The Al-Azharis Egypt’s oldest degree-granting university and is renowned as the most prestigious university for Islamic learning.
In 2006, the Fatwa Committee of al-Azhar said, after mentioning the arguments based on the hadeeth: ‘This ruling is based on this hadeeth, which is that the ruling that women should not be appointed to positions of public authority is not a ruling which is to be followed as a religious ritual without necessarily understanding the wisdom behind it, rather it is one of the rulings that are based on reasons which are obvious to those who understand the differences between the two types of human beings, men and women. This ruling is not connected to anything other than the femininity which is indicated by the word ‘woman’ in the hadeeth. So femininity alone is the reason. … Because of her nature, woman is designed to fulfil the mission for which she was created, which is the role of mother and caring for and raising children. This means that she is likely to be affected by emotion. In addition to that, she is faced with natural events that happen repeatedly over the months and years, which may weaken her strength and resolve in forming opinions and adhering to them and in fighting for them. This is something which women themselves cannot deny, and we do not need to quote examples and evidence to prove the emotional nature of woman throughout the ages.’
Without mentioning the specific facts of the incident, it stated that: ‘In another Muslim country women were given the opportunity to become judges, but after they failed the state had to remove them from the courts to the technical and research fields…This indicates that women are not qualified to be judges.’
The most common objection raised by various hadeeth scholars to the appointment of women kadhis or judges is based on the interpretation of the Qur’anic text which states that, ‘Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means.’
Another oft quoted objection to women kadhis is: ‘Women are faced with natural phenomena during certain days, months and years, namely menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding etc, which weakens their bodies and affects their understanding of things, which is incompatible with the position and status of a judge.’