Fri 25 Jm2 1435 - 25 April 2014
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Is it permissible in Islamic sharee’ah for a woman to be a ruler?

Are women allowed to be rulers in the islamic shariah? (i would prefer evidence from the Qur'an).

Praise be to Allaah.  

Firstly: 

We appreciate our brother’s keenness to find out and follow the evidence from the Qur’aan, but there will not necessarily be evidence specifically from the Qur’aan for every issue. Rather the evidence for many rulings is to be found in the saheeh Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), not the Qur’aan. The Muslim has to follow the evidence of both the Qur’aan and Sunnah. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“O you who believe! Obey Allaah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allaah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allaah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination”

[al-Nisa’ 4:59] 

Allaah has commanded us to obey Him and to obey His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and He has commanded us to refer matters of dispute to His Book and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). 

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“And whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad) gives you, take it; and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it). And fear Allaah; verily, Allaah is Severe in punishment”

[al-Hashr 59:7] 

Ibn Maajah (12) narrated from al-Miqdaam ibn Ma’di Yakrib that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Soon there will come a time when a man will be reclining on his pillow, and when one of my hadeeth is narrated to him, he will say, ‘The Book of Allaah is (sufficient) between us and you. Whatever it states is permissible we will take as permissible, and whatever it states is forbidden, we will take as forbidden.’ Verily, whatever the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) has forbidden is like that which Allaah has forbidden.” 

Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 8186 

Secondly: 

The evidence from the Qur’aan and Sunnah indicates that it is not permissible for a woman to assume positions of senior public authority, such as the caliph (khaleefah), minister of state (wazeer or vizier) or judge (qaadi) and so on. 

1 – Evidence from the Qur’aan: 

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means”

[al-Nisa 4:34] 

Al-Qurtubi said: 

The words “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women” mean that they spend on them and protect them, and also that they (men) are the rulers and governors, and the ones who go on military campaigns, and none of these are the role of women. 

Tafseer al-Qurtubi, 5/168. 

Ibn Katheer said: 

It means the man is in charge of the woman; he is her leader, the ruler over her who disciplines her if she goes astray. 

because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other” means, because men are superior to woman, and a man is better than a woman. Hence Prophethood was given only to men, as is the role of caliph, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No people will ever prosper who appoint a woman in charge of them.” 

Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 1/492. 

2 –Evidence from the Sunnah: 

It was narrated that Abu Bakrah said: When the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) heard that the people of Persia had appointed the daughter of Chosroes as their queen, he said, “No people will ever prosper who appoint a woman in charge of them.” 

Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4163. 

Al-Shawkaani said in Nayl al-Awtaar, 8/305: 

This indicates that women are not qualified to rule, and it is not permissible for people to appoint them as rulers, because they must avoid that which will cause them not to prosper. 

Al-Maawirdi said, in the context of his discussion of the position of wazeer: 

It is not permissible for a woman to play this role, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “No people will prosper if they delegate their affairs to a woman.” And because these positions require wisdom and resolve, which women may be lacking in, and requires appearing in public to handle matters directly, which is haraam for them to do. 

Al-Ahkaam al-Sultaaniyyah, p. 46. 

Ibn Hazm (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, in the context of his discussion on the role of caliph: 

There is no dispute that it is not permissible for a woman (to be caliph). 

Al-Fasl fi’l-Milal wa’l-Nihal, 4/129. 

In al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah (21/270) it says: 

The fuqaha’ are agreed that one of the conditions of the position of caliph is that the holder should be male. The leadership of a woman is not valid, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No people will ever prosper who appoint a woman in charge of them.” That is also so that he will be able to mix with men, to devote his time solely to dealing with affairs of state, and because this position involves handling very serious matters. The responsibility is great and this is a man’s role. 

Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked the following question:  

What is the Islamic view on a woman being nominated as a candidate for the position of head of state, or head of a government, or a public ministry? 

He replied: 

It is not permissible to appoint or elect a woman as head of state. This is indicated by the Qur’aan, Sunnah and scholarly consensus. In the Qur’aan, Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

 “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other…”

[al-Nisa 4:34] 

The ruling in the verse is general and includes a man’s position of leadership in his family, and applies more so to his position of public leadership. This ruling is supported by the reason given in the verse itself, which is men’s intellectual superiority and better understanding etc, which are basic qualifications for leadership. 

In the Sunnah, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No people will ever prosper who appoint a woman in charge of them.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari.

Undoubtedly this hadeeth indicates that it is haraam for a woman to take a position of public leadership, or to become the governor of a province or city, because all of that comes under the general meaning of the hadeeth, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said that those who appoint a woman as their leader will never prosper. Prospering means being successful and doing well. 

The ummah unanimously agreed in practical terms at the time of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs and the imams of the first three generations, which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) testified were the best of generations, that women should not be appointed as governors or judges. There were women who were brilliant in religious knowledge, to whom scholars would refer concerning knowledge of Qur’aan, hadeeth and religious rulings, but no woman aspired to positions of public leadership during that time or any other position of that nature. The shar’i responsibilities of such positions cannot be carried out by women, because that involves travelling to the provinces, and mixing with the members of the ummah, and meeting with them, and leading the army sometimes in jihad, and negotiating with the enemy, and accepting oaths of allegiance  from members of the ummah, and meeting with them, men and women, at times of war and peace, and so on. This is not appropriate for a woman, and it goes against the rulings of sharee’ah that are established to protect her and keep her safe from having to go out and mix in such a manner. 

Rationally speaking, women should not be given positions of public office, because what is required of the one who is chosen for such a position is that he should a man of great resolve, determination, smartness, will power and good management skills. These characteristics are lacking in women because they have been created with weakness in their intellect and thinking, and with strong emotions, so electing them to such positions is not in the interests of the Muslims and does not help them to achieve greatness. 

And Allaah is the source of strength. May Allaah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon his family and companions. 

Majallat al-Mujtama’, issue no. 890. 

And Allaah knows best.

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