Mumbai’s Haji Ali Dargah ordered to lift ban on women

MUMBAI: A centuries-old Islamic mausoleum was Friday ordered to allow women to enter its inner sanctum, with an Indian court saying a ban violated their constitutional rights.


The Haji Ali Dargah trust has barred women from the landmark mausoleum off the coast of Mumbai since 2012, insisting women near the tomb of a revered saint is “a grievous sin” in Islam.

“Women can enter the inner sanctum of Haji Ali Dargah and the state government has to ensure their security and safety,” said Justice VM Kanade of the Bombay High Court, giving the verdict.

It comes amid an intensifying campaign by women in India to be allowed to enter Hindu temples, some of which also ban females from their inner sanctum.

Hundreds of women staged a march to the Shani temple in Maharashtra state in January in protest, leading the high court in Mumbai to later strike down the shrine’s ban.

“The verdict is a landmark win for women everywhere fighting for their rights. The high court verdict has ensured gender equality and equal rights for women at places of worship,” women’s activist Trupti Desai told AFP of Friday’s ruling.

Female activists will enter the mausoleum on August 28 to offer prayers, she said. A six-week interim period has been granted by the Bombay High Court during which the trust can appeal against the verdict in the Supreme Court.

Around 80 per cent of India’s 1.2 billion population is Hindu, but the country is also home to large numbers of Muslims, Christians and Buddhists.