On 28 August, Abu Sultan Mechant, the chairman and managing trustee of the Haji Ali Dargaah, responded to the Bombay High Court's ruling lifting the ban on the entry of women into the sanctum sanctora of the Dargah saying that this regulation was as per the tenets laid down in Islam.
As per Islam women are not allowed to visit graveyards, he said. And since the Haji Ali Dargah's inner sanctum houses the tomb of saint Sayed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, the restriction imposed on the entry of women was justified.
The Haji Ali Dargah Trust had imposed the ban four years ago, saying it would be a "grievous sin" to allow women near the tomb.
"The only thing that women are not allowed is to touch the restricted grave area. The entire shrine is in front of their eyes. Only touching the tomb is not allowed. Besides, women can offer prayers and 'chadar' (shroud)," Merchant told the media.
"Islam prohibits women to go to graveyards and this is also a grave then how can they go there? I can show you that it is written in Islam that women cannot go to graveyards. I can also prove it. That is why we are prohibiting them. If they are not agreeing to it, then what can we do? Our job is to protect them," Merchant added.
"The entry to the main hall of the Dargah is separate for both men and women," said Merchant, "Islam forbids the union of women and men that is why we do not allow them. We have made a separate place for women, and from there the inner sanctum is right in front of them."
Women are not allowed to proceed to a certain point, which is an area of approximately 275 sq feet - three feet away from the tomb - from where they can pray.
The Haji Ali Dargah is governed by the Haji Ali Dargah Trust, a public charitable trust registered under the Maharashtra Public Trust Act.
The trustees of the Dargah had decided to deny women access to the grave in 2012, calling the practice un-Islamic. It had stated that it was rectifying its earlier mistake of allowing women to touch the actual grave.
The Bombay High Court on Friday lifted the ban imposed on women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the dargah.