Following the furore on women not being allowed into the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali Dargah, which houses the tomb of the 15th century Sufi saint, Ashutosh Shukla caught up with Mufti Mehmood Akhtar Qadri, whose fatwa has become the talking point in the city. The 52-year-old mufti, who refused to be photographed, suggested that women should not enter dargahs at all.
Why should women not visit a grave?
As a mufti, my job is to tell what the Shariah says. Everyone knew that women should not be allowed near graves.
The issue was dealt with during the reign of second Caliph, Umar. He had stopped women from going to the mosque due to their condition then [the mufti means the dilution of the pardah system]. When a few aggrieved women complained to the Prophet’s wife Ayesha, she said even the Prophet would have taken the same stand. Now, the condition is 1,000 times worse.
The trustees call this step an improvement? What other im-provements do you suggest?
I feel that women should not come to the dargahs at all. But if we tell them this, God knows what will happen considering their reaction when we said that they should not be allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum. Women should not stand close to those who are not related to them. As per the Shariah, there is salamati (well-being) if women do not go to dargahs.
Our job is to give the true interpretation of the Shariah, whether it is implemented or not is up to the management. There are many dargahs that bar the entry of women, such as the one near Bombay Hospital and Nizamuddin dargah in Delhi.
The liberals argue that men and women are allowed at the Holy Kaaba, then why differentiate here? They also question the Shairah for having a human interpretation and argue that the Quran, Prophet and Hadees are main source of Islam.
But the Shariah has been written in the light of the Quran, the Hadees and what the ulamas of that time upheld after having discourses. There are lot of things not mentioned in the Quran that are derived from Hadees and Shariah.
What are your views on music being played at dargahs?
Music should be played at dargahs, but instruments should not be allowed inside.