Women's Section

Queen Elizabeth II and the Question of Leadership

Stylized illustration of the imperial state crown on UK flag background.; Shutterstock ID 430887691; issue: -; story: -; other: -; client: –

Munavara Ghauri, UK

A couple of weeks ago, I spent some time creating a series of red, blue and white paper triangles alongside the pupils in the school where I work. They were for the purpose of making ‘bunting’. ‘Bunting’ are decorative garlands and anyone remotely near the United Kingdom in the past month would have probably noticed such garlands embellishing streets and public buildings, marking the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Astonishingly, her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has now been on the throne for 70 years. This makes her the longest-reigning monarch in British history. [1]

Queen Elizabeth II and the Question of Leadership


Bunting aside, no one can argue that Queen Elizabeth II has demonstrated an unwavering sense of duty with dignity and good manners. In her 90’s, she has continued to work over 40 hours a week [2] and has advised 14 British Prime Ministers [3] on a weekly basis throughout her reign. The Queen also carried out 118 virtual engagements last year despite the turbulence of the COVID-19 pandemic. [4]

What most people are unaware of is that a dedicated and fair-dealing monarch is also a cause for appreciation amongst Muslims and demands their loyalty. In fact, Islam emphasises loyalty and obedience to one’s sovereign/leader. In chapter 4 of the Holy Qur’an Muslims are taught,

‘O Ye who believe, obey Allah and obey His Messenger and those who are in authority among you.’ [5]

The Holy Prophet (sa) of Islam also guided:

‘A Muslim must obey the ruler in all things except in disobedience to Allah. When commanded to disobey Allah he owes no duty to obey.’ [6]

The question then arises, does the Queen of England allow Muslims to obey Allah Almighty? On a day-to-day basis as a British Muslim woman, I actually feel fairly free to act as I wish. I can pray, work, visit mosques, declare my faith and dress as I see fit. Such freedoms are not enjoyed in every country even in our so-called progressive times. For example, in Austria, France, Belgium, Denmark, Bulgaria and the Netherlands, I could not wear a hijab (veil) in public schools, hospitals or on public transport. [7] The freedoms of Britain are partially the consequence of an ethos of fairness and tolerance which the Queen represents and cascades.

Author’s Father-in-Law, the Late Muhammad Nazim Khan Ghauri Receiving an MBE Award in 1998 from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II

One personal example of this I can give is that of my late father-in-law, Muhammad Nazim Khan Ghauri, MBE. He was awarded the MBE honour from the Queen (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for his service in helping to integrate ethnic minority groups in Britain. Of course for Ahmadi Muslims, such secular accolades are not their foremost aspiration. Yet, it demonstrates that the Queen is recognising the value of even those subjects who do not share her faith or ethnicity. Interestingly, a royal biographer of the Queen, Robert Hardman, observed that the change in Britain, its transformation into a multicultural nation has overlapped precisely with the reign of the Queen.’ [8]

It is often assumed that the Queen has no real constitutional powers in Britain and is only a figurehead. This is actually false. The Queen’s approval is required (Royal Assent) before any proposed law by Parliament can be legitimised [9]. It is the Queen’s duty to open Parliament each year and she has the power to ‘dissolve’ it if she wishes. This means that the Queen could technically dismiss every member of Parliament and hold an election for new members. She is also Commander-in-Chief of the UK military and so exerts an implicit but profound influence on the Government. I respect the Queen for her Christian faith which has appeared constant throughout the decades. Whilst as a Muslim I may not consider Jesus (as) to be a manifestation of God or the son of God, I still love and respect him as a Prophet of Allah Almighty. The Holy Qur’an teaches Muslims that Jesus was ‘…honoured in this world and in the next, and of those who are granted nearness to God.’ [10]

It is thus a positive to feel that our Queen also aspires to live by the values of an honourable Prophet and one who taught mankind to live selflessly and with compassion. In 1975, whilst commenting on Jesus (as) the Queen said:

‘His simple message of love has been turning the world upside down ever since. He showed that what people are and what they do, does matter and does make all the difference…We are all different, but each of us has his own best to offer…It does matter therefore what each individual does each day. Kindness, sympathy, resolution, and courteous behaviour are infectious.’[11]

It seems that the Queen does recognise the diversity of her subjects but also perceives the great potential in every individual. One can argue that British monarchs of the past have at times acted in undesirable and even unscrupulous ways, yet our present Queen seems to act with sincerity and benevolence. She seems to conduct herself in a manner aligned with how the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) directed leaders to behave:

‘Lighten the people’s burdens and do not add to them. Bring them hope not chagrin. Work for unity and not discord.’ [12]

His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Khalifatul Masih V

The Fifth Caliph and Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba)

The future of the British monarchy is being questioned. One reason is perhaps that the Queen’s successors have not upheld her high moral standards. In times of uncertainty, there is one constant in my life that gladdens my heart. I am blessed to belong to the Community of His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), the Spiritual Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. He is a leader like no other. He was divinely elected through prayers, not propaganda. The difference between his election and that of any secular monarch is that his position is not a birthright but a reflection of his virtue. He is one of the ‘khalifas’ or ‘spiritual successors’ that are promised by God Almighty to those ‘who believe and do good works‘ [13] in the Holy Qur’an. God Almighty reassures believers that they can achieve ‘security and peace’ [14] through khilafat. Surely, such a state is something all humans crave and it’s what makes khilafat a very special form of leadership.

About the Author: Munavara Ghauri BA (Hons) Eng Lit, is married with 3 children and works as a School Librarian. She is currently serving as the Branch Leader for the Bournemouth Women’s Auxiliary Organization of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and is an Editor for the Women’s Section of The Review of Religions.


[1] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/queen-elizabeth-ii-second-longest-reigning-monarch-world-history-70-years-platinum-jubilee/

[2] Greene & Butcher, The Servant Queen and the King She Serves, CPO, 2011, p5

[3] https://www.oprahdaily.com/entertainment/g29894721/british-prime-ministers-under-queen-elizabeth-ii/

[4] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-10347825/Royal-engagements-2021-revealed.html

[5] The Holy Qur’an, 4:60

[6] Khan M Z, Wisdom of the Holy Prophet, Unwin Brothers Ltd, 1981, p73

[7] https://www.firstpost.com/world/hijab-ban-stays-in-karnataka-a-look-at-countries-where-veils-are-barred-10460931.html

[8] Hardman R, Our Queen, Hutchinson 2011, p13

[9] https://historyofyesterday.com/what-powers-do-queen-elizabeth-ii-and-the-british-monarchy-have-97efa2de57d4

[10] The Holy Qur’an, 3:46

[11] Greene & Butcher, The Servant Queen and the King She Serves, CPO, 2011, p49

[12] Khan M Z, Wisdom of the Holy Prophet, Unwin Brothers Ltd, 1981, p75

[13] The Holy Qur’an, 24:56

[14] Ibid.