Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
Question: Assalamu alaikum, Is it permissible to work for women who don’t actually need it because her husband earns enough? Some workplaces even require women to show their faces. Also, some of my relatives live in the West and work in places that require women not to wear abaya. Is it permissible to work there even if she doesn’t need the money?
Answer: Assalamu alaykum sister,
Thank you for your question. What you ask is a sensitive question, especially considering different cultures and customs around the world.
The short answer is yes. It is permissible for a woman to work with her husband’s permission, even if he earns enough to support her.
The Prophet’s wife, may Allah bless him and give him peace, Khadijah was a wealthy businesswoman when she married the Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, and she wasn’t shunned for it.
Islam has not prohibited women to work. Think of a woman who is single and has no family; is she left to take charity or welfare with no recourse? No, rather, she is encouraged to make a living. Even if she is in this state, and has parents (who need support) with no one else to help, she must also provide for them!
Here is a detailed article about gender interaction whether at work or not, which every Muslim woman and man should read to know the limits in Islam: Mixed Gatherings: A Detailed Response Regarding Gender Interaction
Loose outer garment and face veil (Abaya and Niqab)
You ask about whether a woman can show her face at work or remove her abaya.
In terms of her clothing, the minimum obligation is that her clothing is not tight-fitting nor transparent to the skin and that she covers everything except the face and hands. More often than not, it is a woman’s attitude at work that that is more important: her modesty, manner of speech, lowering of the gaze, etc. These elements can cause much attraction or eliminate them completely.
Please read this informative essay by Imam Zaid Shakir about the legal rulings of the face veil (niqab) in the different schools.
Please also see this excellent and practical answer on the face veil (niqab) by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani.
May Allah give you success and may He help you follow a path that is best for you and your family.
[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, Tafseer 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 recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.