The Mazar of Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari popularly known as Haji Ali Dargah is situated into the Arabian Sea of Mumbai’s Mahalakshmi Coast. There is a pucca road approaching the Dargah dividing the sea which would submerge during the high tide. Haji Ali is a famous landmark of Mumbai visited by foreign and domestic tourists and religious people alike.
A public trust looks after the Dargah management, maintenance and security. Till 2011 both men and women were allowed free entry to the Dargah but suddenly the trust disallowed entry to women. The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan moved to the Mumbai High Court against this ban. Waghini (tigress), a social group of women also joined the struggle. Jyoti Badekar, their leaders suggested that Dargah trust should accept their demand in a peaceful manner and allow the women to enter inside the Dargah. The managers of Dargah have given number of reasons such as women are not allowed inside; they do not wear proper clothes, etc. in support of their restrictions. But the most important of the reasons was said to be “Islam does not permit entry of women at such place”.
Another interesting observation is as media came openly in support of women agitating for entry in Sabarimala or Shani Shinganapur, it refrained in case of Muslim Mahila andolan and did not extend support to them. This is a sad commentary that exposed the bitter truth that some sections will have to carry their cross alone.
(With inputs from Rajiv Salgaonkar)