Women's Leadership: One Question and Two Divergent Fatwās

Yakar E. E.

JOURNAL OF LAW AND RELIGION, vol.37, no.2, 2022 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 37 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1017/jlr.2022.15
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, ATLA Religion Database, EBSCO Legal Source, HeinOnline-Law Journal Library, Index to Legal Periodicals, Index to legal periodicals & books, PAIS International, Political Science Complete, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, DIALNET
  • Keywords: Islamic law, women's leadership, Diyanet, Dar al-Ifta', Saudi Arabia, Turkey
  • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University Affiliated: Yes


Women's political leadership is one of the abiding controversial issues among Muslim scholars. The question of whether a Muslim woman can lead in her country is generally answered negatively by Muslim scholars, but some modern scholars explicitly support women's political leadership without any restriction. Where the scholars stand on the issue is influenced by their social context. With the intent of examining the interaction between social context and Islamic legal methodologies in fatwas-Isalmic legal opinions-related to women, the author discusses as exemplary texts the fatwas issued by two well-known religious institutions, the Dar al-Ifta' in Saudi Arabia and the Diyanet in Turkey. The institutions function in different social contexts: Saudi Arabia is a theocratic monarchy that applies Islamic law; Turkey is a democratic country whose legal system is based on a secular law. Through a detailed analysis of the spatio-temporal fatwas regarding women's political leadership, the author provides insight into the influence of contextual elements during the process of issuing fatwas, suggesting that these differences of opinion among Muslim scholars and religious institutions will continue.