|Assam governor J.B. Patnaik being felicitated at the Islamic Education Center-cum-Jame Masjid at Sijubari in Guwahati on Friday. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, Aug. 30: Assam governor J.B. Patnaik today appealed to mosques in the state to accommodate women for namaz.
“I do not consider myself as an Islamic pandit (scholar). But whatever I have studied and learned from others, it is clear that Islam has never prohibited women from entering mosques and offering prayers with their male counterparts. I have been told by many Muslim scholars that it is a misinterpretation that women cannot offer namaz at mosques. So, I appeal to the Muslim religious leaders to arrange accommodation for women during namaz,” Patnaik said.
The governor’s appeal came soon after he attended Juma (Friday prayers) namaz at the Islamic Education Center-cum-Jame Masjid at Sijubari here this afternoon.
While Parnaik offered prayers with men on the ground floor of the mosque, his wife and the state’s first lady, Jayanti Patnaik, offered namaz with women on the first floor of the mosque.
In 2011, the governor took the initiative and got women allowed for the first time during namaz at the 17th century Ajan Peer Dargah in Sivasagar district.
Though Patnaik’s initiative won accolades from many, fundamentalist groups and individuals were critical of the move, saying that such a development could dilute the original ideology of Islam.
“I am aware of criticism against my move. Many told me that as a governor, I had nothing serious to do and thus am going to mosques, dargahs and xatras to allow women to enter these holy places and offer prayers. I am bold enough to face such non-constructive criticism and will continue to play my role and do whatever I can to stop injustice against women,” the governor told this correspondent.
He said he believed that if women could undertake pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina with their male counterparts, they definitely had the right to offer prayers at a mosque.
Patnaik appreciated the move of Islamic Education Center-cum-Jame Masjid in allowing women to offer namaz at the mosque.
Today’s appeal has evoked mixed responses. While the Imam of the 350-year-old Burah Jame Masjid at Ambari here, Anowar Hussain, refused comment, Shillong-based activist Ayesha Ashraf Ahmed opposed it.
She said though Islam did not prohibit women from praying in mosques, she personally did not approve of them going out for congregational prayers.
According to her, Prophet Mohammad had said it was more appropriate for women to pray in private in their own prayer rooms in the house rather than in a public place.