Peshawar's historic Sunehri Masjid on Friday opened its doors to female worshippers for the first time since 1996, a move warmly welcomed by women of the neighbourhood.
Nearly 15-20 women offered Friday prayers after the administration of the mosque, located on main Saddar road in Cantonment area, announced the move.
A banner put up outside the mosque stated that arrangements have been made for women to offer Friday prayers in the hall located on the upper floor of the mosque. Mosque officials said women will also be allowed during Eid prayers.
The mosque's naib imam, Muhammad Ismail, said the decision — which comes days ahead of International Women's Day observed on March 8 — was taken to facilitate women living in Saddar and other areas.
“Before 1996, women were allowed to attend Friday prayer congregations in the upper portion of the mosque,” he recalled, adding that in 1996, females were barred from praying in the mosque due to growing militancy.
“Now we have opened the upper portion again so that women can offer Friday prayers alongside males in a separate section and listen to Friday khutba (sermon),” Ismail said.
He revealed that the mosque's khateeb also threw light on women's issues and their rights in Islam during Friday's sermon.
Kousar Shah, 45, a resident of Saddar, was one of the women who attended the prayers at the mosque today along with her daughters. “I am really happy, and this is a really good decision,” she told DawnNewsTV.
She said the facility should be available to women for daily prayers as well. “We are hopeful that the mosque administration will allow women regularly also,” she added.
Anila Sajid, 22, appreciated the mosque's imam for the decision.
Strict security measures were taken during the Friday prayers and police personnel were deployed around the mosque.
The construction of Sunehri Masjid started in 1946 and it was completed after 30 years, according to naib imam Ismail.