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The right of women to rule an Islamic state
By: –
Ahmed Mansour
An authentic and historical study

There is a difference between the religion of Islam and the religiousness. The religion of Islam is a holy book from God. On its basis God will judge everyone on Judgement Day. As for the religiousness, it is the way Moslems deal with the religion. Their way encompasses behaviour and ideologies. And it is only natural that their religiousness becomes influenced by their social, geographical, psychological and historical environment. And for that reason the major behaviours and beliefs of each people and each civilisation enter the religiousness. And thus we find differences between the Egyptian, the Iranian and the nomadic Moslems. And as long as we consider this religiousness as human thus capable of error and correction then there is no problem. But the problem arises when certain sanctities are added to it such as sanctity of the sayings of the prophet ( as do the sunnis) or sanctity to the relatives of the prophet ( as do the shiites) or sanctity to saints ( as do the sufis). The crucial problem is that the Moslems have embraced the religion with these added sanctities along with it. the predominant religiousness does not allow for arguments or discussions concerning these sanctities, they are not to be criticised but only approached with adoration and exaltation. And that is precisely what happens when dealing with Bukhari and Shafii for the sunnis, or dealing with Gafar El Sadiq or Moussa El kazim for the shiites, or dealing with Ghazali and Sayed El Badawi for the Sufis. These people have been considered infallible by Moslems even though the Quran says that only God and the words of gabriel to Mohammad are infallible. This dangerous problem was common practise during the middle ages, where religious professionalism was prevailing and human activities where wrapped in religion, meaning the common prevailing religion falsely attributed to Islam. For that reason the wars were religious, and the ideological persecutions were religious, and all the social dealings had their conditions based on religious opinions. Naturally the role of the professionals such as the priests, the sheikhs and the rabbis, was magnified and sanctified as well. There were also the learned and well versed men here and there who were able to gain personal or ideological sanctity. Such was the way in the middle ages for the Moslem countries and for the West. At the end the community would accept certain social religious traditions especially if it serves for the benefit of a particular party or of a major social element. The case of women in Islam Any legislation in the Quran cannot be biased towards men because men and women are both the human creation of God. It is only the dominant man during the middle ages who controlled the type of religiousness, and who dominated women through this type of religiousness. Or in other words his dominance prevailed due to that type of religiousness which sets women on a lower grade. Women became in need of an interpretation that redeem their human and social rights. And this is what we mean to do in this paper in relation to her rights to rule an Islamic state. A paper with such a title that lifts the right of women to the top of political power would undoubtedly raise many questions, especially in our era where the strict Hanbali ideology dominates. It has wrapped the women in the all covering veil (niqab) and has restricted them within the house walls. And has filled their mind with the mythical ideas stemming from the religiousness of the middle ages. Our approach means to elucidate these questions especially that we made it clear from the beginning that there is a difference between the religion, which is the Quran, and the religiousness, which is the ideology and the practices of the Moslems. This paper clarifies the right of women to rule a Moslem state. First through the Quran, being the religion of Islam and what the prophet Mohammad followed during his life. Then through women’s historical struggle towards political power, and how close they came to it while conforming to the laws of political struggle during the middle ages. Looking at the Quranic reality, be it the legislation and the stories in it, and looking at the historical reality, whether in the battle fields or within the walls of the castles, the religious opinions that stem from ancestral beliefs should be ashamed of itself. These beliefs were only the outcome of social, political and psychological conditions that led to the oppression of the opinion holders. In turn these oppressed people could only turn against women in order to express their frustration and anger. And the norm is that when men are oppressed in time of tyranny and their ambitions are suppressed their anger is turned against their women. They will use religion to exercise more power over women since it is the only power they can have. But that will be the subject of a paper on its own. Chapter one The Quran and the right of women to rule an Islamic state As a start we say that Islam is a religion and a state. But not to be envisaged as the fundamentalists nor as the secularists see it. Meaning that it is neither a separation of religion and state nor a theocracy built on the image of the religiousness of the middle ages as according to the sunnis or to the shiites. We say that the Islamic state is a civil state built on direct democracy whose goal is not related to ensure heaven’s gate, because such is a personal issue. But it’s goal is to ensure justice and to secure equal rights to all citizens, including their freedom in faith and thought. Citizens are also allowed their share in the country’s wealth, in political participation and in social security. The society as a whole would benefit from power and wealth as opposed to only one privileged person or group. The difference between the Islamic state and the state as it was in the middle ages The general notion about women holding political power is characterised by what we inherited from the mode of political power during the middle ages. At that time the khalif, the sultan or the king had dictatorship over the land and its inhabitants. Thus was the way in the Islamic east or in the Christian west, and it has still somewhat survived until today. If the intellectuals and the thinkers of that time were hardly able to withstand the tyranny of the rulers then how could they ever withstand a woman’s tyranny? Yet, the Islamic state under the prophet’s reign followed the system of the state council as opposed to the tyrannical ruling known to Moslems since the Ummayad took over. Therefore we should become familiar with the true political system for an Islamic state as it is stated in the Quran in order to see the possibility for women to hold political power. The equality between men and women in Quranic legislation. 1- In order to understand the Quran and its legislation we must first understand the Quranic terms as they are explained in the Quran itself. The Arabic language, as all other languages, is like a living creature that evolves and changes. As the language evolved with time and place there appeared specialised expressions reserved for the thinkers, the sufis and the philosophers and even the Quran has its own terms and expressions. This is also a long subject in itself that needs much explanation but we will restrict ourselves with what concerns our subject. 2-Let us have a quick look at some of the Quranic facts that ensure the equality among men and women. a. When the Quran refers to the spouse does it mean the husband or the wife (check the word ‘spouse’ in the Quranic reference book —AL MU’GAM AL MUFAHRAS). b. The term for parents — al walidayn or abaukum- refers to men and women unless the Quaranic passage clarifies that it is addressed to men only. When the Quran orders the believers to pray and fast it is known that it is addressing both sexes. And thus when the Quran speaks of the necessity of a state council, as a major component for the Islamic state, it is speaking to men and women alike. The state council in the Islamic state and the role of women in it. 1-Democracy is only a system in which the people elect representatives to carry on the political tasks. But the state council in the Quran is a religious obligation (that has become extinct) that sets the base for the family, the build up of the society and its political and military organisations. This is also a long topic but will summarise it as such; a. Moslems were ordered to follow the shura —state council- as a religious obligation while they were in Mecca before the forming of the Islamic state. We descriptions of the Moslems’ community during that period in sourat Al-Shura (verses 36-39). In this passage, as in many others, Moslems are ordered to pray and pay the zakat. And this is the only passage where the shura is placed between the orders of prayer and zakat. The intended meaning is that shura is an obligation as important as prayer. And since prayer is irreplaceable so is shura. Thus it is an obligation for every human being, men, women, at home, in the workplace, in the street and in the society, in politics, in economy and all aspects of life b. The Moslems applied the shura system in Mecca then they applied it in Medina. The mosque was the centre for the council, prayer and government. And it was the place where all Moslems gathered, men and women, whenever something came up and a shura was needed. In that case the prayer caller would call upon everyone and the shura would take place. The members of the shura were all the men and women enjoying a direct democracy and exchanging opinions. In the beginning the old inhabitants of Medina were unfamiliar with that system so many of them would be absent from these meetings without excuse, others would excuse themselves from the prophet and leave and still others would just discreetly leave the meetings. For these particular reasons the verses of sourat Al-Nour (63, 64) descended upon the prophet to forbid such behaviour, stress its religious obligation and warn from God’s anger to whoever does not abide. It is important to mention that it was a religious obligation for women to pray in Mosques. The Quran spoke of the duty of retirement into the mosque during the nights of Ramadan, and it forbade any physical relations with the spouse during the retirement (Al-Baqarah 187). That proves that women shared with men all the duties and the activities even those related to the mosques.. c) For the obligation of shura to be applied to the prophet himself God said ” It is part of the Mercy of Allah that thou dost deal gently with them. Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee: so pass over (their faults), and ask for (Allah’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. Then, when thou hast taken a decision, put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him),” (3:159). Meaning that God made you, o Mohammad, lenient and understanding or else they would have walked away from you. And if they had left you, you would not have had a community nor would you have been a leader. It is only because of them that you have power, you get your power from them. Thus the community is the source of power. Contrary to the beliefs of a theocratic system where they think that the power comes from God, as in the image of the ‘divine rights of kings’. But you Mohammad get your political power from them, so forgive them and ask for God’s forgiveness when they wrong you. And consult with them because the issues concern them. When it is time to act upon the consulted decisions then trust in God and rely on Him. We find that the prophet, the one who is divinely inspired, is ordered to commit to a state council. And as a leader he got his political power from his people. For if such was the case with the prophet then whoever refuses to abide by these rules is thus setting himself above the prophet. In that case he would be claiming divinity to himself. The Quran uses the example of the Pharaoh of Moses whose tyranny led him to believe in his own divinity which in turn led to his downfall. The Quran uses this Pharaoh as an example to tyrants, but unfortunately the lesson is not learnt because the drunkenness of power takes over the mind. 2-The Quran has created an even balance between shura and ‘Ouli el-amr’, the latter refers to experts in a specific field and it does not mean ‘rulers’ as it is sometimes explained as such. These experts should be obeyed in the same manner we obey God and his prophet. Thus obeying fairness and justice because the entire Quranic legislation in its laws and details aims at creating fairness and justice. Whatever the Quran did not mention is thus left to the shura, and the experienced experts. These have to abide to the Quranic principles of facilitation, no intimidation, keeping within the balance in the middle…and keeping fairness and justice. The experts have two duties: to apply the Quranic laws and to create new laws and to apply them while keeping the Quranic goals mentioned earlier. It is only natural that the experts’ laws along with their applications would change according to changes in social circumstances. Thus following the shura and the experts laws makes it possible to be in accordance with the Quran in all times and places. 3- Islamic shura makes the people and not the ruler the centre of power. The ruler is only an employee who acts upon the people’s decisions. If he fulfils his duty then that is what is asked of him, if he fails then he should be removed from office, and if he transgresses then he should be punished, the same as any government employee. So the ruler can equally be a man or a woman as long as they are qualified to serve the community. Once their serving time is over they become regular citizens who eat and walk in the market just as the prophet and his successors did. 4- The Quranic legislation does not prevent the woman from being at the head of the state as long as she is competent and sticking to the shura system that keeps the power in the community’s hands. But if the community is weak and it allows the ruler to hold the power to himself and to his army, to regard the community as though it was a group of cattle that he owns and exploits, slaughter whomever he chooses, that would be the system of the shepherd and the herd that applied in the middle ages and the same logic from which came the decree that the ruler has the right to sacrifice one third of the community for the sake of the other two thirds!! The state’s presidency and the guardianship of men We face two objections that we need to answer to, 1-It is said that the Quranic legislation makes the man the guardian in a marriage. So could it be that a women becomes a president? And we say that marriage is a contract that allows the women to have the divorce rights. And the guardianship of the man is meant in terms of financial responsibility towards the wife (Al-Nisa:34). But if he fails to do so then he has no guardianship over her. 2-Ironically, whoever objects to our guardianship explanation would thus be imagining the president as a tyrant, and we have already seen that the image of the ruler in the Islamic state is the exact opposite. But it is the community who is the guardian over the ruler. It is the community who pays the ruler’s salary for serving it according to a clear contract. In that case we can say that women may even be more qualified to obey and serve the powerful community. The state’s presidency while the women is considered half a man It will be said that the Quranic legislation makes the woman’s testimony worth half a man’s testimony, and also her share of inheritance is half the man’s share. So how can this view agree with the image of her as a president? 1-The fact that the testimony of two women is worth the testimony of one man that is limited only to the testimony on financial debts (Al-Baqara:282). That goes back to the custom, in accordance with the Quran as well, that two witnesses in the market would be as good as an official stamp. And since these business deals were mostly done among men, and they still are, it became a man’s issue and the role of women was minimal. However this half share of testimony does not apply to her testimony regarding any other case be it a punishment case or other her testimony is equal to the man’s. 2-In the case of inheritance the woman gets half of what the man gets, if she is a daughter or a sister she inherits the father or the mother or the brother or the sister. Here the man if he is the son or the brother he has more financial responsibilities that his sister is exempted from. He is the one who pays the dowry and supports the family. As for the daughter or the sister she is free from these responsibilities. It would be unfair that they get equal shares if their responsibilities are not the same. And it follows that when the parents inherit a son they equally receive a sixth or a third. Thus it is a distribution of roles and responsibilities without neither belittling the woman nor making her second grade. Suffice it to say that God does not differentiate between men and women in reward nor in punishment (Al-Umran :195, Al-Nisa :124, Ghafer :40). Is the Islamic shura an idealistic legislation. We come to another objection, it may be said that the Islamic system of shura as it appeared in the Quran is closer to an imaginary utopia because when practically applied it barely existed in history but what historically prevailed was tyranny, male dominance and the oppression of women. And we say it is true because the Islamic states that have applied the shura were only during the prophet, Abu-Bakr, Omar, the early years of Othman’s reign and during Ali’s reign. After that the shura system was abandoned and replaced by tyranny since the Ummayad to the Abbasid, the Mamluks, and the Ottomans…The fact remains that the system is applicable and it was applied when the world knew nothing but empires and tyrants. The system appeared in an era that refused it and yet it succeeded. The growing Islamic state was fighting two empires at the same time; the Persian empire and the Byzantine empire. It defeated one and sent the other one back home to Constantinople. The Islamic state expanded from Asia minor to Syria, Egypt and North Africa. History has no parallel for such a massive expansion in such a short time. That encouraged the Ummayad later on to expand from China and India in the east to the South of France making the Mediterranean an Arabic Islamic lake. The reason for such victory goes back to the strength of the people. The khalif Omar would be told “By God if we find any dishonnesty in you we would attack you with our swords.” These were the people would practised the art of power through shura. Men and women shared this power equally. For the women were partakers in the migration from Mecca to Medina. They had pledged their allegiance to the prophet as mentioned in the Quran (Al-Mumtahina 10:12). And how can women migrate from Mecca to Medina leaving their parents and maybe their husbands in order to follow the true religion of God? It was possible because they had strong characters. They used to deal with the prophet directly bearing responsibilities for themselves without the help of a husband or a guardian. We would like to compare here the difference between the position of women during the time of the prophet and her position in the retarded era where the law forbids her from travelling unless accompanied by her husband or legal guardian, and this law is still operational until today in some countries. The application of legislative statements, whether the latter come from God or from humans, depends on man’s capability to apply them. And the Quranic verses aim to build a strong humanitarian character but within the possible limits and nothing extraordinary. The Quranic recipe succeeded in developing the Arabs of the desert into a strong state that proved itself in the history of the middle ages, the ages of political tyranny. If it succeeded it that time then the present is even better fitted for it; We are in the age of human rights and the revolutionary ease of communication which would allow for direct democracy. We are facing a major problem. Starting with the Ummayad to the Abbassids political tyranny was a natural reaction to what the middle ages where facing. It was a common practice to shelter crimes under the name of religion. And so to secure any political or social practice it would relate it to the prophet of Islam in the shape of a fabricated saying (hadith) or story. At the same time the state councils that took place in the cities, in which Moslems were taught methods of arguments and discussion, adapted completely to teach what would serve the politicians. The Friday sermons of the prophet were completely ignored, and al l that was taught was fake sayings and stories that legalised the ideologies of the middle ages among which was the oppression of women. It is truly a major problem…all this holy tradition….but how easy it is to lift up the notion of holiness by remembering that these were people liable to error, they made an effort for their time, and it is for us to make an effort for our time. And if we don’t do so then we would be sanctifying them. And that would contradict the Islamic doctrine of the oneness of God… so with the Quran ends the problem and its danger. But the problems do not end, we have this last objection. The position of Quranic legislation as regarding dictatorial political systems. When the Quranic legislation speaks of the shura it is speaking about one particular system, but what does it say about the majority of tyrannical systems? Does the Quran acknowledge it or is it considered unlawful and must be changed?