#476: Women Working

Question:

Assalamualaikum w.b.t. Which is prioritized for a woman, whether going out to work or staying at home? If possible, can you include the dhawabits for it?

 

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam w.b.t.

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those who follow his footsteps until the Last Day.

Most families today need both the husband and wife to work in order to pay for and fulfil the family’s needs. Hence, women should also work and help their husbands in fulfilling the family needs. Thus, we are called to explain the issue of women working and present the dhawabits.

Allah SWT states:

وَقَرْنَ فِى بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ ٱلْجَٰهِلِيَّةِ ٱلْأُولَىٰ وَأَقِمْنَ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتِينَ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ وَأَطِعْنَ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُۥٓ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ ٱللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ ٱلرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ ٱلْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا

“And abide in your houses and do not display yourselves as [was] the display of the former times of ignorance. And establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the [Prophet’s] household, and to purify you with [extensive] purification.” [1]

Imam al-Qurtubi in his commentary said: Scholars are of the opinion that it doesn’t mean that women aren’t allowed to go out of their houses at all. [2] They can leave their houses under certain conditions. Among the conditions is as stated in the above verse which is not to adorn themselves and act like ignorant women. However, there is no evidence that gives a detailed explanation of the meaning of acting or wearing the clothes of the women during jahilliyah.

Imam al-Jauzi in Ahkam al-Nisa’ cited several opinions on this issue. Mujahid when commenting on this verse said, women during the time of jahiliyah walked in front of a group of men. While Qatadah said that they walk flirtatiously. Ibn Abi Jujaih said that they wear perfumes. Whereas al-Farra’ stated that they wear thin clothing that showed their bodies. [3]

These interpretations show the action of going out of their houses in a condition that leads to fitnah. It is a subjective value that its interpretations can change from time to time and situation to situation.

From Aisyah R.Anha, she said:

لَقَدْ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يُصَلِّي الفَجْرَ، فَيَشْهَدُ مَعَهُ نِسَاءٌ مِنَ المُؤْمِنَاتِ مُتَلَفِّعَاتٍ فِي مُرُوطِهِنَّ، ثُمَّ يَرْجِعْنَ إِلَى بُيُوتِهِنَّ مَا يَعْرِفُهُنَّ أَحَدٌ.

“Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) used to offer the Fajr prayer and some believing women covered with their veiling sheets used to attend the Fajr prayer with him and then they would return to their homes unrecognized.” [4]

Sayyid Qutb in his commentary said: The commandment for women to stay at home doesn’t mean that they aren’t allowed to go out of their houses. The verse means that their true place is at home, other than that is a form of exemption given when there are certain necessities at certain limits. The house is the only place that guarantees the values of women to be protected as intended by Allah SWT. [5]

Dr Abd Wahid Wafi in al-Muwasat fi al-Islam stated the permissibility of women working outside of their houses or doing social work and charity for they are capable due to their womanly characteristics on the condition that their involvement doesn’t lead to fitnah in terms of their character and social. Hence, for this purpose, women should always protect themselves, obey and follow the rules set by Allah SWT such as not wearing any clothes that expose their awrah or freely socializing with the opposite gender. What’s most important is that their involvement doesn’t affect their true responsibilities which are to manage the affairs of their households, husbands and children. [6]

Indeed, Islam prohibits promiscuity between man and woman and commanded them to cover their awrah, except in front of those determined by Allah SWT as stated in the Quran:

قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَزْكَىٰ لَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ ‎﴿٣٠﴾‏ وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا ۖ وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَىٰ جُيُوبِهِنَّ ۖ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَائِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَائِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي أَخَوَاتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَائِهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ أَوِ التَّابِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُولِي الْإِرْبَةِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ أَوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلَىٰ عَوْرَاتِ النِّسَاءِ ۖ وَلَا يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ لِيُعْلَمَ مَا يُخْفِينَ مِن زِينَتِهِنَّ ۚ وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

“Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do. And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.” [7]

Imam al-Qurtubi in his commentary stated that Allah SWT explained the various rulings related to the relationship between a man and a woman and how to protect their gazes as well as maintain their honor when interacting. Covering awrah and being mindful of one’s gaze is commanded on them except for those Allah SWT has made permissible as stated in the above verse. Although Allah SWT doesn’t mention in the verse something that can protect one’s gaze and honor, however, it is known based on the norm and custom. [8]

Other than the norm and custom, the situation when the act of going out of the house happens and its objectives have their own influence in determining the ruling. According to al-Rubayyi’, women who participated together with Rasullullah PBUH in battles and wars had their own roles that results in interactions between them and men. They offer various services to the army including preparing their meals. Moreover, there are some who even retrieved the dead bodies of those who died or were injured. Basically, they were mindful of the limitations of interaction and it doesn’t lead to fitnah. [9]

Considering our current time, the excuse of women having a lower standing or status than men because they are less exposed to the outside world should be re-evaluated so that the concept is focused on the matters that happen in certain situations and places. Psychological maturity and local cultural patterns also need to be taken into account. This is because the possibility of defamation of women among men varies according to the psychological and cultural stability of a society.

Conclusion

To close, we’d like to state that it is prioritized for women to stay at home. The reason is her home is the only place that guarantees her womanly value are protected as intended by Allah SWT. However, according to the norm of the place, it is permissible for women to work in accordance with the following guidelines and dhawabits:

  1. The sincere intention of working for the sake of Allah SWT
  2. Receive permission from her husband or father
  3. Doesn’t neglect her responsibilities of managing her household, husband and children if she is married
  4. It doesn’t lead to fitnah if she went out or returns from work
  5. Doesn’t wear any clothes that expose her awrah nor does she act promiscuously.

Lastly, may Allah SWT grant us all understanding in this religion. Amin.

Wallahu a’lam.

 

[1] Surah al-Ahzab: 33

[2] See Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 14/179

[3] See Ahkam al-Nisa’ pg. 108

[4] Narrated by al-Bukhari (372)

[5] See Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 5/ 2859-2860

[6] See al-Muwasat fi al-Islam, pg 46-49

[7] Surah al-Nur: 30-31

[8] See Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 12/222

[9] See Fath al-Bari, 2/247

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Home
Account
Cart
Search