Thursday, August 1, 2013 09:17 Ustadz Faqihuddin Abdul Kodir

Hadith Bukhari: “It would not be prosperous, the people who gave their leadership affair to women” (Bukhari, no. 4469), appeared during the first great conflict in the early Islamic era that was the battle after the murder of the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan r.a., by the rebels. The first faction wanted to appoint the successor of the caliph directly, while the second desired to clear the rebels, before the appointment of the caliph successor.

The first faction asked Ali bin Abi Thalib r.a., to be the caliph, while the second came to A’ishah, the beloved wife of the Prophet. The latter asked her to be their leader and demanded to clean the city from the rebels. The both factions then got involved in a battle called the battle of Jamal or the battle of Camel because A’ishah led his troops by riding a camel, not a horse like the other leaders.

The first faction certainly discredited A’ishah leadership and so did the second faction to Ali. But at that time, there was the third faction that was those who chose to abstain from this conflict and blamed Ali and ‘Aishah as the responsible parties for the conflict. And we have to know that, the aforesaid hadith was narrated by Abi Bakrah r.a., from the third abstained faction. Even it was narrated long after the battle was over. Unfortunately, there was no record of how the both factions reacted to this hadith. ‘Aishah was usually persistent in criticizing those who narrated hadith as their pleasure.

Likewise, the first faction did not respond to this hadith. Ammar bin Yasir r.a., the spokesman for the first faction who was assigned to delegitimize ‘Aishah, did not use this hadith. When he arrived in the city of Basra and asked residents to reject ‘Aishah’s leadership and at the same time asked to support Ali, he was even resisted by two great companions those were Abu Musa r.a. and Abu Mas’ud r.a. (Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-Fitan, Hadith No: 7191). But Ammar did not answer them with the above hadith. Probably, Abi Bakrah narrated it secretly or at the end of his life to legitimize his attitude in front of the people around him.

If we solely look at the part of the text itself, as in the first paragraph, perhaps the women leadership in Islam only revolves on the issue of authority. But if we look at the context as in the above brief explanation, this issue can be elaborated more broadly, for instance effectiveness and human issues. In the time of conflict, usually the both issues are more prominent than the issue of authority itself. In the case of ‘Aishah, she was encouraged to be the leader considering she was the most authoritative to be confronted with Ali, nephew and son in law of the Prophet. While ‘Aishah is the beloved wife of the Prophet, the most intelligent woman, the teacher of men, and publicly recognized.

Women’s Leadership Authority

Reflecting on the case of Khofifah Indar Parawansa’s candidacy in 2013 governor election in East Java which was sued by the secretary of the Association of Indonesian Nahdlatul Ummah Party (PPNUI) East Java, Andi William Irfan, due to violating the “haram” fatwa by ulama (religious leader) (Kompas, 02/06/2013), that the issue of authority is still sexy among ulama in related to women leadership. In this case, the text which is frequently referred is the part of the above hadith. Indeed, ulama have made many contextual reinterpretations, including the Al-Azhar Ulama, Egypt.

Sheikh Muhammad Ghazali, for instance, conceived the prophet’s statement above as a response to the case of the princess appointment who was still young, to occupy the throne of Persian Kisra. Therefore, it must be particularly understood, that is the absolute leadership like an emperor or a king by incapable women (Muhammad al-Ghazali, as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyah, 1989: 44-53). President, prime minister, or head of parliament, or any other positions are apparently different from the patterns of Kisra leadership. So it is only the position of caliph which may be similar to the position of Kisra. (al-Ghadban, al-Huquq al-Mi’ah li al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah, 2011: 265-268).

Yet, many Arabian ulama still prohibit women to be the supreme leader of a country, such as president or prime minister (Hiba Rauf Izzat al-mar’ah wa al-‘Amal as-siyasi, 1995). But in Indonesia, whether NU or Muhammadiyah, many have understood contextually the text of aforesaid hadith, so that even presidential position is not prohibited for women. But there are some ulama who still forbid any kind of positions for women either president, minister, governor, or even the principal of RW as being followed by MMI, Muhammad Talib (2001: 68-108). Their assumption is that the text of the aforesaid hadith is applied generally and not restricted to the context of its emergence and narration.

