Date :Wednesday, November 14th, 2018 | Time : 01:36 |ID: 77637 | Print

Indian Muslims are upset about bans on prayers in Taj Mahal

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SHAFAQNA- Indian Muslims are upset about a Nov. 5 order that restricts pray at the mosque located inside the compound of India’s national landmark Taj Mahal, except on Fridays when the mosque is only open to locals.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is tasked with the monument’s management, said in a Nov. 5 order that only Muslims living around the Taj Mahal can pray on Fridays in the mosque adjacent to the mausoleum.

The move effectively bans non-residents from Islamic prayers, also known as salah or namaz, at any time at the mosque, since an earlier local administrative order bars non-residents from participating in Friday prayers at the mosque on security concerns.

Local residents are allowed to pray between noon and 2 p.m. on Fridays without paying the entry fee. Before the decision, non-residents were able to prayer on any day other than Friday by buying a visitor’s entrance ticket.

ASI locked the area where Muslims perform ablution before prayers, disappointing several tourists who had come to prayer at the mosque located next to the magnificent mausoleum. A few faithful were seen praying on the premises.

“There is no logic behind closing the doors of a mosque for the faithful,” one student who came to offer prayers on Sunday told Times of India. Other students called the move “anti-secular and retrograde.”

ASI also reportedly told the imam and mosque staff to come only on Fridays.

However, leaders of Muslims, who comprise 14 percent of India‘s 1.2 billion people, say the order is unnecessary.

Molvi Mohammad Amin, a Muslim cleric based in Jammu, questions how prayers could adversely affect preservation of the mausoleum.

“For the past more than 300 years, Muslims have prayed in the Taj mosque. If prayers had affected it, the structure wouldn’t still be the most beautiful in the country,” he told ucanews.

He said the ban was part of the anti-Muslim policies of the state and federal governments run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Syed Ibrahim Hussain Zaidi, president of Taj Mahal Masjid Management Committee, said those who bar Muslims from offering prayers are trying to hide government failures in preserving the place.

“The order is illegal and arbitrary. The party in power has an anti-Muslim mindset and I am meeting with the government to sort out the issue,” he told media soon after receiving a copy of the ASI order.

Molvi Gulzar Ali, a religious scholar, termed the ban “a worrisome trend.”

“If there is a mosque, Muslims hailing from anywhere in the world can pray there. The order issued by the government is bizarre and unnatural to the core,” he said.

The order by the Agra additional district magistrate in January 2018 to ban non-residents from offering Friday prayers came following complaints that “outsiders, including Bangladeshis and non-Indians” were using the prayer time as a pretext to enter the complex on Fridays.

The order was upheld despite a petition filed to the Supreme Court.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in power since 2014, have increasingly carried out measures seen as restrictive and oppressive toward India’s Muslim minority, which often faces mob attacks and lynching.

The UNESCO-listed Taj Mahal, built on the south bank of the Yamuna River in Agra between 1632 and 1653, was commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to serve as a mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, DAILYSABAH reported.

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