Wouldn’t It Be a Better World If Men Fought the Wars and Women Ruled?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

What if men fought the wars, and women ruled? Because the wives of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) were brilliant too, and if strength and intellect were combined, it would be good.

Answer

Thank you for your question. May Allah reward you for thinking about the different ways of solving the world’s problems!

Men and Women

Shaykh Jamir said the following when he was asked about women being leaders:

The hadith you mentioned is ‘Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler.’ [Bukhari]

The positions of leadership that the hadith refers to are those of the Imam (both of a nation and the male/mixed congregational prayer), judges, and chief commanders of the Muslim army and those who carry out judicial punishments. However, even in regards to the position of a judge, there were some scholars who permitted women to be judges. [Ibn Hajar, Fathul Bari; Haythami, Tuhfa al-Muhtaj; Ahmad Zainuddin, Fathul Mu’in; Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din]

The reasons for the prohibition are more out of practical considerations rather than ability, as in many cases, women are often more capable and efficient than their male counterparts. The ruling also takes into account women’s nature, which is usually much more compassionate and merciful than men. While these are positive qualities in themselves, they are not always what is needed in matters of leadership and command.

As for other positions of authority, such as scholars and teachers, heads and executives, managers, representatives, and advisors, even at the highest levels, there is no shariah prohibition to this, and women have equal rights to such positions, as well as being entitled to command equal respect and rights, including salary.

Sayyidna Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) appointed Samrah bint Nuhaik as the chief supervisor of the marketplace and gave her powers to carry out her role. It is said that ‘She would patrol the market while enjoining good and forbidding evil. She would discipline people with a whip that she had with her.’ [Ibn Abdul Barr, al-Isti’ab fi Asma al-Ashab]

Therefore, there is nothing wrong with a female being a student representative or voting for her, especially if she is more qualified and able than the competing candidates.

Working Together

What you mention about men fighting the wars, well, that certainly has been the custom across all faiths and cultures, and there is nothing wrong with this. Perhaps the optimal system is where men and women work together, as a team, with the unified aim of pleasing Allah and His Messenger and establishing Islam on this earth as Allah’s caliphs should. There is no need to distribute labor according to gender but instead according to one’s ability and dedication to the cause.

Allah has told us in the Quran what matters most: “O humanity! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may ˹get to˺ know one another. Surely the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you. Allah is truly All-Knowing, All-Aware.” [Quran, 49:13]

May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.