For further detail, the following is the complete text of the aforesaid hadith narrated by Bukhari:

From Abi Bakrah, narrated: “Truly, Allah has saved me in the time of the battle of Jamal, with the statement I heard from the Prophet, whereas I nearly involved to support the troops of Jamal (led by ‘Aishah r.a.)”. He then said: when Rasulullah saw obtained the news that the Persians have appointed Kisra’s daughter in the rule of their kingdom, the Prophet responded: “There would not be success the people who trusted their affairs to the women.” (Bukhari, Kitab al-Maghazi, Bab an-Nabi Saw Book. ila wa Kisra Qaishar , no. 4469).

At the time of conflict, still the issue of authority will be the main concern for certain people to delegitimize women’s leadership. But generally, the issue of effectiveness is more dominant than the issue of authority. During conflict, the people will accentuate the things that are considered to be the most effective that can be addressed to the person regardless of gender, who can unravel the conflict, ensure negotiation achievement, and bring a solution, especially a peace.

Effectiveness Issues of Women’s Role

If we look at the historical context of the aforesaid hadith, gender consideration actually has no place to sue women’s leadership. ‘Aishah was asked to lead and she has led. Even, in many cases recorded in various texts of the other hadith, usually women are able to provide an alternative in the time of war, conflict, and including a small debate among the people. Women seem more flexible, more wise, and able to provide a middle way for the groups who have conflict. Or perhaps as the party who frequently gets the effect of the conflict, women often involve in establishing the peace.

Umm al-Fadl r.a., narrated: at the time of Hajj of Wada, there was a little dispute among the companions. One group considered to fast on the day of Arafah, since hearing the news that the Prophet was fasting on that day. Another group refused because of hearing another new that the Prophet did not fast on the day of Arafah. Surprisingly, none of these two groups thought to come to see the prophet rather than continue to fight. Perhaps at that time they were solemnly worshipping and the prophet was praying when wuquf (standing before Allah) in Arafah. Then Umm al-Fadl had an initiative when he saw the prophet was standing, he immediately sent a bowl of milk to him and then the prophet drank it in front of the people (Sahih Bukhari, Kitab ash-Sawm, Bab Shaum Yawm ‘Arafah, no. 2027).

In addition, the story of Umm Salamah r.a. who conveyed the solution to the prophet and the companions after Hudaybiya peace agreement was very famous. In fact, this agreement—between the prophet and the Quraysh—was not accepted by most of the companions. They accepted just because the prophet asked them to accept it. They were extremely upset and sad, because in the agreement it was stated that they were not allowed to pilgrimage (Hajj) in that year and had to go back to Madinah. Whereas they have already dressed Ihram and near to the gateway of Makkah City. 

In this case, the companions, among of them was Umar bin Khattab, chose to resisted and fight against them. But the prophet preferred to receive the peace agreement proposed by Quraish. Then the prophet asked to all companions to slaughter the animal and cut their hairs because they canceled to pilgrimage (Hajj) and as the sign that the goodwill to pilgrimage ended. But none of them was following the command. Even the prophet announced three times with louder voice, the companions still did not follow. The prophet then felt depressed and entered the tent of Umm Salamah r.a., “O my prophet, no need to use the command, they were being sad. Get out of the tent, slaughter the animal by yourself, then call the barber and ask him to cut your hair in front of them. Trust me they will follow,” said Umm Salamah r.a. The prophet followed his advice and finally all companions followed him. (Sahih Bukhari, Book of al-Syurut, no. 2770).

If in the era of the prophet, Makkah was considered as a critical period in which conflict often happened between the relatives and the families, so those who had big contribution to overcome this problem were women. Khadijah r.a. was the women who calmed down the prophet when he was still in doubt with the first revelation he received. It was Khadija who asked him to see the Christian Preacher, Waraqa bin Naufal, to ensure the revelation he received. Even she donated her entire properties to the Muslims when the Quraish people boycotted all economic activities.

It was Fatimah az-Zahra r.a., who banished the people of Quraish who threw the prophet with dirt while prostrating in the Ka’ba. It was Fatima bin al-Khattab r.a., who settled down her brother, Umar bin Khattab when he was angry and about to pull his sword to the Muslim, when he has not converted to Islam. It was Asma bint Abu Bakr who bore all the logistics of the Prophet and Abu Bakr when they emigrated to Madinah secretly. Even, she made sure that the way where the Prophet walked through was safe. 

At the time of the battle of Uhud, when all men escaped to save themselves, it was Nusaibah bint Ka’b r.a., who was still standing beside the prophet to guard him from enemy’s attacks. Furthermore, after the battle, all services were done by women for example looking after and treating wounded troops. Rufaidah r.a. was the companion who always spent their properties for this business. It was Rufaidah who made the tent in front of the mosque and treated the troops after the battle. Indeed, it was the widow who looked after and educated the children left by their fathers who were killed on the battlefield. So there were so many responsibilities that must be carried out by the women after the conflict, especially in economic and social aspect.

