WOMEN IN GOVERNANCE BY SHEIKH IBRAHIM SALEH, NIGERIA

Wednesday 13th March, 2019
An Islamic Verdict (Fatwa) On: WOMEN IN GOVERNANCE BY HIS EMINENCE SHEIKH SHARIF IBRAHIM SALEH AL-HUSSAINY, CON National Chairman, Assembly of Muslims in Nigeria; Chairman, Fatwa Committee of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs of Nigeria; Chairman, Fatwa Committee of Jama’atu Nasril Islam of Nigeria; Chairman, Borno State Islamic Preaching Board; Member, Council of African Muslim Scholars Dakar, Senegal; Member, World Council for the Propagation of Islam, Libya; Member, International Council for the Unity of Muslim Scholars; Member, International Conference of Muslim Scholars, Mecca One of the Founders, and Member Council of Muslim Elders (UAE).[ Zhul-Qaada, 1431 AH - October 2010 ABUJA, NIGERIA. FOREWORD In The Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon our Noble Prophet Muhammad, his Household and his Companions. The issue of women’s participation in governance has, for several decades, been a source of dispute amongst the Ulama (Muslim Scholars) all over the world. We can safely say that this dispute started since the days of the first Caliph, Sayyidina Abubakar (RLA). Currently, this dispute is taking momentous dimensions in the Muslim controlled States of my home country, the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The issue therefore deserves a decisive fatwa in order to place it in its proper perspectives. Some Ulama who disapprove of the services of women in government argue that Islam does not permit a woman to hold public office. Such Ulama site the verses of the Glorious Qur’an and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in order to justify their opposing arguments. Some other Ulama approve of the services of women in government arguing that Islam permits it. Such Ulama site the verses of the Glorious Qur’an and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in order to justify their supporting arguments. This dispute was referred to us on several occasions by Muslim brothers and sisters from many States in Nigeria asking us to determine the real meanings of the injunctions quoted by the Ulama, for and against the participation of women in governance. We therefore view this matter as very important in our daily lives as we daily progress into politics, democracy and similar forms of government. We shall, Insha Allah, strive in this book, to issue a verdict on this matter within the confines of the knowledge Allah has bestowed on us. We hope that this fatwa will serve the purpose for which it is intended, that is to put the issue of women’s participation in governance in its proper perspectives. May Allah accept this work and may He pardon whatever mistakes we might make in it, as none of us is infallible, therefore we are bound to err. Allah (SWT) knows best. SHEIKH SHARIF IBRAHIM SALEH AL-HUSSAINY, CON Zhul-Qaada, 1431 AH - October 2010, ABUJA, NIGERIA. In The Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon our Noble Prophet Muhammad, his Household and his Companions. The Ulama who disapprove of the services of women in public offices argue that, Islam does not permit a woman to hold any executive position or occupy any office based on the Almighty Allah’s saying in the Glorious Qur’an that, الرجال قوامون على النساء “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women.” (Suratun Nisa’i:34) They also support their argument with the Hadith reported by Bukhari, Tirmizhi, Nasa’i and Ahmad on the authority of Abi Bakrata who said that, when the news of the death of Kesra (The King of Persia) reached the Messenger of Allah (SAW), he asked about the successor of the king. He was informed that the King’s daughter, named Bouran, succeeded her father. The Prophet (SAW) then said, لن يفلح قوم ولوا أمرهم إمرأة “People who are ruled by a woman shall never succeed”. (as reported by Bukhari). On the instructions of His Excellency the Executive Governor of Adamawa State, this dispute was referred to us in order to determine the real meanings of the above injunctions based on a previous Islamic verdict (Fatwa) which we issued on the same matter. Insha Allah, we shall strive to issue the verdict on this matter within the confines of the knowledge Allah bestowed on us. We shall start with verses from the Glorious Qur’an. The verse quoted above from Suratun Nisa’i refers to the protection and maintenance that husbands give to their wives. When the verse is read further than the portion quoted, it will bring out this meaning more clearly. This is what the verse further says:- الرجال قوامون على النساء بما فضل الله بعضهم على بعض وبما أنفقوا من أموالهم “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend to feed (and support women) from their means”. This clearly shows that family leadership is referred to here where men give protection, feeding and general support to their wives