Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani delivered a lecture entitled “Women’s Right to Public and Political Office in Islam”, on Tuesday 5th June 2001, at Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation's headquarters, Eagle House in Wimbledon, London.
In his lecture, Sheikh Yamani stated that Islam had granted women the right to hold public and political office. This was clearly established in the sources of Islamic jurisprudence and constituted a revolution against the attitudes of previous civilisations towards women and their rights.
Sheikh Yamani said that the Sirah (biography) of the Prophet demonstrated the special position that he gave to women in his lifetime. He was followed in this by the four Rashidun caliphs. The rightly-guided caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, for example, had appointed a woman in charge of Hisba in the markets. This position involved judicial and executive powers, even direct administration of punishment to offenders.
Sheikh Yamani added that non-Islamic views had crept into the Islamic community. These negative views were detrimental to the rights of women, depriving them of the basic rights granted to them in Islam.
In his opinion the responsibility for ending these negative practises fell on the shoulders of society in general, including leaders, governors and the judiciary. They had abandoned the understanding of the attitude of Islam towards the right of women to public and political office.
A useful and wide-ranging debate followed. The lecture was attended by a large number of scholars and intellectuals.