Does the woman have the right to work?
Please elaborate, if women are allowed to work outside their homes in a professional capacity. I was raised to think that only men can be bread earners for their families. Recently however, I come to learn that there may be other opinions on the topic and that women do not have to confined to their houses.
Can you please clarify in the light of the Quran, Sunnah and the practice of the pious predecessors. Please also provide different viewpoints on the matter so that I may not remain blind to other valid opinions on this topic.
According to the noble Shari'a [Islamic law], it is permissible for a Muslim woman to go out for work providing the following conditions:
- The job is deemed permissible in Shari'a and does not include anything that contradicts legal rulings.
- The woman guarantees safety for her person, chastity and religion [from temptation).
- The job suits woman's physical and psychological nature.
Consequently, a woman's work should not contradict righteousness [birr] or oppose her guardian's responsibility over her.
Evidence from the sunna
Jabir Ibn 'Abdullah (Allah be pleased with them) reported: My maternal aunt was divorced, and she intended to pluck her dates [from palm trees]. A person scolded her for having come out (during her waiting period). She came to the Prophet (peace and blessins be upon him) and he told her: "Certainly you can pluck (dates) from your palm trees, for perhaps you may give out charity or do an act of kindness." [Muslim, Sahih).
The Shari'a view on working women
It is established in shari'a that it is impermissible for a wife to go out for work except with her husband's permission. If a wife goes out for work without her husband's explicit or implicit permission, she will be blameworthy.
The spouses' rights are mutual
This means that a husband is obliged to provide for his wife and she is to remain in the marital house in fulfillment of his rights over her. Allah 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. [Qur'an 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 be financially independent though this does not contradict her husband's right to prevent her from working. For example, it is established in the Shari'a 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 for his wife to go out for work involves him informing her of his consent, while his implicit permission involves showing no objection to her going out or if he had accepted to marry her while knowing that she is a working woman.