4 Amazing Must Know Reasons About Muslim Woman Leaders
Muslim women are leaders in their own given right. There are biological, psychological and physical differences between men and women and both men and women are not identical in their strengths and weaknesses. Men excel in one type of leadership while women excel in the other. Aisha (rali), the wife of the prophet Muhammad(sal) is a great example of a Muslim woman leader and a scholar in Islam.
Today, Muslim women are or were leaders and Prime ministers in Muslim majority countries which have the largest Muslim populations such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia., Muslim women have been elected in many high ranking positions in politics, administration and others.
The majority of all Muslims in the world live in countries that have, at some time, elected women as their leaders. The three most populous Muslim-majority countries have had women as leaders including Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh
There are many wrong arguments that has been put forward to argue that Islam treats women as secondary humans. Some quote the hadith in which the prophet (Sal) said,
"A people will not succeed who are commanded by a woman".
and argue that Islam is against women.
This authentic hadith is wrongly taken out of context to mean that women have no say in authority. When we compare other religions, Islam gives a lot of freedom and authority for women. Let us analyze what some other religions like Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism has to say about women and authority.
Ananda, women are hateful, jealous, miserly and lack wisdom, as a result they neither come to the limelight, nor do an industry and see its benefits” (Tripitaka-Anguttara Nikaya 4.80)
"Ananda, under whatever doctrine and discipline women are allowed to go out from the household life into the homeless state, that dhamma will not last long." (Chulavagga 10.1 )
In the bible,it says
I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.
(1- Timothy 2:12)
Further the bible says
Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
(1 Corinthians 14:34)
Now in the Manu smriti which is accepted by many Hindus it says,
A female child, young woman or old woman is not supposed to work independently even at her place of residence (Manu Smriti-5/150)
And further it says,
Girls are supposed to be in the custody of their father when they are children, women must be under the custody of their husband when married and under the custody of her son as widows. In no circumstances is she allowed to assert herself independently.
Some Hindus will say that the Manu smriti is just a smriti and the Shruti is what is important. Now the let us look at what the Vedas say about women
“Indra himself hath said, The mind of woman brooks not discipline, her intellect hath little weight.”
(Rig Veda 8:33:17)
As a researcher in comparative religion I say that Islam uplifts the status of a woman. The hadith mentioned should be understood in the right context.
The Persians had appointed the daughter of Chosroe as their queen, then the Prophet peace be upon him said, “No people who appoint a woman as their leader will ever prosper.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 13/53).
When understanding this hadith,we must understand that the prophet said this in context of a woman ruling over a man because to lead a nation you need authority and strong will to decipline and lead a nation and a woman can be threatened and even physically challenged and harassed if she takes on leadership among men. We have seen in history how women rulers were forced to get married and threatened. Even strong willed leaders like Margaret Thatcher were forcibly made to resign and that is why men are more suitable for leadeship in a country.
Reason-1-Women Were Consulted
Women were even consulted in important matters like war during the Prophet peace be upon him’s time .One example is as follows.
Marwan reported: After the treaty of Hudabiyyah was concluded, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said to his companions:
Get up and offer your sacrifices, then shave your hair.
None of them stood up, and the Prophet repeated his order three times. When none of them stood up, the Prophet left them and went to Umm Salamah, and he told her about their attitude. Umm Salamah said:
O prophet of Allah, would you like your order to be carried out? Go out and do not speak to them until you have offered your own sacrifice and have called the barber to shave your head.
( Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī)
The prophet peace be upon him took the advice from his wife and this shows how liberal Islam is towards women.
Reason-2-Equality of Men and Women
The prophet said that women and men are equal. He said
“Verily, women are the counterparts of men”.
(Musnad Ahmed with an authentic chain of narration)
In this hadith it is clear that men and women are equal but not identical in their equalness. Men are strong and capable in one thing and women are strong and capable in another thing. In the Quran there is a wonderful example of a woman named Balqees who was the Queen of Sheba and was given authority over her people and she ruled her people with wisdom. This proves that women are given a wonderful status in Islam.
