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Malayan Law Journal Articles/2010/Volume 3/APPOINTMNT O! !MAL J"#$% IN
[2010] 3 MLJ i
Malayan Law Journal Articles
Aishath Muneeza
Postgraduate Student
Harun M Hashim Law Centre
Islamic countries have historically been in a dilemma when appointing a emale !udge in their
Shariah Courts" It is an undeniable act that the Shariah Courts are dominated by male !udges"
#his is because some people perceive women as incapable o being !udges rom the religious
and psychological sense" However$ the reality which is oten orgotten is that the religion does not
prohibit the appointment o emale !udges and neither does the psychological aspect o women
inhibit them rom assuming the post" #oday$ !udges do not ma%e &i!thihad& or use human
reasoning by using the sources o Islamic law to pass spontaneous !udgment$ but instead$ they
apply various legislations that are relevant to the disputes beore them" #his paper e'plores both$
the Islamic countries which have chosen to appoint emale !udges in their Shariah Courts and the
Islamic standpoint o view in relation to this"
Islam (oes not in)eriorate women* +ut instea( gi,es (ignity to t-em. T-is is a general statement
w-ic- is ec-oe( in Muslim societies* w-ic- is in )act accurate. /istory 0ro,es t-at Islam was
intro(uce( in Ara+ia at a time o) ignorance w-en men w-o (ominate( t-e society were as-ame(
o) ac1nowle(ging or acce0ting a girl as t-eir c-il(. T-ere)ore* in or(er to 0reser,e t-eir 0ri(e* t-ey
+urie( ali,e innocent +a+y girls wit-out e,en -a,ing t-e courtesy to 1ill t-em +e)ore-an(* w-en
t-eir only 2crime2 was t-at t-ey were +orn as girls. T-e a(,ent o) Islam eliminate( t-is cruel an(
in-uman 0ractice w-ic- was committe( against girls.
In Islam* Muslim women -a,e certain res0onsi+ilities s-oul(ere( u0on t-em. $enerally* it is
0ercei,e( t-at t-e only res0onsi+ilities t-at women -a,e are t-at t-ey s-oul( o+ey t-eir 0arents*
a+i(e to t-eir
( ML) i at ii
-us+an(2s comman(s u0on marriage an( loo1 a)ter t-eir c-il(ren well. T-e res0onsi+ility w-ic- is
camou)lage( to t-e na1e( eyes o) t-e 0eo0le in some o) t-e Islamic countries is t-e social
res0onsi+ility o) women. Li1e men* women too -a,e social res0onsi+ilities to carry out in t-e
society in w-ic- t-ey li,e in. I) women ac3uire )ine 1nowle(ge an( e(ucation an( are +etter or
e3ui,alent to men in t-eir society* t-en t-ey s-oul( ser,e t-e society. T-ey cannot 4ust seclu(e
t-emsel,es )rom t-eir social o+ligations an( ,est all o) t-at in t-e -an(s o) men.
T-oug- t-e mo(ern (e+ates o,er t-e em0loyment o) )emale 4u(ges in Islamic countries stem
Page 3
)rom t-e classical (eli+erations o,er t-e matter* t-e root o) t-e 0ro+lem lies in t-e 3uery on
w-et-er women s-oul( +e sent to wor1 outsi(e t-eir -omes. Moreo,er to(ay* most o) t-e Islamic
countries -a,e o,ercome t-is s3ua++le an( -a,e a(o0te( t-e ,iew t-at women can wor1 outsi(e
t-eir -omes similar to men. /owe,er at t-at 0articular 0oint o) time* t-ey -a( antici0ate( women
wor1ing only in lower a(ministrati,e 4o+s* or as secretaries* teac-ers an( s-o01ee0ers.
T-e antagonism in t-e society )or 4o+ -unting create( e3ually e(ucate( an( 1nowle(gea+le
women in all )iel(s an( t-e nig-tmare o) most tra(itional men +ecame true5 women +ecame
3uali)ie( to wor1 in 0restigious occu0ations suc- as lawyers an( (octors. !urt-ermore at t-is
0oint again* t-e sc-olars went +ac1 to t-e classical (e+ates an( one o) t-em is on t-e issue
0ertaining to t-e a00ointment o) )emale 4u(ges.
T-e o+4ecti,e o) t-is 0a0er is to analyse t-e current tren( o) a00ointing )emale 4u(ges in Muslim
countries an( to (etermine w-et-er a00ointing )emale 4u(ges is law)ul )rom an Islamic
0ers0ecti,e. It is o+ser,e( -ere t-at i) women are ca0a+le o) -an(ling t-e 0osition o) a 4u(gs-i0 in
terms o) e(ucation an( e60erience* t-en t-ere is no reason w-y t-ey s-oul( not +e allotte( )or
t-e 0ost. 'eligion cannot +e use( as a wea0on to 0ro,e ot-erwise.
T-e a00ointment o) )emale 4u(ges in Muslim countries was* an( is not an easy tas1. T-is is (ue
to many reasons. %ome 0ercei,e o00osing t-is as a +attle to u0-ol( t-e Islamic 0rinci0les w-ile
ot-ers say t-at women are )ragile an( nai,e in nature an( are inca0a+le o) gi,ing 2rational2
4u(gments. As a result* t-e a00ointment o) )emale 4u(ges in Muslim nations can +e (escri+e( as
a +attle )oug-t in t-e com0licate( 4ungle o) rulings 0asse( +y sc-olars.
( ML) i at iii
In t-is 0art o) t-e 0a0er* attem0ts woul( +e ma(e to resur)ace t-e contem0orary 0osition o)
a00ointing )emale 4u(ges in some o) t-e Islamic countries. T-e )ollowing ta+le
women2s 0artici0ation in t-e 4u(iciary an( 0ro,i(es some e6am0les o) t-e scu))le in a00ointing
)emale 4u(ges in ,arious Muslim7(ominate( 4uris(ictions.
&ountry Legally
A)g-anistan 8es !emale 4u(ges are rarely in,ol,e( in t-e a(4u(ication o) cases an(
are e6clu(e( )rom 1ey 0ositions.
Algeria 8es 9omen are well re0resente( at 3:; +ut are (enie( t-e rig-t to
(eal wit- 0ersonal status law.