and other female members of the family. Therefore, the verse does not refer to public leadership. At this juncture, it is worthwhile noting that Allah (SWT) gave some measure of equality between men and women, for example in the case of worship, education, faith and justice. Allah also prescribed differences between men and women in cases where they naturally differ, for example in the case of raising children and breastfeeding them where women are the natural beneficiaries. In addition, due to their nature, women are given reprieve even in Salat and the Fasting of the month of Ramadhaan when they are menstruating or under birth-bleeding. Cases where men and women are treated as equals include mention in religious duties. For instance, whenever Allah mentions believers, He will mention men and women with an equality notion of “O you who believe” like He did in Suratul Hadid, verse 28 as follows:- يا أيها الذين آمنوا اتقوا الله وآمنوا برسوله…. “O you who believe, Fear Allah, and believe in His Messenger...” In a similar vein, Allah (SWT) refers to both men and women in equality as human beings and off-springs of Adam (AS) in several verses, for example:- يا أيها الناس إنا خلقناكم من ذكر وأنثى وجعلناكم شعوبا وقبائل ..... “O mankind! We created you from a pair of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes ….” (Suratul Hujurat: 13) ولقد كرمنا بني آدم وحملناهم في البر والبحر “We have honoured the sons of Adam and provided them with transport on land and sea.” (Suratul Isra’i: 70) In some other cases, Allah refers to both men and women in their gender form as in verse 35 of Suratul Ahzab as follows:- إن المسلمين والمسلمات والمؤمنين والمؤمنات والقانتين والقانتات والصادقين والصادقات والصابرين والصابرات والخاشعين والخاشعات والمتصدقين والمتصدقات والصائمين والصائمات والحافظين فروجهم والحافظات والذاكرين الله كثيرا والذاكرات أعد الله لهم مغفرة وأجرا عظيما “For Muslim men and Muslim women; and believing men and believing women; and devout men and devout women; and truthful men and truthful women; and persevering men and persevering women; and humble men and humble women; and men and women who give in charity; and men and women who fast; and men and women who guard their chastity; and men and women who engage much in Allah’s remembrance; for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and great reward.” Almighty Allah also equalised the positions of men and women in making supplications to Him as in verses 193 and 194 of Suratu Ali Imran as follows:- ربنا إننا سمعنا مناديا ينادي للإيمان أن آمنوا بربكم فآمنا، ربنا فاغفر لنا ذنوبنا وكفر عنا سيئاتنا وتوفنا مع الأبرار. ربنا وآتنا ما وعدتنا على رسلك ولا تخزنا يوم القيامة إنك لا تخلف الميعاد. “Our Lord, we have heard the call of the one calling us to Faith, (who says) “Believe in your Lord”, and we believe. Our Lord! Forgive us our sins, blot out from us our iniquities, and take to Yourself our souls in the company of the righteous ones. Our Lord, grant us what You promise us through Your Messengers, and save us from shame on The Day of Judgment for You never renege on Your promises.” Allah (SWT) answered them in unison as follows:- فاستحاب لهم ربهم أني لا أضيع عمل عامل منكم من ذكر أو أنثى بعضكم من بعض “And their Lord accepted and answered them: “Never will I dishonour the (good) works of any of you, either male or female, (as) you are members, one of another.” (Suratu Ali Imran: 195) In summary here, the first verse we quoted from Suratun Nisa’i clearly shows that family leadership is referred to in it, where men give protection, feeding and general support to their wives and other female members of the family. Therefore, the verse does not refer to occupying political offices or public leadership. The other verses we quoted show some measure of equality between men and women as ordained by Allah (SWT) despite their different genders. We shall now focus our attention on the Hadith that is frequently used as a tool against female participation in politics and in holding public offices, in order to understand its real meaning in details. Abi Bakrata (RLA) said that when the news of the death of Kesra (The King of Persia) reached the Messenger of Allah (SAW), he asked about the successor of the king. He was informed that the King’s daughter, named Bouran, succeeded her father. The Prophet (SAW) then said, لن يفلح قوم ولوا أمرهم إمرأة “People who are ruled by a woman shall never succeed”. Before we give our opinion on this Hadith, we shall relate the opinion of some Ulama who feel the Hadith is not a sahih (i.e. not authentic). Such Ulama argue that Abi Bakarata (RLA) related the Hadith after Sayidatuna Aisha (RLA) led a war expedition known as the “War of the Camels” which her army lost. The Ulama who disagree with the Hadith ask why Abi Bakarata did not relate the Hadith until after 25 years of hearing it from the Prophet (SAW) and after a war led by a woman was lost. After-all, they