Is it permissible for a woman to work? Is her husband’s permission necessary for it?

The Details of the Question

- According to our religion, does a married woman have to get permission from her husband to work?
- Is it not permissible for her to work without her husband’s permission?
- If the woman’s working is dependent on her husband’s permission, is it permissible for the husband to give her permission on the condition that he will have a certain amount of share from the woman’s income in return for his permission?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

What is ideal for a woman is not to work. In other words, not to be obliged to work outside with non-mahram men because a woman’s work at home is more than enough for her.

Besides, working at home is an activity like nafilah worship for her. Women have a privileged state in this regard. Serving her husband voluntarily, taking care of her children, and being busy with them day and night means nothing but nafilah worship. Work that is blessed like that must be satisfying to a considerate lady.

Such work is a means of peace in her home and reward in her book of deeds. However, we also see women who are obliged to work with non-mahram men due to economic conditions.

Another important point is the relationship of the woman who wants to work with her husband. A woman’s working depends on her husband’s permission and consent. If her husband does not give permission or consent, the woman’s working is regarded as neither legitimate nor reasonable.

It is searched whether the man who does not give his wife the permission to work meets the reasonable and legitimate requests of the lady. If her essential needs are met and are brought to the house, but the lady is not satisfied with them and demands more and luxurious things, it cannot be considered as a reason for working. The requests of the lady who demands more things than she needs are not regarded as justifiable.

Some hadiths warn us regarding the issue (see (see Bukhari, Buyu 7; Zaynul-Iraqi, Takhriju Ahadithil-Ihya - with Ihya - , II/24):

In the End Times, luxury and waste will increase so much so that even things that are not needed will be regarded as necessary. In that case, wives, daughters and sons will force the head of the family to meet their requests... The head of the family, who cannot meet those requests through halal income, will not heed the limits of halal and haram, and will try to obtain whatever he can find. Thus, the head of the family, his children and his family, will be dragged into an otherworldly disaster. So, the concept of need will change a lot...

The warning of the hadith should make family members think seriously; we should keep away from regarding things that are not necessary as a need, and act prudently to persuade our souls to be satisfied with halal food. Otherwise, even the working of the woman, let alone the gentleman, will not be enough to make ends meet.

The woman’s income belongs to herself. If the husband allows the woman to work, he cannot have a share from her earnings.

The basic conditions that come to mind for women who have to work are as follows:

1. There must be no fitnah (mischief) while going to the workplace and returning; there must be no ethical behaviors that will disturb the woman and her relatives mentally. In other words, there must be safety and seriousness in the workplace.

2. The working woman must not remain alone with a non-mahram man while working. The following warning of the Prophet (pbuh) regarding the issue should always be kept in mind:

“If a woman remains alone with a non-mahram man, the third one with them will be Satan.” (Bukhari, Nikah, 111, 112; Muslim, Hajj, 424)

3. Being covered up (wearing hijab); not having to deal with non-mahram men without wearing hijab.

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