<a-rain 8es None -a,e +een a00ointe( t-us )ar.
gy0t 8es One )emale 4u(ge ser,es at t-e %u0reme &ourt. O00ortunities )or
a(,ancement in t-e 4u(iciary are limite(. 9omen -a,e ne,er +een
0romote( to 4u(ges +y t-e Ministry o) Justice w-ereas men
routinely are.
In(onesia 8es T-e %-aria- &ourt w-ic- is -ea(e( +y a man must a00ro,e t-e
a00ointment o) )emale 4u(ges.
Ira3 8es /ig-ly un(er7re0resente( since women were (enie( access )rom
1=>:72003 an( )ace cultural resistance5 a )emale 4u(ge in Na4a)
was )orce( to resign ami( 0rotests in 2003.
Jor(an 8es /ig-ly un(er7re0resente( in ci,il courts ?less t-an 3;@ an( none
ser,ing in t-e -ig-er courts.
Auwait No &an -ol( 0ositions as in,estigati,e 4u(ges +ut are not 0ermitte( to
ser,e as 4u(ges in court.
&ountry Legally
( ML) i at iv
Page :

Le+anon 8es !emale 4u(ges ser,e in t-e 4u(icial an( %u0reme &ourts +ut none
in t-e religious courts o) all sects.
Li+ya 8es "n(er7re0resente( es0ecially at -ig-er le,els.
Mal(i,es 8es T-ere are )emale 4u(ges in t-e country.
Malaysia 8es T-e ci,il court -as )emale 4u(ges* +ut not t-e %-aria- &ourt.
Morocco 8es %igni)icant 0resence in t-e trial an( a00eal courts* +ut t-ey can
neit-er -ear cases o) 0ersonal status law nor -ea( a tri+unal5
)emale lawyers are also not allowe( to +e 4u(icial 0rosecutors.
Pa1istan 8es Nee( more )emale 4u(ges.
Palestine 8es Nee( more )emale 4u(ges.
Batar No No )emale 4u(ges a00ointe( yet.
%au(i Ara+ia No 9omen cannot 0artici0ate in t-e 4u(iciary* eit-er as 4u(ges or as
%yria 8es 9omen are a00ointe( as )emale 4u(ges. "n(er7re0resente( at
Tunisia 8es 2C; are women wit- no restrictions.2
"A 8es !irst )emale 4u(ge a00ointe( in 200>.
8emen 8es Varies +y (istrict5 some courts allow it w-ile ot-ers (o not. "n(er7
re0resente( in general5 almost non7e6istent at senior le,els.
gy0t is a Muslim country wit- mo(ern ,iews com0are( to t-e rest o) t-e Muslim nations. %ome
may argue t-at t-is statement is wrong* +ecause gy0t is a secular nation. /owe,er* t-e reality is
t-at gy0t en)orces Islamic law an( t-ey -ol( )ast to t-e %-aria-. Accor(ing to Article 2 o) t-e
gy0tian &onstituion* %-aria- is consi(ere( as a source o) law.
( ML) i at v
It was only in 2003 t-at gy0t a00ointe( a )emale 4u(ge. Ju(ge Ta-any el7$e+ali was t-e )irst
woman to get t-is -onour. T-is remar1a+le c-ange was a result o) t-e )amous atwa issue( +y
t-e -ea( o) gy0t2s Islamic cleric at t-e time* t-e late %-ei1 Mo-amme( Tantawi* to 0ermit t-e
a00ointment. /owe,er* +e)ore t-is an( u0 until to(ay* many in(i,i(uals an( grou0s are usur0ing
against t-is (ecision. T-e (e0t- an( t-e seriousness o) t-is +attle in gy0t can +e un(erstoo(
)rom t-e )ollowing 3uote( wor(s )rom a news0a0erD
9-en women trie( to 4oin t-e +enc- on gy0t2s to0 a(ministrati,e court* t-e u0roar )rom its 4u(ges were
)ierce. 9omen are too emotional* t-ey insiste( 77 an( w-o will ta1e care o) t-e )amily i) t-eir mot-er is
+usy wit- t-e ar(uous tas1s o) t-e courtroomE In internet c-at rooms* t-e res0onse )rom gy0tian men
an( women was e,en stronger. 9omen are too )ragile* t-ey2re not u0 )or ma1ing li)e7c-anging rulings*
an( menstruation an( 0regnancy ma1e t-em un)it to +e 4u(ges. It too1 a street 0rotest* go,ernment
inter,ention an( a &onstitutional &ourt ruling o,er t-e 0ast wee1s to get women a00ointe( to gy0t2s
%tate &ouncil court )or t-e )irst time. T-e )inal result was a ,ictory* +ut many women2s rig-ts a(,ocates
are (ismaye( t-at a)ter (eca(es o) struggle it too1 suc- a )ig-t* an( t-at suc- ,iews still run so (ee0*
e,en among t-e country2s elite. s0ecially gi,en t-at women -a,e alrea(y +een 4u(ges )or years on most
gy0tian courts. 2I was sur0rise( an( con)use( 77 w-y are we going +ac1 to s3uare one to (iscuss
somet-ing t-at is our constitutional rig-tE2 sai( Ta-any el7$e+ali* w-o in 2003 +ecame gy0t2s )irst
)emale 4u(ge w-en s-e was a00ointe( to t-e &onstitutional &ourt* t-e country2s -ig-est 4u(iciary +o(y.
