Q. Does Islam debar a woman from occupying the highest political seat? Please answer me with reference to Islamic history.
Answer by Allama Syed Abdullah Tariq
Islam does not specifically prohibit a woman from a post of political leadership but it does not certainly approve of it. Following is a Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) in this regard.
“Narrated Abu Bakrah that when the Prophet (Pbuh) heard that the people of Persia had appointed the daughter of Kisra their ruler, he said: “That nation cannot accomplish fulfilment, which made a woman, the head of their affairs”. (Bukhari)
The above Hadith is a statement of fact rather than a verdict of unlawfulness of a woman ruler. A woman head of state would normally signify that women of that society are generally abdicating their natural and true responsibilities of good upbringing and taking due care of moral training of children. The social fabric of such a society is bound to disintegrate sooner or later. There is an event of Queen Sheba’s subjugation to Hazrat Sulaiman in Qur’an. We note that Hazrat Sulaiman did not admonish her over being a head of state. He only preached to her to give up idolatry and accept Islam, which she did. There is no mention therein that she was removed from her executive position after she accepted Islam.
To my knowledge, Islamic history of distant past has no such precedent when an occasion necessitating the debate would have surfaced. We however observe that late Maulana Maudoodi had announced support for Ms. Fatima Jinah for the presidential candidature of Pakistan against Mohammad Ayyub Khan in early 60s of the last century. It shows that in the eyes of an Islamic scholar of the stature of Maulana Maudoodi, a woman head of state could be preferred over a man in extraordinary circumstances in the interest of Deen.