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

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.

Women Attending the Masjid – A Clarification

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.