Abid Rasool Khan, chairman of the minorities commission of the southern Indian states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, on Friday favoured women desisting from visiting dargahs as they contain graves but was against any ban on their entry.
He said women should maintain decorum and dignity when they visit these shrines.
He was speaking in the context of a significant judgement of the Bombay High Court, which on Friday, lifted the ban imposed on women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of Haji Ali dargah in Mumbai, saying it contravenes the fundamental rights of a person.
Khan maintained that Islam says it is not desirable for women to visit graveyard but stressed that there is no ban as such.
"It's more of religious obligation where something has been told that it should not be done; after that, it's the choice of the person to do it and face Allah on the 'day of judgement'", Khan said.
"My point is: women who want to go to dargah and pray, they can pray even from their house also, because Allah listens to every prayer. It's not that it should be done at a particular place," he said.
"But if they still want to go and do it, then it's their choice and they should be allowed to do it. We should not stop them from doing," Khan said.
He saw women being allowed to go into the sanctum sanctorum of dargah as also being part of "evolutionary" process, noting that earlier it was desirable that women should not go to mosque to pray.
"But later on, now, women are going to mosques and praying along with men in separate sections, most of the mosques in Hyderabad and Saudi Arabia (among others). So, this is evolution... How mankind changes, evolutionary things".
"Women were earlier only at home and never used to go out, but today they are coming out and want to go to dargah, let them go and pray", he said.
But Khan stressed that when women go to dargah, where pious and revered saint is buried, they should maintain decorum and dignity.