Thursday, December 01, 2016

Sh Muhammad Akram Nadwi on Female Leadership

This won't be too detailed, but a really interesting tidbit from Sh Akram:
With regards to the hadith of Abu Bakra about how a nation will never succeed if they are led by a woman, it has been taken greatly out of context and misunderstood.
The full story is that RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) sent a letter of da'wah to the Kisrah, who tore up the letter. In response, RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) made du'a that his empire be torn up just as he tore up the letter. Shortly after, Kisrah died, and his daughter was elected the ruler. When RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) heard the news, he made the remark that is so well known today - "Never will a people be successful who give their leadership to a woman."
However, what is not taken into consideration is that he was remarking *very specifically* about the nation of Kisrah - that *they* (a people who had made a woman their leader) would never be successful, not because their leader was a woman, but because RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) had made du'a for their entire empire to be destroyed.
Specifying "a people... who give their leadership to a woman" was merely referring to the people of Kisrah, whom (it appears) were unique at the time for having a female leader. Yet it must be understood that the hadith of Abu Bakra is not a blanket statement to be used at preventing women from having *any* positions of authority.
As a side note - Abu Bakra was the sole Sahabi to use this hadith as an evidence against recognizing or acknowledging A'ishah's leadership in the Battle of the Camel. If, truly, the hadith was meant as a general statement against women being leaders at all, then surely the many, many other Sahabah who were still alive at that time would have used it as an evidence against A'ishah and used it to warn her that she was not allowed to assume leadership of men. Instead, numerous Companions of RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) accompanied her, and even those who opposed her politically during that time did not ever use this statement against her.

One point that Sh Akram made in his explanation of the hadith on female leadership was that sometimes RasulAllah used a general phrase while referring to a specific individual.
There was another incident wherein this can also be found:
Abu Hurairah (radhiAllahu 'anhu) narrated a hadith which said, "The child of zina is the worst of the three."
When A'ishah (radhiAllahu 'anha) heard about this, she said, "May Allah forgive Abu Hurairah! He did not hear correctly and thus he is not teaching correctly. The hadith was not said like this. Rather, there was once a man from the hypocrites of Medinah who used to verbally abuse RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) a great deal. This eventually upset him, and he asked his Companions, 'Who amongst you is willing to protect me from this man?' They told him, 'This man, in addition to his already ugly character, is also a child of zina.' Thereupon RasulAllah commented, 'The child of zina (i.e. this man) is the worst of the three (i.e. even worse than his parents, who committed the sin of zina).'"
Thus we can see that out of a certain type of eloquence (and tact), a general phrase was used by RasulAllah that was known and understood by all his Companions in attendance to refer to a specific individual.

And Allah knows best.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have a few questions about it.

1. Ayesha radiallahu anha actually later regretted participating in the battle of Jamal. So, the evidence is contentious.

2. By leader, do we mean a statesman/president/king or the lead figure of a protest? The Battle of Jamal was based on Ayesha radiallahu anha and the other Sahaba wanting justice. So again, she wasn't really a 'leader/queen'.

3. Is there a precedent among the Salaf who held this view? And how come they didn't appoint a female leader.

I understand the sensation surrounding Shaykh Akram Nadwi because he hails from a traditional background but holds opinions that are new or ones that are held by an insignificant minority. Such as him holding the view that the Prophet's (sallahu alaihi wasallam) marriage with Ayesha was exclusive to him. Which he based on one scholar's opinion named ibn Shubruma. So the question is why take these opinions and reject the standard, majority opinion? Do we have good reasons to? Or is it because we want to blend in?

Would love to hear your thoughts.