Janana Masjid

The first of its kind- Janana masjid in India

How does the essential religious patriarchal society of India treat women? Are women allowed to enter temples while menstruating? Why women are excluded from the priesthood? And majorly, why women aren’t allowed to pray in Mosques? Every religion in India has a manifesto that restricts women from religious freedom and the customs that dictate women to take a seat-back! The religious legacy in India has always prevailed in a way that makes women submissive in society.

Coming back to the status of women in Islam, according to the religious sentiments women holds a strong position in the patriarchal system. The greatest myth is that Islam bars women from entering the masjid, while in reality, it’s the opposite. Islamic doctrine, tenets, and beliefs do not prohibit Muslim women from entering mosques to offer prayer.

Centuries-old women Masjid in Amroha is setting a unique example of cultural heritage in India.

A 125-year-old Janana Mosque in Amroha is believed to be the first of its kind in India where women are allowed to offer prayer in mosques. It’s a unique tradition embedded with Muslim women of Amroha who have the freedom as well as the asset to offer prayers in the mosque. Mohammed Seyadat, the Shehar Imam of Amroha has been looking after the mosque for the last 50-years.

Stood still among the hustling streets, the blue and white Janana masjid was originally constructed by Salim Ghulam more than 100 years ago. Salim was a resident of Amroha who served as a Hawaldar for the British regiment. He had three daughters named Sabira, Sehra, and Kaneez. He loved his daughters very much and thus emphasized their education.  He realized that there are no Mosques where his daughters can offer prayers and take religious teachings in the city. Hence, he began the construction of India’s first women’s mosque in the small city of Amroha.

Janana Masjid

Another version of the tale suggests that after Salim’s death, his youngest daughter Kaneez was the in-charge of the house and she constructed the mosque in 1885 which was later converted to Janana masjid. It was Kaneez that started the famous tradition in the city. Whatever, the story could be, the mosque has become a favourite spot for women who wants to offer prayers outside the home. In every namaz at the mosque, the minimum attendance is twenty while the maximum could go up to 80 women, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

The Janana Mosque offers women to pray five times a day without any disparities. The local women collect the funds to make necessary arrangements or any improvement in the Infrastructure of the Mosque. There are two benefits- one the women are getting back the rights they deserve and a chance of socializing in society like never before.

According to the latest announcement by the All-India Islamic Board, Islam does not bar women from attending mosques to offer prayers. Yet in India, the custom of women attending mosque is rare and unique. As Islam does not offer men any liability to not attend mosques for prayer purposes, they are bound to seek asylum in the Masjids. However, for women, there is no restriction to offer prayers in the mosques and thus busy in household chores women themselves stopped offering prayers in the Mosques. As a result, over time the choice became a custom, and today nearly no Mosque in India allows women of their basic rights.

In such a case, the Janana Masjid of Amroha is definitely a silver lining. It’s a trailblazer in encouraging women to seek their rights and be advocated about the same.

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