20 اغسطس, 2017 - 28 Dhu-al-Qi'dah 1438

Do women have the right to vote or is it only for men?

Do women have the right to vote or is it only for men?

Question

A new board council is established in the mosque of East Anglia in the city of Norwich in the UK and this council includes some Arab and English women. The decision in this council is taken through voting so is it permissible for women to vote in this council or is it only for men to vote?

Answer

Islam equated between both men and women in terms of duties and rights except for the rights they acquire due to their natural differences. The woman in Islam is given full rights, her status is elevated and her independent financial capacity is acknowledged. Islam confirmed the woman’s independent legal acts which are granted according to her legal rights along with her right to practice all her civil rights which are in harmony with her God-given nature.

One of the forms of equal rights which are granted to both men and women is the right of exchanging opinions and consultation in general and private matters and in religious and irreligious issues. God says in the Quran, “The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those - Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.” 9:71

The verse did not differentiate between men and women in practicing their right to command the good and forbid the bad, voting is a kind of advice which includes commanding the good and forbidding the bad. The same concept applies on the allegiance of women in which women vowed to the Prophet to support Islam and defend it. God says, “O Prophet, when the believing women come to you pledging to you that they will not associate anything with Allah , nor will they steal, nor will they commit unlawful sexual intercourse, nor will they kill their children, nor will they bring forth a slander they have invented between their arms and legs, nor will they disobey you in what is right - then accept their pledge and ask forgiveness for them of Allah . Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” 60:12

Consulting women was a popular matter during the Prophet’s time and one of these examples is when the Prophet consulted his wife Um Salamah in the truce of Hudaybiyya. Also lady Asmaa bint Abu Bakr gave advice to her son ‘Abdullah ibn al Zubair regarding some legal matters.

Also preventing women from voting implies concealing her knowledge and silencing her advice which is legally impermissible. God says in the Quran, “And [mention, O Muhammad], when Allah took a covenant from those who were given the Scripture, [saying], "You must make it clear to the people and not conceal it." But they threw it away behind their backs and exchanged it for a small price. And wretched is that which they purchased.” 3:187 and it is well known that those who were given the Book are both men and women and not solely men. The Prophet (peace be upon him) warned us against concealing our knowledge and Abu Huraira narrated that the Prophet said in this regard, “Whoever was asked about knowledge and concealed it will be bridled in the Day of Judgment with a bridle from fire”. (Abu Dawud)

God also says, “There is not upon the weak or upon the ill or upon those who do not find anything to spend any discomfort when they are sincere to Allah and His Messenger. There is not upon the doers of good any cause [for blame]. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” 9:91

So God conditioned the legal excuse for the sick and the weak people not to go to jihad with their ability to give advice to God and His prophet. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Religion is about advice, religion is about advice, religion is about advice and they said “To whom O Messenger of God”, he said, “To God, His Book, His Prophet, and the leaders of the Ummah and the general public”. (Muslim)

When this kind of understanding of equity between men and women in terms of their duties and rights was well absorbed by the Muslim scholars, they understood the Prophet’s tradition in which he said, “Women are the sisters of men” (Tirmidhi)

If some people claim that women lack the necessary knowledge which enable them to vote in legal matters, we can cite for them the renowned role of lady ‘Aisha who was a prominent jurist and an eminent scholar who had her own legal school of jurisprudence from which graduated many of the renowned legal scholars. The Islamic history attests to the valuable status of women and their contribution in many fields of knowledge. It is also important to mention that one of the main reasons of the Prophet’s multiple marriages is for his wives to transmit the Prophet’s acts and sayings to the general public. God says in the Quran, “And remember what is recited in your houses of the verses of Allah and wisdom. Indeed, Allah is ever Subtle and Acquainted [with all things].” 33:34

Therefore women have the full right to vote in the above mentioned council just as men do.