Reason-3-Women Can Earn and Spend Money
The next false accusation is based on the below verse where Allah (Swt) says,
"Men are guardians over women by what Allah has favored some over others and by what they spend of their wealth"
The above verse means that men sustain women and protect them and it does not mean that only men should spend and women shouldn't. Imam Qurtubi mentions in his tafsir on the above verse as follows,
It means men sustain women by spending upon them and defending them. Likewise, among men are rulers, commanders, and those who wage military campaigns; it is not like that among women.
(Tafsīr al-Qurṭubī 4:34)
A woman can spend without her husband's or any other person's permission. There is no such thing mentioned in the Quran or Sahih hadith stating so.
Jabir Ibn 'Abdullah (Rali) reported:
My maternal aunt was divorced, and she intended to pluck her dates [from palm trees]. A person scolded her for having come out (during her waiting period). She came to the Prophet (peace and blessins be upon him) and he told her: "Certainly you can pluck (dates) from your palm trees, for perhaps you may give out charity or do an act of kindness."
In another hadith, "The Prophet (Sal) stood up on the day of al-Fitr and led the people in prayer. He started with the prayer then he delivered the khutbah (sermon). When he had finished he came down and came to the woman and exhorted them, leaning on Bilaal’s arm, and Bilaal was spreading out his cloak for the woman to throw their jewellery as sadaqah (charity) into it "
(Bukhari and Muslim)
Maymoonah bint al-Haarith (Rali) freed a slave woman and she did not ask the permission of the Messenger of Allaah (Sal). When it was her day for the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to stay with her, she said: “Did you notice, O Messenger of Allaah, that I freed my slave woman?” He said: “Did you?” She said: “Yes.” He said: “If you had given her to your maternal uncles you would have earned a greater reward.”
(Bukhari and Muslim)
All the above hadiths prove beyond doubt that women can work and also spend from their wealth or earnings with out anyone's permission.
Reason-4-Women Have Led Congregational Prayers
The next argument is put forward to mean that women cannot become imams when leading the prayers with men in congregation and thus proves that women are inferior to men. Such arguments are just based on assumptions and we have to understand why a woman cannot lead the congregational prayer among men in the right context. In a hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah (Rali), the prophet (Sal) said,
“The best rows for men are those are the front and the worst are those at the back, and the best rows for women are those at the back and the worst are those at the front.”
(Sahih Muslim and others)
The above reason why the best rows are the rows from the behind for women is because there must be no disturbance in prayer for men as it could cause fitnah if a women is leading them in prayer. This does not in any way mean hat women are inferior to men. what should be understood is that it could avert the concentration of a man if a woman is leading them. In a hadith narrated by Sahl b. Sa'd (Rali),
"I saw men having tied (the ends) of their lower garments around their necks, like children, due to shortage of cloth and offering their prayers behind the Messenger of Allah (Sal). One of the proclaimers said: O womenfolk, do not lift your heads till men raise (them)" .
(Bukhari and Muslim)
When a person is praying there shouldn't be anything that disturbs the prayer and this is why the prophet (Sal) as mentioned in the above hadith ordered the women not to raise their heads because they could see the awrah of the men and that would disturb the concentration in prayer. There is evidence to prove that women can still lead men in prayer in their houses. In a hadith narrated by Umm Waraqah (Rali),
"The Messenger of Allah(Sal) used to visit her at her house. He appointed a mu’adhdhin to call adhan for her; and he commanded her to lead the inmates of her house in prayer. ‘Abd al-Rahman said: I saw her mu’adhdhin who was an old man".
(Abu Dawud-Graded Hasan Sahih by Sheikh Albani)
In the above hadith it is very clear that Umm Waraqah (Rali) lead the prayers as an imam among men in the house and from this we can understand that a woman can lead a prayer in a house if the men are all mahram among the house hold.Women can be leaders in teaching as Aisha (Rali) thought about fiqh to men on various occasions as narrated in many authentic hadiths and many others. What is forbidden for a woman is to assume leadership of a country. A man can be a leader in one thing and a woman can be a leader in another but the leadership strengths differ from both the sexes. Women are stronger than men emotionally and physically, men are definitely stronger and this is proven in a scientific study published in "The journal of science and medicine"-September 2013 Volume 16, Issue 5, Pages E1–E3 (Link https://www.jsams.org/article/S1440-2440(13)00109-6/abstract). Islam is a religion of ease and mercy and Allah (Swt) has created men and women with equal rights but with different perspectives and strengths.