Quote: “Allah is not only theirs; He is also ours. They [the Taliban] don’t have a special contract with God. We are also Muslims. This was the heartfelt lament of an Afghan, Dr Rubina Stanekzai quoted in her interview with Al-Jazeera published on 5 September 2021.

The applicable qualification

  1. Given the freshness of the wounds inflicted upon the parties of the Afghan conflict and the associated sensitivities, we deliberately have avoided to make any finding as to who was right and who was wrong in this invasion, occupation and the sudden withdrawal of the American and the NATO forces from Afghanistan. For discharging the duty of information and knowledge, nobody wants to end up in the “Little Gitmo” at Guantanamo Bay! Ironically, it is called ‘Camp Justice’! What a shameful hypocrisy!!!
  2. Here it is, just a click away: News|11 September 2021, Al-Jazeera “Muslim man spent 15 years in prison after post-9/11 crackdown”: ‘Yassin Aref was a victim of Islamophobia and a controversial arrest by the FBI that led him to 15 years in jail’.
  3. The verses of the Qur’an in this article are rendered, in a contextual translation (ترجمة المحتوي), by the author himself. As opposed to the literary and textual translation, the contextual rendition helps the divine message being delivered closer to the reader’s heart, making it easier to grasp! For an easy reference to a reader however, the Arabic texts of the relevant verses are also produced.
  4. The argument and the information contained in this article express that of the author alone.  The contained information is of highly legal and technical nature. It does not associate with the policies or views of AMUST news platform in anyway.

A bit of reality check first

On 18 September 2021, the following headline appears in Al-Jazeera online:

“Taliban replaces ministry for women with ‘guidance’ ministry”.

“In Kabul, a new sign was up outside the Women’s Affairs Ministry, announcing it was now the ‘Ministry for Preaching and Guidance and the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice’ ”.

We don’t know what moves things within the Islamic, political or administrative wisdom of the Taliban Government in Afghanistan. The bottom line is, none has the sole agency of God on earth, anyway! The global believers in Islam would defend the true Islamic alternative as defined by the Qur’an and authentic Hadith in its support.

It is very encouraging to see a new ministry being setup under the title: ‘Ministry for Preaching and Guidance, the Propagation of Virtues and the Prevention of Vice’ “وزارة الدعوة والارشاد، والأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر”. But this must not be at the expense of the Ministry for Women’s Affairs!

Here I dare to reiterate the quote from the daring Afghan Muslim lady Doctor Rubina Satankezai: “Allah is not only theirs; He is also ours. They [the Taliban] don’t have a special contract with God. We are also Muslims”. Al-Jazeera, 5 September 2021. A rebuking lament such as this, would pierce through the heart of any serious Muslim!

We cannot imagine that any Islamic political leadership in a sound mind, would abolish the Ministry for Women’s Affairs. Women are the mothers, they are the sisters and the daughters! May I now say this? If this is what the Taliban Government is thinking of doing, in itself, it would be a grave vice that needs to be prevented! My Naseehah and Irshad to the Taliban government is that ‘it is all wrong, please reverse your decision on it’!

It was equally annoying to see the acting government of the Talibans did not include any women as a Minister. Nor did it include any ministers from other Islamic groups in Afghanistan. If establishing a just and good governance is the Islamic ideal, and sur it is, what Taliban has done, in selecting its acting government, is all wrong! Abolishing or replacing the Ministry for Women’s Affairs was a disgrace from the true Islamic viewpoint!

It was equally annoying to see that the High school aged girls are not returning to their schools. Why can’t they do the schooling for girls in the morning and for the boys in the afternoon? This can continue until they arrange separate school buildings for girls and boys!

There are compelling proofs both in the Qur’an and Hadith that both male and female are equally obliged to seek knowledge on issues of religion and a decent living as well. (Ref Qur’an: 09:122, 02:201 & 39:09)

The gender based discrimination

Islam has nothing to do with this gender driven discrimination! The Taliban seems to have not learnt from the Prophet Mohammad’s (s) initiative to sign peace treaties with various groups in Madinah after the migration. Let’s hope that given the urgency, the need and the rush in having a quick government in place, an acting government was not the ideal one!

