A month after Rajasthan got its first two women qazis, Jama Masjid in Jaipur will open its doors for women to offer namaz. The historic mosque, situated in the old city market of Johri Bazaar, has made a separate room for this purpose.
The section, located in the main hall on the first floor, can accommodate 20-25 women, and has a glass partition and curtains for purdah. The mosque was built by King Bharmal of Amber on orders from emperor Akbar in AD 1569, and is considered a tourist attraction.
“The provision has been made for women who are in the market shopping and can’t get home in time to offer prayers. But the women will not be a part of the ‘jamaat’ and will have to offer prayers separately,” Naim Qureshi, chief of the Jaipur Jama Masjid committee, told Deccan Herald. The section will open this Ramzan.
Welcoming the move, Navaid Hamid, president, All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, told DH: “It is certainly a positive step. This is a first in Rajasthan. For decades, the Old Delhi Jama Masjid and Hazratbal in Kashmir have a designated place for women.”
There are many who are unhappy with the initiative. Some clerics have cautioned the Jama Masjid committee to not popularise the trend. They also refused to accept the two women from Jaipur who underwent a training course for qazis in Mumbai, perhaps making them the first women qazis in the state.
Women’s groups have come out in support of the initiative. Mehrunnisa Khan, chairperson, Women Muslim Welfare Society, told DH, “Namaz is compulsory for men and women, and working women need a space to offer prayers on time. Other mosques should also try to keep a separate area for women. When we offer rituals in Mecca, there is no discrimination between men and women.”