Malaysia appoints 1st female Islamic court judges

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  1. Abu Talib
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    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia's Islamic Shariah courts have appointed their first female judges — a move praised by women's rights activists Thursday as a boost for a judicial system often accused of favoring men.

    Suraya Ramli and Rafidah Abdul Razak, formerly officials at the government's Islamic judicial department, were named Shariah court judges for Kuala Lumpur and the administrative capital of Putrajaya in May, but the appointment was only announced in the past week by Prime Minister Najib Razak.

    Najib said the step was meant to "enhance justice in cases involving families and women's rights" in Malaysia, where nearly two-thirds of the country's 28 million people are Muslims.

    Women have long complained they face discrimination in cases involving divorce, child custody rights, inheritance, polygamy and other disputes in Islamic courts, which handle matters involving family and morality for Malaysian Muslims.

    Rights activists have said they receive hundreds of complaints each year from women because Shariah courts are slow to penalize ex-husbands who fail to pay child support. Men are also known to find it relatively easy to divorce their wives while taking a greater share of the couple's property.

    Norhayati Kaprawi, a prominent Malaysian Muslim women's activist, said the appointments were long overdue.

    "What they must focus on is ensuring that they deliver justice and take into consideration ... the realities of Muslim women's lives," Norhayati said.

    Meera Samanther, president of Malaysian group Women's Aid Organization, said fair representation within the justice system was "a necessity."

    Suraya, 31, could not immediately be contacted Thursday, and Rafidah, 39, declined to immediately comment. Court officials could not be reached to elaborate on what cases the judges have handled so far.

    Female judges are common in Malaysia's secular courts, though most top posts are held by men.

    Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
  2. revert2007
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    Assalamualikum.

    Question

    Is it permissible for a woman to be a judge?.


    Answer

    Praise be to Allaah.


    The majority of scholars are of the view that it is not permissible for a woman to be appointed as a judge, and if she is appointed, the one who appointed her is sinning, and her appointment is invalid, and her judgements carry no weight, no matter what ruling she passes. This is the view of the Maalikis, Shaafa’is and Hanbalis, and of some of the Hanafis.
    See: Bidaayat al-Mujtahid (2/531); al-Majmoo’ (20/127); al-Mughni (11/350).

    They quoted a number of texts as evidence for that:

    1 –Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means”
    [al-Nisa’ 4:34]

    So the men are the protectors and maintainers of women, in the sense that they are in charge of them. So the verse may be understood as meaning that women cannot be appointed in charge, otherwise women would be the protectors and maintainers of men, which is the opposite of what the verse says.

    2 – Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them”
    [al-Baqarah 2:228]

    Allaah has granted men a degree over women ,and if a woman were to be appointed as judge that would contradict the degree that Allaah has given men in this verse, because in order for a judge to judge between two disputants, he must have a degree over them.

    3 – It was narrated that Abu Bakrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: When the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) heard that the people of Persia had appointed the daughter of Chosroes as their ruler, he said: “No people will ever prosper who appoint a woman in charge of their affairs.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (4425).
    The fuqaha’ quoted this verse as evidence that it is not permissible to appoint a woman as a judge, because lack of prospering is a kind of harm, the causes of which must be avoided. The hadeeth is general in meaning and applies to all positions of public authority. So it is not permissible to appoint a woman, because the word “affairs” is general in meaning and includes all the public affairs of the Muslims.

    Al-Shawkaani (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

    There is no stern warning greater than stating that they will never prosper, and the most important issue is to rule according to the rulings of Allaah, may He be glorified and exalted, and therefore this warning applies more emphatically to women. End quote.
    Al-Sayl al-Jaraar (4/273)

    The Fatwa Committee of al-Azhar said:

    The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not intend by this hadeeth only to state that the people who appoint a woman in charge of their affairs will not prosper, because his task was to explain everything that is permissible for his ummah, so that they may succeed and prosper, and everything that is not permissible for them so that they may be safe from evil and loss. Rather he intended to forbid his ummah from imitating those people (the Persians) by delegating any of their public affairs to a woman, and he used this incident to convey this message to the people who were keen to be prosperous so that they would comply with this advice. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used definitive language to state that lack of prosperity is inevitable when a woman is appointed in charge of any affairs. Undoubtedly the prohibition that is derived from this hadeeth applies to any woman in any era; women are not to be appointed to positions of public authority. This general meaning is understood from the wording of the hadeeth.

