Should Women Work?

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

My question is about the answer I received about Khadija (Allah be pleased with her) who needed to support her family after the death of her husband and father. She inherited her father’s business and operated it from home. She didn’t leave her home to mingle with men like many working women today.

How is it evidence for your claim?

Samra (Allah be pleased with her) fulfilled communal obligation under the request of Umar (Allah be please with him). She didn’t go out of love of Dunya. Why do you not emphasize the need factor for women to work?

Answer

In the name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Especially Merciful.

The SeekersGuidance Answers Service is a free service to answer the questions of the umma and not a platform for debate. The answers are provided by qualified scholars, according to evidence, and then checked by our senior scholar, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. You are not compelled to take your guidance from this platform. That said, we will attempt to further clarify the issue for you, in sha Allah.

It is simply wrong to generalize that many women “leave her home to mingle with men” and that women work “out of love of Dunya”. While that may be true for some women, it may also be true for some men, and Allah knows best.

Please see this answer by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad:
Should Women Prioritize Their Life at Home over Work?

Obligations First

A woman has an obligation to her husband, children, and home first. It is mandatory that she does her best to obey her husband, be good to him, give wholesome food to the family, maintain cleanliness, provide a loving environment, and steadfastness in the religion at home. She will be asked about her obligations on the Day of Judgment in the same way a man will be asked if he provided for his family and treated them well. There is no altering these obligations unless a couple agrees to switch roles. These obligations are not archaic but rather are timeless and true guidance.

See this link for more details:
Can a Muslim woman have a career? Islam FAQ with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Equality with Excellence

Should a woman work? She can if she wants. Should a man cook and clean? He can if he wants. Will Allah punish this role reversal? No, as long as both spouses happily accept it. Can a woman manage a job along with cooking and cleaning and tending to the children? It is possible but difficult. Some do it well, and some don’t. Can a man handle a job and cooking and cleaning and tending to the children? It is possible but difficult. Some do it well, and some don’t.

Neither gender should get burnt out in the name of equality. Should man and wife split everything evenly down the middle? Or should they distribute the labor? That’s for each family to decide, and they should love, help, and support each other through thick and thin. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) told us to act with excellence in everything we do. If we all apply this, every home will run smoothly, and each individual will be supported, and nothing will be impossible.

See this related link:
Do I Have to Cook and Clean for My Husband if I Work Too?

Parents

Many parents in the West and East have their children study and develop their careers for different reasons. Some want them to be financially independent, etc. Most women are already working when they start to consider marriage, to the delight of their parents. There is nothing wrong with this, and their careers can serve them well, as long as a girl and her suitor agree on how they will live.

It would be foolish not to discuss it beforehand. I have seen men put in their written marriage contracts that their wives must only work part-time during pregnancy and while the children are young, and many women have accepted this. I respect any couple that has the wisdom and courage to anticipate these issues.

Education

The more important point here is that women get an education. This is far more valuable than working. Refining the mind, understanding logic, studying history, learning to write well, or really, studying anything, is the best way to develop skills, discipline, and a deeper understanding of the world around you. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim […],” and “Ask Allah for beneficial knowledge and seek refuge with Allah from the knowledge that is of no benefit.” [Ibn Maja]

Simply Put

The most honest outlook I got is from a teenager that I recently spoke to. She said that she believes a man should work and help out at home and that a woman should also work and help at home. She also believed that hiring a nanny would fill all the gaps in managing the home. When I asked her what one should do if they can’t afford a nanny, then she admitted that one parent should stay home more than the other, saying, “probably the mother.”

Finally, don’t criticize, don’t worry about others, and raise your daughters as you see fit. But be prepared to answer to Allah when He asks you whether you fulfilled your obligations, and taught your children the same, and hope for His limitless mercy.

Related:
Explaining Misunderstood Hadith About Women
A Commentary on the Hadīth of Women’s Intelligence

May Allah guide us all, and may He give you the best of this world and the next.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters 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.