Mumbai: In a surprising and controversial move, Mumbai’s Sufi shrine Haji Ali Dargah Trust has barred women from entering the sanctum sanctorum that houses the tomb of the 15th century Sufi saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. The trust management also declared that the decision is irrevocable.
The decision has evoked sharp criticism from several quarters and triggered protests. Bhartiya Mahila Muslim Andolan founder Noorjehan Safia Niaz condemning the ruling, said her group will write to political leaders so that this issue can be taken up at a higher level. "This is the wrong interpretation of the Sharia law. Haji Ali Dargah is lying that the ban has been in place for the last seven years. I went to the dargah last year too, and a survey of all dargahs was done this year."
Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh said, "I am not in favour of this and that women should not be allowed in Haji Ali. All Muslim liberals should oppose it." BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, too, called the decision unfair and said, "The trust should re-think and take back their decision."
According to reports, the trust has ordered that women will not be allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum as it is "un-Islamic under the Sharia Law" for women to visit graves. However, women will be allowed to roam freely within the dargah's compound. The dargah is located off the coast Mumbai on a bed of rocks into the Arabian Sea.