    4 – Moreover, the nature of woman means that a woman should not be appointed to a position of public authority.
    The Fatwa Committee of al-Azhar said, after mentioning the arguments based on the hadeeth:

    This ruling is based on this hadeeth, which is that the ruling that women should not be appointed to positions of public authority is not a ruling which is to be followed as a religious ritual without necessarily understanding the wisdom behind it, rather it is one of the rulings that are based on reasons which are obvious to those who understand the differences between the two types of human beings, men and women. This ruling is not connected to anything other than the femininity which is indicated by the word “woman” in the hadeeth. So femininity alone is the reason. … Because of her nature, woman is designed to fulfil the mission for which she was created, which is the role of mother and caring for and raising children. This means that she is likely to be affected by emotion. In addition to that she is faced with natural events that happen repeatedly over the months and years, which may weaken her strength and resolve in forming opinions and adhering to them and in fighting for them. This is something which women themselves cannot deny, and we do not need to quote examples and evidence to prove the emotional nature of woman throughout the ages.

    5 – Practical experience in some countries indicates that women are not fit to play the role of judge. When Islam forbade women to be appointed to positions of public authority, it brought something that would protect people’s rights and ward off corruption, which is something that is not understood by those who are short-sighted.

    In one of the Muslim countries the Ministry of Justice opened the door for talented women to become judges, but after five years they dismissed all of these female judges and banned women from entering the graduate school for judges because of their failure despite the opportunities they had for learning and training, and despite the fact that they got higher grades than the men in the theoretical field.
    In another Muslim country women were given the opportunity to become judges, but after they failed the state had to remove them from the courts to the technical and research fields.

    This indicates that women are not qualified to be judges.

    6 – The judge is required to be present among men’s gatherings and to mix with disputants and witnesses, and may need to be alone with them. Islam seeks to protect women and preserve their honour and dignity, and protect them from those who would toy with them. So Islam tells women to stay in their homes and not go out except in cases of necessity. And it forbids them from mixing with men and being alone with them, because that poses a threat to women and their honour.

    7 – The position of judge requires a high level of intelligence, insight and reason, and women have less of these qualities than men, and they have little experience in the affairs of life and disputes.
    In addition to that, women are faced with natural phenomena during certain days, months and years, namely menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding etc, which weakens their bodies and affects their understanding of things, which is incompatible with the position and status of a judge.

    See: Wilaayat al-Mar’ah fi’l-Fiqh al-Islami (p. 217-250) – Master’s Thesis by Muhammad Anwar.


    Islam Q&A



    Allah knows the best
    Assalamualikum
  3. kayleigh
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    Good for Malaysia! That's awesome, and I think it will do a lot of good.
  4. arzafar
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    :wasalam:

    tbh i dont see a single text (quranic verse or hadith) in the whole fatwa, where it says that women should cannot be appointed as judge or coming even remotely close to that.

    i know it's not your fault but i just dont understand why the scholars use their opinion. if there is nothing to prevent a woman from being appointed a judge then we should acknowledge that instead of going to debates based on reason.

    id like to know what other scholars have to say.
  5. revert2007
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    Assalamualikum
    Allah knows the best
    Assalamualikum :)
  6. kayleigh
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    I agree. None of the "evidence" in that fatwa say anything about the actual topic of women as judges. The scholar is really really stretching things that are unrelated to the topic to make them try to fit. The hadith about women being leaders is just that - women being leaders of the entire nation, not judges.
  7. Kakorot
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    :salam2:

    Maybe it's because they think that if a woman was to become a judge, then things will go out of hand.

    (Sorry if it appears going off topic, but just like to make a point) Like similar to the way there is no evidence from preventing women from driving cars, (as back in the days, the sahaabiyat may Allaah be pleased with them used camel/horse backs as means of transport) however, there are some scholars who proberbly think that if women start driving, then it will go out of hand (e.g. travelling long distances alone may bring harm etc.) and so bring out fatwas saying that women driving is "haraam".