argue, some earlier wars led by male Commanders were also lost, so what is so special about losing this one? They also ask why Abi Bakarata joined the army led by a woman and why he did not leave the army even after he remembered the Hadith. Let us start by saying that the Hadith has some varying chains and language modes of transmission. Below are examples of such variations in transmission by renowned Hadith compilers. But note that we bring only the Arabic quotation as the meanings are very similar:- 1. It has been narrated by Bukhari in the Book of Fitan that Muhammad Ibn Almuthanna, narrated to us that Khaled ibn Alharth narrated to us that Himed Attaweel, through Alhassan told us that Abi Bakrata said, the Prophet (SAW) said:- لن يفلح قوم ولوا أمرهم إمرأة 2. Abu Isa Attirmizi reported this Hadith in a similar fashion to the above and added that “This Hadith is Hassan and Sahih”, that is it is good and authentic. 3. Imam Annasa’i narrated this Hadith in the Chapter of Judges in a similar fashion to the two above. 4. Imam Ahmad narrated this Hadith in Zawa’id Almusnad that, Abdullahi said:- My Father informed me that, Yahya through Auyaiyna said:- my father told me through Abi Bakrata that , the Prophet (SAW) said:- لن يفلح قوم أسندوا أمرهم إلى إمرأة 5. Abdullahi has told us that, my father told me that, Aswad bin Amer told us that, Hammad bin Salama through Himed narrating from Alhassan through Abi Bakrata that, the Prophet (SAW) said:- لا يقلح قوم تملكهم إمرأة 6. Abdullahi has told us that, my father told me that, Muhammad bin Bakr has informed us that, Auyaina through his father said that, Abi Bakrata said:- I heard the Messenger of Allah (SAW) saying:- لن يفلح قوم أسندوا أمرهم إلى إمرأة 7. Abdullahi has told us that, my father told me that, Yazid bin Harun Auyaina through his father said that Abi Bakrata said, the Prophet (SAW) said:- لا يفلح قوم أسندوا أمرهم إلى إمرأة 8. Abdullahi told us that, My Father told us that, Yazid Bin Harun, said that, Mubarak Bin Fudala, through Alhassan said that, Abi Bakrata said:- the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:- لا يقلح قوم تملكهم إمرأة 9. Abu Bakrata said:- the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:- ما أفلح قوم يلي أمرهم إمرأة On our part, we believe that there is no doubt as to the authenticity of this Hadith as it was reported by major Hadith transmitters. What is important here is for us to analyse the import of the message of the Hadith and its application to situations. First and foremost, let it be understood that the Hadith refers to the kind of leadership that is called “al-Imama” or “al-Khilafa al Kubra” in Islam. This can literally be translated as, the “Great Imama” or the “Absolute Caliphate.” Kesra, the King of Persia, exercised this kind of leadership in his lifetime and that was why the Prophet (SAW) made reference to him. Great Imama is the apex office in the Islamic State System which gives the Leader (Imam) the right to discharge his duties by exercising absolute powers. Such powers are given by the Islamic System to a very competent person so that he could be able to perform his duties without approval or resort to any other body or person. Thus, his authority is absolute and binding on all issues affecting the Ummah; such as issuing legal proclamations, approving and executing projects and the settlement of disputes. Listening to legal cases and passing judgements and the exercise of control over all servants/employees in the country also fall within the jurisdiction of the Great Imam (Khalifa). Among the attributes of the occupier of this apex office is the competence to autonomously deduce and apply Islamic injunctions on all religious issues from the original sources of Islamic Law, whether on general or private matters. The powers of the Great Imam that we are talking about here, are totally different from the powers vested on the Members of the House of Representatives, the Shura Councils and indeed different from all sorts of authorities in the modern States or political systems. A restricted Executive System differs from the Islamic State System which connotes an absolute power of authorisation that gives the Great Imam (Khalifa) unlimited rights to discharge his duties without referring to any other body or person. The Great Imam functions in the following manners:- 1. He is the Chief Executive whose orders must be obeyed by Members of his Council and by his subjects. Commissioners or Ministers under such leadership operate as advisors only, as they have no powers to upturn the Leader’s decisions. 2. He has powers to issue orders and decrees in accordance with Islamic injunctions and there is no “Legislature” that makes laws under such leadership. 