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The Work of a Wife

Islamic law has limited precepts concerning the work of a wife as follows:

1. The wife has the right to stipulate in her marriage contract that her husband should not prevent her from working.

2. The husband must agree to let his wife work through mutual understanding. That is when she wants to work without a previous stipulation. Sometimes the husband disagrees to let his wife work. This does not mean that Islamic law prevents her from working. However, that depends on the relationship between the husband and his wife.

3. If a woman had worked before the marriage contract, a work contract is valid, even though work opposes her husband's right.

4. When the wife works without permission from her husband, the correctness of permission depends on the approval of the husband in what contradicts the rights of husband. The contract is valid in what does not contradict his right.

5. The precept which woman makes to hire herself to service includes all work contracts she makes.

When we study the precepts of Islamic law, we will not find any text that prevents woman from working in the first title. Rather, those who prevent woman from working outdoors produce evidence of that. Some people say that when woman works in mixed foundations, she will be corrupted, and will commit unlawful acts. This means that woman's work is unlawful because of the mixed work that leads her to commit unlawful acts.

It is necessary to mention here that all work that leads to unlawful things is forbidden for both man and woman. Therefore, it is obligatory to prevent mixed work and to employ the person needed for the regardless of whether the person is a man or woman.

From interpreting this holy verse: "and We did raise some of them above the others in rank, so that some of them may take the others in subjection", it is clear that abilities, merits, and readiness for work differ from one person to another, regardless of the person being a man or woman, and that exchanging interests and satisfying service and material needs can be achieved by all the members of society. Every individual, regardless of his gender, offers his effort and ability to satisfy the needs of society. Meanwhile the individual satisfies his needs through the process of the service and material exchange in society.

Therefore, the farmer offers agricultural products, the engineer and the technician make the instruments, the doctor offers medical treatments, the teacher teaches, the merchant secures commodities in the market, the soldier defends his country, the night watchman struggles against theives, etc.

When we study and analyze all Islamic concepts and precepts, we will find that Islam does not prevent woman from working or from getting knowledge. The woman has the right to practice any work she wants, such as agriculture, industry, medicine, engineering, administration, political jobs([2]), driving cars and planes, teaching and education, etc.

Man and woman have the right to practice all lawful work. Both man and woman are equal before the precepts of Islamic law. The difference between man and woman lies in some duties that concern both of them or in some powers which have been built on scientific bases that take into consideration the psychological and biological structure of both man and woman to organize and manage social life.

Accordingly, work is permitted in Islamic law. Rather it is sometimes obligatory. No work is forbidden in Islam except those which Islamic law has forbidden, or that leads to unlawful deeds. Some people regard it forbidden for woman to work. Such people must produce evidence in support of their claim. For there is no religious proof for that.

The religious scholars have analyzed religious obligatories and divided them into collective and individual. Through studying the collective duty, we can conclude that Islam has made it incumbent on both man and woman to secure social services such as medicine, engineering, teaching, agriculture, trade, transport, security, etc. Sometimes collective duty becomes individual duty, regardless of whether the individual is a man or woman.

From this we understand that the division and carrying out of functional work in society stand on two bases: individual and collective. In both cases, Islam does not make any difference between man and woman. Rather, Islam makes it incumbent on woman to learn jobs that concern women such as medicine and teaching.

Adopted from the book : "Woman and Society" by : "Al-Balagh Foundation"

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