    Ultimately, Allaah Knows Best.

    Edit: I think we should remember also that scholars just want the best for us and the deen, hence, we should respect them. But that does mean that we must follow them blindly if there is no evidence from qur'aan or sunnah.
  8. arzafar
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    from islamqa again

    Is it permissible for a woman to be appointed as a judge (qaadi) in Islamic sharee’ah?.

    Praise be to Allaah.
    Shaykh Ibn Jibreen was asked whether it is permissible for a woman to be a qaadi. He replied:

    It is not permissible for a woman to be appointed to public positions which generally require speaking with men, mixing with them and going out frequently, asking questions of non-mahram men, and answering their questions. Such behaviour indicates that a woman is careless and audacious, which will lead to her giving up her modesty. This position also requires her to raise her voice. That is contrary to her femininity and modesty. Similarly a woman cannot become an imam or khateeb or lawyer who has to frequent the courts and offices which are filled with men.

    This is also a kind of imitating men, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) cursed women who imitate men.

    With regard to jobs which a woman may need, there is nothing wrong with a woman being appointed to them, such as teaching female students, being a doctor or nurse treating female patients. A woman may also work in offices that are visited only by women, so that women will not be forced to mix with men, which may be a cause of spreading wanton display (tabarruj) and unveiling, and other things that lead to evil and immorality. And Allaah knows best.

    Al-Lu’lu’ al-Makeen min Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Jibreen, p. 304.

    For more information on the evidence, please see question no. 20677.

    yes i totally i agree with that.
    does that mean women judges can hear cases involving women only. i wish i could ask that question?
  9. alf2
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    alf2 Islam is a way of life

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    I'm glad to see you say this, masha Allah for supporting your sisters in this case.

    This is why I dont pay too much opinions to "fatwas" To be honest, if someone wants a fatwa supporting their opinion, they will probably find it. No matter WHAT the opinion is.

    Because as you said, more scholars use their opinions instead of cold, hard facts.
  10. Aapa
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    Assalaam walaikum,

    7 – The position of judge requires a high level of intelligence, insight and reason, and women have less of these qualities than men, and they have little experience in the affairs of life and disputes.
    In addition to that, women are faced with natural phenomena during certain days, months and years, namely menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding etc, which weakens their bodies and affects their understanding of things, which is incompatible with the position and status of a judge.

    I fear I am tickled to death. I needed a good laugh today. I am just wondering does the writer of this think all women live in a well ( like a frog ) and are unaware of the affairs of life.
    Women are very adept at mediation of disputes.

    And I understand natural phenomena of the reproductive cycle. What does my reproductive cycle have to do with my intelligence and ability to comprehend things. Furthermore, the facet of this argument which is weak is implying once the woman is past child-bearing years she is no longer weak and thereby compatible with the position and status of a judge.

    I apologize, but this is too funny. I would love to encounter the writer for five minutes. Within two he would go home and kiss his mothers feet.
  11. kayleigh
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    I see the story of Balqees in the same way, and have heard the same explanation about Abu-Bakra.

    hahaha, this made me smile.

    But, on a serious note... I kind of expect that sort of language and response from that website, but I think the really sad thing is that some women really do believe themselves to be limited in intelligence and rational. Now that is what is really limiting.
  12. Abu Talib
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    “No people will ever prosper who appoint a woman in charge of their affairs.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (4425).

    So how could Imam Bukhaari record it when we all know he was very strict in recording hadiths so did he not know he is recording a statement from a convicted felon?? Also Imaam Bukhari used to offer 2 Raka's of prayer before writing a hadith for guidance.
  13. Abu Talib
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    So it implies that the particular hadith quoted is wrong and Imaam Bukhari did a mistake over it? Also I forgot could you mention which Scholars had mentioned it to be doubtful just for my knowledge
  14. revert2007
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    Assalamualikum
    This thing is going for debates because some people do not know what equal rights means and they try to implement western style of equal rights.

    If Islam says,we need 2 women to be witness instead of 1 and for man, only 1 man is sufficient enough to be witness then how can a woman be a judge?


