Haji Ali Dargaah chairman and managing trustee Abu Sultan Merchant has reiterated that as per Islam, women are not allowed to visit graveyards and that is why the trust had imposed a ban on their entry into the shrine's inner sanctum of the tomb of saint Sayed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari.
The Haji Ali Dargah Trust had imposed the ban four years ago, saying it would be a "grievous sin" to allow women near the tomb.
"The only thing that women are not allowed is to touch the restricted grave area. The entire shrine is in front of their eyes. Only touching the tomb is not allowed. Besides, women can offer prayers and 'chadar' (shroud)," Merchant told media.
"Islam prohibits women to go to graveyards and this is also a grave, then, how can they go there? I can show you that it is written in Islam that women cannot go to graveyards. I can also prove it. That is why we are prohibiting them. If they are not agreeing to it, then, what can we do? Our job is to protect them," Merchant added.
"The entry to the main hall of the dargah is separate for men and women. Islam forbids the union of women and men that is why we do not allow them. We have made a separate place for women, and from there, the inner sanctum is right in front of them," he said.
Women are not allowed to proceed to a certain point, which is an area of approximately 275 square feet - three feet away from the tomb - from where they can pray.
The Haji Ali Dargah is governed by the Haji Ali Dargah Trust, a public charitable trust registered under the Maharashtra Public Trust Act.
The trustees of the Dargah had decided to deny women access to the grave in 2012, calling the practice un-Islamic. It had stated that it was rectifying its earlier mistake of allowing women to touch the actual grave.
The Bombay High Court on Friday lifted the ban imposed on women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the dargah.
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