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 A Husband Preventing His Wife from Working

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Obedient Angel

Join date : 2011-04-30
Posts : 2448

PostSubject: A Husband Preventing His Wife from Working   Sun Oct 21, 2012 2:43 am


Can a husband forbid his wife from working, even though he agreed to marry her knowing that she quite happily works as a teacher?


Sheikh `Abd Allah b. Bayyah, professor at `Abd al-`Azîz University in Jeddah

Generally, the husband is the one who has the duty of providing for and maintaining his wife. However, there is a condition for the husband having the authority associated with this that he is indeed providing for her properly and taking care of her needs. This is why the jurists Mâlik and al-Shâfi`î were of the opinion that when the husband fails to fulfill these conditions, his status as protector and maintainer is compromised and consequently the woman has a right to seek divorce.

Abû Hanîfah, on the other hand, was of the opinion that the expenditure becomes a debt that he owes to his wife.

If a husband wants his wife to refrain from working, he could only conceivably do so if he is able to sufficiently fulfill her needs. Nevertheless, there is more to it than just that. The issue really must take custom into consideration as well as the specific circumstances of the individuals involved.

Customs and expectations differ. In some parts of the world, if a woman were prevented from working, it could lead to serious disturbances at home. It could be that her staying at home is what would instigate those problems. This could lead to a whole host of undesirable consequences. For this reason, the issue must be considered in light of weighing the pros and cons.

Women from among the Companions used to engage in work. Asmâ’ bint Abî Bakr – the wife of al-Zubayr – used to work. She used to feed al-Zubayr’s livestock. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (5224) and Sahîh Muslim (2182)]

Then we have the woman who was told by some people to cease working on her date palms on account of her being in her period of mourning from her husband’s death, so the Prophet (peace be upon him) said to her: “Go to your date palms” He said: “prune your date palms.” [Musannaf `Abd al-Razzâq (7/25) with an authentic line of transmission]

From this we can see that women engaged in work is not something new that has just developed in recent times. It is something well known in Islam. For this reason, people have to be flexible about this issue. Indeed, it is true that the husband is responsible for the maintenance of his wife. He is the head of the household.

Islamic Law likes to have all matters clearly defined. The Prophet said: “Three people should not go fourth without appointing one of them to be their leader.” [Sunan al-Bayhaqî (9/359) andMusannaf `Abd al-Razzâq (4/58)] This means that there should be some delineation of responsibility.

The family has a head, and the head of the family is the husband. This does not mean, however, that he can just do as he pleases, say what he pleases, and bark orders left and right. Quite the contrary, the husband and wife have to manage the household by way of mutual consultation. Allah commands them to engage in consultation in matters of weaning: “If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no blame on them.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 233]

This verse refers to a matter that most acutely affects them both. How then should it be for a matter that has its greatest effect upon the woman, like her employment?

In brief, if the husband wants his wife to do something that is not contrary to Islamic Law, then she should obey him. All the same, it is not permissible for him to order her to do something that will be detrimental to her or cause her to lose out on something good for herself. If, on the other hand, if her work causes serious negative consequences for the family and her leaving that job will not bring her any serious detriment, then he is within his rights to ask her not to persist in that work and she should comply with what he says. This is in accordance with the view of the majority of scholars.
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