women praise services in Madinah
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has been praised
for providing services especially for special-needs and visually impaired women
visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
Al-Hazimi, a guide at blindness charity Vision, praised the services available
at the mosque, such as providing copies of the Holy Qur’an in Braille. She also
praised the guidance and counseling services, as well as the dedicated spaces
set aside for visitors with special needs.
Masleh Al-Sa’idi, who is visually impaired, expressed her happiness at the care
she was given at the Prophet’s Mosque, especially the copy of the Braille
Qur’an she was provided with. Fellow visitor Aminah Ahmed Qa’id agreed, saying
they were a blessing for the visually impaired. She noted that providing those
copies helped her to memorize the Holy Qur’an.
Al-Rahmen commended all the services provided by the government to serve female
visitors. She said that she did not have difficulty in finding what she needed
in the Prophet’s Mosque, with the help of female guides, supervisors and
set for woman who took items from Arizona mosque
JACQUES BILLEAUD, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Jun 3, 2019 10:19 pm PDT
— A woman captured on video making derogatory comments about Muslims as she and
a friend took pamphlets and other items from an Arizona mosque is scheduled to
be sentenced Tuesday on an aggravated criminal damage conviction.
guilty plea previously struck by Tahnee Savanna Gonzales calls for her to serve
a sentence of probation, write a letter of apology to the mosque and complete
225 hours of community service.
was with a friend and three children in March 2018 when they removed pamphlets,
fliers and other items from bins in a fenced-in courtyard behind the mosque in
Tempe. Qurans also were taken, but it’s unclear which of the two women was
accused of walking away with them.
two women, known for making anti-Muslim statements at political events in the
Phoenix area, walked past a no-trespassing sign posted on a gate to the
courtyard, where only members of the mosque were allowed to go without
posted a video of the visit on her social media account. The video shows
Gonzales starting a shouting match with a Muslim man after he walked out of the
mosque and tried to pet her dog.
friend, Elizabeth Ann Dauenhauer, had previously pleaded guilty to aggravated
criminal damage and was sentenced to 18 months of probation and 200 hours of
community service. At sentencing, Dauenhauer expressed remorse for her actions.
who does most of the talking during the 23-minute video, complains in the
footage about Sharia law and said Muslims engage in bestiality and are
she sees a no-guns sign on a gate on mosque property, Gonzales said, “Ahhh, but
they carry around AKs and kill people all the time.”
the end of the video, the two women, children and their dogs stood in the
parking lot as a man exited the mosque.
of the dogs trotted over to the man, who, in response to a question from
Gonzales, later identified himself as a practicing Muslim.
away from our dogs, please. Don’t eat them,” Gonzales told the man, prompting a
guffaw from Dauenhauer.
the man responded, later explaining that he was trying to be peaceful and
didn’t understand what Gonzales was talking about.
kept yelling insults at the man as the shouting match continued.
parents of the three children who were with the two women at the mosque haven’t
been publicly identified by authorities.
plea agreement calls for charges of burglary, disorderly conduct and other
counts to be dismissed.
Gonzales pleaded guilty, her lawyers contended her comments were protected by
the First Amendment. They said the mosque was open to the public and intended
for people to take the materials that Gonzales and Dauenhauer walked away with.
Jacques Billeaud at www.twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud.
Billeaud, The Associated Press