Friday, June 14, 2024 AD / Dhul-Hijjah 7, 1445 AH
Mansoor Hashemi Khorasani
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Question & Answer

What is the law of chairwomanship and management of women? Should we refrain from obeying a chairwoman or manageress?

Woman’s employment in a job which necessitates her continuous communication with men who are not Mahram[1] to her, is Makruh[2], and if it necessitates her to involve in Haram, it is undoubtedly forbidden, but regardless of this aspect, whenever she is a Muslim, intellectual and mature woman, there is no prohibition for her chairwomanship, and obeying her within the limits of the religion is permissible; as the Messenger of God peace and blessings of God be upon him and his family, before the Prophethood worked in a commercial convoy whose chairwoman was Khadija may God be pleased with her.

Yes, Abu Bakrah has narrated: «لَمَّا بَلَغَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَنَّ أَهْلَ فَارِسَ قَدْ مَلَّكُوا عَلَيْهِمْ بِنْتَ كِسْرَى، قَالَ: لَنْ يُفْلِحَ قَوْمٌ وَلَّوْا أَمْرَهُمُ امْرَأَةً»[3]; “When the Prophet peace and blessings of God be upon him and his family, was informed the Iranians made the daughter of Kisra their ruler, he said: A nation that leaves its affairs to a woman will not succeed” and this, if proved, indicates that the presidency of women, especially in the field of sovereignty, is Makruh, but considering the story of Bilqeys[4] in the Book of God, cannot prove it is forbidden; because the Book of God has mentioned the sovereignty of Bilqeys and has described it as good and disciplined, where He has said: ﴿وَأُوتِيَتْ مِنْ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ[5]; “And she has been given of all things” and has said: ﴿قَالُوا نَحْنُ أُولُو قُوَّةٍ وَأُولُو بَأْسٍ شَدِيدٍ وَالْأَمْرُ إِلَيْكِ فَانْظُرِي مَاذَا تَأْمُرِينَ[6]; “We are possessors of strength and possessors of mighty prowess, and the affair is yours, therefore see what you will command” and has mentioned her good intellect and prudence in four places: Firstly, she honored the letter of Sulayman peace be upon him: ﴿قَالَتْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْمَلَأُ إِنِّي أُلْقِيَ إِلَيَّ كِتَابٌ كَرِيمٌ[7]; “(Bilqeys) said: O courtiers, an honorable letter has been delivered to me” and this was out of her intellect; secondly, she was not a tyrant and consulted with her courtiers: ﴿قَالَتْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْمَلَأُ أَفْتُونِي فِي أَمْرِي مَا كُنْتُ قَاطِعَةً أَمْرًا حَتَّى تَشْهَدُونِ[8]; “(Bilqeys) said: O courtiers! Advise me in my affair, for I make no decision without your counsel” and this was out of her intellect; thirdly, she did not accept the offer of war with Sulayman peace be upon him, rather considering the outcome of the work and the public interest, she sent a gift and adopted peace and friendship: ﴿قَالَتْ إِنَّ الْمُلُوكَ إِذَا دَخَلُوا قَرْيَةً أَفْسَدُوهَا وَجَعَلُوا أَعِزَّةَ أَهْلِهَا أَذِلَّةً ۖ وَكَذَٰلِكَ يَفْعَلُونَ ۝ وَإِنِّي مُرْسِلَةٌ إِلَيْهِمْ بِهَدِيَّةٍ فَنَاظِرَةٌ بِمَ يَرْجِعُ الْمُرْسَلُونَ[9]; “(Bilqeys) said: When kings enter a town, they ruin it and humiliate its proudest inhabitants. This is what they do, and I will send them a present, and see with what answer the messengers return” and this was out of her good prudence; fourthly, when she realized that Sulayman peace be upon him is a Prophet and is not after this world, she responded to his invitation: ﴿قَالَتْ رَبِّ إِنِّي ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِي وَأَسْلَمْتُ مَعَ سُلَيْمَانَ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ[10]; “(Bilqeys) said: O Lord! I wronged myself: now I submit myself along with Sulayman, to God, the Lord of the Universe” and this was out of her intellect, and there is no doubt the nation that left its affairs to her, succeeded; because she converted to Islam and had them convert to Islam as well, and if they had left their affairs to a man from courtiers, they would have surely perish; because they advised to fight Sulayman. This story proves that the mentioned narration from the Prophet peace and blessings of God be upon him and his family, is not proved; as Abu Bakr al-Bazzaz has said: «لَا نَعْلَمُ رَوَاهُ غَيْرُ أَبِي بَكْرَةَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ»[11]; “I do not know anyone other than Abu Bakrah who has narrated this narration from the Prophet peace and blessings of God be upon him and his family” and if proved, it indicates the most, not the absolute, and with this description, if a Muslim woman is found to have sufficient intellect and prudence, there is no prohibition on her presidency, unless there is another obstacle to her presidency.

*For further explanations, refer to the arabic text.
↑[1] . [Translator note: Mahram is an unmarriageable kin with whom marriage or sexual intercourse would be considered haram, illegal in Islam]
↑[2] . [Translator note: Of a deed, not Haram or forbidden, but detested]
↑[3] . Musnad of Abi Dawud al-Tayalisi, Vol. 2, p. 205; Musannaf of ibn Abu Shaybah, Vol. 7, p. 538; Musnad of Ahmad, Vol. 34, p. 144; Sahih of al-Bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 8; Sunan of al-Nisa’i, Vol. 8, p. 227; Sunan of al-Timidi, Vol. 4, p. 527; Ma’jam al-Sahabah by ibn Qani’, Vol. 3, p. 143; al-Sunan al-Kubra by al-Bayhaqi, Vol. 10, p. 201
↑[4] . [Translator note: The Queen of Sheba]
↑[5] . An-Naml/ 23
↑[6] . An-Naml/ 33
↑[7] . An-Naml/ 29
↑[8] . An-Naml/ 32
↑[9] . An-Naml/ 34 and 35
↑[10] . An-Naml/ 44
↑[11] . Musnad of al-Bazzaz, Vol. 9, p. 132
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