… That is where the issue of women comes in. We say that the reality of human existence in this world is but a divine test for humans. And this test rests on the humans’ freedom of choice. Humans choose to follow the guided path or they get lost from it, and that is the beginning. Then comes the will of God to confirm humans’ choice. So if they choose guidance, Gods increases their faith, and if they remain lost then increases their feeling of loss. That is confirmed in the Quran (Al-Baqara :10, Muhamad :17, Mariam :76, Al-Ankabut :69). Then judgement comes at the end for what humans chose by their own free will. And the same way this applies to the choice of religions it applies to the political choices. If a ruler is a tyrant who knows no justice but the people accept and fear him God will accept him as a ruler as long as the people accept him as such. The Quran supports that by acknowledging unfair kings who claimed divinity, as in the story of Abraham and the king who claimed the power of resurrection (Al-Baqara :258) and in the story of Moses and also in the story of the pious believer with the king who seized boats by force (Al-Kahf :79) plus also Pharaoh and others. Thus as long as a tyrant is accepted by his people he remains their king. And when his day of judgement arrives God will judge him for the wrong that he has done. If the people rebel against their tyrant, God gives them the right to do so. Change by use of ‘iron’ which God has sent “in which is (material for) mighty war as well as many benefits for mankind”(Al-Hadid :25). However this rebellious change only comes after a self change takes place, especially after a people has been used to accepting to lower their heads to tyranny. It is a very difficult change but if a community succeeds in changing itself from submission to power, God’s will encourages it. God says “Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people util they change it themselves (with their souls)” (Al-Ra’d :11). If such an awareness takes place among a certain people the lion like ruler would become nothing but a lion made of paper or a corps that the winds may push away. And after that the people will rule themselves while the ruler becomes only a symbol that manages the people, that symbol could be a man or a woman. Have we forgotten our subject concerning women? No, we have been looking at the legislation in the Quran but let us stop and look at the stories in the Quran concerning the dictatorial leadership of women as in the story of the queen of Sheba. The Quran does not object to the fact that a woman was ruling. She was provided every requisite and had a great throne. But the objection was that she and her people worshiped the sun. For that reason king Solomon sent her a message inviting her to embrace Islam. He directed the message to her because she represented her people. That also shows that her reign was considered lawful. From the descriptions in the Quran she was well revered by her chiefs as she was asking their advice in the matter of this message. They were all waiting for her decision believing in her and telling her that they would obey any decision she takes. She was wise enough not to answer to Solomon’s letter by raging war or by making it a personal matter but she thought of the well being of her people and how they would suffer from such a war. She was wise to say “if kings enter a town they spoil it and humiliate the most respected ones in it.” True because lands have only been spoiled but by tyrant mindless rulers that we still see around us. They would bow to stronger powers and oppress their own people. The queen of Sheba proved her intelligence by sending Solomon a present just to buy herself more time to decide what to do. At the end she proves more intelligent when she embraced Islam and saved herself and her people in this life and in the hereafter and she said “O my Lord I have indeed wronged my soul: I do (now) submit (in Islam), with Solomon, to the Lord of the Worlds” (Al-Naml :44). In the Quranic stories we find two major examples of tyrant rulers; one is a man that is Pharaoh and the other is a woman that is the queen of Sheba. And even though the story of Pharaoh was repeated several times the story of the queen of Sheba is only mentioned once. Similarities between Pharaoh and the queen of Sheba They were both tyrant who enjoyed total power. And we said that shura is the art of mastering power. So if the people enjoy the power the ruler becomes a hired person who performs their wishes. But if the ruler takes all the power and the wealth to himself he becomes a tyrant who only consults himself and his followers who are hypocrites who only want to please him and his ego. When Pharaoh had total control over Egypt wealth and army he made a clear statement saying “O my people! Does not the dominion of Egypt belong to me, (witness) these streams flowing underneath me, What see ye not then?” (Al-Zukhruf :51). The pharaonic history confirms that the pharaohs had complete power over politics, wealth and military forces especially after they controlled the feudal lords along the riverbanks. They established a central power that would not function without the orders of the “president”!! Similarly The queen of Sheba was the autocratic holder of wealth and power. In the Quran it says “I found (there) a woman ruling over them and provided with every requisite; and she has a magnificent throne.” (Al-Naml :23). And her chiefs confirm her autonomous power by saying “we are endued with strength, and given to vehement war: but the command is with thee; so consider what thou wilt command.” (Al-Naml :33) God considers Pharaoh to be representing the Egyptians just as the Queen of Sheba was representing her people. Pharaoh was sent two prophets from God, Moses and his Aaron, they were asked to “speak to him mildly; perchance he may take warning or fear (Allah)” (TaHa :44) And in a similar way the queen of Sheba was sent a message from the prophet Solomon since she represented her people. Although there are great similarities between these two rulers yet their reactions were completely different, and so were the destinies of their people. Moses and Aaron’s main mission was to deliver the people of Israel from the Pharaonic persecution and to take Pharaoh permission to them out of Egypt. They were ordered to say “verily we are messengers sent by thy Lord; send forth, therefore, the Children of Israel with us, and afflict them not.”(TaHa :47) God had asked his prophet to ask in a gentle and peaceful fashion as they said “with a sign, indeed, have we come from thy Lord! And peace to all who follow guidance!” (TaHa :47) And Moses was endowed with miracles to convince Pharaoh that he was a true prophet. Pharaoh was perfectly capable of granting Moses’ wish and allowing the Hebrews whom he hated to leave. He had nothing to fear. On the one hand his army was far too great to consider the Israelites a threat, and on the other hand the persecution had weakened the Israelites too the extend that it took them after that forty years to gather to build up strength in order to enter Palestine. Pharaoh’s pride got in the way and he refused to let these weakened people go with the two prophets. As a result Pharaoh and his army drowned in the sea, sent to punishment until judgement day. The reason for that was the tyranny that leads rulers to assume divinity as he said “I but point out to you that which I see (myself); Nor do I guide you but to the path of right” (Ghafer :29) And because of that tyranny the destruction reached Pharaoh’s historical signature “And we levelled to the ground the Great Works and fine buildings which pharaoh and his people erected (with such pride). We took the Children of Israel (with safety) across the sea.”(Al-A’raf :137,138) The queen of Sheba’s situation the prophet Solomon was different. For Solomon was a prophet king appointed by God. And from this position he sent her a message inviting her to embrace Islam- and Islam is devoting your heart and soul to God and living in peace with others, and this is the meaning in all God’s messages- and Solomon’s message to the queen could have hurt her pride, but when she read the message she turned to her chiefs saying ” Ye chiefs! Here is delivered to me a letter worthy of respect. It is from Solomon, and it is (as follows) : ‘in the name of Allah, Most Gracious Most Merciful: Be ye not arrogant against me, but come to me in submission (to the true religion).’ ” (Al-Naml :30,31) So even though she has full authority, she discussed the matter openly with her chiefs and read the message to them and described it as ‘a letter worthy of respect.’ That was a clear sign from her so that they would not respond negatively and vote for retaliation. And with the same calm politics she was able to reach a happy ending while Pharaoh and his people were resting at the bottom of the sea with their illusory politics. Here is the difference between a tyrant man and a tyrant woman. There is no doubt that a tyrant woman has less animosity and belligerence than a tyrant man. Chapter two Islamic heritage and the right of women to rule an Islamic state Quranic legislation is what should be done, and the Quranic stories are descriptions of what happened in history with the concentration on the moral of the stories. That is what concerns the Quran as far as legislation and stories. We have presented the right of women to rule as far as legislation is concerned (which is what should be). And we know that the Islamic state council, the shura, puts the power in the hands of the people and it makes the ruler an employee for the people.