    I do not want to post here again yet when people talk smartly and began to talk about scholars, then I cannot keep quite.These scholars used their entire life to compile hadiths and their knowledge is nothing to ours even if we were to memories everything. We do not have the same wisdom they have. Yes they are humans.So what if they are humans? If Allah were to make a human perfect, He can in sha ALlah.Prophet Muhamam dpbuh is a human as well. He is the only human free of sins and so perfect in sha Allah.


    Just look at the country with largest Muslim population in the world-Indonesia.

    It's very first President was Megawati Sukarnoputri-the 5th Indonesian President.

    One day if Malaysia were to appoint a woman to be the next PM,I won't be surprise if there are people to defend her in this forum.

    Before arguing in the name of so called equality,please read what Islam says about equality.It already has women equality way before these people demand for equality.
    Women are demanding equality like man-they want to be imam and lead men in prayer.They want to do everything that men do.But a woman will always at least 1 percent behind man in all sense let it be intteligence or wisdom.This is how Allah created us.
    Just simple question.Why do you think Allah gave men the authority of talak and He The Exalted did not give the same authority to women?He knows what we do not know.
    Just because some people are bringing new rules and saying we are promoting gender equality,then i will say it is all non-sense.
    This country is promoting Islam Hadari and forcing everyone to follow it let it be Muslims or Non Muslims.

    Stop blaming scholars because if we were to blame them and claim they might have done mistakes,then lets check out our knoweldge in Islam compare to their.

    May Allah safe us all from fitnah.Ameen
    Allah knows the best
    Assalamualikum
  15. Aapa
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    Assalaam walaikum,

    Sister..there is no debate. The issue being discussed is the fact that just becuase a man is a scholar does not make him perfect. There are times when there are lapses in judgement. We are human. If one does not accept the fact that a scholar is human then the person is deifying the scholar.

    "It is true women have less intelligence than men. I heard that in Islam Man has 9 intelligence/wisdom and 1 lust compared to women who has only 1 intelligence/wisdom and 9 lusts."


    Sister...here is an example..you quote from an unknown source that women have less intelligence..and what does intelligence and lust have to do with each other. Non-sequitur. Intelligence and wisdom are different qualities.
    This sounds like a petty man who is afraid of his own desires and blamed them on women. By the definition it makes kuffir men and women equal.

    A woman is not being a witness when she is making a decision. Women make decisions every minute. Men come to intelligent and wise women to help them make decisions. This is a precedent in Islam. Here we are discussing two different issues.

    It is important to keep critical thinking skills honed.
  16. Al-Kashmiri
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    As-salaamu `alaykum

    Hmmm.... Something doesn't seem right here. I have one very important question which I believe, has been overlooked by the supporters of this move in this thread.

    With respect to matters related to the religion, we know that for something to be permissible, we require a proof. This is contrary to worldly affairs wherein a proof of prohibition is what is normally sought.

    So where is there a single proof, from the Book of Allaah, the Sunnah of his Prophet (sall Allaahu `alayhi wasallam), from the companions and from the early generations of Islaam, of a woman assuming the role of a judge (not just a shaykhah, scholar, teacher, narrator etc. but judge)???

    You will not find such as a proof, because as the `Ullemaa' have pointed out, the hadeeth “No people will ever prosper who appoint a woman in charge of their affairs.” applies in this situation, because judgement is a form of charge at the end of the day.

    This nitpicking attitude whereby a proof for its prohibition is sought in light of general evidences, if we were to take this approach with respect to the religion, then it would seem that a lot of innovations would have proofs for them! Innovations like the celebration of the Prophet's birthday etc. and even worse...

    Respected brothers and sisters, I don't see a specific proof saying that we shouldn't celebrate the Prophet's (sall Allaahu `alayhi wasallam) birthday. Or one saying specifically not to whip yourself with blades in Muharram. Does that make these affairs permissible?

    We have been commanded to seek the scholars for a reason. We have been commanded to follow our salaf for a reason. We have been commanded to follow the companions for a reason, and to stop where they stopped. Let's not destroy ourselves by trying to kiss up to the western culture and take on their ways. They've destroyed us enough already.

