Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
I had always believed that Islam allows women to have successful careers and choose whatever they want to. Recently, I started studying religion and was shocked to see statements on various websites and on YouTube that women should not leave home unless necessary.
I saw the verse from Surat al-Ahzab, verse 33. I was also told that women should choose to work from home and not intermingle with men outside or choose fields where they only deal with women, or become lady doctors. I was shocked to see all of this. Also, I read hadith in Bukhari (5237) that women can go out when needed. Does that mean that I cannot make a career in Islam? Can I not go with my friends outside ever? Please explain this hadith.
Thank you for your question. May Allah reward you for seeking to increase your Islamic knowledge and for seeking the truth and wanting to do what is best according to Islam.
Once Sa‘da bint Zam‘a went out at night for some need, and ‘Umar saw her, and recognizing her, he said (to her), “By Allah, O Sa‘da! You cannot hide yourself from us.” So she returned to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and mentioned that to him while he was sitting in my dwelling taking his supper and holding a bone covered with meat in his hand. Then the Divine Inspiration was revealed to him, and when that state was over, he was saying: ‘O women! You have been allowed by Allah to go out for your needs.’” [Bukhari]
Please see an excellent explanation here: Explaining Misunderstood Hadith About Women
Work and Friends
It is permissible for a woman to work with the permission of her husband or father, if she has them, and she may leave the home for this. She should observe the limits of gender interaction, and modesty and ensure that her income is halal. The same applies to her socializing, and socializing at night should be somewhat limited due to safety.
Please see much more detail at these links:
- Should Women Work?
- Is It Permissible to Work for a Woman Who Doesn’t Actually Need It?
- Should Women Prioritize Their Life at Home over Work?
- Can a Woman Own Her Business and Hire Female Employees?
- Can You Help Me Understand My Role and Value as a Woman?
- Is It Impermissible for Me to Work Even If I Observe Proper Limits?
- Does a Woman Need Her Father’s or Husband’s Permission To Work, Even From Home?
- Can a Woman Work If There Is Too Much Financial Pressure On the Husband?
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years, where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin and completed her Master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.