The ruler could equally be a man or a woman as long as they are qualified and as long as the people are the real power holders, as it was illustrated in the Quranic stories. Pharaoh ‘s tyranny lead him to the hunt of two prophets along with their people until he died drowning, so he became an example for acting against God’s will. As for the queen of Sheba who was also a tyrant but due to her feminine nature she consulted others and feared for her people and acted in a delicate way and thus saved her people. This is what we learn from the Quranic legislation and stories. Turning to the Islamic heritage with its own stories and its jurisprudence we find that it has two sides; The jurists’ side which is how they wanted it to be, and the realistic side which is what history recorded. It seems that the realistic side was the true influence on the jurists’ views. They were influenced by the circumstances of the age they lived in where the sultans dominated. And they dealt with it in total passiveness and submission. That reflected on their legal and personal opinions. If the jurist was a legislator he would protect his legislation by relating it to a prophetic saying (a hadith). Even though it was about two hundred years after the prophet’s death, the jurist would prove the authenticity of the saying by listing the chain of people who passed it on going all the way to the prophet’s companions until the prophet’s mouth. The jurist in that era did not face any criticism nor argument. No one would ask him to prove that the people mentioned in the chain, who had already been dead for years, did indeed tell these stories or these sayings. The chain of tellers does not fit with the Quran nor any scientific method of proof. For that reason we deal with it as thoughts or a culture of its own time. Therefore the Islamic heritage with regards to history, stories about the prophet and legislation is considered relative facts liable to mistake, truth and argumentation. These differ from the Quranic facts that are absolute truth. And thus we have total freedom to deal and argue with the stories and the legal opinions of the Islamic heritage. At the end, what we say is also liable to mistake, truth and argumentation. This is the real religious effort that Moslems need to do to exit their retarded civilisation which has lasted for too long. There are two different ways that can lead women to political power ,and the same applies to men. Either by participating in forming the state through revolution, migration, war or struggle, or by inheriting the power. This is what happened in the history of women in and out of the Islamic state. Women were able to dominate the ruler himself through their feminine talents. Ironically most of those who were able to reach political domination were slaves meant to please the Khalif (the king). And they were of a lesser grade then the free aristocratic wives. But they used their mental and feminine talents to hold all the political threads and to gain control. They used the tools of that age, its culture and its political methods to reach the top and to keep it. As it happened to men, these women also faced rising and falling, strength and humiliation. And when they fell their punishment did consider their femininity and delicacy. Such is the game of politics, there is no mercy for the defeated in the political culture of the middle ages. Let us look at the chronological order of the struggle of women to reach state presidency, as it is related in the Heritage, until it was accomplished in 1250 (648 (Hijra)) with Shagarat Aldor. And as we concluded the previous chapter by comparing Pharaoh and the queen of Sheba we shall conclude this chapter with a comparison between Shagarat Aldor and the last Abbassid Khalif in Bagdad who had the misfortune to object to Shagarat Aldor’s seat of power. 1: Women’s struggle to establish a state Normally the motion of human history on this planet is done with two feet, one is the man’s and the other is the woman’s. But men took over the recording of history and women were thus hidden between the lines. Then came the male jurist who directed his anger and frustration against women and restricted them within the walls of the home. And that made it more difficult for the historian to illustrate the role of women in history whether inside the royal home or outside in the battlefields or in the arena of revolution. In such a concise paper we will content ourselves with a quick view over the escalating efforts done by women struggling to establish a state until they reached the power as a Sultana or a state ruler. In the Quran we saw how the shura sets the power in the hands of the people men and women alike and from there the ruler can either be a man or a woman. The Quran spoke about the women who migrated with the prophet and how they pledged their allegiance to him when they were seeking asylum in Medina. The written history of the prophet confirms that, and some of these stories tell about the woman who preceded her father in faith as Um Habiba who preceded her father Abu Sufyan in embracing Islam. Also the sister of Omar Ben Khatab who converted before him and was tortured by him along with her husband Said Ben Zaid, and Hawa’ Bent Yazid the Medina inhabitant who converted before her husband Aba yazid, and Om Selim Bent Melhan the wife of Malik Ben Elnadr the father of the companion Anes Ben Hanbal. Om Kalthoum Bent Aqabah Ben Ma’it migrated as a young girl from Mecca to Medina, after the prophet’s treaty of Hudaybiya, leaving her family behind. Her two brothers. Al Walid and Emara, came to take her away but she refused. Some of these migrant women went to Ethiopia first before going to Medina, as mentioned in the writings of Ibn Hashim. Imam Zahry said: “We do not know of any migrant women that rejected their faith after having converted.” After migration women had to pledged their allegiance to Muhammad as a prophet and as a ruler and to abide by his laws, the same way that men had to. Before the prophet migrated himself he made a deal with the people of Medina to host two groups of migrants from Mecca. The second group consisted of seventy three men and two women Om Emara and Asma’ Bent Omar. Women participated in establishing the state and in defending it. Al Rabi’ Bent Mo’awiz said: “We used to go on military expedition with the prophet so we quenched their thirst, provided them with service, treated the wounded and returned the dead to Medina. ” And women would also participate in attending the state council meetings at the mosque. We also have the saying of Fatma Bent Quays:” When my menstrual period passed I heard the call of prayer so I rushed to the mosque and prayed with the prophet of God. I stood in the row of women that is just behind the men’s.” 1 These are but little signs of the interaction of women with men in establishing the Islamic state during the age of the prophet. The Ummayad transformed this civil state into an inheritance of power for their own benefit, which lead the Moslems into civil wars. Aisha was the one who lead the first civil war known as the war of Al Gamal. Aisha opposed the Khalif Othman Ben Affan after he fell under the influence of his relatives the Ummayad. Her opposition supported by others lead to a rebellion against him and finally to his death. After that Ali took over and Aisha was still not pleased so she lead an armed attack against Ali known as the war of Al Gamal. This bloody and sad story shows how involved Aisha was in political matters to the extent that she forgot that the prophet’s women were exclusively ordered to remain in there homes. But the women’s participation in political affairs was so natural that it is was no surprise to have Aisha lead an army against a legal successor. TheUmmayad benefited from all these wars though it was not easy to uproot what the Moslems were used to in the state council and its justice. And so it cost Moslems hundreds of thousands of lives for the Ummayad to enjoy their new power. It then cost the Moslems twice as much lives for the Ummayad to unify their state. They performed three great violations in order to ensure the first khalif, Yazid Ben Mu’awiyah, his inherited throne. First they killed Al Hussein, the grandson of the prophet, and his family in Karbala, then they attacked and plundered Medina when its people rebelled against them. Then they had Mecca under seige and violated the sanctity of the Ka’ba. Among those against the Ummayad were the shiites in Irak, the Copts in Egypt, and the Khawarij from the Arabs. Women participated in these revolutions even with the Khawarij. The latter are Arabic nomads who do not consider women as worthy, which was typical of nomadic ideology. But the arrival of Islam changed the face of women’s lives in the lands of Arabia. There appeared amazing examples of warfare participation that historians neglected to mention most of them and were just content to include general statements such as ‘The Khawarij women participated in wars and revolutions.’ This history was recorded way after it occurred and after it was orally transmitted. Only the form of poetry glorified it. For example, the poems about Ghazalah the wife of Shabib Al Khariji, who revolted against the state of the Ummayad. Shabib had killed five of the chiefs of the Ummayad governor Al Hagag Ben Yusuf. Then Shabib went to Kufa with his wife who had vowed to go to the mosque of Kufa and read the two longest chapters of the Quran. They arrived in Kufa accompanied by seventy men. And when Al Hagag learned about it he fled to his fortress and surrounded it with security. The poet Al Kamel ridiculed Al Hagag saying: A great lion but in warfare an ostrich, Running away from the smallest bird. Have you come out to look at Ghazalah in battle Or was your heart fleeing under a bird’s wing? She was described by historians as being on the highest rank of chivalry and courage. And that she fought in wars with her sword and her horse. And when Hagag failed to face Shabib and his wife, he sent the Ummayad Khalif Abd El Malik Ben Marawan with an army lead by Sufyan Ben Al Azd to defeat Shabib. The latter had withdrawn from the battlefield once his wife Ghazaleh and his mother Gahiza, also a great fighter, had both been killed. As Shabib was leaving he crossed the Digla river and drawned.2 The war fighting wife is the ultimate example of how interactive women were in that period whether for or against Islam. And in all cases Islam is what motivated them. It brought them out of the passive aristocracy they enjoyed in Koreish. And when they embraced Islam, they got the enthusiasm to amend for the way they struggled against it. Let us look at the scattered pieces of information found between the lines of recorded history about Om Hakim Om Hakin appeared in Mecca during the time of the prophet. Her uncle was Abu Gahl (Abu Al Hakim Ben Hisham) who lead Beni Makhzoum and Koraysh in a war against the prophet and his companions. Om Hakim was married to her cousin Akrama Ben Abu Gahl, and she followed in the footsteps of her family against Islam. Since then the Moslems were forced to migrate to Medina. And when the first war of Badr took place Abu Gahl lead the forces of the unbelievers. He died and they lost the war. Akrama and his wife Om Hakim began playing a major role of leadership along the sides of Abu Sufyan and his wife Hind in the next war of Uhud. These were all avenging for the ones they lost during the previous war of Badr. The People of Koraysh won the war and returned victorious to Mecca. Akrama continued to lead with Abu Sufyan in the next war of Al Khandaq. When Koraysh was forced to sign the peace treaty of Al Hudaybiya Akrama was not very pleased to sign it. He purposely broke the agreement which resulted in a raid by the prophet against Koraysh. While Abu Sufyan surendered, Akrama and his friend Al Mabtur Safwan Ben Omaya along with others decided to resist the attackers in the battle of Al Khandama. The counter attack was of a suicidal nature. Safwan and Akram had no choice but to run away. One of the escapers told his wife; If you had witnessed the day of Al Khandam As Safwan ran away and Akrama ran away. Akaram escaped from Mecca when Koraysh surrendered and his wife Om Hakim converted to Islam. She pleaded with the prophet to forgive her husband. He accepted and told her that he could come back to his family in peace and remain in his faith if he wished, which was the case with Safwan Ben Omaya. But Akrama had fled to Yemen hoping to cross to Ethiopia from there. His wife decided to travel to him to tell him of the good news. She took with her one of her slaves who tried to rape her on the way, but she was able to defend herself and kill him. By that time Akrama had reached the sea and tried to board on a ship. Yet the ship owner refused to let him embark telling him: “O servant of God do not embark on my ship until you believe in God alone. I fear to let you on it lest it would sink.” Akrama tried to bargain with him but the man said: “Only believers board my ship.” Akrama thought to himself ‘why then should I leave my people and my country if this is the same that Mohamad is asking for?’ And thus he converted. Then his wife found him and they both returned to Mecca. He became a new person. The devotion they both had fighting Islam was replaced by a strong zeal for Islam and the prophet. And their past seemed to be a burden that they felt they had to continuously amend for. Akrama and his wife were at the head of the Moslems army sent by Abu Bakr against Musaylama Al Kazab in Al Yamama (Nagd). And after the victory of the war of Reddah, Abu Bakr sent him with Khaled Ben Said Ben Al ‘As to conquer Syria in the 13th (Hijra) year. Even though Khaled was not a competent warrior as Akrama was, still Abu Bakr could not seem to fully trust Akram, the son of Abu Sufyan, to lead the army on his own. Khaled was defeated due to his hastiness and fled in front of the walls of Damascus. Yet, Akrama remained behind to defend his army with his wife, Om Hakim, by his side fighting the Romans like a man. Throughout the battle Akrama was reciting praises of his beautiful wife who was firmly holding on to her sword. Akrama then became known for his heroism and he lead one of the four armies that united to face the Romans in a crucial battle. For that reason Abu Bakr ordered the leader of Moslems in Irak, Khaled Ben Al Walid, to leave his army in charge of his viceroy and to get to Syria as fast as possible to strengthen the armies of the Moslems facing the Romans. He made it in a record timing and jut before it was too late. He united and reorganised the armies and distributed the leadership over consecutive days. He was to be in command in day one, but Akrama and Al Qa’qa’ were tohead the leading army. Akrama’s wife Om Hakim was by his side making history. The great historian Ebn Ashaq mentioned that Om Hakim fought with her husband accompanied by other women from Koraysh who fought “until they outran the men”!! In the midst of the blazing war Akrama was shouting to the Romans: “I fought against the prophet of God in all places so how would flee from you now”. And when he saw his army weakening because of the outnumbering of the Romans, he yelled : ” who would join me for a deadly deed?” So the bravest knights united with him. Among them was Amr and his brother Al Harith Ben Hashim and Darar Ben Al Azwar and four hundred others. They threw themselves in a suicidal attack on the Romans which shook the Roman army and cost the lives of many Moslems. Akrama and his son, Omar, went to Khaled Ben Al Walid bleeding to death. He put their heads on his lap and went on pouring water to clean their wounds, so Akrama opened his eyes and said: ” They claimed that we would not die martyrs but God tested us.” And upon these words he died and so did his son. Om Hakim watched as her husband and son died in the decisive battle of Al Yarmuk. There were many battles that followed after that aiming to clear Syria from the remaining Romans, and Om Hakim participated in all of them. And after her required period of mourning was over two of the Moslem chiefs proposed to marry her: Yazid Ben Abu Sofyan and khaled Ben Said Ben Al ‘As. She accepted to marry the latter that paid her a dowry of four hundred dinars. She told him that she would marry him once the conquests are completed. But just before the important battle of Marg Al Safra’ he told her: “My soul is telling me that I will be hit in this battle.” So she yielded to him and accepted to have the wedding. So Khaled prepared a great feast inviting his friends and the knights of the army. The Roman army had learned about it and surprised them with an attack. Khaled came running out of his tent dressing up as a group of roman soldiers gathered around him and killed him. Om Hakim hurried while still dressing and used a tent pole to fight the soldiers and killed seven of them. It turned into a bloody battle that ended with the extermination of the Romans in Marg Al Safra’. Om Hakim returned with wounded arms and a dead husband. She entered another period of mourning all spent in the Syrian wars. Once the war was victoriously over she returned home preceded by her reputation and she married the Khalif Omar Ben Al Khatab. Although this woman made history she was only mentioned between the lines.3 2:Women ruling from behind the curtain It was not possible for women to rule from behind the curtain during the Ummayad period. The fast growing empire reached Syria in the north, China and India in the east and the frontiers of France in the west and along the European borders of the Mediterranean sea. But the political influence of women appeared during the Abbasid period, in which the empire was less stretched then in the Ummayad period. The pace of this empire was much slower than in the previous one, which allowed women to get politically involved even if they belonged to the concubine slaves. But most of them were concubine slaves. Furthermore, most of the Abbasid Khalifs were sons of concubine slaves. And most of them are descendants of Al Khayzaran the mother of Haroun Al Rashid, who is the father of all the Abbasid Khalifs that succeeded him. There is a anonymous women who played an essential role in establishing the Abbasid state. And she had her influence when the state was finally established. But the style of history recording of the Abbasid period intimidated the historians who were content with just alluding to her in between the lines. Especially that her husband was Abu Al Abbas Al Safah the founder of the Abbasid dynasty. The historian Al Mas’udi ,who lived during the Abbasidperiod, was partially able to free himself from fear and to refer to the wife of the Khalif Abu Al Abbas Al Safah in his book MOUROUG AL ZAHAB. She was the mother of Salma Bent Yacoub Al Makhzoumiya who married Abd El Aziz son of the Ummayad Khalif Al Walid Ben Abd Al Mulk. And when he died she married the Khalif Hisham Ben Abd Al Mulk. Then after he died she inherited great wealth and remained single. At that time she met Abu Al Abbas, who was young and handsome, and she wished to marry him and they did. He was a poor but ambitious man leading with his brother a secret mission to overthrow the Ummayad dynasty. She financially supported him until the mission was accomplished and the Abbasid power was established. She had made him promise not to take other wives nor concubines slaves. Once he became the all powerful Khalif, Al Mas’udi says : ” she dominated him so that he would not take a decision without consulting with her and being influenced by her, and he would not approach any other woman but her, neither a free nor a slave.”4 Thus the brutal Khalif who eradicated the Ummayad, wiped out the country and killed God’s servants, would be transformed into a domestic cat between the hands of his wife Om Salma. Al Khayzaran was the mother of the Abbasid successors since the period of the Khalif Al Mahdi the third Abbasid Khalif until the extinction of the Abbasid dynasty in Cairo with the Ottoman’s conquest of Egypt in 1517. She married the Khalif Al Mahdi son of the Khalif Al Mansour, and gave birth to Al Hadi then Al Rashid who both became successors to the throne. And from the offspring of Haroun Al Rashid came all the Abbasid Khalifs. Thus she is the mother of the Abbasid Khalifs. She had great influence on the Abbasid succession. At that time the empire was at its prime. And in order to preserve it as such she did not refrain from killing her son, the Khalif Al Hadi. Al Khayzaran first arrived to the palace of the heir to the throne Al Mahdi son of the Khalif Al Mansour. It was the custom that the slaves would go from one master to another from the time she is kidnapped from her parents by a gang until she is handed to slave traders. During this period the slave learns the art of seduction and she also acquires the knowledge of jurisprudence, literature, poetry, philosophy, wisdom, and the arts of singing, dancing and playing instruments. Added to this is all the knowledge she acquires about life and the society form its lowest to its highest class. So if she reaches the palaces to be offered for sale she would have fully developed her mental, personal and seductive capabilities. That was the case of Al Khayrazan when she entered the palace of prince Al Mahdi. As he was customarily checking the slave for sale, he said :”By God o slave, you are most desired, but your legs are rough” and she replied saying about her legs :”O prince, when you are in great need of them you will not see them.” Upon these words the prince decided bought her and made her one of his concubines. And even though he married several other free women, Al Khayzran was able to make him marry her and thus end her status as slave. Through her influence, her children were favored among others to become the only heirs to the throne. These were Al Hadi followed by Al Rashid. Al Hadi was not pleased with his mothers political influence nor with the way envoys after envoys of people with demands rushed to her. Al Khayzaran realised that her son and her had different approaches and she feared for herself once he becomes in control. For that reason, she was able to convince her husband to let her younger son, Al Rashid, inherit the throne first. And in Muharam 169 (Hijra), as the Khalif insisted to have his wife’s wish realised, his son Al Hadi refused to let his seat to his younger brother and he went against his father. The situation developed in an obscure way resulting in the death of the Khalif and Al Hadi taking over. And so the conflict began between him and his mother, Al Khazaran. Al Hadi was a strongly built young energetic man, quite jealous and severely firm. He made a deal with his mother allowing her four more months in office, according to Al Tabari. But he soon after began to criticise her saying :” Women are not allowed to oppose their king, it is enough for you to stick to prayer and praise of the Lord.” As the envoys continued coming to her, she asked her son for a favor for Abd