The Ruling on Women Working Outside the Home

Answered by Sayyidi al-Ḥabīb `Umar bin Hafīẓ (may Allāh preserve him and benefit us by him).

Should women go out to work?

Both men and women should busy themselves with that which is most beneficial and fitting for them. Women are generally better than men at performing many of the duties within the household so it is best that they perform them. If men go out to work they must do so in obedience to the Sacred Law. For their work to be lawful, their income must come from a lawful source, they must not be a cause of harm to anyone and they must avoid mixing with strange women. Likewise if women go out to work they must fulfill the same duties and be especially careful of mixing with strange men and exposing any of their beauty to them. It is permissible for women to go out to work and it may be required if there is a need. This is illustrated in the Qur’an when the daughters of Sayyidunā Shu`ayb say: “We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take back (their flocks), and our father is an elderly man.” (Al-Qaṣaṣ, 28:23-28) They mentioned two things: that they only went out because they needed to (due to their father being old) and in doing so they did not contravene the Sacred Law by mixing with strange men.