Women holding positions and leading men

Q 7 and 8: Is it permissible for a group of Muslim women, who are more educated than men, to lead men? Besides the prohibition of leadership of women in Salah (Prayer), what are the other cases in which women are prohibited to assume leadership and office, and why?

A: The Sunnah (whatever is reported from the Prophet), objectives of Shari`ah (Islamic law), Ijma` (consensus of scholars), and reality indicate that women should not assume power or the judiciary, because of the general meaning of the Hadith narrated by Abu Bakrah that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) heard that the Persians had assigned a woman to rule them, he said: "Never will succeed such a people who place a woman to be in charge of their affairs." The two words "people" and "woman" are mentioned as indefinite nouns that fall under negation, so they have general meanings according to the Shari`ah rule, "The general meaning of a text supersedes the specific reason for which it was said." This ruling on women is attributed to their deficient reasoning and rationality, in addition to their passion that prevails over their thinking. Moreover, one of the concerns of power is to inspect the conditions of matters and handle public affairs. (Part No. 17; Page No. 14) This requires traveling throughout the countries, meeting people, commanding the army in times of Jihad (striving in the Cause of Allah), confronting enemies in concluding treaties and agreements, making pledges of allegiance with members and groups of the Ummah (nation based on one creed), men and women, in war and peace, in addition to other acts that neither coincide with a woman's status nor with the rulings that were prescribed to protect her honor and keep her away from immorality. The Ummah in the time of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs and the Imams of the early best three centuries practically agreed upon not assigning any power or judicial authority to women, despite the fact that they had well-educated women in various disciplines of religion. There were women who were references and authorities in the Sciences of Qur'an, Hadith and rulings; yet they did not even think of assuming any power or office. We also have examples from the past before this Ummah; one of which is the story of Bilqis (the Queen of Saba [or Sheba] in Yemen, who ruled during the lifetime of Prophet Sulayman. She and her people were sun worshippers) who reigned over Yemen. She was helpless and broke down after she received the letter of prophet Sulayman (Solomon, peace be upon him), even though her people had shown power and strength, and (Part No. 17; Page No. 15) were willing to fight against whoever thought of showing them enmity or invading their country, to protect her and her reign, and to throw back any attack by their enemies. However, this did not ward off her fears of loosing her reign, glory, and power. She failed to strive and protect her crown and ward off any transgression by the force of arms, preferring to send a gift to Sulayman, hoping that he might retreat from attacking her country and achieve peace to her reign and country. However, prophet Sulayman (peace be upon him), the man of reformation, guidance, power and might, was not deceived by this gift; rather, he said what Allah says about him in the Qur'an: Nay, you rejoice in your gift! Then he (peace be upon him) ordered her throne to be brought to him. When she arrived, it was said to her: "Is your throne like this?" She said: "(It is) as though it were the very same." Then she was told: "Enter As-Sarh" (a glass surface with water underneath it or a palace): but when she saw it, she thought it was a pool, and she (tucked up her clothes) uncovering her legs. (Sulaimân (Solomon)) said: "Verily, it is a Sarh (a glass surface with water underneath it or a palace)." She said: "My Lord! Verily, I have wronged myself, and I submit [in Islâm, together with Sulaimân (Solomon)] to Allâh, the Lord of the ‘Alamîn (mankind, jinn and all that exists)." Accordingly, you can (Part No. 17; Page No. 16) conclude from this story how afraid Bilqis was when she received the letter of Sulayman that included threats, warnings, and a command to surrender. You can also see how she failed to confront him in battle, even though her people had declared having great strength and power. Given that kings and queens are often characterized by pride, exaltedness and a tendency to protect and keep their reign, she resorted to trickery by means of money, acting like weak people, hoping to protect herself and her reign in this way. Apart from this, there was also astonishment that led her to be uncertain about her throne, and her full admiration for the reign of Sulayman (peace be upon him), which captured her heart like all other women who tend to be influenced by external appearances because of their strong passion. This drove her to surrender to Sulayman (peace be upon him), follow his Da`wah (call to Allah), and submit with him to Allah, the Lord of all Worlds. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.