T-e a00ointment o) t-e )irst )emale 4u(ge in 2003 was not t-e en( o) t-e matter. T-e ,ictory (i(
not last )ore,er. In !e+ruary 2010* w-ile 2C women a00lie( )or t-e 0ost o) 4u(ges* t-e general
assem+ly o) t-e %tate &ouncil &ourt o) gy0t ,ote( to +an women )rom ser,ing in t-e court. As a
result* women grou0s 0roteste( in )ront o) t-e council saying t-at i) t-ese women w-o a00lie( )or
t-e 0osition were com0etent an( -a( 0asse( all t-e re3uire( stan(ar(ise( e6aminations to
Page C
+ecome council 4u(ges* t-en t-ere is no reason )or t-em to +an t-e a00ointment o) )emale
4u(ges. 9it- regar(s to t-e reason as to w-y t-e a00ointment o) )emale 4u(ges were +anne(* a
columnist* Amal A+(el7/a(i wrote in t-e in(e0en(ent (aily* al*Masry al*+oum as )ollowsD 2T-ey
say t-eir (ecision to +an women )rom t-e +enc- is out o) com0assion )or us* t-ey want to s0are
women t-e tiring* (i))icult wor1.2
( ML) i at vi
T-en on 22 !e+ruary 2010* t-e council2s su0er,isory +o(y o,errule( t-e (ecision o) t-e assem+ly
+y saying t-at it was unconstitutional )or t-em to +an a rig-t w-ic- was guarantee( +y t-e
&onstitution. T-is 2s0ar1e( legal action +y t-e 4u(ges in t-e assem+ly to oust -im2.
t-e Prime Minister re)erre( t-e 3uestion to t-e constitutional court an( on 1: Marc- 2010* it rule(
t-at 2all citiFens are e3ual +e)ore t-e law* an( +ac1e( t-e %tate &ouncil2s su0er,isory +o(y2s
4uris(iction o,er t-e issue2.
T-us again* t-e a00ointment o) )emale 4u(ges +ecame legitimate.
In gy0t* li1e most ot-er Islamic countries* t-e arguments against t-e a00ointment o) )emale
4u(ges are not merely +ecause t-ey t-in1 t-at it is against t-e Islamic teac-ings. I) it was so* t-en
w-y woul( some o) t-e 0eo0le in t-e society go against it w-en a gran( Mu)ti (eclares it to +e
law)ul in IslamE T-e real reason )or t-is can +e (eri,e( )rom t-e )ollowing wor(s sai( +y t-e )irst
)emale 4u(ge o) gy0tD
2Patriarc-y is still ,ery muc- 0art o) our culture2* sai( el7$e+ali* t-e )irst woman 4u(ge* noting t-at no
sector o) society is immune )rom t-e 0erce0tion o) women as lesser citiFens wit- wea1er natures.
2Ju(ges remain a 0ro(uct o) t-eir en,ironments* an( wit- t-e wa,e o) e6tremism in religion in gy0t
t-ese (ays* women will always 0ay t-e 0rice2.

Batar only -as male 4u(ges u0 until to(ay. T-e ,isi+le reason )or t-is is sim0le. T-e country
remains a conser,ati,e Muslim country* +ut t-e society is c-anging ra(ically wit- t-e -el0 o) t-e
international comunity. It was re0orte( on 11 Marc- 2010 t-at t-e Batari aut-orities -a,e
announce( t-at t-ey will a00oint t-eir )irst )emale 4u(ge soon )or 2em0owering women in t-e
country an( ma1ing t-eir 0resence stronger in t-e e6ecuti,e* t-e Legislature an( 4u(iciary2. T-is
was accor(ing to t-e Assistant #irector o) Legal A))airs at t-e Batar National /uman 'ig-ts

Prior to 1==:* a+out -al) o) t-e 4u(ges wor1ing in sout-ern 8emen were women. /owe,er* a)ter
t-e 1==: ci,il war* conser,ati,e lea(ers
( ML) i at vii
o) t-e 4u(iciary reassigne( many sout-ern )emale 4u(ges to a(ministrati,e or clerical (uties.
Alt-oug- se,eral )emale 4u(ges continue to 0ractice in A(en* t-ere are no )emale 4u(ges in t-e
nort-ern courts.

T-e 4u(iciary system in 8emen was restructure( in 200G to assign t-e &-ie) Justice o) t-e
%u0reme &ourt as t-e -ea( o) t-e %u0reme Ju(icial &ouncil ?2%J&2@ instea( o) t-e Presi(ent.
Moreo,er in t-e mont- o) %e0tem+er o) t-e same year* a )emale 4u(ge was a00ointe( to t-e
%u0reme &ourt an( anot-er woman was a00ointe( as t-e -ea( o) t-e &i,il &ourt o) A00eals )or
A(en $o,ernorate. T-is is in(ee( an ac-ie,ement wort- 0raising.
Mal(i,es is 100 0er cent a Muslim country yet t-ere -as +een no e60licit mention o) a s0eci)ic
gen(er re3uirement )or t-e eligi+ility to +ecome a 4u(ge in t-e &onstitution or in any ot-er law.
/owe,er* it was only on 11 July 200H t-at t-e )irst )ew )emale 4u(ges o) t-e country were
Page G

T-e (e+ate on w-et-er t-is (ecision is rig-t or wrong is ongoing in t-eir society. T-ere are
religious lea(ers w-o o00ose t-is a00ointment w-ile some ot-er religious sc-olars say t-at
e6ce0t )or t-e criminal court* )emale 4u(ges can +e a00ointe(.
In Iran* t-e su0reme law o) t-e lan(* w-ic- is t-e &onstitution* (oes not )or+i( t-e a00ointment o)
)emale 4u(ges.
Neit-er (oes t-e Ju(ges2 E,)loy,ent Law o) 1=23 )or+i( t-e a00ointment o)
)emale 4u(ges. As state( +y Aa(i,ar ?200H@*
it was in 1=H0 t-at )emale 4u(ges were a00ointe(
)or t-e )irst time. #uring t-is year* a total o) )i,e )emale 4u(ges were a00ointe( an( t-e num+er
increase( to 100 +y 1=H=. T-e scenario c-ange( a)ter t-e re,olution o) 1=H= w-en t-e
0ro,isional go,ernment inserte( a clause to t-e &onstitution 0ro,i(ing t-at only men can +e
4u(ges. %u+se3uently in 1=>2* t-e same con(ition was a((e( to t-e 4u(ges2 e,)loy,ent law/ As
a result*
( ML) i at viii
)emale 4u(ges were (emote( to a(ministrati,e occu0ations wit-in t-e 4u(iciary. In 1=>:* t-e law
was re)orme( an( women were allowe( to wor1 as 4u(icial a(,isors an( counselors ?Aa(i,ar*
200H@. T-is situation )inally c-ange( in 1==:. Aa(i,ar ?200H@ (escri+e( t-is c-ange as )ollowsD
<y 1==: as a result o) 0ressure )rom +elow an( t-roug- t-e e))orts o) women lawyers an( women
mem+ers o) t-e 0arliament an( women 4ournalists* a num+er o) re)orms were ma(e. %ince t-en women
are allowe( to +e researc- 4u(ges or in,estigati,e 4u(ges. 9omen 4u(icial a(,isors wit- t-e 4u(icial
status an( t-eir a(,isory ,iew0oints were soug-t +y t-e -ea( o) t-e court +e)ore issuing t-e )inal ruling
on (i,orce.
