Q) I have been engaged since the last 3 years. But over the years, me and my fiance have developed some differences. Even though most of them are of minor nature, but there is one problem that always leads to an altercation between us, and that is the issue of me doing a job after marriage. My finace insists that its forbidden in Islam that a woman does a job only because she wishes to, and not out of need.
A) Praise be to Allaah.
It is essential to point out that this sister says that she has been “engaged” for three years, and it seems that she sits with her fiancé and speaks with him, and maybe he is alone with her, and she says that she has argued with him about her working after “marriage”.
It has become common for engaged couples to speak together and go out together before the marriage contract is done. This is undoubtedly haraam, for the man who proposes marriage is allowed only to look at his fiancée; it is haraam for him to be alone with her and shake hands with her, because she is still a stranger (non-mahram) to him, but Islam allows him to look at her so that he can be certain that he wants to marry her.
Some people call the husband who has done the marriage contract with his wife but has not yet consummated the marriage the “fiancé”. If this is the case in your situation, then you are husband and wife and your husband has the right to shake hands with you, be alone with you and travel with you. But if the marriage contract has not yet been done, then these meetings are haraam.
The woman’s role which befits her and is appropriate for her is for her to stay in her house and take care of the house and look after her husband and children, if Allaah blesses them with children. This is important work that is not insignificant. With regard to working outside the house, this does not suit women’s nature in principle, but if she needs to do that then she may do the kind of job that is most closely suited to her nature, whilst adhering to Allaah’s commands to cover herself, lower her gaze and not mix with men in a haraam way, etc.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
It is well known that for a woman to go out and work in men's fields leads to blameworthy mixing and her being alone with them. This is a very serious matter that leads to bitter consequences. It goes against the texts of Islam that command women to stay in their houses and do the work that suits the nature that Allaah has given them, which keeps them away from mixing with men.
The sound evidence clearly indicates that it is forbidden to mix with non-mahram women and to look at them, and it forbids the means that lead to falling into that which Allaah has forbidden. There is a great deal of clear evidence that definitively shows that the mixing which leads to bad consequences is forbidden. For example, Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance, and perform As‑Salaah (Iqamat‑as‑Salaah), and give Zakaah and obey Allaah and His Messenger. Allaah wishes only to remove Ar‑Rijs (evil deeds and sins) from you, O members of the family (of the Prophet), and to purify you with a thorough purification.
And remember (O you the members of the Prophet’s family, the Graces of your Lord), that which is recited in your houses of the Verses of Allaah and Al‑Hikmah (i.e. Prophet’s Sunnah legal ways, so give your thanks to Allaah and glorify His Praises for this Qur’aan and the Sunnah). Verily, Allaah is Ever Most Courteous, Well‑Acquainted with all things”
“O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allaah is Ever Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful”
“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them. Verily, Allaah is All‑Aware of what they do.
And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer palms of hands or one eye or dress like veil, gloves, headcover, apron), and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers…”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Beware of entering upon women” – meaning non-mahram women. It was said, “O Messenger of Allaah, what do you think about the in-laws?” He said, “The in-law is death.” The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) also forbade being alone with a non-mahram woman under any circumstances, and said, “The third one present is the Shaytaan.” And he forbade women to travel except with a mahram, so as to ward off the means that may lead to evil and to close the door to sin, and to protect both parties from the snares of the Shaytaan. Hence it was narrated in a saheeh report that he said, “Beware of this world and beware of women, for the first fitnah (trial) that befell the Children of Israel had to do with women.” And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “I am not leaving behind me in my ummah any fitnah that is more harmful for men than women.”
Thus the verses and ahaadeeth clearly state that it is obligatory to keep away from the mixing that leads to evil, disintegration of families and the destruction of societies. When we look at the situation of women in some Muslim countries we will see that they have lost their dignity because of their going out of their homes and having to work in fields that are not theirs. Wise people in these countries and in the west have said that it is essential for women to go back to their natural position for which Allaah has prepared them physically and mentally, but it is too late (for them).
In the fields of work that women can do in their homes and in teaching and other suitable fields, there are plenty of jobs which mean that they have no need to work in men's fields.
From al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz wa Muwaafaqatuhu al-Thaabitah, no. 22.
Shaykh Muhammad al-Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen said:
The fields of work that are open to women are those in which women specialize, such as girls’ education, whether this is a administrative or technical work; or working in her home sewing clothes for women, and so on. With regard to working in fields in which men specialize, it is not permissible for women to work in these fields because that requires mixing with men, which is a great fitnah (trial, temptation) that we must beware of. It should be noted that it is proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “I am not leaving behind me in my ummah any fitnah that is more harmful for men than women.”
So men should keep their wives away from the things that lead to fitnah, by all means possible.
Fataawa al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah, 2/981.
We hope that the sister who asked this question will also look at the answers to the following questions for more information: no. 6666, 1200 and 22397.
And Allaah knows best.