A woman’s right to work
Is a woman entitled to work?
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.
- A woman’s person, chastity, and religion are safe.
- The job suits her physical and psychological nature.
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 becomes blameworthy if she does so without her husband's explicit or implicit permission.
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 Almighty says, “Men are in charge of women by [right of] what God has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth” (Quran 4: 34).
There is no contradiction between a wife's 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. This comes in analogy to the permissibility for a husband to prevent his wife from performing voluntary prayers and fasts although they are both legally permissible.
A husband's consent may be either explicit or implicit. His 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 person.
And God Almighty knows best.