T-e 0osition o) a00ointing )emale 4u(ges in Ira3 an( t-e commotion it creates is (escri+e( in as )ollowsD
... t-ere -a,e ne,er +een many women wor1ing as 4u(ges in Ira35 women were com0letely e6clu(e(
)rom t-e Ju(iciary in 1==3. T-ere)ore* in 0ost7%a((am Ira3* t-ere are ,ery )ew women w-o -a,e ser,e(
as 4u(ges. At t-e en( o) 200: t-ere were a+out H00 Ira3i 4u(ges* an( )ewer t-an t-ree 0er cent o) t-em
were women. T-e a00ointment o) women 4u(ges -as create( 0ro+lems. In July 2003 t-e swearing in o)
Ni(al Nasser /ussain as a 4u(ge in Na4a) was in(e)initely 0ost0one( a)ter religious lea(ers 0roteste( t-e
occu0ation o) t-e 0osition +y a woman.
&ole et al ?200:@ state t-at t-e American attem0ts in a00ointing women 4u(ges were +loc1e( in
t-e %-iite -oly city o) Na4a) an( t-at t-ere are only se,en women 4u(ges in Ira3.

It was only in !e+ruary 200= t-at )emale 4u(ges were a00ointe( an( t-eir +iggest )ear was t-at
men woul( re)use to stan( +e)ore t-em in court. T-e )ollowing wor(s are 3uote( )rom a
( ML) i at i'
2T-ey e60ect a man wit- a +ear( an( a tur+an2* sai( 4u(ge al7!a3ee-* smiling wryly )rom +e-in( -er (es1
as -er -an( ma(e a circular mo,ement a+o,e -er cream7coloure( satin -ea( scar). &onsi(ere( +y many
in t-is male7(ominate( society to +e too emotional to ser,e as 4u(ges* women in Islamic courts were
t-ere to recei,e 4u(gments* not to gi,e t-em. T-e results were )re3uently un)air. <ut a)ter t-e
a00ointment o) two women 4u(ges to Islamic courts in t-e 9est <an1 last mont-* Palestinian women
Page H
-a,e +egun to )in( an un(erstan(ing ear 77 an( more e3uita+le 4u(gments ... T-e Islamic courts (eal wit-
)amily7law matters suc- as marriage* (i,orce* c-il( custo(y* c-il( su00ort an( in-eritance. <ut women* to
cite 4ust one e6am0le o) t-e restrictions 0lace( u0on t-em* are o)ten una+le to (iscuss t-e reasons )or
wanting a (i,orce ... 9omen across t-e Muslim worl( consi(er t-e Palestinian women 4u(ges a
milestone )or women2s rig-ts. <ut some (isagree* arguing t-at Islamic law 0ro-i+its e3uality o) t-e se6es.
2T-is is 4ust anot-er way to im0art t-e 0atriarc-al structure an( rules t-roug- women2* wrote one Muslim
woman on a +log. 2I t-in1 ?t-ese women@ will +ecome only ro+ots to o+ey t-e s-aria laws2. %-ei1 Tayseer
al7Tamimi* c-ie) 4u(ge an( c-airman o) t-e /ig- &ouncil o) Islamic Law )or Palestine* t-oug-t (i))erently
an( (eci(e( last year t-at women coul( ta1e t-e e6am to +ecome a 4u(ge. 2/e sai( ?t-e Islamic courts@
nee( women t-e most* +ecause t-e cases we recei,e are a+out t-e marital li)e an( since a man nee(s a
man to listen to -im* a woman also nee(s a woman*2 4u(ge 9u-ei(i sai(.

Malaysia -as a male %-aria- +enc-. In July 200G* it was re0orte( t-at t-e National !atwa &ouncil
-a( gi,en t-e green lig-t to a00oint )emale 4u(ges in t-e %-aria- &ourts. T-e only limitation 0ut
)orwar( was t-at )emale 4u(ges were una+le -ear matters t-at are relate( to hudud
an( ,isas.

At t-at time* it was also agree( t-at 4u(ges woul( +e selecte( +ase( on t-eir a+ilities* integrity*
3uali)ications as well as e60eriences.
T-e )ollowing was re0orte( in t-e -ew Straits #imes
?News0a0er@ in 200GD
&ouncil c-airman Pro) #atu1 %-u1or /usin sai( t-e a00ointments coul( +e im0lemente( +y t-e
res0ecti,e %tate religious aut-orities. /e sai( t-e (ecision was reac-e( a)ter t-e council -a( consi(ere(
,arious in0uts on
( ML) i at '
t-e matter +ase( on t-e 0resent situation in t-e country. 2%ome o) t-ose ?mu)tis an( a00ointe(
s0ecialists w-o atten(e( t-e meeting@ (isagree(* some agree( +ut wit- con(itions an( some agree(
wit-out any con(itions2* -e sai( a)ter c-airing t-e t-ree7(ay H:t- 3uarterly National !atwa &ouncil
MuFa1ara- ?meeting@ ...

It can +e sai( t-at Pa1istan is t-e country in w-ic- numerous cases were +roug-t )orwar( to
c-allenge t-e a00ointment o) )emale 4u(ges u0 until to(ay. It was re0orte( on : A0ril 2010 in t-atD
A Pa1istani citiFen -as )ile( a 0etition in t-e !e(eral %-ariat &ourt against t-e a00ointment o) women as
4u(ge or 23aFis2* terming it as 2un7Islamic2. In -is 0etition* Mian /ami( MurtaFa* -as 0lea(e( t-e court to
as1 )emale 4u(ges wor1ing in courts across t-e country to restrain )rom coming to courts till )urt-er
notice. 2It is 0urely un7Islamic an( contrary to t-e in4unctions o) t-e Buran an( %unna-2* T-e #aily Times
3uote( t-e 0etition* as stating. Petitioner2s counsel* Mali1 Mu-amma( 'a+nawaF A-an* sai( t-at
accor(ing to Islamic in4unctions a woman coul( not +e a00ointe( a 4u(ge. 2T-e court s-oul( gi,e its
,er(ict so t-e e6isting law relating to t-ese a00ointments s-oul( +e +roug-t in con)ormity wit- Islamic
in4unctions2* A-an sai(.