Allah Ben Malik. But Al Hadi refused saying :” By God I would not do it for him.” She answered :” and by God I would not ask you for anything again.” He replied that it did not matter to him. She angrily got up to leave but he stopped her saying that he would not allow anyone to knock at her door for help again. That these would wither be beaten or arrested. He ordered her to stay home and read the Quran. That was the end of Al Khayzaran’s influence during the reign of her son Al Hadi. Al Hadi started planning to cut his brother’s right to the throne so that his son Ga’far Ben Al Hadi could be his successor. Al Khayzaran feared for her son Al Rashid who was her only remaining hope to regain her political influence. She became convinced that Al Hadi was determined to kill her and his brother; He sent her a poisoned grilled duck that she was about to eat if her loyal slave had not warned her. They got a dog to eat it and he died instantly. After that, Al Khayzaran heard of a conspiracy against her son Al Rashid. so she ordered some slaves to kill her son Al Hadi. They strangled him in his sleep in the year 170 (Hijra) after he had been on the throne for only fourteen months. She had him killed when he was in the prime of his youth and strength. The same night she sent to Yehia Ben Khaled Al Barmaki to certify the succession of the throne to Khaled Al Marki for help. She continued thus until she died in 173 (Hijra) year. Al Tabari tells that during her funeral, her son Al Rashid walked barefoot and crying.5 Moving from Al Khayrazan to Qabiha the mother of the Khalif Al mo’taz Al Abbasi. Al Rashid. During the reign of the latter, Al Khayzaran was the main supervisor using Yehia Ben Qabiha was the prettiest slave of the Khalif Al Motawakel Al Abbasi, who was so infatuated with her that he could not stay away from her. And she became even more important to him when she bore a son, Al Mo’taz known in this period as Ben Qabiha. The boy was so brilliant that his father, under the mother’s influence, wanted to make him the heir before his older brother Al Muntasser. Which off course worsened the relationship between the two. And which encouraged Al Muntasser to conspire with the Turkish leaders and kill his father Al Mutawakel. And since then the swords of the Turks found their ways to the necks of the Abbasid Khalifs. One of the victims was Al Montasser himself then Al Musta’in then Al Mo’taz and his mother Qabiha. However, Qabiha was able to enjoy political power when her son Al Mo’taz ruled. But her inept politics lead to the downfall of her son and to her humiliation. She went from being a concubine to a humiliated person before the Turkish leaders. Yet, during that period she enjoyed being in the glory of the Abbasid rule during the reign of he husband Al Mutwakel. Then she was probably responsible for the loss of such a great power. The historians spoke of Al Mutawakel’s infatuation with his wife Qabiha and the extravagant feast he made when her son Al Mo’taz completed his learning of the Quran. They said that Al Mo’taz became Khalif at the age of nineteen in the year 251 (Hijra). And that he was younger than the legal heir, that he was one the richest Khalif and the most dominated by his mother. She had used the Turkish leaders to get rid of the previous Khalif, Al Musta’in, whom she had kept away from power. Then she planned for her son to get rid of his opponents among the Abbasid princes. She also made use of the conflicts between the Turks to exercise her power over them. She had gathered all the money and the jewellery and hid them in a secret place. There was great competition between the Turks and the Moroccan soldiers and the Sharkasi soldiers. She revolted the Moroccans against the Turks. In turn the Turks accused the Moroccans of killing the Khalifs and they alienated them, which created trouble between the two groups ending with the killing of the Moroccan leaders. She tried another trick when she made her son withhold the salaries of his soldiers. At that time she owned one million dinars in the year 252 (Hijra) which equals two years of the state’s income. Her wish came true when the soldiers revolted against Wasif the Turkish army chief and they killed him in the year 253 (Hijra) because of their delayed salaries. And so Qabiha and her son were relieved from Wasif’s power. The Khalif Al Mo’taz gave Wasif’s position to his friend Bagha to create animosity between him and Saleh the son of Wasif. At the same time Qabiha wanted to try the same trick again with Bagha by withholding the soldiers salaries to make them revolt against him. But Bagha understood the trick He took the opportunity of the Khalif’s absence to attack Qabiha’s hidden treasures and mounted them on twenty mules. But the Khalif’s soldiers were on guard because it was all an ambush for Bagha and so they killed him. The Khalif ordered the burning of Bagha’s body and the arrest of his followers in the year 254 (Hijra). The only opponent remaining for Al Mo’taz and Qabiha was Salef Ben Wasif the chief of the Turkish soldiers. Qabiha made a plan to destroy Saleh Ben Wasif; She sent for Moussa Ben Bagha to come to Baghdad to take over his father’s position and at the same time she agreed with the vizier Ahmed Ben Israel not to give Saleh Ben Wasif the money he needs to pay the soldiers’ salaries hoping they would revolt against him and kill him. But Saleh Ben Wasif understood the plan and he attacked with his soldiers the Khalif and his vizier so that the soldiers may be witnesses to whom is really cutting their salaries. Once they realised who the guilty party is, the soldiers seized the vizier, beat him in front of the Khalif. They then took the vizier along with his companions and tortured him until he told them where the money is kept. The Khalif was taken by fear and thus unable to protect his vizier. But Qabiha sent to Ben Wasif ordering him to release the vizier. Ben Wasif ignored her order and instead he gathered the soldiers around him and told them that Qabiha and her son the khalif are the ones keeping the salaries from them. So an envoy from the soldiers went to the Khalif asking him for their money. The Khalif in turn asked his mother to send him fifty thousand dinars, but she refused hoping for Moussa Ben Bagha to arrive and advise her on how to destroy Ben Wasif. The latter did not wait and had the Khalif arrested, and then tortured by the Turks. They appointed Al Mahdi as Khalif in his place in 255 (Hijra). At once Qabiha went into hidding, escaping through a secret passage that lead from her bedroom to the outside. They searched all over Baghdad for her. When Saleh Ben Wasif finally found her, he was able to obtain the millions of dinars that she had hid. It is said that he also raped her and tortured her then sent her to Mecca where she stayed until the Khalif Al Mu’tamad brought her back to Samera and she died in 264 (Hijra).6 Al Sayedah was the official title given to the slave Shaghab who mothered the Khalif Al Moqtadar Billah, who inherited the Abbasid throne at the age of thirteen. He submitted to his mother who controlled the power of the throne until he was killed in 320 (Hijra). Thus she ruled for about 25 years but her end was painful and sad. This slave was mentioned, under the name of Na’em, between the lines of history recorded by Al Tabari. She was the slave of Om Al Qassem daughter of Mohamad Ben Abdallah. The Khalif Al Mu’tadad saw her, liked her and took her as a concubine. She bore him a child, Ga’far who later became a Khalif under the name of Al Moqtadar Billah. In the meantime, the Khalif had become more interested in his other more beautiful concubines and ignored her. Since she could not compete with their beauty she started creating trouble among the concubines who number mounted to four thousand. The Khalif kept punishing her and finally called her Shaghab, meaning troublesome. She did not abstain from trickery and creating problems to the extent that she was the cause of a couple of slave’s death. One of them was the beautiful Egyptian bride, Qatr El Nada daughter of Ahmad Ben Touloun, who died shortly after her arrival. Another was Darira, who had won the Khalif’s heart. And for whom he had built a swimming pool and faced the satires of the poet Ibn Bassam. And when Darira died the Khalif’s grief was put into poetry. Another of Shaghab’s victims was the slave who mothered the Khalif known as Al Qahir Billah. When the mother died, Shaghab brought up the boy with her own. But when he became Khalif he avenged for his mother’s death as we will see later. The Khalif Al Mu’tadad had not taken notice of the quick deaths of his slave concubines especially those that bore him boys. But then he began to take heed and all the signs pointed to Shaghab, but the evidences were not enough. He thought about cutting her nose then refrained for the sake of her son, Al Muqtader Billah, and his son Al Qahir, who were under her care. He was satisfied by secluding her in a house that felt like a prison. She had her son with her to take care of and to confine her pains and sadness with. The only other company she had was her slave friend, Thaml, who would supply her with the current news and who would help her in her plots. Shaghab was planning for her son to inherit the throne after his father. She also made sure that her son was totally dependent on her, unable to take any decision without her order. To secure his future position, she plotted with Thaml and with the help of Al Ayman to have the slave Jijek killed, who she was the mother of the Khalif’s oldest son. Her death was done in a subtle way that did not attract the Khalif’s attention. The Khalif was known for his severity. If someone upsets him, he would bury him alive. And the irony is that with such a reputation he died suddenly in 289 (Hijra). His son Ali took over and known as Al Muktafi. Shaghab did not bother him because her son was still under age. Strangely enough, the day her boy reached puberty at the age of thirteen, the young Khalif, Al Muktafi was poisoned and died. Ever since, her boy, Al Muqtader was on the throne and for twenty five years he ruled under her domination. The first thing she did was stop people from calling her Shaghab (troublesome) and she called herself Al Sayeda ( the female master). The second thing was to collect all the jewellery that were given by the Khalif to her competitive slave concubines. And they were redistributed to the slaves who collaborated with Shaghab and helped in her plots. Thaml was the one who got the highest share these jewellery. She also changed Thaml’s name to Om Moussa Al Qahramana and she became her private servant. Shaghab had the power to dismiss any vizier she disliked. Then she turned her hatred against the jurists and the authorities on religion. It was an unprecedented event in the history of Islam; In 306 (Hijra) Thaml or Om Moussa was made a jurist. To everyone’s surprise, she