Can a Women be Head of State?

The final and ultimate level in politics is having the right to be the head of state, prime minister or president of a nation. Many Muslim commentators have termed this right as totally prohibited for women in Islam. They deem this as being haram, meaning completely forbidden and this is the highest level of prohibition in Islam. However Quaid-e-Mutharram categorizes this as being Makruh, a minor sin as opposed to haram, a major sin. For many in the West this may appear to be restrictive view, regardless of the prohibition level. However if one looks at the matter closely, this prohibition is more to do with the practical realities of daily life than a reflection on the intelligence of women or their status in general. To be a head of state in Islam is an extremely onerous obligation and responsibility, one that not all men can fulfill either. Only that person who is considered the wisest, knowledgeable in all matters of life, who has leadership qualities, patience, courage, nobleness, honesty, truthfulness and courage as well as give his whole time and effort can fulfill this post. As such, this criteria excludes most men too, since only a very few men will be able to fit such a strict criteria. Moreover any leader in Islam is seen as the direct vicegerent of the Holy Prophet (saw) who intern is the vicegerent of Almighty Allah so becoming a leader of the Muslim ummah is integral to his faith, success and failure resulting in success or failure in the after life. A woman may be equally intelligence, honest, wise, and truthful and retain all virtuous aspects in her personality, but it is an undeniable fact she has many other duties and responsibilities regarding the family, raising children and other domestic affairs that she needs to take care of too. Moroever, it is now a proven fact that when she has her monthly menstrual periods, a woman often goes through immense emotional turmoil through no fault of her own. However a head of state can never allow any medical condition to effect his judgment at any time, thus for more practical reasons it is not recommended for women to adopt the position of head of state. As stated earlier, many Islamic commentators have said that a woman leader is haram, but Qaidi Mutharrram views this as a slightly harsh ruling, deeming it to be makruh, condemned, coming under the purview of a minor sin. The reason for this analysis is that in order to determine something as haram requires the fulfillment of very high judicial principles which do not occur here. Two evidences are normally quoted in support of the harsher ruling, but they are not in fact conclusive enough to categorize women leaders as haram. The first evidence used is the Qur'anic verse where men are termed as qawwam, the protectors or guardians of women: And Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel one other , and because they spend (to support them) from their means (Al Nisa :34) It is argued that since men have been given this title, women can never hold any position superior to that of men. However this is an erroneous view. This verse was primarily revealed in the context of the administration of family affairs where it is envisaged that men are more suited to be the head of a family, normally being the breadwinners and being primarily responsible for outside affairs. However in recent times, with better employment opportunities and fairer treatment in the work place, more and more women have entered the work place, especially so where either the husband or male members of the family are not working or are not able to maintain the family. There are many instances where female members of the household are the main bread winners, they are working, earning their livelihoods and supporting themselves as well as the rest of the family. In such cases it is the lady of the house who is running the affairs of the house, especially where she may be unmarried, a widow or divorcee. Her husband may be ill, unemployed or is in low paid work and she has a better job. In this instance what is the hukm, order here? For all intents and purposes she is now the Qawwam, since practically she has adopted this role. Although this position is against the basic principles and aims of what Islam considers as the traditional roles for men and women, this is not seen as haram or a sin in Islam. One cannot say that the children or the family are taking in haram earnings or that this is prohibited. Thus this verse cannot be used as supporting the contention it is haram for a woman to be the head of state. more at