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
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.
Are wives responsible for housework?
The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “Each of you is responsible and will be asked about his responsibility…The man is responsible for [maintaining] his household and the woman is responsible for [the upkeep of] the house and children of her husband.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 5200) Imām al-Khaṭṭābī explains: “As for a man’s responsibility over his family, it [means] supervising them, managing their affair and fulfilling their right of maintenance and [good] companionship. As for the woman’s responsibility over the house of her husband, it [means] good management in the upkeep of his house and minding those under her care like [his] dependents, guests and servants.” (A‘lām al-Ḥadīth, 1:580)
It is reported that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) determined that Fāṭimah (raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā), his daughter, is responsible for the work inside the house, while Alī (raḍiyallāhu ‘anhu), her husband, is responsible for the work outside the house. (Muṣannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 29677) ‘Ᾱbid al-Sindī explains that work “outside the house” refers to things like “collecting firewood and water, and acquiring maintenance”, while work “inside the house” refers to activities like “grinding, baking and kneading”. (Ṭawāli‘ al-Anwār, 6:410) The work was so difficult for Fāṭimah (raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā) that she complained to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) of marks on her hands, and asked for a maidservant. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), however, told her that better than a maidservant is to recite tasbīḥ before going to sleep. (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 5361) The author of al-Hidāyah, Imām al-Marghīnānī, thus explains: “When a woman is from those who serve themselves, she must cook and bake [and do housework], because the Prophet (upon him peace) allocated the chores inside the house to Fātimah (Allāh be pleased with her).” (Mukhtārāt al-Nawāzil, 2:194) Continue Reading
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 following is the translation of an essay by Muftī Muḥammad Shafī‘ (1897 – 1976 CE)* written in the year 1932 CE. It deals with the subject of personal interactions/dealings with non-Muslims, outlining that such interactions should be respectful albeit infrequent, and should not border on close friendship or become overly frequent.** Muftī Muḥammad Shafī‘ lived in India under British colonial rule and was one of the most learned scholars of that era. He was writing therefore in a context not so different to that of Muslims in western countries or other non-Muslim majority countries. He also wrote a lengthier treatise on the limits of participating with non-Muslim organisations (primarily, political organisations) to achieve religio-political goals, a translation of which will also be released shortly.
According to the clear statements of the Ḥanafī Fuqahā’ and their understanding of the Dalā’il of Sharī‘ah, women should neither attend congregational ṣalāhs at the masjid nor attend the Eid Ṣalāh. Many people have raised objections against this position. Some of these objections reflect common misunderstandings. We therefore felt it would be appropriate to write a comprehensive clarification, addressing the following issues:
- Approach to Dīn and its Aḥkām (commands)
- Rulings may change based on circumstances
- Opinions of the Fuqahā’ and their explanations of the Dalā’il
- It is more rewarding for women to pray at home
- A woman’s emergence from the home should be restricted
In the course of the clarification, we hope to address most of the substantive objections raised against the Ḥanafī stance, in particular the claim that it opposes the clear guidance of the Sunnah on women being allowed to attend congregational ṣalāhs at the masjid and being encouraged to attend Eid Ṣalāh.
Imitation of non-Muslims or sinful people is not permissible, and is known as tashabbuh (unlawful imitation).
The following fall under tashabbuh:
- Imitation in a distinguishing characteristic of non-Muslim group/s or sinful group/s, seeing which in an individual creates a suspicion that he/she belongs with them, is like them or commits the same acts as them. 
- Imitation in a religious practice/custom of non-Muslims. 
- Imitation in something done with the intention of copying them, even if it is not religious or exclusive to them. 
It does not include something non-religious that is in principle permissible and not regarded as a distinguishing characteristic of theirs (e.g. certain forms of dress, eating certain dishes, dining on chairs and tables, speaking different languages, using certain medications or tools, using certain modes of transport, etc.) when not practised with the intention of copying them. 
It should be kept in mind that the example of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is superior in all matters. Even in matters that are not religious – like the manner of dress, sitting, eating, sleeping and so on – it is recommended as far as possible to copy the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) with the intention of being more like him. 
Explaining the importance of obedience, avoidance of sins and repentance for the preservation of īmān, Imām al-Ghazālī writes:
Īmān is not one door but is over seventy doors, the highest of them the testimony that there is no deity but Allāh and the lowest of them removing harm from the road. An example of this is someone saying: “The human being is not one entity, but is over seventy entities, the highest of them is the heart and soul and the lowest of them is removing offensive things from the skin in that one has a trimmed moustache, clipped nails, and skin free of filth, so that he is distinguished from unrestrained beasts soiled in their faeces with offensive forms owing to their lengthy talons and hooves.”
This is a fitting example for īmān is like a human being. Losing the testimony of Tawḥīd entails complete negation just like losing the soul. The one who does not have [anything] besides the testimony of Tawḥīd and Risālah is like a person with amputated limbs, gouged-out eyes, missing all external and internal parts besides the essence of the soul. Just as the one whose condition is such is close to dying – the weak and isolated soul, from which the parts that assist and strengthen it have fallen behind, parting from him – similarly, the one who does not have [anything] besides the essence of īmān and falls short in actions comes close to the tree of his īmān being uprooted when strong winds that shake the īmān strike it at the initial arrival and coming of the Angel of Death. Every īmān whose roots are not established within certainty and whose branches are not spread out within actions will not remain firm in [the face of] the torrents of horrors when the head of the Angel of Death appears. Sū’ al-khātimah (an evil end) will be feared for him, unless he is watered with acts of obedience with the succession of days and hours so that [his tree of īmān] becomes firmly-rooted and strong.
While discussing insincerity in Dīnī activities, Imām al-Ghazālī says:
‘The people most subject to this tribulation are the ‘Ulamā’ since the motive for most in sharing knowledge is the delight of being superior, and the joy of being followed, and the happiness of being praised and glorified, but the Shayṭān deceives them about this, saying: “Your motive is only to spread the Dīn of Allāh, and to defend the Sharī‘ah which the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) established.” You see the sermoniser mentioning the favour to Allāh of his advice to people and his admonition of kings, and he is overjoyed with people’s acceptance of his speech and their attraction to him, while claiming that he is happy because assisting the Dīn has been made easy for him. Yet, if one of his peers who is better than him at sermonising were to appear, and the people turned from him and moved towards him, this would hurt and worry him. Had his motive been Dīn he would have thanked Allāh (Exalted is He) since Allāh (Exalted is He) has sufficed him of this task using another. Thereafter, the Shaytān despite this does not leave him, and says: “You are only worried because the reward has ceased coming to you not because people’s faces have turned away from you to another, because if they received the reminder from your speech you would be rewarded – and your concern for missing out on reward is praiseworthy.” The poor individual (miskīn) does not realise that his submission to the truth and his handing over the task to someone better is greater in reward…’ (Iḥyā’ ‘Ulūm al-Dīn, Dār al-Minhāj, 9:71)
Are the granddaughters (son’s daughter/daughter’s daughter) of a man’s brothers or sisters included amongst his maḥrams?
Yes, they are his maḥrams. 
فتحرم بنات الإخوة والأخوات وبنات أولاد الإخوة والأخوات وإن نزلن (رد المحتار، دار عالم الكتب، ج٤ ص٩٩
وكذا الأخوات من أي جهة كن وبنات الأخوات وإن سفلن (فتاوى قاضيخان، دار الكتب العلمية، ج١ ص٣١٦
فأما النسب فهو الرحم المحرم وهم أربعة أصناف…والصنف الثالث: الإخوة والأخوات من أي وجه كانوا: لأب وأم أو لأب أو لأم وأولاد جميعهم وإن بعدوا (النتف فى الفتاوى، مؤسسة الرسالة، ج١ ص٢٥