Women in Islam
SHARING THE WORK LOAD
It is right that earning a family’s livelihood is an obligatory deed of the man and as per Islamic laws, women are not responsible for this act. However, women should not remain idle. Imam Ja’far As Sadiq (AS) stated, “The Al-mighty Allah hates too much sleep and too much rest.”
In Usul Al Kafi, it is reported that Fatima Zahra (A) also used to work at home. Anyone, in need or without, should have a job. One should not waste one’s life by not doing anything, but one should work and contribute in building a better world. The best job for married women is to take care of the house. Housekeeping, childcare, etc. are areas where women do an excellent job. it is a misconception that the work of house-wives are of no consequence. A talented and hardworking housewife can turn her house into a heavenly place for her husband and children, whose value cannot be measured in terms of money.
The Holy Prophet (SAWA) said: “A woman’s jehad is when she attends to her husband.”
Umme Salamah asked the Holy Prophet (SAWA): “How much reward is there for a woman’s housework?” The Holy Prophet (SAWA) replied:”Any woman who in the way of improving the order of the house, takes something from somewhere and places it some-where else, would enjoy the grace of Allah, and whoever attracts the blessings of Allah, would not be tormented by Allah’s Anger.”
Umme Salamah said; “0 Messenger (SAWA) of Allah! May my parents be sacrificed for you, please state other rewards for women,” The Holy Prophet (SAWA) stated: “When a woman becomes pregnant, Allah rewards her as such as He would to some one who goes for Jehad with all his wealth and life. Then, when she delivers her baby, a call would reach her stating, all your sins are forgiven; start a new life again. Each time she feeds her baby with her milk Allah gives reward equal to that of freeing a slave for each feeding.”
Housewives who have spare time on their hands must find something to do. They can read books, learn some skills such as tailoring, knitting, embroidery, etc. As a result they can help their families economically. Working prevents the development of many mental disoders. Hazrat Ali (AS) stated: “Allah likes a pious person who honestly engages in doing a job.”
While some women work at home, there are others who prefer an outside job for economical or other reasons. In this case, the best jobs are cultural occupations, or nursing. Women can suitably serve the society as teachers, doctor and nurses. The following are recommendations to those ladies who intend to or who are working outside their homes:
a) Consult your husband before taking up a job. It is your husband’s right to grant or refuse you permission to work. Starting to work without your husband’s permission will be detrimental to the serenity and the loving atmosphere of your family.Men are also advised not to be adamantly negative unless the job concerned is considered unsuitable for women.
b) Women should observe complete Islamic hejab (covering) when not at home. They should go to work without any make up and with simple clothes. They must avoid mixing with men who are not mehram as much as possible. An office or an institution is a place to work and is not for the purpose of showing off or rivalry. Prestige and dignity does not come with fashionable or attractive clothes, but what you
do and how well you do. Be and act as a dignified Muslim woman. Maintain your self-respect and do not hurt you husband’s feeling; save your adornments and your beautiful dresses for him at home.
c) Women should be aware that although they are working outside the house, they are still expected by their husbands and children to attend to such activities as housekeeping, cooking washing and so forth. This can be done by co-operation within the family. An outside job should not pave the way for upsetting the whole family. Husbands are also advised to help their wives with regard to housekeeping. They should not expect their wives to work both outside, and inside the house on their own. Such an expectation is neither lawful nor fair. Men and women should share the housework.
d) If a woman is working outside and has a child, then she should leave the child with someone trusted and kind. It is neither right nor wise to leave children at home on their own, since many children become fearful or helpless when they have to confront difficult situations. Here, we are not speaking of the child who has just learnt to walk. At this stage, no one is more suitable than a mother to look after the child. We’re speaking of a child who has been admitted to a nursery or primany school.
e) If the husband agrees for the wife’s taking up a job, she must try to select a job in which she comes in contact with minimum number of strangers or non-mehram men. This is in the interest of both herself and the society.
f) May we also remind the husbands, that the wife has a right to work outside the home as long as it does not harm the family environment. And whatever she earns belongs to her alone, no matter what legitimate work she performs or the degree to which the husband helps with housework. A husband has no right to benefit economically in anyway whatsoever from his wife. That is, he cannot expect or demand, by right. He can accept that benefit accruing from his wife, which she shares with him by her own choice and willingness. By the way, that also concerns her work at home. A husband has no right to force her to do housework.