    Of course, Allaah knows best. Whatever I'm incorrect in the above is from myself and Shaytaan, whatever is correct than it is from Allaah.

    Was-salaam
  17. Aapa
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    Assalaam walaikum,

    Brother my concern is the lack of logic. Forgive me brother...but all Muslims are encouraged to seek knowledge. Not just men.

    I find it very disheartning to see a trend of abusing women. I can not believe that a Muslim man would allow anyone to think of his mother in terms of a woman who is lust filled due to her intellectual limitations.

    I think we are unclear due to semantic differences. If we agree that women are intellectually inferior..why are we going to be judged by Allah with the same criteria. A sin has equal weight regardless of sex. It is a sin. It does not become less sin because an inferior sex commits the sin.

    And I will not accept my intellectual inferiority. Because I am not.
  18. BrotherInIslam7
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    :salam2:

    I agree with brother Al-Kashmiri's post.

    It may seem to the women on this website, that the appointment of women to a post of judge as a major step ahead or a 'major reform' for women. Something that 'elevates the status' of the women (or 'bring them on par with their male' beings'). All of these are western supported thoughts (logic), that were promoted at one time or the other to gain political following.

    Aping the west or following their 'every footstep' is not the way to give our muslim women their right. Rather this attitude just shows how we are 'easily sold' on western ideas as it is indoctrinated in our minds by the media as something praiseworthy. I can understand how most of the people who are happy/pleased with this, reside in western countries. I would be no different had I been raised up in the west.

    We have so many women related issues to deal with in our muslim lands. There are women in muslim lands are not even given their basic rights. There are cases of women being abused by their husbands, female infanticide, honor killings, forced marriages among many other deplorable things that women suffer. The real 'reform' or 'upliftment' of women in our times, would to be eradicate these things of the 'jahiliyyah' and making sure our women are treated according to teaching of our beloved Prophet SallAllahu Alleihi Wa Sallam.

    Appointing a 'female judge' in a muslim country, might earn you applause from the media and a good title like 'modern muslims'. And what about the women suffering from these social injustices numbering in hundreds of thousands. Are you only going to pay attention to them when someone publishes a 'human rights' report on them from the UN ?

    It is sad that even though our religion was the first to give women their 'rights' & save them from brutal injustices, the western world in our modern day is looked upon as a champion of 'women's rights'.

    Wasalaamalaykum waa rahmatullahi
  19. Aapa
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    Assalaam walaikum,

    This is not about politics. This is about faith. The reasons given thus far are illogical. Islam is logical and rational. The arguments provided thus far are sexist and poor. The arguments provided thus far are opinions of who knows who. They are conjecture. The arguments are poor because they bring discord. There is no satisfaction of the mind nor the soul.

    As the brother said we have female related issues in Muslim lands..hello..who better to give fair judgement on a female issue than a woman. If I am not mistaken the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, would suggest to women to seek counsel from his wives. We now have more women in the world. The same logic is there but the numbers are larger.

    This is a very sad state of affairs. I am bewildered that Muslim men still think like this. This is not the way of Islam. The Prophet, took counsel from his wives. He was not insecure. What we have here are men who are insecure. The bottom line is you want to reduce women to sexual objects. She is lustful. She can not think. She is weak. She is not intelligent. She is now wise. Why: Because I am a man. I Trazan, I say do..You Jane..you do.
  20. Al-Kashmiri
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    As-salaamu `alaykum

    Islaam is logical and rational, but the texts precede logic. Women judging between women in women's issues is one thing (which I understand), but this is another.

    And how will appointing women as judges in these affairs solve anything? They can be equally or in fact, even more biassed and sexist than men. And history has proven this matter. The above situations require justice, which is a human and not gender specific quality.

    Again, we all know that knowledge is to be sought by all of us, but judging is not seeking knowledge, it is applying knowledge, in a more exceptional form. It's a form of taking charge that is likened to ruling a state.

    Sorry sister, but this is getting silly now. It's got nothing to do with sexualisation. It's the kuffaar who are obsessed with sexualising women and then granting them so-called "equality". Women judges and sexualisation bares no relation, it's off-point.

    Was-salaam
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