30 October, 2020

Guardian Of Faith

Being a woman mutawalli is no problem but can Ms Pataudi do the job?

Vivek Pateria
Guardian Of Faith
In some of the country's Muslim pockets, the appointing of a woman as the custodian of a large religious trust would probably provoke not just raised eyebrows but loud disapproval. For a woman to oversee, even if in a strictly administrative sense, the doings of imams, muezzins and dargah-keepers and to supervise the upkeep of mosques and communal graveyards is far from common. The striking fact about Muslim Bhopal, traditional though it is in many ways, is how little unease there is at the idea of a woman becoming the naib mutawalli (deputy custodian) of the Auqaf-e-Shahi, which manages Bhopal's princely waqf properties, scattered in and around the city.

The trust, set up by the former royals of Bhopal—the family's current head, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, is its mutawalli (custodian)—is no hole-in-the-wall outfit. Under its umbrella are the city's main mosque, the impressive Jama Masjid, at least a dozen other mosques, a dargah, graveyards, agricultural land, shops and commercial spaces, and acres of prime land in the city centre. The...


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