3. He serves as the Chief Justice, as all other Judges operate under his directives. In the Great Imama type of leadership, the Leader (Imam) appoints those who shall assist him in discharging his executive, legislative and judicial functions. All the various arms of leadership shall operate under his command mainly as advisers and functional assistants. When the office of the Great Imam becomes vacant, a new one shall be appointed by general consensus among an appointed Special Council usually made up of highly competent and trusted elders and other community leaders (spiritual and temporal). The Council considers many qualifications including (but not restricted to) the following:- 1. He must be a male. 2. He should be well educated. 3. He must be fair and just in his dealings. 4. He should be strong in character but kind hearted. 5. He should be articulate. 6. He must be intelligent. 7. He must be trustworthy, etc. The Great Imam can only vacate office under laid down Islamic rules and regulations, for example:- 1. If he dies. 2. If he becomes insane. 3. If he is terminally ill and cannot perform regular duties. 4. If he is grossly unjust and unfair in his duties. 5. If he deviates from Islamic norms. 6. If he consistently abuses laid down Islamic rules and regulations. etc. The Great Imam can appoint someone to act for him in the event of his travelling out or if he is temporarily indisposed. In a nutshell, the Imama leadership was the kind of leadership exercised by the Prophets of Allah (AS) and by their Caliphs (Khalifa - successors). It was also the kind of leadership exercised by the Emirs and Mai of the famous Sokoto and Borno Caliphates respectively, before the advent of colonialism. In our present generation, perhaps it is only in Saudi Arabia that this kind of leadership is currently being practiced. In conclusion, we wish to draw attention to the fact that this Fatwa has amply demonstrated that the verse in Suratun Nisa’i of the Glorious Qur’an that was quoted earlier definitely refers to husband-wife-family relationship. The verse clearly shows that family leadership is referred to in it, where men give protection, feeding and general support to their wives and other female members of the family. Therefore, the verse does not refer to occupying political offices or public leadership. The other verses we quoted show some measure of equality between men and women as ordained by Allah (SWT) despite their different genders. Generally, however, the Hadith narrated by the great Companion of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), Abi Bakrata (RLA), that forms the corner stone of the debate on this issue, has been misunderstood by many people, both learned and those who claim knowledge. We have, to the best of our knowledge explained that the mentioned Hadith clearly states that, it is not permissible for a woman to be the Great Imam (Khalifa) for the whole Ummah, a position of which its detailed conditions and prerequisites were mentioned in the jurisprudence books. This kind of leadership is not applicable to the Nigerian Nation as we have three distinct arms of government. Firstly, we have the Executive that consists of the President, Ministers and other government functionaries at the Federal level. We have the Governors and Commissioners at States levels. We have the Chairmen and Councillors at the Local Governments levels. To some extent, Traditional Rulers form a distinct arm of the Executive. The Executive performs the day-to-day administrative functions of government. Secondly, we have the Legislature consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives at the Federal level and the Houses of Assembly at the States levels. The Legislature makes laws for all tiers of government. Thirdly, we have the Judiciary that administers justice at all levels. The Federal Republic of Nigeria operates governance under the Constitution which is considered as the “supreme law” of the land. The Constitution spells out the distinct roles, duties and functions of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. The heads of the Executive (the President or the Governors) have no control over the other two arms. Likewise, the heads of the Legislature (Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives or the Speakers of the States Houses of Assemblies) have no control over the other arms. In the same vein, the heads of the Judiciary (Chief Justice or Chief Judges) have no control over the other arms. Certainly, this arrangement that allows three distinct arms of governance under the Constitution cannot be said to be the same with the Imama arrangement that has one distinct head of all arms of governance. Based on all the salient issues and reasons adduced in this Fatwa, it is abundantly clear that women have the Islamic legal rights to hold any office in the land except that of the Great Imama. Therefore, women can contest in an election and if they win, can become Local Government Chairpersons, Members of the Legislature, Senators, Governors or even the