Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia: Womens' Suffrage Movement Is a "Machination" of the Enemies of Islam
The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Shaykh 'Abd-al-'Aziz Al al-Shaykh, responded to a question in 2006 regarding whether women should be allowed to vote. The Grand Mufti responded by first blaming the whole issue of womens' rights and suffrage on "machinations" of Jews and Christians and other non-Muslims seeking to destroy Islam. Then he warns them against "open[ing] up the door of wickedness for the people of Islam" by pushing for these rights. He makes clear that the issue of womens' rights must be subservient to the more important issue of "serv[ing] the Islamic religion."
Answer: I would like to direct an honest message to my educated and academic sisters. I hope that they will pay good attention to it. My sisters: when Almighty Allah sent the Prophet (peace be upon him) from the Arabs, the enemies of Allah from among the Jews and Christians laid traps for him, with their knowledge that Allah would send a prophet at that time, and with their knowledge of his name and description, as they saw him with their own eyes. Allah said, "The people of the Book know this as they know their own sons; but some of them conceal the truth which they themselves know" [Qur'an 2:146]. The Almighty also said, "Those who follow the messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures),- in the law and the Gospel;- for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him,- it is they who will prosper" [Qur'an 7:157]. Jesus (peace be upon him) informed his people of the mission of this Noble Prophet (peace be upon him): "...giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad..." [Qur'an 61:6]. They were even waiting for him, and knew the time of his emergence, and his description, but they were hoping he would be from the tribe of Israel. When Allah Almighty sent him, and he was an Arab, they disbelieved in him: "And when there comes to them a Book from Allah, confirming what is with them,- although from of old they had prayed for victory against those without Faith,- when there comes to them that which they (should) have recognised, they refuse to believe in it but the curse of Allah is on those without Faith" [Qur'an 2:89]. For they disbelieved in our Prophet (peace be upon him), arrogantly and jealously. But it goes even further than that--they envied the house of Islam for this true religion, and they know that it is true. Despite that, they did not follow it, and they would like the people of Islam to disbelieve in it, out of envy for them. Almighty Allah says: "Quite a number of the People of the Book wish they could Turn you (people) back to infidelity after ye have believed, from selfish envy, after the Truth hath become Manifest unto them" [Qur'an 2:109]. Their hatred and jealousy of the house of Islam has increased, to the point where they will waste no opportunity to disparage Islam and its followers, whether by obscene and abusive words, or by actions such as killing, sabotage, and others. Allah Almighty says: "If they were to get the better of you, they would behave to you as enemies, and stretch forth their hands and their tongues against you for evil: and they desire that ye should reject the Truth" [Qur'an 60:2].
My sisters, I am here to address the elite, educated, attentive Muslim woman. I have complete confidence in her religious awareness, and her zealousness toward her religion, the Islamic religion, and toward preserving it. Therefore I say that demands such as these need to be looked at again--do they serve the Islamic religion? Will they support the kinship and cohesiveness of the Islamic community? Will they lead to the raising up of this religion? My sisters, this is beyond the issue of recording opinions, or taking advantage of opportunities, or reserving seats, or other such things that we hear and read.
The issue, sisters, is on-going due to the machinations of the enemies of this community. They will spare no effort in bringing harm to us. They will spare no effort in dividing our side and dispersing our word. They will spare no effort in spreading fitna amongst us. Everything they promote under "womens' rights" in these days is a kind of machination. You know that the Prophet (peace be upon him) says: "After me I have not left any affliction more harmful to men than women" [Sahih al-Bukhari, "(The Book of) Marriage," No. 5096; Sahih Muslim, "(The Book of) Remembrance, Supplication, Repentance, and Seeking Forgiveness," No. 2740]. He (also) said (peace be upon him): "The world is sweet and green (alluring) and verily Allah is going to install you as vicegerent in it in order to see how you act. So avoid (the allurement) of the world and women: verily, the first trial for the children of Israel was caused by women" [Sahih Muslim, "Book of Remembrance, Supplication, Repentance, and Seeking Forgiveness," No. 2742; Sunan al-Tirmithi, "The Trials," No. 2191; Sunan Ibn-Majih, "The Trials," No. 4000; Musnid Ahamd (3/19)].
I would like my sisters to be conscious of their reality, and perceive the weight of responsibility that is upon them, and not open up the door of wickedness for the people of Islam. We verily suffer from wicked men who rob women of their legitimate rights. We see some of them prevent them from receiving their inheritance, and others deprive them of their match when they offer them for engagement, and others beat their wives, and others prevent them from marrying, and so on. We suffer from this and warn against it, and make clear that it is forbidden. We demand that this reality which is terrible, humiliating, and far removed from what is (Islamically) lawful, be changed.
But I repeat, we should all stand hand-in-hand against the plans of our enemies. The issue is much bigger than the participation of women in the Shura (Council), or equality, or other such calls. The issue revolves around seeking to destroy the religion in its stronghold in this pure country, which witnessed the mission of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the appearance of the religion. The Prophet (peace be upon him) proclaimed that faith would return and go back to Medina as a snake returns to its hole.Be shrewd, and beware that Islam comes before its people. Allah bless you, and may Islam and the Muslims benefit you.
Journal of Islamic Research, No. 78; Issue: (Approximately) April to June 2006; from the fatwas of Shaykh 'Abd-al-'Aziz bin 'Abdallah bin Muhammad Al al-Shaykh