Islam does not restrict women to being housewives
Fatwa No: 339811

  • Fatwa Date:23-2-2017 - Jumaadaa Al-Oula 27, 1438
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Question

I would like a specific fatwa for this question, thank you. In fatwa 82079, you mentioned that ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, fought? I would like to ask, why was ‘Aa’ishah allowed to fight? And also, if women are supposed to be housewives, then why was Khadeejah, may Allaah be pleased with her, a businesswoman? And how did the Mothers of the Believers (the wives of the Prophet,sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam), may Allaah be pleased with them, talk to the people and advise them, was there a barrier? And does this not show leadership? Please help.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger. 

It is not correct to say that the woman is supposed to be a housewife in an absolute sense. Even though this is an honorable mission for the Muslim woman and one of her most important duties, she is not restricted to doing this only, as the Sharia does not prevent her from participating in matters of public life, whether that be in agriculture, trade, industry, and so on, provided that she abides by the Islamic conditions. For more details, please refer to fatwa 338953.

The participation of women in jihaad itself at the time of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is something confirmed in the books of the Sunnah and the Biography of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ).

Anas ibn Maalik, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) allowed Umm Sulaym and some other women of the Ansaar to accompany him when he went to war; they would give water (to the soldiers) and treat the wounded.” [Muslim]

What is meant is that, in principle, a woman stays in her home, but that does not prevent her from going out, if necessary, when there is a valid need for it. It was in this context that ‘Aa’ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her went out calling to avenge the blood of ‘Uthmaan, but she did not expect that the matter would reach the degree of war. Thereafter, she regretted going out. Ath-Thahabi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in Siyar A’laam An-Nubalaa’, “There is no doubt that ‘Aa’ishah totally regretted her going out to Basra and attending the Battle of the Camel, and she never thought that the matter would reach the extent that it did.

For more benefit, please refer to fatwa 263791.

On the other hand, a woman speaking to men or vice versa is not something that is Islamically prohibited; rather, it is lawful as long as it is within the limits of the Sharia, among which is that she should not speak to them in a soft, attractive manner, and the like of that, which could lead to temptation.

Allah says (what means): {…then do not be soft in speech [to men], lest he in whose heart is disease should covet, but speak with appropriate speech.} [Quran 33:32]

Al-Ghazaali when speaking about the woman's voice in Ihya’ ‘Uloom Ad-Deen, said that it is not an ‘Awrah (what should be covered of the body), “The women at the time of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, used to talk with men in giving the Salaam (greeting), seeking a fatwa, asking questions, consultation, and other matters.

Allah admonished that when speaking to a non-Mahram (marriageable) woman, one should do so while she is wearing her hijab so that his eyes do not fall on her. Allah says (what means): {And when you ask [his wives] for something, ask them from behind a partition. That is purer for your hearts and their hearts} [Quran 33:53]

Al-Baghawi said in his Tafseer (exegesis), “That is to say that there should be a veil between you and them, a veil that prevents one from seeing the other, as there is no need for it. So looking at them was forbidden in all cases, while there are details in regard to speaking to them…

With regard to your statement, “Does this not show leadership;” then the answer is that there is no evidence in this about the matter of leadership, and you know what is said about this issue – meaning leadership – in the fatwa which you mentioned in the question, and 'Aa’ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her was not the leader of the army or the decision-maker.

Allah knows best.

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