Political Insight Of Women In Early Islam

Question

In your response to the question entitled Women's Role in Political Affairs in Early Islam you have conclude that the women at "the time of the Holy Prophet (sws) were not politically aware." If Hazrat Ayesha (rta) could travel to fight a war to make sure that the assassins of Hazrat Usman (rta) were punished she must had played a role earlier when opposition between caliphate and Alids surfaced. Why is that not a possibility?


Answer

I never wrote "the women at that time were not politically aware?" I wrote: "Women at the time of the Prophet (sws), in general, were not politically aware". If it was not because of women like Ayesha (rta) I had not put the phrase "in general" in my above statement.

The very fact that you only referred to Ayesha (rta) as a politically aware woman at the time of the Prophet (sws) is an evidence to what I wrote in my original reply. If you look at the history of the time of the Prophet (sws) and the early period after him, what percentage of women you think could be considered to be politically aware? Compare this with our era.

In any case, I feel we are going slightly astray in our line of argument with regard to the right of voting. The main issue is that whether women were consulted for selection of a Khalifa after the Prophet (sws) or not is irrelevant to the women demand for right of voting at our time. I again copy what I write in my original reply here:

"The Quranic verse that advises Muslims to base the management of their affairs on consultation (42:38) does not say that only men should be consulted. Also please note that politically there is a difference between consultation and voting. Consulting is an option, voting is a right that is given to citizens according to the constitution. The constitution itself is normally a product of consultation."

In fact, if you want to raise a real objection to the current system of voting you need to point to the fact that why in some Muslim countries we have a voting system in place for election of a leader when the Qur'an advises us to use consultation (and this was also the practice of the Prophet sws and his companions).

My answer to the above would be:

It might be arguable that consultation of trusted people might lead to a better and wiser result when it comes to choosing a leader, as compared to the voting system. Only a political and a social expert can discuss this professionally and even that, I suspect, has to be specific for every society.

However, from the religious point of view, if after "consultation" the trusted people of a nation come to conclusion that because of the infrastructures of their society the leader needs to be elected by voting, then I do not see any problems with this.

Again based on the demands and the profile of such society, it can be discussed whether it is needed to involve women in voting or not. If women of a society that has voting system in place, are demanding the right of voting then this itself is an evidence of their political maturity and awareness and therefore I see no reason why their demand should not be met.

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