Monday, November 20, 2017 - 1 Rabi' al-Awwal 1439

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Does a woman have the right to work?

Does a woman have the right to work?

Answer

According to Islamic law, it is permissible for a Muslim woman to go out for work provided the following conditions are observed:
- The job is deemed permissible and does not include anything that contradicts Islamic legal rulings;
- her person, chastity and religion are safe;
- the job suits a woman's physical and psychological nature.
Consequently, a woman's work should not contradict righteousness or come in conflict with her guardian's responsibility to her.

Evidence from the Sunnah

Jabir Ibn 'Abdullah (may God be pleased with them) narrated that his maternal aunt was divorced. During her post-divorce waiting period, she went out to collect the fruit from her palm trees. A man saw her and rebuked her so she went to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and reported the matter to him. He told her: "You may certainly go out to collect [the dates] from your palm trees, for perhaps you may give out charity or do an act of kindness" [recorded by Muslim in his Sahih].

Islamic law and working women

It is established in Islamic law that it is impermissible for a wife to go out for work except with her husband's permission. She is blameworthy if she goes out to work without her husband's explicit or implicit permission.

Mutual rights

A husband is obliged to provide for his wife while she is to remain in the marital house in fulfillment of his rights over her. God the Almighty says:

“Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth” [4: 34].
There is no contradiction between a wife's legal right to work and her husband's right to prevent her. No one can object to a sensible and adult woman's legal right to engage in work that is lawful or to her right to financial independence though this does not contradict her husband's right to prevent her from working. For instance, it is established in Islamic law that it is permissible for a husband to prevent his wife from performing voluntary prayers and fasts although they are both legally permissible.

The husband's explicit permission involves informing her of his consent while his implicit permission involves showing no objection to her work or accepting to marry her while knowing that she is a working woman.
And God the Almighty knows best.
 

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