A)g-anistan is t-e most (e,elo0e( Islamic country in t-is matter. %ie+ec1 ?200C@
states t-at
(uring t-e Tali+an regime* women in t-e 4u(iciary were un(er7re0resente(. /owe,er* t-e
a00ointment o) )emale 4u(ges +egan in 1=G=. !emale 4u(ges -a,e t-e )ree(om to -ear all matters
an( t-e autonomy to sign t-eir 4u(gments* unli1e in Iran.
In 2003* t-e "N #e,elo0ment !un( )or 9omen ?2"NI!M2@ create( t-e A)g-an 9omen Ju(ges
Association ?2A9JA2@ to 0romote an( en-ance t-e acti,e 0artici0ation o) )emale 4u(ges an(
lawyers in A)g-anistan2s newly esta+lis-e( 4u(icial system an( to 0romote 3uality an( relia+le
Page >
legal a(,ice )or ,ulnera+le A)g-an women.
( ML) i at 'i
T-is is a com0licate( 3uestion. T-ere are t-ree ,iews wit- regar( to t-is matter. T-e )ollowing are
t-e t-ree ,iews (eri,e( )rom t-e (eli+erations o) sc-olars o,er t-is issue. T-e )irst ,iew is t-at t-e
a00ointment o) )emale 4u(ges is 0ro-i+ite(. T-e secon( ,iew is t-at t-e a00ointment o) )emale
4u(ges is law)ul in Islam
+ecause t-ere is no e60licit 0ro-i+ition o) t-is in t-e Buran or t-e
%unna- o) t-e Pro0-et ?%A9@ an( t-e t-ir( ,iew is t-at e,en i) t-e a00ointment o) )emale 4u(ges
0er se is law)ul in Islam* it is still 0ro-i+ite( (ue to t-e commotion it creates in t-e society. ac- o)
t-ese ,iews is analyse( se0arately +elow.
6iew one 77 T3e a))oint,ent o2 2e,ale 8u-(es is )ro3i9ite- :3ara,; in Isla,
T-is is t-e ,iew o) t-e ma4ority o) %unni sc-olars. Imam %-a)ii* Mali1* I+n /an+al an( some o) t-e
are o) t-e ,iew t-at women are (is3uali)ie( to +e a00ointe( as 4u(ges +ase( on an
inter0retation o) ?:@D3:*
w-ic- 0ro,i(es t-at men are ,awwamuna ?0rotectors@ o,er women
?A-ma(* 1==1@.
In inter0reting ?:@D3:* t-ese sc-olars are o) t-e ,iew t-at men are t-e 0rotectors an( maintainers
o) women5 so t-e gist is t-at men are in c-arge o) women. T-e rele,ant 0oint t-at s-oul( +e
note( -ere is t-at i) women are a00ointe( as 4u(ges* t-ey woul( -a,e to a+i(e to autonomous
(ecisions )rom men an( yet +e in c-arge o) t-e aut-ority. T-e strict inter0retation o) t-is ,erse
woul( lea( to t-e conclusion t-at men s-oul( +e t-e 0rotectors an( maintainers o) women an( i)
women were a00ointe( as 4u(ges* it woul( constitute as +reac-ing t-e comman(ment in t-is
T-e secon( aut-ority to su00ort t-is ,iew is ?2@D22>.
Accor(ing to t-is ,erse* Alla- ?%A9@ -a(
grante( men a (egree o,er women* an( i) a woman were to +e a00ointe( as a 4u(ge* t-is woul(
o00ose t-e (egree t-at Alla- ?%A9@ -as gi,en men in t-is ,erse. /ence* in or(er )or a 4u(ge to
4u(ge +etween two (is0utants* -e must -a,e a (egree or 0ower o,er t-em.
( ML) i at 'ii
T-e ne6t aut-ority w-ic- was 0ut )ort- +y t-is grou0 o) sc-olars to 0ro,e t-eir 0oint is a -a(it-.
was narrate( t-at A+u <a1ra- ?may Alla- +e 0lease( wit- -im@ sai(D 29-en t-e Pro0-et ?%A9@
-ear( t-at t-e 0eo0le o) Persia -a( a00ointe( t-e (aug-ter o) &-osroes as t-eir ruler* -e sai(D
2No 0eo0le will e,er 0ros0er w-o a00oint a woman in c-arge o) t-eir a))airs.2
In inter0reting t-is -a(it-* t-ese sc-olars -ol( t-e ,iew t-at a lac1 o) 0ros0ering is a 1in( o) -arm
an( t-e causes o) w-ic-* must +e a,oi(e(. T-e +ottom line -ere is t-at it is not 0ermissi+le to
a00oint a woman as a 4u(ge* +ecause t-e wor( 2a))airs2 is general in meaning an( inclu(es all t-e
0u+lic a))airs o) t-e Muslims.
6iew 2 77 T3e a))oint,ent o2 2e,ale 8u-(es is law2ul in Isla,
T-e 0ro0onents o) t-is ,iew say t-at t-ere can +e no e60licit 0ro-i+ition o) t-is matter )oun( in t-e
Buran or t-e %unna- an( neit-er (oes Islam in)eriorise women o,er men. T-e )ollowing are t-e
two ,iews in t-is categoryD
:1;[nu,s) ]Fe,ale 8u-(es can -eter,ine all ty)es o2 -is)ute
T-e 0ro0onents o) t-is ,iew say t-at t-ere is no e60licit 0ro-i+ition o) t-is in t-e sources o) Islamic
law an( -ence it is law)ul in Islam. T-e sc-olars w-o 0romote t-is ,iew are al7Ta+ari an( I+n
/aFm w-o state t-at a woman can +e a 4u(ge in all cases wit-out e6ce0tions as long as s-e
)ul)ils t-e necessary con(itions to -ol( t-e 0ost. In coming to t-is conclusion* t-ey rely on ?=@DH1*
w-ic- states t-at +elie,ing men an( women are eac- ot-er2s awliyya or 0rotecting )rien(s an(
Page =
guar(ians ?A-ma(* 1==1@.
