Women: In politics - electioneering for position

Q685 :Does Islam allow women to run in the elections for position in government or to hold political office? Perhaps, I do not need to add that contesting an election normally requires campaigning which involves addressing rallies and making speeches to mixed audiences. Is it also permissible for a Muslim woman to head a party of an organization where the membership includes men and women?

A685 : All scholars agree that a woman may not be the overall president or a ruler of a Muslim state or community, where she becomes the final authority on all affairs of the state. This prohibition is based on the Hadith which states that "No nation will prosper if they assign their leadership to a woman." The prohibition here is specific. It is the top post, the presidency or the top leadership which is precluded from being held by a woman. It is needless to say that it is the nature of the post, not its title, that makes this prohibition operative. In other words, in a country where the top post has a title other than "president", it is that post which may not be held by a woman. Apart from that, scholars have different views. Some of them preclude women from being judges. Others make even stricter rules while some others make all posts, other than the top one, available to any one who is suitable, man or woman. That permission, however, does not override the Islamic rules which require a woman to be dressed properly in public, or to behave in a way which takes all the rules of propriety, as outlined by Islam, into account. A woman, therefore, may address a political rally, if she is properly dressed and if she confines herself to what is Islamically acceptable. In this, she shares the same obligations with men. What she cannot do, however, is to stand in the midst of a group of men who are either enthusiastic to be near her or act as her entourage. When she has made her speech and when the uproar dies down, she is hustled away from the scene into her quarters, like we see political leaders being treated all over the world when they address their supporters. The question whether a woman may head a political party or not is a tricky one. While this position is not one of real authority over the community, it gives the holder the potential of being the ruler over the country. What happens if a party headed by a woman wins the elections in a system where the head of the winning party is automatically chosen as head of the government? Will she relinquish that privilege willingly? If the answer is in the affirmative, there is nothing to prevent her from holding that position. In practice, however, such an attitude does not come naturally to a person who is so conscious of power. Even if she is forced into accepting one of the highest positions in government, but not the top one, the situation will be rather unwieldy. There will be either infighting behind the scenes for the real position of authority, or the fact that she is the real leader of the government will be apparent to all. The first case will not serve the interest of the country, while the second position constitutes a contravention of the Islamic rule.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )