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Published in the 16-31 May 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Women oppose separate mosque 

Madurai: The movement to build a separate mosque for women in Pudukkottai suffered a set back when women themselves opposed this move. Their contention is that they want better social and family status and not a separate place of worship for them.

Muslim women's Organisation, Saya Network, has been pleading for women's right to prayers in mosques. In case of non-fulfillment of their demand it was decided to build a separate mosque for them where group prayers could be held. Sharifa, secretary of Saya had even selected a piece of land for the proposed mosque but some other members opposed the proposal on the ground that it would result in the failure of their mission because they are endeavouring for their right to prayer inside the same mosque along with men.
The argument of menfolk in not allowing women to enter the mosque is that this will distract the attention of men. Former principal of Ramnath Puram Women's College, Prof. Nazneen, said that denying women the right to offer prayers in mosques is anti-Islamic. Those who go to mosques for prayers should not allow their attention to be diverted for any reason. If they are true devotees, they should not allow their eyes and minds to be distracted, Prof. Nazneen added.

Women in Madurai have been permitted to pray in Anna Nagar mosque. Nazneen says women should be allowed to pray in other mosques too.

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