T-e same ,iew was o+ser,e( +y Aa(i,ar ?200H@ wit- regar(s to t-e a+o,e matterD
I woul( argue t-at* +ase( on my analyses o) ,arious ,erses o) t-e Buran* t-e /a(it- an( ot-er tra(itions*
t-ere is no ,ali( e,i(ence to e6clu(e women )rom wor1ing as 4u(ges. My analysis an( stu(y s-ow t-at
u0 until Ct- Islamic century we (o not see any mention o) gen(er (i))erences. A)ter t-is (ate* t-ere are
(i))erent inter0retations +y (i))erent sc-olars. It is t-ere)ore* t-e (ominant ,iew an( a 0articular
inter0retation o) t-e Buran* t-e /a(it- an( ot-er tra(itions w-ic- (eny women2s 0artici0ation.
( ML) i at 'iii
In t-e Pa1istani case o) Ansar .urney v /ederation o Pa%istan*
a 0etition was )ile( to c-allenge
t-e a00ointment o) women as magistrates. It was argue( in t-is case t-at t-e a00ointment o)
)emale magistrates s-oul( +e +anne( +ecause t-ey (o not o+ser,e 0ur(a- ?,eil@ 0ro0erly in t-e
court room an( also +ecause t-e Pro0-et ?%A9@ (i( not a00oint a )emale 4u(ge (uring -is time*
an( neit-er (i( -is com0anions (o so5 women are in)erior to men in Islam in terms o) t-e
o) 0ro0erty (istri+ution an( as witnesses an( -ence t-ere s-oul( +e at least two
)emale 4u(ges to (eci(e in a case5
an( )inally* women (o not 3uali)y as 4u(ges as 0er t-e
0rinci0les o) Islamic 4uris0ru(ence.
T-e !e(eral &ourt (ismisse( t-e 0etition in t-is case an( -el( t-at t-ere is no law or custom
0ro-i+iting or legalising t-e isolation o) women an( t-e court is not going to (etermine t-e 0osition
o) com0lete seclusion or 0artial seclusion or w-et-er a woman s-oul( a00ear in 0u+lic ,eile( or
un,eile( in Islam5 an analogy cannot +e ma(e )rom t-e ,erses 0ertaining to t-e num+er o)
women re3uire( in an e,i(ence 0roce(ure an( t-e relati,e 0ortion o) 0ro0erty in-erite( +y
)emales* to t-e num+er o) )emale 4u(ges t-at s-all 0resi(e to (etermine a case5
t-e s-are o) t-e
in-eritance )or men sim0ly re0resents t-e 3uantum o) t-e res0onsi+ility s-oul(ere( on t-em an( it
-as not-ing to (o wit- t-is matter5 it is 0resume( t-at t-e t-ings w-ic- are e60licitly not 0ro-i+ite(
in t-e Buran an( t-e %unna- are law)ul unless an( until some e,i(ence is +roug-t )orwar( to
0ro,e ot-erwise. In t-is case* t-ere is no e,i(ence to 0ro,e t-at t-e a00ointment o) )emale
magistrates are 0ro-i+ite(5 t-e omission on t-e 0art o) t-e Pro0-et ?%A9@ an( -is com0anions to
a00oint )emale 4u(ges 0er se* is insu))icient to 0ro,e t-at it is 0ro-i+ite(.
Verses li1e ?:@DC>* ?C@D:3 an( ?CH@D2C are in4unctions comman(ing us to +e 4ust an( e3uita+le5 t-e
wor(s 2a(l2 or 23ist2 in
( ML) i at 'iv
t-ese %ura- are use( in a muc- wi(er sense an( eac- Muslim* w-et-er male or )emale* is +oun(
to +e 4ust an( e3uita+le in -is or -er (ealings wit- s0ouses* 0arents* c-il(ren* neig-+ours*
relati,es* )rien(s* )ellow Muslims an( all ot-ers an( t-e conce0t o) 4ustice in (eci(ing (is0utes
+etween t-ese 0arties or in (ealing wit- criminal cases is only a 0art o) adl or ,ist5 t-e ,erses o)
%ura- ?:@DC> an( ?C@D:2 clearly en,isage t-e (etermination o) (is0utes or litigation. T-ere is no
(istinction in t-is connection +etween men an( women.
:2;Fe,ale 8u-(es can 3ear all ,atters e<ce)t ,atters )ertainin( to 3u-u-
an- 0isas
T-is is t-e ,iew o) Imam A+u /ani)a-* w-o -ol(s t-e o0inion t-at 4u(ges s-all -a,e t-e same
3uali)ication as witnesses. T-us t-is o0inion allows women to +e 4u(ges in all cases e6ce0t in
hudud an( 3isas cases. T-is is (eri,e( )rom some o) t-e ,iews o) t-e )ollowers o) Imam A+u
/ani)a-2s inter0retation o) ?2@D2>2* w-ic- tal1s on women2s eligi+ility to +e witnesses in
commercial transactions ?A-ma(* 1==1@.
6iew 3 77 T3e a))oint,ent o2 2e,ale 8u-(es is law2ul )er se in Isla,? 9ut it is )ro3i9ite-
-ue to ot3er reasons
T-e sc-olars o) t-is ,iew (o not tal1 a+out t-e Buranic or %unna- 0ro-i+ition o) t-e matter* +ut
Page 10
rat-er stress on t-e conse3uences o) a00ointing a )emale 4u(ge an( +y loo1ing at t-e en( result*
t-ey )or+i( it. In ot-er wor(s* t-is grou0 o) sc-olars stresses on t-e 0oint t-at it is insu))icient to
say t-at t-e a00ointment o) )emale 4u(ges is law)ul in Islam sim0ly +ecause any (irect 0ro-i+ition
o) t-at is a+sent in t-ese 0rimary sources o) Islamic law. T-e secon(ary sources li1e 0u+lic 0olicy
?masla-a-@* e3uity ?isti-san@* +loc1ing t-e means ?sa( al Faria-@ an( custom ?ur@ must +e
consi(ere( too. T-us +y using t-ese
( ML) i at 'v
secon(ary sources* t-ey come to t-e conclusion t-at t-e a00ointment o) )emale 4u(ges is
0ro-i+ite( in Islam.
