In Allah’s Home At Last

Written by P.K. Surendran | Published on: April 22, 2016
bring them on two –wheelers or cars.  Every evening the roads skirting the mosque are lined up with numerous vehicles.
It seems that those who are presently agitating against the dictum of the maulavi saheb from the Palayam mosque will intensity their protest in the coming days. As to how long they can continue to resist the wind of change remains to be seen.

'Gender parity is a cardinal principle of Islam'
EXCLUSIVE interview with the IMAM
An Islamic scholar of repute, P.K.K. Ahmed Kutty Maulavi, chief Imam of the Palayam Juma Masjid in Thiruvananthapuram of Kerala, is a benign paternal figure who is ascetic but not fastidious. Catholicity and restraint are his guiding principles when dealing with matters of faith.
In many ways, he is the modern face of Islam. Eighteen years ago when he took over as the imam of this prominent mosque at the age of 38, he began what orthodoxy considers anathema even today: reconciling religion with science.
He was the first Imam in Kerala to use the astronomical observatory for announcing the sighting of the ‘chaand’ (moon) Peeved at the “youngster's prank”, a grand old Imam of the city convened a meeting of the devotees. At the meeting he said how a true Muslim should shun “scientific contrivances”. “We should use only our naked eyes to spot the chaand or else the machine may misguide us, he told the congregation. The gathering promptly chorused its approval.

A young Imam stood up and, removed the spectacles from the eyes of the head priest and then asked him to read. Obviously he could not “Does your inability to read mean there is no book before you? Now, whom do you trust? Your eyes or the eye glass? Red with rage at this "impudence" the senior Imam stood up, and bidding his men to follow he declared, "This man will spoil us. Let us go”.

The young man is now 56-years-old. Imam Ahmed Kutty has not only led Muslims down the road of progress but helped infuse in them a scientific temper and a broad outlook.
Sitting in his modest room in the Palayam mosque, the Imam spoke to Combat on women's entry in mosques and other related issues. Excerpts:
Q.Did you decide on your own to allow women or was it a demand raised by them?
A. Many muslim women, notably, Nefasat Biwi (A Congress – I leader) have been pleading with us make arrangements for women to pray in the mosque during the Holy Ramzan. Earlier, some women used to come for Friday prayers. But that did not attract much attention. When the demand came up before the Jamaath committee, it asked my opinion. I referred to the scriptural edicts permitting women praying in mosque. The committee decided in favour and earmarked the upper storey of the mosque for the exclusive use of women namaazis.
Q. Is it the first time that women are being allowed to enter a mosque?
A. Yes in Thiruvananthapuram and adjacent districts. But women pray in mosques in Mecca and Madina. Nearer home, women pray regularly in masjids in Malabar.
Q. What are the specific objections against women's entry?
A. They have no solid ground. They say the four sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence Shafai, Hanafi, Hambali and Maliki, prohibit women praying, with men in mosque. But the Holi Koran, various Hadiths and Qurtubi written by a companion of the Prophet have all clearly stated in various contexts that women eager to pray in mosque could do so. I asked these people to bring me proof from scriptures and I shall retrace my steps. But they have none.
Q. If they know they are not on firm ground why do they insist for your withdrawal of permission?
A. They should not. It is sheer obstinacy and obscurantism which give Islam a bad name. These are quacks not doctors whose prescription is worse than the disease. They are simply misguiding the faithful and exploiting them. I recall how some of the imams had earlier insisted that I should not deliver the evening