We can only hope that these errors will be corrected while selecting a long term government. The Taliban government must learn from the global Islamic scholarship. The Taliban Government, must learn from the global mix of the communities today. Islam was meant to be “the grace for the entire humanity at” at all times and not for Muslims only. (Ref Qur’an 21:27)

More importantly, the ready willingness of Islam to accommodate all the needs, necessities and means of comforts of the global communities, is indeed a gold mine for Taliban to utilise! But the attitude of forcing the traditional model of the Hanafi Fiqh of Deobandi understanding today, will make a blunder of Islam as a formidable and contemporary alternative.

The Hanafi Fiqh of Indian orientations was never applied and tested on a moving life. The aspect of ‘pragmatism’ (والواقعية والتجريبية), is thus missing from this model. This untested application will fail miserably, on the divine mandate of “Call others to the path of your Lord by means and advice that are both wise and appealing”. (Qur’an 16:125)

Without accommodating a custom-made and realistic model, the exercise might end up as a great disservice to the very mission the Taliban Government is trying to serve!

Now is the decider: Is it the justice or the gender?

The Qur’an is both outstanding and clear as to who and how a Muslim leader should provide the socio-political leadership. According to the Qur’an 04:135 and 05:08, the fundamentally qualifying criterion for this is ‘the leader’s maximum commitment to establish justice’ on all the subjects.

He or she must do so without discriminating the subjects along the lines of race, religion or other variations. In delivering the mandate of justice, should a Muslim leader get preference over a non-Muslim? The answer is a resounding No!

Legally speaking, a leader’s commitment of delivering ‘the maximum justice’ decides whether he or she must be obeyed or challenged by the believers. Guided by the verses 04:135 and 05:08, of the Qur’an, the gender of the ruler thus, has no role whatsoever, in selection of a Muslim leader!

By the same token, the delivery of justice alone would decide as to which leader the Muslims must actively obey and declare their political loyalty to! The Qur’an provides the compelling proof that the selection of Islamic leadership is dictated by the sole mandate of delivering justice and not by the sex or gender of the leader!

If a stark choice is to be made between the political agenda of an aggressive, dictator and un-just male, as opposed to that of a just, all-inclusive female, the Muslims are duty bound to declare their allegiance for the female leader!

Said simply, choosing a leader on the basis of justice alone, is a solemn Islamic duty that must be upheld at any cost!

Going to the extreme, should a choice is to be made between a Muslim male candidate who is proven to be a dictator and unjust, and a non-Muslim female candidate, with the sound track record and the declared agenda of upholding justice for all, the Muslims must vote for her!

With the Qur’an in 04:135 and 05:08, being so specific, clear and outstanding on this subject, to make a decision, a believer does not need to look any further!

The documentary proof as to the above

A leaders’ commitment to deliver justice alone will decide, whether he or she can legally proclaim the socio-political loyalty from the believers. In the equation of the Islamic political leadership, the agenda of a Muslim man or woman would dictate whether he or she should be given a chance to lead and rule.

Here is the Qur’an handling the mandate to rule head on: “O believers! Keeping God as the only witness over you, invest your maximum effort to establish justice” (يا أيها الذين آمنوا، كونوا قوًامين لله شهداء بالقسط.  (Qur’an 05:08)

But in the verse 04:135, the Qur’an delivers the same message in a rather mind blowing and applied setting! Here, it mentions the six (6) major barriers that may otherwise, stand on the face of one’s commitment to deliver justice:

  1. Indulgence in one’s self-interest,
  2. The bias for one’s parents,
  3. The prejudice for one’s relatives,
  4. The sympathy to the poor,
  5. The fear from or favour to the rich &
  6. The submission to one’s desires

يا أيها الذين آمنوا، كونوا قوًامين بالقسط. شهداء لله، ولو علي أنفسكم، أو الوالدين، والأقربين. ان يكن غنيا أو فقيرا، فالله أولي بهما. وان تلووا أو تعرضوا، فان الله كان بما تعملون خبيرأ. غنيًا أو فقيرا، فالله أولي بهما….). (Ref Qur’an 04:135)

Rebutting all these barriers, the verse 04:135 insists: “By submitting to these pressures, should you decide to turn yourself from the course of justice, beware of God’s overwhelming scrutiny, as to your deviation. Hence, the likelihood of God meting you, the befitting retribution” (وان تلووا أوتعرضوا، فان الله كان بما تعملون خبيرا). To a faithful conscience, a warning such as this, would strike a severe blow to any deviation from the course of justice!