would sit in the meetings every Friday to listen to people’s complains and cases. She would sit in the company of the jurists, the religious authorities, and the great officials and carry on with her decrees. That is the period referred to in the saying “no people could succeed when lead by a woman.” That was only one of the sayings among many that criticise women being in power. Although this period was known for its highly esteemed jurists, they all kept their silence before Thaml. The age of Al Muqtadar and his mother witnessed people like Mohamad Ben Abi Dawoud Al Zahiri, Ibn Sharih, Al Ganid, Abu Othman Al Hiri, Al Nesa’i, Al Gaba’i, Ibn Al Gala’, Abu Ya’li, Al Astani, Al Rowandi, Al Tabari, Al Zagag, Al Akhfash Al Saghir, Abu Bakr Al Sagtani, Ibn Al Serag, Abu Owana, and Al Baghwi. Just as the age of Qabiha and her son Al Mu’taz witnessed great people like Al Bukhari, Moslem, Abi Dawoud, Al Tarmazi, Ibn Maga, Al Mazni, Ibn Abd El A’lah, Al Zabir Ben Bakar, Al Riashi, Al Zahli, Dawoud Al Zahiri, Ibn Makhled, Ibn Qatiba, Abu Hatem Al Razi and Ibn Hanbal. Let us return to Shaghab and see how she revenged herself from her opponents. In 299 (Hijra) she sequestrated the money of Fatma Al Qahramana whose body was found drowned in the river Digla. The same fate followed for the slaves and servants of Fatma. Shaghab and Om Moussa also persecuted some viziers. As in the case of the vizier Ben Al Garag who did not show much respect to Om Moussa so he was expelled and sequestrated. Shaghab did the same to the viziers Hamed Ben Abbas and Ali Ben Issa. She used to handle the viziers like toys; setting them in office then expelling him. And yet she had her good side too; She built a hospital on the bank of the river Digla in 306 (Hijra), and personally funded and army to defend Baghdad from the Qaramita in 315 (Hijra). There were several conspiracies against Shaghab and her son. At one point the Turkish soldiers revolted. They imprisoned Shaghab. They expelled the Khalif and put his brother Al Qahir in his place. But then the conspiracy failed an Al Muqtader was back on the throne, forgiving his brother and letting him live. Another revolution lead by the Turkish leader Al Mo’nis Al Khadem, took place and Al Muqtader was killed in 320 (Hijra). His brother was once again the Khalif. This time he tortured Shaghab with his own hands until she surrendered all her wealth to him. Yet he continued to torture her until she died.7 These are some examples of the women who ruled during the Abbasid period but from behind a curtain. Their political influence paralysed the jurists so that whenever they could, to avenge themselves, they would issue legal advise that restricts the rights of women, and they would make up prophetic sayings that downplay women completely. 3: Women taking control in person The glory of the religious Abbasid empire prevented women from publicly being in office. They would be in power only while a man is on the throne representing religious power, as it was understood in the middle ages. The Eastern powers, such as the Seljuks and the Mongols, who dominated and annihilated the Abbasid empire, did not have such restrictions on women. These powers allowed women to rule either next to a sultan or on their own. Our first example is Al Turnigan Om Al Nushran the wife of Taghrlik. She was known for her fairness, piety and generosity. The sultan would consult and obey her as she was also known for being opinionated, steadfast and wise. She died in 452 (Hijra) in Gargan. The sultan was struck with sadness and carried her coffin with him to Al Ray in Iran where he buried her. And before dying she made the sultan promise her that their daughter would be married to the Abbasid Khalif, and she did.8 That reminds us of the Mongol princess Baghdad khatoun who came centuries later, when the Mongols invaded Irak and Iran and divided the land among themselves. Princess Baghdad Khatoun, daughter of prince Goban, was married. But the Mongol sultan Al Naser Bosaid was in love with her and he wanted her. So he fought prince Goban, defeated him and took Baghdad Khatoun from him and married her. In order to please her he gave her power in his kingdom, which included Iraq, Azerbaijan and part of Asia Minor. Khatoun exploited her authority and started by expelling Ali Bashia, Bosaid’s uncle. And Bosaid did not object to it, he even gave her full authority until he died. Then Arbakun took over and killed Khatoun in 736 (Hijra).9 Let us go back to the Seljuks, in the fifth century after the Hijra, to see how women took the seat of the sultan, and to meet Tarkan daughter of Taghrag Al Mulk descended of the Persian king Afrasiap. It was said that she was a courageous army leader, who had ten thousand horsemen serving her. After her husband, Malekshah, died she began taking care of the countriy’ affairs, protecting its wealth, and securing the roads for the traders. She personally lead the army during war and reigned until she died poisoned in 487 (Hijra).10 A century later the Ayubi princess Safia Khatoun was born. She lived from 581 to 630 (Hijra). When she became in power she was called ‘Al Sahibah’, meaning the owner. She was also described as a solemn wise queen. She was the daughter of the king Al Adel Al kabir Al Ayubi, and the wife of the king Al Zahir Ghazi Ben Salah Al Din from Halab. She bore him Al Aziz, who ruled Halab, and she was the grandmother of the king Al Naser Al Ayubi ruler of Syria. When her son Al Aziz died she took over the seat of power and ‘behaved like sultans do’. She revived the kingdom, ruling with justice, mercy, and honesty. She removed the unjust and unfair tax collectors from Halab. She favoured the poor and was very generous with them. When she died ‘Halab closed its doors for three days out of grief’ for her, as say the historians.11 The case was different with the mother of the king Al Naser Seif Al Islam Al Ayubi ruler of Yemen (who was contemporaneous to Shagarat El Dor in Egypt). When her son the king died, she became in charge and adjusted the affairs of Zabeed. She sent for a prince from the house of the Ayubis to co-rule with her. Then she found Solayman Shah, who was a Sufi caller in Mecca, so she invited him to Zabeed and married him. But he turned out to be a harsh ruler who filled the country with injustice. Then he betrayed her and took another wife. He was then defeated by his cousins the Ayubis, whom he had gone to war with. The king Al Mas’oud Ben Al Kamel took over Yemen and exiled him with his wife to Egypt.12 That leads us to Shagarat El Dor the most famous sultana in Islamic history. This is a lady whose story began between the written lines of history but she soon made it to the headlines of history to occupy a unique place in Islamic history. She appeared in a crucial period; King Louis The ninth attacked Dumyat where he was defeated and imprisoned in Mansoura. She also witnessed the shift of power from the Ayubis to the Mamluks, where she became the first sultana or even the first to rule among the Mamluks. She started as a concubine slave to the sultan Al Saleh Ayub Al Ayubi, and she ended her life humiliatingly in regards to women. But it is the game of politics that knows no mercy. She only drank from the same cup that she offered to others. The sultan Al Saleh Ayub was known for his dominating and revered nature. He knew when to keep silent and how to stay away from frivolity. It is difficult for a man with such characteristics to give in to love and romance. An d it would be difficult for one of his slaves to conquer his heart and to convince him to marry her and end her slavery. That is what Shagarat El Dor succeeded to do. She entered his palace as a pretty Turkish slave but was able to win his heart and be married to him. She bore him a child who died in an early age. Since he was called Khalil she became known as Om Khalil. Her intelligence came through during a difficult time when the crusaders attacked Dumyat. The guarding army fled and king Louis the Ninth moved with his troops to the city of Al Mansoura, which was especially built to face the crusaders. At that time sultan Al Saleh Ayub was very ill and the doctors had no hope to cure him. So Shagarat Al Dor made her husband sign thousands of blank official papers and she formed a committee to run the country and prepare an army for war. Al Saleh Ayub died but she kept it a secret and continued to rule in his name. She also sent for his son Turan Shah to come to Egypt to take over the reign. She continued her efforts until she defeated Louis the Ninth, destroyed his army and imprisoned him in Dar Ibn Lokman in Mansoura. When Turan Shah arrived he found victory and the throne waiting for him. And instead of being grateful to Shagarat El Dor and the Mamluk marines who belonged to his father, he accused them of many mistakes and replaced them with his own soldiers. He asked his mother in law, Shagarat El Dor, to present him with the wealth. As she feared his trickery she had the Mamluk soldiers kill him. And that was the beginning of her wicked plots and also the beginning of her assertion of power. The chiefs of the Mamluks consented to her position as the sultana and she was given the right to sign the official papers. Her signature was ‘Om Khalil’. In the forums she would be told “may God keep the sultan of delicate protection and the preventative veil, the queen of the Moslems, the mother of Khalil.” Her first act was to negotiate with the French imprisoned king who freed himself by paying four hundred thousand dinars. She started her reign on a Thursday in Safar in 648 (Hijra). She wore an official dress that consisted of a silk veil embroidered in gold. The princes would kiss the floor before her, as the custom had it, yet from behind a veil. The Abbasid Khalif, Al Musta’sim Billah, denied her right to reign. And he sent to the Egyptians ridiculing them by saying “had you said that you did not have a man, we would have sent you one.” When Sahagarat El Dor heard that she relinquished her position and married Ezz El Din Aybak to make him the first sultan of the Mamluks. But in reality her yielding of the throne was only an image. She continued to rule but from behind the curtain. She only made Ezz El Din Aybik a ruler by name while she kept all the control in her hand. She had several suitors wanting to marry her before she made her decision; the first was the prince Eqtay leader of the Mamluk marines who was surrounded by the bravest of knights Bebars who later became the sultan, and the second was Ezz El Din Aybak chief of the Mamluks whose follower was Qatz who became another sultan later on. Shagarat El Dor preferred Aybak thinking that he was easier to lead thanEqtay and thus her influence would remain. But when she made her choice Eqtay became upset and turned against them. So they planned to destroy him. But in the mean time Eqtay got tired of El Dor’s tactics. He left her and