India: IN A FIRST, Bombay MOSQUE OPENS DOOR TO WOMEN scholars

Maulana Mohammed Fayyaz Baqri’s wife is among the many women who impart knowledge about the Quran to fellow Muslim women.

http://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/cover-story/in-a-first-yari-road-mosque-opens-door-to-women-ulemas/articleshow/60078262.cms- By Linah Baliga, Mumbai Mirror | Updated: Aug 16, 2017, 01.21 AM IST

At a time when Muslim women are breaking into many a male bastion, a mosque on Yari Road has taken an exemplary decision — which is being touted as a first in the city — to allow Shia women to don the role of Ulemas.

While the “Jumme ki namaz” is still read out by the Maulana at Mehfil-e-Saani-e-Zahra or the Zaib Palace mosque, as it is popularly called, there are women Ulemas or scholars, who impart knowledge about the Quran and Islamic teachings to females in the community. Uzma, the wife of Maulana Mohammed Fayyaz Baqri, is one such woman scholar.

Maulana Baqri said that his wife offers sermons on the importance of women’s education and the role of women in Islam.

“Once you educate women, you educate a family. Once you educate a family, you educate a society. Women who sermonise offer lessons on a number of subjects — how to read Quran, how to bring up children and educate girls, and how to become better human beings by leading a righteous life. They basically preach on Islamic beliefs and the need to find a balance between ‘deen’ (knowledge of religion) aur ‘duniya’ (world),”he said.

Uzma said, “I also conduct classes on the Quran at the mosque. I teach girls and women from 5 to 15 years of age on how to pray and how to behave in the society according to Islamic rules.”

Fatima Ali (name changed), a resident of Yari Road who has attended the sermons at the Zaib Palace mosque, said that before “Jumma namaz”, “khutbah” is offered by the Maulana. “But learned women Ulemas conduct sermons at the mosque. They tell us a number of things — the Israeli war, whatever is taking place in Iraq and other happenings that we are not aware of. We are also apprised of our duties. We are told how to work for the oppressed,” she said.

Fatima said that women Ulemas mainly lecture on the Quran, as many among them don’t know how to read the religious text perfectly and to comprehend it in the correct manner. “We are also taught how to bring up our children in a responsible manner. A majority of mosques in the city don’t allow women to offer sermons, but this mosque works towards our uplift,” said Fatima.

The women are also sensitised against terror outfits like Daesh. “We have been taught to send a strong message to the Daesh… that we don’t support them and that we strongly oppose their ideology,” she added.

Maulana Farmaan Mossavi, who belongs to a mosque in Govandi and is associated with NGOs Sar-Allah and Husseini Youth in Gujarat, stressed that women don’t face discrimination in their community. “If no male scholars are present at Khoja Masjid in Dongri, women are invited to lecture. They also mentor and counsel the women of their community,” he added.

Maulana Ather Ali of Mohammed Ali Road’s Minara Masjid, which still doesn’t allow women on the premises, welcomed the move.

“Our mosque is too small to accommodate men, leave alone women. But this is a welcome move by the Zaib Palace mosque. We already have women on the executive board of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, who deliver speeches on microphones from behind purdah,” said Maulana Ali.

Dr Zeenat Shaukat Ali, directorgeneral of the World Institute of Islamic Studies for Dialogue, Organisation of Mediation and Gender Justice (Wisdom Foundation), which is fighting in the triple talaq case, called it a step in the right direction.

“On the 12th day of Muharram, which is observed as a mourning period, a gathering of 200 women is held in Muslim homes and that is the only time, women scholars are invited to impart knowledge to fellow women. So, the mosque has indeed taken an exemplary step,” she explained.

Dr Ali hoped that other mosques would allow women Ulemas in a year’s time. “Such a practice will infuse confidence in women. I want women to speak about the rights that the Quran has given to them. There are 805 verses in the Quran on education and ‘ilm’ (education) is the most frequently used word after Allah. It is important for us to understand that knowledge of the religion and the world (deen and duniya) go hand-in-hand,” she said.

Categories: India

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