Above all, the mandate of “Keeping God as the only witness”, is deeply thought-provoking! It is also severely intimidating at the same time! The Qur’an in 05:08 provides a mandatory obligation to a leader that he must keep delivery of justice as the priority number one of his office.

Justice is the closest part to be God-conscious!

The divine order as to the leadership mandate of the Qur’an is deeply impressive: “O’ believers…, commit yourself to deliver justice, as it is the closest par to you living constantly conscious of God…Indeed, He is fully aware of all your actions” (اعدلوا هو أقرب للتقوي، واتقواالله، ان الله خبير بما تعملون). (Qur’an 05:08)

It further states, one may only deviate from the course of justice, by being unaware of the constant scrutiny, by the Omni-Present God! A deliberate deviation such as this, may end up defeating a believer’s faith!

The mandate of delivering justice as a duty cannot get any stronger than committing to it by ‘Keeping God as the only witness over you” (شهداء لله)! The emphasis of the Qur’an on delivering justice continues: “The fact that you have enmity with your adversaries, must not incriminate your hearts, by not delivering the full justice to them….” (Qur’an 05:08)

Hence, the proverb: ‘the seat of justice is the heart of the judge’ is the direct reflection of this revealed theme!

Being just to the neutral ‘other party’, is not that hard to a fair-minded individual! But delivering justice to ‘the adversarial enemy’, who, at times, may have hurt you, or at worse, is now waiting for your blood, is a bloody knife-edge test! The mandate of a true Islamic leadership thus, can only be earned by passing the test of ‘Committing to deliver the justice to the maximum degree’. (Ref: Qur’an 04:135 & 05:08)

In conclusion thus, the Qur’an provides the compelling proof that the selection of an Islamic socio-political leadership is dictated by the sole mandate of investing the maximum effort to deliver justice to the subjects and not by the sex or gender of the leader!

An important clarification

In rebutting a just and fair woman’s leadership as established above, the following Hadith of Prophet Mohammad (s) may be quoted: “Abu Bakrah (r), a companion of the Prophet said: ‘God helped me avoid my joining the army led by Ayesha (r) the Prophet’s wife, against Ali (r), in the War of the Camel (حرب الجمل). When the news broke out to the Prophet that the daughter of Persia’s King was appointed as their leader, after the death of her father, the Prophet commented saying “The nation that have rested their leadership to a woman, will never succeed” (لن يفلح قوم ولًوا أمرهم أمرأة). (Sahih Bukhari Hadith No 4425 and Sunan Nasai 8/227)

In reply however, one has to accept that no matter what, a Hadith of any kind will never abrogate or limit the application of the six emphatic verses of the Qur’an on this subject: 04:135, 05:08 & 27:32-34. This ruling will directly apply to the above Hadith related by ‘an individual narrator’ Abu Bakrah (r), (خبر الواحد).

Legally speaking, this is how an evidentiary finding is to be made, preferring the contradictory legal texts on a subject. It may sound a little harsh, but should it come to that, the duty of a legal scholar is to uphold the Qur’an, at any cost, come what may!

But when looked more deeply and critically, the Hadith of Abu Bakrah (r) was relating the Prophet’s opinion as to the appointment of a female leader just because of her lineage to the King and not because of her commitment to uphold justice or political foresight.

As the Persians were not Muslims at the time of the Prophet, making an Islamic finding on their decision, was never relevant, for it to be halal or haram, anyway!

In this context, the meaning of the Prophet’s comment on Abu Bakra’s (r) Hadith will stand as: ‘selecting a female leader driven only by her gender, kinship or lineage to the King, will not lead to good governance’. This will be perfectly in line with our arguments established above.

It will further explain why the Qur’an is praising the visionary leadership by a legendary woman leader, Balqis, the Queen of Sheba, Yemen. Instead of a conflict she had manoeuvred the peaceful settlement out with the King Solomon: “O my entourage, provide your opinions on the topic of dispute, as I will not decide on it until you all come together with me on a common platform” (قالت يا أيها الملأ، أفتوني في أمري، ما كنت قاطعة أمرا حتي تشهدون). The Queen’s approach, on how tactfully and diligently, she engaged her political entourage on finding a common ground for a peaceful way out of the conflict, is highly impressive. (Ref Qur’an 27:32-34)