The Issue of Female Rulership – Muftī Muḥammad Rafī‘ ‘Uthmānī

What is Islām’s stance on a woman being made the sovereign ruler of a country? When Pakistan elected its first female prime-minister in December of 1988, many concerned individuals were asking whether this is permissible in Islām. Hence, Muftī Muḥammad Rafī‘ ‘Uthmānī (b. 1936) wrote a detailed write-up on the issue of female rulership in Islām.*

Along with demonstrating that the Qur’ān, Sunnah and consensus of the scholars establish it to be impermissible, Muftī Muḥammad Rafī‘ addresses some common talking points of those who try to argue against this established ruling, namely:

  • The alleged stance of Imām Ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabarī
  • The Qur’ānic account of Queen Bilqīs, queen of Sheba
  • ‘Ā’ishah’s [raḍiyAllāhu ‘anhā] participation in the Battle of Jamal
  • Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī’s discussion on the ḥadīth warning against female political sovereignty being inapplicable to a democratic government

Muftī Muḥammad Rafī‘ also demonstrates the unanimous verdict of the scholars of Pakistan is of impermissibility.

The write-up, authored in December of 1988, was endorsed and signed by major muftīs and scholars of Pakistan, namely Muftī Rashīd Aḥmad Ludhyānwī, Muftī Walī Ḥasan Tonkī, Mawlānā Salīmullāh Khān and Mawlānā Yūsuf Ludhyānwī.

Aḥsan al-Fatāwā, 6:149-182; Nawādir al-Fiqh, 2:151-94

Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī: Defining Dār al-Islām and Dār al-Ḥarb

Some rulings of Islām change based on a person being in a Muslim-governed territory or “Dār al-Islām” or in a non-Muslim governed territory or “Dār al-Ḥarb”. What constitutes a Dār al-Islām or Dār al-Ḥarb is therefore a vitally important question of Fiqh.

In the context of British-rule in 19th century India, Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī* (1244-1323/1829-1905) provides a detailed answer to this question. There is in particular some misunderstanding over the position of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah. Hence, Mawlānā Gangohī outlines the principle used to designate a region as Dār al-Islām or Dār al-Ḥarb, clarifies the view of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah and then applies the principle to the context of British India.** A translation of his answer is provided below.

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Muftī Muḥammad Shafī‘: Limits of Muslim Non-Muslim Cooperation

What is the Islāmic ruling on forming alliances, joining or working together with non-Muslim political parties, or taking assistance from non-Muslim groups or individuals for state administrative purposes?

What is the Islāmic ruling on taking the assistance of non-Muslim organisations to perform exclusively religious work or work exclusive to the Muslim community, like Zakāt collection/distribution or running a masjid?

In the following article, Muftī Muḥammad Shafī‘ provides an in-depth analysis of these questions. His discussion is written in the context of the political debates of his time in British India, where different political groups fought for independence and power. Should Muslims work with/join Congress, an ostensibly secular party, or should they join the Muslim League, an openly Muslim party? In exploring these debates, the article provides a useful historical background. It was written in the form of a fatwā shortly after the death of Mufti Shafī‘’s mentor, Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī al-Thanawi, and was endorsed by several leading scholars, including ‘Allāmah Shabbīr Aḥmad al-‘Uthmānī and ‘Allāmah Ẓafar Aḥmad al-‘Uthmānī.

The Distinction of Dārul ‘Ulūm Deoband

Muftī Muḥammd Shafī‘ (1897 – 1976) narrates the following statement from his father, Mawlānā Muḥammad Yāsīn Deobandī (1865 – 1936) [1], about his experience at Dārul ‘Ulūm Deoband in the late 19th century:

“I witnessed such a period at Dārul ‘Ulūm [Deoband] when, from the headmaster to the lowest teacher, from the chancellor to the caretaker and servant, all were great possessors of a permanent bond [with Allāh] (ṣāḥib-e-nisbat) and friends of Allāh (awliyā’ullāh). At that time, Dārul ‘Ulūm felt like an institute of learning in the daytime and a Khānqāh in the evening. The sound of remembrance and recitation [of Qur’ān] could be heard from most rooms until the end of the night. This, in reality, was Dārul ‘Ulūm’s mark of distinction – which made it stand out from all the madrasas in the world.” (Mere Wālid e Mājid, Idārat al-Ma‘ārif, p. 62) [2]

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Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī on How his Father’s Opinion about Dārul ‘Ulūm Deoband Changed

Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī (1905 – 1997) describes his father, Ṣūfī Aḥmad Ḥusayn (d. 1949), as someone whose “concern for Ᾱkhirah was greater than his concern for Dunyā, and while fully occupied in his work, he was from those who remembered Allāh much. The adhkār at different times included within his daily practices numbered around 20,000 in total. In one period, his practice was to recite Durūd Sharīf 4,000 times after ‘Ishā prayer. He was so punctual on Tahajjud that when I asked my noble deceased mother after his demise whether she was aware that our dear father had ever missed Tahajjud, she replied that when she first arrived, he would at times miss Tahajjud but on those days he would definitely keep fast, but for around thirty years, he never once missed it. My respected father died in Ramaḍān of 1368 in such a state that the tasbīḥ was in his hand and he was making dhikr.” (Taḥdīth e Ni‘mat, p. 22)

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