Female political leaders in Islam and in Muslim-majority countries


Female political leaders in Islam and in Muslim-majority countries

Women in Islamic societies have held many positions of political significance. The legitimacy of these positions, from a religious and cultural perspective, is debated.

Islamic texts

According to a Sunni "hadith", Muhammad said that people with a female ruler will never be successful. [Bukhari|5|59|709] In more modern times this "hadith" has been disputed. [Mernissi, Fatima. The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist's Interpretation of Women's Rights in Islam. 1991 Some argue that the Qur'an gives women the right to participate in public affairs as there are examples of women who took part in serious discussions and argued even with Muhammad himself. [Qur'an Quran-usc|58|1, Quran-usc-range|60|10|12] In addition, during the Caliphate of Umar, a woman argued with him in the mosque, proved her point, and caused him to declare in the presence of many people: "A woman is right and Umar is wrong".

Some Muslims argue that Muhammad's wife Aisha, who both took part in politics and served as a major authority on "hadith", is an example of possible roles for Muslim women. Other Muslims would strongly disagree. (Aisha is seen in a darker light by Shi'a Muslims because she opposed Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law Ali.) Other examples of possible roles include Ume Warqa and Samra Binte Wahaib, appointed heads of market committees of Medina and Mecca by Umar, the second Sunni caliph. There are few other historical role models for Muslim women as leaders. Razia Sultana was the short-lived third major independent Muslim ruler of the Sultanate of Delhi in India and the Mamluk queen Shajarat ad-Durr ruled for a few years in Egypt. One more example of a Muslim female head of state is Soyembika of Kazan, who ruled the Kazan Khanate in the 16th century.

Female leaders

There are many more contemporary examples of women leading Muslim-majority countries. Remarkably, a majority of all Muslims in the world live in countries that have, at some time, elected women as their leaders. [ [http://op.wiki.com/Muslims_Elect_Women_As_Leaders?A-majority-of-all-Muslims-live-in-countries-with-a-history-of-democratically-elected-female-leaders Wiki.com] ] Indeed, four of the five most populous Muslim-majority countries have had women as leaders:

* Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority country, elected Megawati Sukarnoputri as president [ [http://www.time.com/time/pow/printout/0,8816,169130,00.html Megawati: The Princess Who Settled for the Presidency - Printout - TIME ] ]
* Pakistan, the second most populous Muslim-majority country, twice (non-consecutively) elected Benazir Bhutto as prime minister [Ali A. Mazrui, [http://taylorandfrancis.metapress.com/link.asp?id=knr8eal315k6y5y3 Pretender to Universalism: Western Culture in a Globalizing Age,] "Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs", Volume 21, Number 1, April 2001]
* Bangladesh, the third most populous Muslim-majority country, elected Khaleda Zia [ [http://www.forbes.com/lists/2006/11/06women_Khaleda-Zia_JSK7.html #33 Khaleda Zia - Forbes.com ] ] and Sheikh Hasina as prime ministers
* Turkey, the fifth most populous Muslim-majority country, elected Tansu Çiller as prime minister [ [http://womenshistory.about.com/od/cillertansu/Tansu_iller.htm Tansu Çiller - Prime Minister - Turkey - 1993-1995 - Tansu Ciller ] ]

"See also: List of the first female holders of political offices"

Except for Ciller, these women were the daughters or widows of previous male heads of state or heads of government (though none was an immediate successor), so their success may reflect the feudal nature of those countries' politics.Fact|date=June 2007

Women still face many pressures as political leaders. [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article1414137.ece Female Pakistani minister shot dead for 'breaking Islamic dress code' - Times Online ] ]

Some Muslim women hold important positions in some governments, political parties and corporations. A paradoxical example is the banned Islamist party of Morocco, Al Adl Wa Al Ihssane (Justice and Charity). Since the leader cannot speak openly, his daughter Nadia Yassine is the one who publicly defends the opposition to the "Mudawana", government-sponsored reforms on the legal status of Moroccan women.

The circumstances, and the often explicitly non-Islamic ideology of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, and the Iran-Iraq war, because of the number of men fighting, led to an increase of the role of women in the public life of the Sahrawi and Iranians.

ee also

*Sultana (title), the female title parallel to a sultan; a Muslim woman leader

References


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