Ju(ge 8a-ia 'ag-e+ #a3ruri* t-e 0resi(ent o) t-e gy0t2s Ju(ges2 Association ?or Ju(ges2 &lu+@
t-at t-e a00ointment o) )emale 4u(ges woul( contra(ict Islamic law (ue to t-e )ollowing
... it woul( +e unacce0ta+le )or women 4u(ges to -a,e to (eli+erate alone in a room wit- two or more
male 4u(ges an( asserte( t-at women 4u(ges woul( ine,ita+ly +ecome 0regnant at some 0oint* an( t-at
t-e 0regnancy will certainly -a,e an im0act on t-e 4u(icial 0restige an( on 4u(ges2 0u+lic image. /e is
also sai( to -a,e im0lie( t-at +ecoming mot-ers woul( a(,ersely a))ect )emale 4u(ges2 a+ility to -an(le
certain casesD gi,ing +irt- can also -a,e an im0act on t-e cases a )emale 4u(ge is (ealing wit- +eing
(ealt wit- correctly. Peo0le 0resent in t-e court woul( also +e (istur+e( +y t-e 0resence o) a woman
4u(ge* -e sai(* -is reasoning was +ase( on t-e consensus o) (octors o) law an( t-e 0rinci0les o)
!rom t-e a+o,e 3uotation* it is clear t-at women cannot +ecome 4u(ges* -owe,er not +ecause
t-ere is e60licit 0ro-i+ition o) it in t-e sources o) Islamic law* +ut (ue to some ot-er )actors. %ome
o) t-ese )actors are (escri+e( +elowD
1) )emale 4u(ges -a,e to (eli+erate alone in a room wit- two or more male 4u(ges5
1) women are )ace( wit- natural 0-enomenons (uring certain (ays* mont-s an( years*
namely menstruation* 0regnancy* c-il(+irt- an( +reast)ee(ing* etc* w-ic- wea1ens
t-eir +o(ies an( a))ects t-eir un(erstan(ing o) t-ings* w-ic- ma1es it incom0ati+le
wit- t-e 0osition an( status o) a 4u(ge5
1) 0eo0le 0resent in t-e court woul( also +e (istur+e( +y t-e 0resence o) a woman
1) t-e 0osition o) a 4u(ge re3uires a -ig- le,el o) intelligence* insig-t an( reasoning*
an( women -a,e lesser o) t-ese 3ualities t-an men* as well as little e60erience in
t-e a))airs o) li)e an( (is0utes5
1 ( ML) i at 'vi
1) t-e 4u(ge is re3uire( to +e 0resent in gat-erings among men an( to mi6 wit-
(is0utants an( witnesses* an( may also nee( to +e alone wit- t-em. Islam see1s to
0rotect women an( to 0reser,e t-eir -onour an( (ignity as well as to 0rotect t-em
)rom t-ose w-o woul( toy wit- t-em. T-us* Islam tells women to stay in t-eir -omes
an( not to go out o) t-eir -omes e6ce0t in cases o) necessity. Islam also )or+i(s
t-em )rom mi6ing wit- men an( )rom +eing alone wit- t-em* +ecause t-at 0oses a
t-reat to women an( to t-eir -onour.
It can +e argue( -ere t-at i) t-e a+o,e mentione( )actors are not 0resent* t-en women can +e
a00ointe( as 4u(ges. T-ere are also some sc-olars in t-is category w-o claim t-at t-e 0lace o) a
woman is at -er -ome an( -er (uty is to loo1 a)ter -er c-il(ren. T-ere)ore* s-e s-oul( not +e
0ermitte( to go out o) -er -ome to wor1. Ur or custom woul( 0lay a ma4or role in (etermining
Page 11
T-e (ilemma o) )emale 4u(ges in Islamic countries stems )rom t-e arguments o) t-e classical
sc-olars on t-is issue. T-e reality is t-at men an( women -a,e e3ual o00ortunities in most
societies to(ay an( as long as t-ey -a,e t-e 0ro0er 1nowle(ge an( e60erience w-ic- is a 0re7
re3uisite )or a 4u(ge to -a,e* t-ere is not-ing wrong in a00ointing t-em as 4u(ges. /owe,er t-e
,ital 0art is t-at t-ey -a,e to o+ser,e t-e Islamic et-ics an( moral ,alues in (oing so. &ustom
woul( in(ee( 0lay a crucial role in sol,ing t-is (ilemma. It can +e state( -ere t-at )emale 4u(ges
are nee(e( )or t-e sa1e o) 4ustice an( e3uity in some societies.
Men an( women (o go to court to see1 4ustice. %ometimes it is (i))icult )or a woman to s-are -er
)eelings wit- a male 4u(ge. T-is o)ten occurs in )amily relate( cases. T-e seriousness o) t-is
issue can +e e,i(ent )rom t-e )ollowingD
2Ara+ culture )or+i(s tal1ing o) t-e intimate issues +etween a cou0le2* sai( Ju(ge al7!a3ee-* (resse( in a
+lac1 ro+e wit- a sas- in t-e colours o) t-e Palestinian )lag. 2,en i) ?a -us+an(@ stri1es -is wi)e* s-e
s-oul(n2t tell2. <ut in t-e mont- since ta1ing o))ice* t-e mot-er o) t-ree )rom t-e ,illage o) <eit 'ima -as
-ear( )rom women a+out an assortment o) marital 0ro+lems 77 inclu(ing se6ual ones suc- as im0otence*
,iolent se6* ra0e an( t-e re)usal +y a man to -a,e se6 77 2an( it2s -er rig-t* not 4ust -is2. A woman woul(
+e una+le to tell suc- t-ings to a male 4u(ge* 2so s-e woul( lose -er
( ML) i at 'vii
rig-t to a (i,orce +ecause t-ere woul( +e no clear reasons2* Ju(ge al7!a3ee-. 2Tal1ing wit- a woman
s-e )eels more at ease2.