President! Women can also be appointed as Councillors, Commissioners, Ministers and Heads of Boards or Parastatals. However, while we opine in this Fatwa that a woman can participate in politics and hold all offices except the Great Imama , we impose upon her, in fulfilment of the Islamic Legal requirements, that, she should strictly observe Shari’ah injunctions in dealing with her men colleagues at places of work. She should also strictly observe the limitation of the Islamic discipline, i.e. decency and modesty without any lousiness. Islamic Law imposes certain rules and regulations with the aim of preserving and protecting the honour, morality and reputation of a woman. The rules and regulations also aim at keeping her away from suspicious places so as to guarantee and buttress the fact that, she is highly respected, honoured, glorified and has a noble status in Islam. In view of these, we wish to specifically mention that a woman holding political or public positions must observe the following Islamic injunctions:- 1. She should not be in seclusion with a man who is not her legal companion (Muharram), or travel out with other men without her legal companion. 2. She should dress properly and decently. That is, she must cover her body in accordance with the Islamic dress code. 3. She should not engage in dancing and singing or perform any entertainment acts in public places. 4. She should not entertain her guests or co-workers with alcoholic drinks or other forbidden foods or drinks. 5. She should respect her parents, her husband and ensure that her children are not deprived of mother-care. 6. She should handle and/or supervise all house and family chores in such a way as to maintain family cohesion. 7. She should be well educated on female “does and don’ts” in Islam and ensure that she does what is allowed and desists from doing what is not allowed in Islam. As we issue this Fatwa allowing women to hold all public offices, except the Great Imama, other great Muslim scholars who preceded us (Assalaf Assaleh) have done the same. For example, Imam Abu Hanifa said, “It is permissible for a woman to serve as a judge in the cases which her testimony is acceptable as evidence in the court. In this case, the prerequisite condition of manhood will be null and void, though it is very important and is required in many other Islamic cases” Some other Scholars belonging to the Maliki School of Islamic Law, opined that, a woman can be a judge and issue verdicts on all cases without any restrictions as imposed by Imam Abu Hanifa. The famous view of Ibn Jarir Attabari is that, it is permissible for a woman to hold all positions including the Imama Kubra – Great Imama- (that is being a Khalifa). But this view is not accepted by most scholars because if a woman occupies such an apex position, she will not be able to conduct herself in accordance with Islamic rules and regulations as enumerated in this Fatwa and in several other books of Islamic jurisprudence. The view also negates the Hadith narrated by Abi Bakrata (RLA) that disallows a woman to hold the office of the Great Imama. Dr. Abdul Kabir Almadgari, Former Minister of Endowments and Islamic Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco, made extensive comments on this issue on pages 239 to 240, in his book titled: “A Woman between the Injunctions of Jurisprudence and Agitation for Change: Rules for Women in Holding Public Offices.” He says on page 239 that:- “There is no objection in Islam, as we have stated earlier, for a lady to hold all kinds of public offices and other duties except the Great Imama. Therefore, Islam recognises the competence of a woman. She can be a Minister and a Judge (despite the divergence of opinions on this issue). She can be a Head of an Administration, a Teacher/Lecturer, a Vice Chancellor of a University, a Director of an Educational Institution, a General Manager of a Company, a Soldier, an Officer in the Army, a Pilot of a plane, a Captain of a ship, a Member of the Parliament, a Head of an elected group of people, a Speaker of the House of Representatives and whatever comes across the mind in the offices and functions, both formal and informal”. In final conclusion, we wish to state that men and women are equal in the religious injunctions. They differ only according to their peculiarities based on their biological nature. As regards the Hadith narrated by Abi Bakrata, we understand its meaning to be that, it is not permissible under Islamic Law for a woman to be the Great Imam/Khalifa for the whole Ummah, a position that has detailed conditions and prerequisites. We also understand that the Hadith does not prevent a woman from holding political or other public offices in our contemporary Federal Republic of Nigeria and other nations operating similar governments. But she must observe all Islamic rules and regulations governing female public conduct.