Question # 189: Can a women go abroad to work and help her husband to reduce the debt!! leaving her two daughter, son and husband for 6 months? Is it right and permissible??

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: A woman is not allowed to leave her home town or city and travel a distance that entitles her to shortening the salah, unless she is accompanied by a Mahram who can protect and serve her. Secondly, Islam encourages women to fulfill the important role of home makers; however, there may be legitimate needs for many women to work (within their vicinity). One of these needs may be that married women are required to help their husbands. However, under such circumstances, it is important that women do not sacrifice the values of Islam for work. The woman who chooses to work outdoors should always be cognizant of Islamic ethics regarding gender interactions, and the preservation of modesty, and should never fail to uphold them. And at the same time, should not fall short from discharging their responsibilities towards their households.

Long Answer: It is vital to note that it is not allowed for a Muslim woman to travel alone without a Mahram because of the hadith of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) from the way of Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه): “A woman is not allowed to travel except with a Mahram” (This hadith has been reported by Imam Ahmad, al-Bukhari and Muslim) Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه) also narrated: “I heard the Messenger of Allah saying while he was giving a speech: “No man is allowed to be alone with a woman unless she is with a Mahram and no woman is allowed to travel except with the company of a Mahram. Upon hearing this a man stood up and said: “My wife left for Hajj and I was assigned to participate in such and such battles.” So the Prophet said to him: “Go and be with your wife to perform Hajj” (Reported by Imam Ahmad, al-Bukhari and Muslim) Thus, a woman is not allowed to travel a distance that entitles her to enjoy the concession of shortening the salah unless she is accompanied by a Mahram who can protect her and serve her and the Mahram is her husband or one who is permanently unlawful for her to marry. After all that, dire necessities are evaluated then acted upon the level that it requires.”… “The basic rule is that a Muslim woman should not live by herself in this fashion, for this is one of the means to imminent fitnah (temptation).” (Dr.Salah Al-Sawy, the Secretary General for the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America)

In the hadith of Abu Said (رضي الله عنه), he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “A woman shouldn’t travel a distance of two days without her husband or mahram.” In the hadith of ibn Umar (رضي الله عنه), he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “She shouldn’t travel for three nights, except with a mahram.” It seems, thus, that any travel is included under the prohibition. In other words, leaving your town or city and embarking on a travel during which you will shorten and/or combine the prayers.”

[As for allowing women to work,] it was reported by Muslim from Jabir (رضي الله عنه) that he said, “My maternal aunt got divorced and wanted to go and pick dates from her palm trees. A man deterred her from going out, so she came to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), and he said, “Yes, go and pick dates from her palm trees. Maybe you will give charity or do good.”

It is obvious from this hadith that women are allowed to work outside of their homes. However, [this] needs to be understood within the context of the shari’ah in general, which encourages the society in general to foster an environment where women are predominantly at home, caring for their households and children. Disregard of this principle will result in extensive and widespread harm. This harm will not only be limited to sexual impropriety and family breakdown, but would also affect the mental wellbeing of the children and the physical health of the entire family and society. Islam encourages women to fulfill the important role of home makers. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “And stay in your houses, and make not a dazzling display, like that of the former Times of Ignorance; and establish regular Prayer, and give regular Charity; and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye members of the Family, and to make you pure and spotless.”  (Soorah al-Ahzab, 33:33)

…It is important to note that there are legitimate needs for many women to work. It is not a matter of luxury afforded to them by Islam. Many women have various personal needs and there also the needs of the society for the participation of some of them in various professional roles. For example, the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said regarding their going out for their needs: “It has been made permissible for you to go out for your needs” (Reported by al-Bukhari from ‘Aishah (رضي الله عنها)) Of these needs is work to support oneself, as evident in what the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said to the aunt of Jabir ibn Abdillah (رضي الله عنه). Also, married women may need to help their husbands. Asma’ bint Abi Bakr (رضي الله عنها) used to help her husband az-Zubair (رضي الله عنه) with his work outdoors, and no one of the sahabah or more importantly the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) commented negatively on that.

It is upon the society, as well, to foster an environment where the working woman is surrounded by protection and respect. It is, also, upon the woman to not sacrifice the values of Islam for work. Of those, is the value of modesty. The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said, “Verily, every religion has its signature characteristic, and the signature characteristic of Islam is modesty.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)

There are detailed Islamic ethics regarding gender interactions, and the preservation of modesty, particularly for women. The woman who chooses to work outdoors should always be cognizant of them, and should never fail to uphold them.

The following is a quotation from the resolutions of the Sixth AMJA convention: “In conclusion, we must heed the precautionary measures taken to safeguard the moral values of Muslim society, established by Islamic law, such as virtue, chastity, covering and protection, while taking into consideration the need for men and women to interact in various spaces, as well as the need to enable a woman to get what is beneficial to her and to benefit her family and her Ummah.” (Dr. Hatem al-Haj, Member of the Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America)

To simplify, it is permissible for a woman to go out of her house for work, subject to the following certain conditions:

  • She needs to work in order to acquire the money she needs or for the needs of the society in various certain professional roles.
  • The work should preferably be suited to the nature of woman, such as medicine, nursing, teaching, and so on.
  • The work should be in a place that is only for women, and there should be no mixing with non-mahram
  • Whilst at work, she should observe complete shar’iah
  • Her work should not lead to her travelling without a mahram.
  • Her going out to work should not involve committing any haram
  • It should not lead to her neglecting things that are more essential for her, such as looking after her house, husband and children.

(Islamqa.info)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam