Is it religiously allowed for women to work? Is it religiously proper to work amongst men?

The Details of the Question
If your husband is not earning that much with his job and you have a child, is it ok when I work? I wear my headscarf, but I can`t wear a jeelbab (woman’s outdoor overgarment) and I feel kind of nacked without! What can I do?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

We do not know any prohibition that prevents a woman from working. But, there are some rules that are supposed to be obeyed by the woman. When she doesn’t obey these rules, she becomes a sinner.

In Islam there is no discrimination in being human between a man and a woman; they are equally liable for demands and prohibitions of God. All people are responsible with living on the earth and serve on the way of God, it doesn’t matter whether woman or man. In Islam there is no difference about the main rights and responsibilities between a man and a woman, as there is no difference in being a servant to God.

In Islam the rights and freedom given to men are equally given to women. There is no discrimination between a man and a woman about the main rights like living, to protect and to develop your material and spiritual life; personal freedom and safety; conscience, religious beliefs and freedom of conviction; freedom of expense and possession of property; Having an assertion or defense in the court as a suitor or defendant by using legal ways, equivalence before the laws, a fair judgment, immunity of property, preservation of honour, the right to marry and establish a family, privacy and immunity of life, guarantee of livelihood.
In holy Quran it is mentioned that the Prophet had an obeisance. (Mümtehine, 60/13). That shows the independence of women’s will clearly. So, being a woman is not a reason to lose the capacity of right and action. In case of violation of her rights by her husband or any other person, she has the right to complain to the court and demand to remove that injustice.

The position of women and discussions of her rights in Islam focus on participation of women in social life and work and have a job in the public service.

According to Islam, a woman can work inside or outside the house; can help to her husband in meeting the family’s needs. It is possible that the roles of the spouses can change, it depends on circumstances. The thing which is important is the order and peace of the family life and the proper choice of the spouses about the responsibilities that are suitable to abilities and features of them. According to some sources, there is a hadith that tells that the prophet gave the responsibility of the inner works of the house to his daughter Fatima and gave outside works to his son-in-law imam Ali. [İbn Ebî Şeybe, Musannef, X/165, No: 9118; XIII/284, No: 16355; Ömer Nasuhî Bilmen, Hukuk-i İslamiyye, II/484. That is not a binding rule that makes up a family model for Muslim people; it is a solution, in form of an advice, based on needs and traditions.

The assistance and contribution of woman to her family and the community is so big that it can not be underestimated.The women are equal with the men in economical and commercial domains and have no hindrance. They have all kinds of rights about the law of commerce and debt that men have. In Islam all people, men or women, are encouraged to work. “That man will have nothing but what he strives for” (Necm, 53/39);”…Men will be rewarded according to their deeds and women will be rewarded according to their deeds. Rather implore God bestow upon you His bounty…..." (Nisa 4/32)

There is no a sign of discrimination between men and women in the verse about the trading and domain of work “O Believers! Do not devour your property among yourself by unlawful ways; but rather trade with it by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves; surely God is ever Merciful to you.” (Nisa, 4/29) and in the hadith “It is better for a person from you to get his rope and fetch some wood and sell it from being a beggar.”(Buhârî, Büyû’ 5)

Men or women, all people have right to gain money on the condition that they obey the  general principles that the religion tells like; frankness, honesty, trust, truthfulness, abiding by the promise, having commitment to agreements and conditions and not exploiting the other side’s weakness, ignorance and troubles.
From the explanations above we can infer both that women can work and can not work. If she has the conditions she can work, if not she can not work.

One of the fundamental principles for a woman to work is to be careful about her religious coverage of herself and her dignity and gravity mustn’t be underestimated. Also she mustn’t be in the same place with a stranger man alone.
It was told by the Prophet that when a man and a woman are alone, the third one will be the devil. In such a satiation, “halvet” (being alone with the opposite sex at the same place) occurs and it requires punishment for both man and woman like “mehr-i misil” (for man) and ”tâzir” (for woman).
In conclusion, we can say that the woman, who has to work since she is in need, can work in a place where there will be no harm to her dignity and chastity. She can have social relation with the men around with that gravity and dignity. The place lacking these features is not a good place for a woman to work.
It is an obligation for man to work and maintain the family, the woman is supposed to stay home and look after her children. The man has to work and try to meet the needs of his wife. The conditions mentioned above for women who has no such a protector and who is in need and poverty. A woman whose husband doesn’t let her work can not have a right to have a job. She is supposed to live on the money of her husband, or she needs her husband’s permission.
A woman can work at house or working place of a stranger man on the way that Islam required, with several women or in an open place. There is no hindrance in this. But if she stays in a closed place with a stranger “halvet” (explained above) occurs and that is a sin. (El-Fıkıh 'ala'l-Mezahip el-Arbaa, v.3 p.125).

About your second question:

The fatwa (a legal verdict given on a religious basis) on dressing for a woman is that a woman suppose to cover all over body apart from hands and face. A dress in order to be suitable for hijab (covering), a woman both must cover her private parts and wear a thick dress in order not to be transparent. If she wears a jeelbab (woman’s outdoor overgarment) on that dress willingly this is called taqwa (fear of Allah, piety). This kind of dressing is praiseworthy.

Fatwa is an obligatory act of religion. As for taqwa, it is a willingly and voluntarily act. There must not be any forcement on this kind of dressing for taqwa. Those who are interested in wearing jeelbab, voluntarily prefer it. There must not be any insistence on those who do not want to wear jeelbab.

As for your question: If you want to work and make an addition to livelihood, as long as your husban’s consent, you can work in accordance with allowable criterion of fatwa. As it is understood from your question, you have no problem with that. It is ok.

If you feel uncomfortable without jeelbab, you do not have to work. However if that will bring about financial difficulties, you can work on condition with the criterion mentioned above. It is your preference.

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