A’ishah narrated in front of the prophet about a mother who had a burden to take care of two daughters. She came with her children to ‘Aishah and asked for something they could eat. Unfortunately, there was only one date in ‘Aishah’s house. The date then was given to the woman and she cut it so that it could be eaten by her two daughters. Then the prophet responded: “Whoever takes care of the daughter well, then he/she will be the barrier from the fire (hell)” (Sahih Bukhari, Book of az-Zakah, no. 1459).

Human Perspective

The problem is that the role of women is often negligible, not considered, and not appreciated. Even if socially recognized, they are politically and economically often neglected. When there was a conflict, women involved with big roles, especially to bear the consequences experienced by the people. But once the peace realizes, women are marginalized and excluded to build the community together. The above statement of the prophet upon the mother of two daughters can be understood as one of the recognitions of women’s role who carried out domestic tasks as well as social because of the conflict.

The recognition upon women is very important to realize the true, just, and whole peace. The peace will be injustice if it does not include women as equal subjects to accept legal, politic, and economic right. This recognition will be realized if it is based on human perspective that is looking women as human beings who posses rights whether in social, politic, or economy. If this perspective is weak in society, women could be the second-class citizens even they are vulnerable to any kind of violence. 

“Someday, Umm Salamah’s hair was being combed and tidied up and immediately she heard the call from Nabawi Mosque “Ya ayyuhannas”, or “O mankind”, a call to gather in the mosque. Then Umm Salamah r.a., asked someone who was tidying up her hair to stop, because he wanted to go to the mosque hustily. “That’s a call for men, not for women?”, Said the servant. “I’m human too”, replied Umm Salamah r.a., while rushing towards the mosque (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Fadail, Chapter Ithbat Alihi Hawd, no. Hadith 6114).

Looking women as human being is something that usually vanishes in the perspective of many people, both men and women. We often regard women as the different, the weak, who must be protected and defended. But this protection, because it more stresses on their female aspect, not on their humanity, then it turns into a specific prohibition against them. This protection and prohibition against women has been immutable, even as a human, many women become strong like many men become weak.

Because of protection reasons, women in conflict areas are often used as a tool to reach a peace agreement, but later they are left behind when the deal is formulated, moreover in the time of establishment after the peace. The women’s weaknesses are considered enduring and inherent to the sex, so it should always be under the protection of men. All women needs must be fulfilled through men power. Finally women are vulnerable to violence, because they are merely prepared to be protected not to protect, including themselves. Even during aid distribution, women must receive through men representation. This happens because of the logical assumption on men’s protection against women.

While if using a human perspective, those who are weak whether at the time of conflict or peace should be strengthened. When they have been strong and have ability, they should be given an opportunity to be a leader and to make reinforcement process to those who are still weak. That is why it should be understood that the weak can be men or women. Likewise, the strong can be women or men. The weak attribute can not only be addressed to women. Likewise, the strong attribute can not permanently be addressed to men.

This perspective asserts that women are human like men. So the principle is equal humanity, by capacity consideration, capability, and need. “Women are equal partner of men”, like the prophet said in the narration of Abu Dawud (Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitab ath-Thaharah, no. 236). Humanity perspective also necessitates the principles of peace, so that all efforts should be taken to avoid a conflict if it has not happened yet and to stop it if it is happening.  

In this perspective, keeping the elements of the good life is also necessity to preserve a peaceful life without conflict such as greetings, giving greetings, being friendly, smiling, helping people a lot, and doing social work on humanity. “Spread greetings among you”, said the prophet (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Iman, no. 203). Perhaps the greetings here should not be narrowly interpreted as mere greeting but deeper. That is all virtues that present a peace, as we know that greeting itself means peace.

The hadith of the prophet: “anyone who does not have mercy, then he / she will not gain a mercy” (Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-Adab, no. 6063) also becomes the principle for the institutionalization of human perspective. Likewise, a very famous hadith: “Do not do anything that may harm yourself or others” (Muwatta Imam Malik, Kitab al-Aqdiya, no. 1435). The three latter hadith could be a basic principle in cultural working to realize a peace, to end a conflict, and to struggle in eradicating any kind of violence against women.” Wallahu a’lam (Allah knows best). 


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