February 17, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10491

Indian Islamic Cleric Shabbir Ahmed Siddiqui: Whoever Permits Women To Run In Elections Is 'Rebelling Against Islam'

February 17, 2023
Special Dispatch No. 10491

Speaking in the Indian city of Ahmedabad, Indian Islamic cleric Shabbir Ahmed Siddiqui, who is the imam of Jama Masjid in Ahmedabad, said that "Whoever gives [election] tickets to Muslim women is rebelling against Islam... This will weaken our religion." Siddiqui argued that women should be forbidden from participating in elections on the same grounds that they are forbidden from attending mosques.[1] Siddiqui made the comments in an interview uploaded to the YouTube channel of The Indian Express daily.[2]

At least half the seats in the civic bodies of most Indian states are reserved for women, leading to many Muslim women being elected as councillors in municipal bodies and local government councils in rural areas.[3] The cleric's view may adversely affect the less-educated Muslims in India, particular those in rural areas.

Following are excerpts from his interview, as translated from Urdu:

Muslim Women "Were Stopped From Coming To The Mosque Because Women Have A Particular Place In Islam... Whoever Gives [Election] Tickets To Muslim Women Is Rebelling Against Islam"

"Since you talk about Islam, let me tell you something. You just saw namaz [the five mandatory daily prayers in Islam] being offered. Did you see any women? There is nothing more important than namaz in Islam. If it were allowed for women in Islam to come in front of everyone, they would not have been barred from the mosque. [Muslim women] were stopped from coming to the mosque because women have a particular place in Islam. Therefore, whoever gives [election] tickets to Muslim women is rebelling against Islam. This act of theirs is against Islam. Are there no men left, so now you are bringing in women? This will weaken our religion. There was a ruckus when the hijab issue was prompted in [the southern Indian state of] Karnataka.

"Obviously, if you make your women members of legislative assemblies and councillors or this and that, without any compulsion, what will happen? We will not be able to defend the hijab and we will not be able to raise this issue before the government. Because the government would say that your women are getting into assemblies, the parliament, are sitting on municipality boards. They are delivering speeches and appealing people from the stage [for votes]..."

"To Run In Elections, [Muslim Women] Would Have To Visit The Houses Of Voters, Whether They Are Hindus, Muslims, Or Whatever"

"To run in elections, [Muslim women] would have to visit the houses of voters, whether they are Hindus, Muslims, or whatever. And the voice of a woman is also a veil in Islam. That's why I am strongly opposed to it. If you want to run in [elections] and you have men, then let them run when there is no compulsion. Yes, if there had been a law in our country that only women can run in an election from a seat, then that would be compulsion, and you could say it is compulsory [and Muslim women could run in the elections]. But there is no compulsion here.

"I have noticed that in Delhi's civic elections also that they are giving more [election] tickets to young women. And now my view is that their goal is that nowadays women wield more influence. If you control the women, then the whole family will automatically come under control; I can see no reason other than this."


[1], December 4, 2022.

[2] In Islam, women are generally permitted to enter mosques, but they usually pray at home, and when they do pray in a mosque, they do so in an area separate from where men pray. In practice, women generally do not enter mosques in India.

[3] These are called panchayati raj ("council of five officials")

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