Q: At the time of my marriage I made it clear to my husband that I wish to be always in work. He did not object. However, now he is saying that I should not work because it is ‘un-Islamic’ for a Muslim woman to work except in cases of financial difficulty. This has been a cause of friction in our family. Please advise.
A: If your husband had agreed to your working at the time of marriage, then he may not withdraw this commitment without a very good reason. To claim that it is un-Islamic for a woman to work is wrong. Some of the Prophet’s women companions had their own work, and he did not object. A woman who was in her waiting period after her husband had died asked the Prophet whether it was permissible for her to supervise the work in her farm. Some of her relatives objected to her doing this. The Prophet told her to attend to her work, adding: “You may have a chance to give something in charity or do some other good.”
If a man is married to an educated woman who has a good job, or to a skilled woman who does some skillful work, like dress making, farming, or some handicraft, it may be highly beneficial to the family if she continues with her work. Here the income is not of paramount importance. The fact that the woman enjoys self-fulfillment as a result is very good for a better family life.