went back to his previous wife mother of his son Ali. And he sent for an Ayubi princess to marry and have her replace Shagarat El Dor. But when the latter learned about it she became furious with jealousy, lost her mind and pretended to want to reconcile with him just to have him come back and then kill him. Forgetting that Aybek’s Mamluks would not allow for the murder of their master, and that the Mamluk marines of Eqtay would seize the opportunity to revenge the killing of their chief. So when the Mamluks learned of the killing of the sultan they took hold of Shagarat El Dor and delivered her to his other wife, the mother of Ali. Shagarat El Dor died beaten to death with wooden slippers by the slaves of the mother of Ali, and upon her orders. Then her body was thrown away naked behind the walls of her fortress. And she was carried in a basket and burried.13 Thus Shagarat El Dor defeated princes and sultans… and she was only defeated by her heart…and by a woman. We conclude this chapter with a comparison between Shagarat El Dor and the Abbasid Khalif Al Mosta’sim Billah El Abbasi, who objected to her right to reign and because of whom she abdicated her throne. We saw how she protected the kingdom during difficult times; When the French army had penetrated the Delta while the sultan was ill. Then he died, and she had to face the approaching army all alone as the sultan’s son was absent. Yet she proved her strength and controlled the situation leading to a victory. Even when the new sultan sat on the throne she kept the power to herself and to the Mamluks, the Ayubi Mamluks. The sultan remained a puppet in their hands until the Ottoman conquests in 921 (or 1517 Hijra). Such were the deeds of the woman sultan who was just a slave before. What about the sultan who was brought up in a ruling family that lasted more than seven hundred years? The historian Ibn Tabatba was contemporaneous to the Khalif Al Mosta’sim, who brought about the end of Baghdad, the Abbasids and the Moslems themselves. The historian describes the Khalif as: weak character, little bravery or courage, lacking in experience and mainly greedy. He spent most his time listening to songs and being entertained. Very influence by his friends who were mere ignorant laymen. It has been said that Ibn Tabataba was Shiite and thus biased against the Khalif Al Mosta’sim who was known for his sunnit inclination. Yet Ibn Kahtir, a well trusted sunni historian, agrees with Ibn Tabataba. Ibn Kathir says that the Khalif’s only interest was getting rich. He even used the trust money that was set by Al Naser Dawoud Al Ayubi, which amounted to one hundred thousand dinars. That really made him a bad example of a khalif. Inb Kathir said that the worst trait that this khalif had was collecting so much wealth and making it his own. And that was probably the main reason for his defeat before the Mongols. The fact that he was so greedy does not make him unique compared to his predecessors but he went too far when he cut the soldiers salaries. Especially at a time like this when he needed his army the most because the Mongols were approaching Baghdad. Here we go back to the historian Ibn Kathir as he said “he sent the armies away without money to the extent that they went begging in the streets and at the mosques…poets wrote poems of pity for them and sadness for Islam and its people.” The khalif was tightening his hand towards the soldiers who needed it the most, while he was spending lavishly on his followers and his companions. He was surrounded by the lowest of laymen and the Mamluks, who gained importance during the decadence of the Abbasid rule. The Mamluks lived like kings while the intellectuals and the nobles were starving. Some examples of the rich followers of Al Mo’tasim were Alaa’ El Din Al Tibarsi Al Zahiri, he had an income of three hundred thousand dinars from his assets, he had a property that was unparalleled in Baghdad and when he got married he paid a dowry of twenty thousand dinars. On his wedding night the Khalif Al Mosta’sim offered him one hundred thousand dinars, introduced him to the powerful people of the country and offered him a village that brought him a revenue of two hundred thousand dinars yearly. There was also Megahid Al Dowedar who assets were uncountable. And on his wedding night he received a gift of three hundred thousand dinars. And on the morning Al Mosta’sim sent him another three hundred thousand dinars. And hir yearly revenue from his assets was more than half an million dinars. Another, was Ibn Fakher Sheiykh Al Farashin from the royal palace. The proof of his wealth was that his house had numerous rooms. Each room had a concubine slave and two servants, one male and one female, then there was a slave for food, one for his work, one for his drink, one for making the bed, one for his laundry, one for the cooking and so on. In contrast with all this wealth, the greatest of intellectuals would not earn more than twelve dinars per month. Such was the fee paid to the teachers at the schools. Ibn Al Sa’i and Ibn Al Quti, the two most famous historians of that time, earned a monthly salary of ten dinars each. How can that be compared to Sheiykh Al Farashin in the royal palace? In such times when an empire is heading towards its downfall, be it a Persian, Roman or Abbasid empire the picture is always completed by a plundering of the country’s wealth, a spreading of bribery, increase in sequestration, appearance of social unrest along with increase in decadent morality. And people start apprehending the danger knocking at their door. El Ghasani, author of the book AL ASGAD AL MASBOUK, describes the last days of the empire, being a witness himself, as ” they focused on feudalism and revenue and neglected considering the general well being. They concentrated on what could not be allowed. Injustice towards people increased, and the only goal was to gather money. Ownership can last with lack of faith, but it can not last with lack of justice.” Al Ghasani spoke truthfully because there is a Quranic principle that states :”If we want to destroy a town that we had sent justice to but that their people were lead astray”, meaning that they were lead astray from the true worship of God, “then it deserved the destruction we sent upon it”. Thus inner or outer destruction can only occur when injustice is allowed a place. God says: ” God would not unjustly destroy a town whose people are pious”. The Abbasid Khalif did not understand this lesson. He sunk in decadence with his followers, he lost his soldiers and lost his kingdom. He personally underwent severe humiliation before he was finally kicked to death by the Mongol soldiers. They did that to him after they had destroyed Baghdad and killed two million of its inhabitants. Al Hamathani says in his book GAME’ EL TAWARIKH that once Holako had conquered Baghdad, he entered the palace, found Al Mosta’sim shaking so he told him: ” You are a host and we are your guests, so bring us what you think is fit for us”. So the Khalif brought him all the treasures he had while he was still trembling with fear. But Holako did not even look at them and refused to have anyone touch them. Then he told the Khalif :” all the treasures you have offered are the obvious ones and they belong to our servants, but remember the treasures that you have buried, what are they and where are they? So the Khalif confessed that he had a hole filled with gold in the court of the palace. So they dug in the ground until they found it. It was full of red golden bars each weighing a hundred weights. Though Holako was known for being a bloody murderer he still looked down on the Khalif, wondering how such a rich person could be so stingy with his soldiers!! When Holako sent a message to the ruler of Damascus, warning him of future destruction if the later does not surrender, he said about the Khalif of Baghdad :” He had gathered for himself, but he had a despicableself, because he thought of himself and paid no attention to others.” Another anecdote took place between the Khalif and Holako at the royal palace. Holako brought before him the women of the Khalif, who amounted to seven hundred wives and concubines and one thousand servant. But he asked the Khalif to show him the ones that “have not seen the sun nor the moon” meaning the ones that he had buried as he had buried his gold. Such was his view of women and of Shagarat El Dor. Al Hamathani says :” to summarise we say that what the Abbasid Khalifs have gathered in five centuries, the Mongols put it all together and it looked like mountains on mountains. Holako decided to melt all that gold forming gold bars and he put them in a secure fortress in Azerbaijan.14 Such was the Khalif Al Mosta’sim, and such was Shagarat El Dor… Each one ruled as a tyrant in the middle ages. So which would you chose if you had to accept tyranny? The conclusion Ruling is power and domination. And ‘shura’ or democracy is the art of dealing with power and domination. The relationship between the ruler and the people is what determines who holds the power and how much presence does ‘shura’ or democracy have in this relationship. The tyrant ruler who holds the power and the domination considers himself the guardian over his people. And thus considers himself responsible for making the law. So he becomes the advisor and the counsellor and ‘shura’ becomes limited to the power he allows himself. Typically he would hire advisors and followers who think of his benefit and seeking his pleasure. When the people gain awareness and gain some power the ruler feels obliged to meet the needs of the power that is now in the hands of the people. In that case the state councils are reshaped to include some of the directions of freedom. And the struggle begins between the ruler and the freedom parties among the people. The parties try to strip the ruler of his power while he tries, through his helpers, to fortify his position. And thus the age of phoney parliaments and fake democracies. Here ‘shura’ partially expresses the benefits of those who made the revolutions and those who have an awareness for freedom. It may be that all the power is in the hands of the people. They dominate the government by hiring its employees. The ruler is also an employee who earns a salary, and who has a contract for a period or two. But it is the people who chose, who hire, who expel, who investigates and judges all those made responsible. Such is the Islamic political system for ruling, which allows the ruler to be equally a man or a woman. Dictatorship is a transgression from the bases of the system of the Islamic state. Yet it is still considered a legal system, as long as the people are accepting it. And the tyrant is a lawful ruler, man or woman. But through history and the Quranic stories we see that tyrant women are more lenient and less harmful than

tyrant men

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