/ence* it is ,iewe( -ere t-at t-ere is not-ing erroneous in a00ointing )emale 4u(ges to -ear )amily
law relate( matters an( matters concerning ta&zir or (iscretionary matters* as long as t-e 0erson
a00ointe( to t-e 0ost 0ossesses t-e re3uire( le,el o) com0etency in terms o) 1nowle(ge*
e60erience an( Islamic et-ics as well as in 0rinci0les o) morality.
( ML) i at 'viii
1 T-e in)ormation in t-e ta+le e6ce0t )or Malaysia* Mal(i,es* Batar* Palestine* Pa1istan an( t-e "A was ta1en
)rom Une,ual Access to )ustice in the Middle 0ast* $lo+al Justice &entre* /uman 'ig-ts t-roug- t-e 'ule o) Law
2 1holoud becomes /irst /emale )udge in the UA0$ gul) at
3 2omen )udges Stir up 3ld 4ebate in 0gypt* at -tt0D//
: Ibid.
C Ibid.
G Ibid.
H Ibid.
> 5atar to Appoint /irst /emale )udge* t-egul)+log at -tt0D//t-egul)
= %ee -tt0D//www7ro-an.s(su.e(u/)aculty/rwinslow/asiaK0aci)ic/yemen.
Page 12
10 Maldives Appoints /irst 0ver /emale )udges* mal(i,esmission.c- at -tt0D//www.mal(i,esmission.c-/in(e6.0-0.
11 %ee Article 1G3 o) t-e &onstitution o) Iran.
12 Aa(i,ar* J* ?200H@* 3bstacles on the 2ay o 2omen&s 2or% as )udges in Iran ** Challenging the 6iews 2ho
3ppose 2omen&s 2or% as )udges in Iran at -tt0D//ela-e-rostami0o,
13 Ibid.
1: Ira,i 2omen&s History* at -tt0D//www.glo+al
1C &ole* et al* ?200>@* 6eil o An'iety 3ver 2omen&s 7ights at at
1G Palestine8 /emale )udges give Palestinian 2omen Hope o /air Hearings* 200=* awi(.org at
1H Ibid.
1> &rimes to w-ic- a s0eci)ic 0unis-ment -as +een 0rescri+e( +y Alla- ?%A9@D eg sari,a ?t-e)t@* zina ?a(ultery
an( )ornication@ an( etc.
1= 5isas is 1illing an o))en(er w-o -as 1ille( someone else un4ustly* or law)ul re,enge.
20 28es to 9omen %yaria- Ju(ges2* 200G* -ew Straits #imes at -tt0D//)in(
21 Ibid.
22 Petition /iled in Pa%istan against Appointment o /emale )udges* 2010* at
23 %ie+ec1* M* ?200C@* #he Shari&ah in the Constitutions o Aghanistan$ Iran and 0gypt ** Implications or Private
Law* #ie #eutsc-e* $ermany.
2: %ome sc-olars in t-is category say t-at women can 4u(ge all matters* w-ile t-e rest say t-at hadd an( ,isas
matters cannot +e 4u(ge( +y )emale 4u(ges.
2C %ee <i(aayat al7Mu4ta-i( ?2/C31@5 al7Ma4moo2 ?20/12H@5 al7Mug-ni ?11/3C0@.
2G Men are ,awwamuna o,er women ?on t-e +asis@ t-at Alla- -as ?)a((ala@ 0re)erre( some o) t-em o,er ot-ers
an( ?on t-e +asis@ o) w-at t-ey s0en( o) t-eir 0ro0erty ?)or t-e su00ort o) women@.
2H 2+ut men -a,e a (egree ?o) res0onsi+ility@ o,er t-em2.
2> T-e sayings o) t-e Pro0-et ?%A9@ w-ic- is t-e secon(ary source o) Islamic law.
2= Narrate( +y al7<u1-aari ?::2C@.
30 PL# ?1=>3@ !%& H3.
31 Muslim women get -al) o) w-at t-eir +rot-ers get )rom 0ro0ery in-eritence.
32 T-e e,i(ence o) a woman is -al) o) t-at o) a man in Islamic criminal matters.
Page 13
33 I) suc- a conce0t is gi,en e))ect to* it will )ollow t-at no male 4u(ge sitting alone can (eci(e a ci,il or criminal
case. Accor(ing to i,h* in cases ot-er t-an t-at o) zina in w-ic- )our eye7witnesses are re3uire( to 0ro,e t-e
o))ence* at least two male witnesses must 0ro,e (is0utes o) 0ro0erty or criminal cases in hudud an( ,isas" I) t-e
argument o) counsel is ta1en to its logical conclusion* it s-oul( )ollow t-at t-e num+er o) 4u(ges to (eci(e a
0articular case s-oul( corres0on( to t-e num+er o) witnesses re3uire( to 0ro,e it.
3: A-ma(* % ?1==1@* #he )udiciary and the Appointment o 2omen )udges in the Syariah Courts o Malaysia*
0resente( )or "nit Penga4ian 9anita (an %um+er Manusia* Pusat Penga4ian %ains Aemasyara1atan* "ni,ersiti
%ains Malaysia* Penang* 1 Octo+er 1==1.
3C Hudud are crimes o) w-ic- Alla- ?%A9@ -as 0rescri+e( 0unis-ments )or* suc- as zina ?a(ultery an(
)ornication@ an( sari,ah ?t-e)t@.
3G It is t-e 0unis-ment )or 1illing someone5 in Islam* t-e 0unis-ment )or intentionally 1illing someone is ,isas* t-at
is ta1ing t-e same re,enge )rom t-e o))en(er ?meaning t-e o))en(er must +e 1ille(@ i) t-e con(itions )or ,isas are
3H 0gypt )udge says 2omen )udges 2ould Contradict Sharia$ 200H* at
3> Ibid.
3= %ee 7uling on Appointing a 2oman as a )udge at -tt0D//>.
:0 Ibid.
:1 Ibid.
:2 Palestine8 /emale )udges 9ive Palestinian 2omen Hope o /air Hearings$ 200=* awi(.org at