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Can a Woman be President or Prime Minister?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question

Seeing as how many countries are now democratic instead of autocratic, would it be permissible for a woman to be prime minister or president?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Assalamu Alaykum

The common hadith that is cited to justify that a woman cannot be head of state is the statement of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) that, “No nation shall prosper who consign their affairs to a woman.” [Bukhari, Muslim]

However, leading modern scholars have stated that this only applies to a particular form of political authority, namely one that is autocratically exercised over a people that properly constitute a ‘nation’ (qawm). Modern democracies would not fall into this. [Quduri, al-Tajrid; Thanawi, Imdad al-Fatawa; Qaradawi, Min Fiqh al-Dawla fi’l-Islam]

With this said, the question of permissibility must also take into account the ideals and guidelines Islam has set down for each gender and whether such guidelines can be reasonably followed when occupying such a complex, public role.

[Ustadh] Salman

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas was born and raised in New York and graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. Ustadh Salman’s personal interests include research into the fields of law/legal methodology, hadith, theology, as well as political theory, government, media, and ethics. He is also an avid traveler and book collector. He currently resides in Amman with his wife.