In a marriage, the duty of a husband is to give inner birth to his wife. But what about the law of women provides for family?
Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala said:
الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَآءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ وَبِمَآأَنفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ
“The men are leaders of women because Allah has overruled some of them (men) over some others (women) and because they (men) have spent part of their wealth.” (an Nisa’/4: 34)
According to Ibnul Qayyim rahimahullah, it has become an Ijma’ ulama, father (husband) is the one who provides for the children without being accompanied by a mother (wife).
But in some cases or conditions that are not desirable either because the husband has not got a job or are experiencing pain, then usually the wife will intervene to provide for the family.
An Islamic View of Women Who Support Their Families
Then how does Islam see this? In Islam, the law of a woman who supports a family is not an obligation for her. But that does not mean it should not be. The law of the wife provides for the husband is permissible. But the wife can only be the backbone of the family if she has obtained permission from her husband to work.
وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُولَى
Stay in your house, and do not do tabarruj like the old tabarruj jahiliyah. (Surah al-Ahzab: 33)
Mustafa Ar-Ruhaibani said,
ويحرم خروج الزوجة بلا إذن الزوج أو بلا ضرورة ، كإتيانٍ بنحو مأكل; لعدم من يأتيها به
A wife is forbidden to leave without her husband’s permission except for emergency reasons like buying food because no one is delivering food to him. (Mathalib Ulin Nuha, 5/271)
A Wife Who Seeks Livelihood is Banned from Tabarruj
In addition, wives who want to make a living outside the home must obey the sources of Islamic law. She is forbidden to tabarruj which can cause slander and maintain her dignity as well as possible.
Allah says in the Koran;
وَلاَ يُبْدِيْنَ زِيْنَتَهُنَّ اِلاَّ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا
وَلاَ يُبْدِيْنَ زِيْنَتَهُنَّ اِلاَّلاَبَائِهِنَّ
“Women should not show their beauty except those that can be seen from them. Women should not show their beauty except their husbands or their fathers.” (QS: an-Nur : 31)
Shaykh Muhammad Nashiruddin al-Albani rahimahullah said: “As for thin clothes, it will increasingly make a woman increase (look) beautiful and seductive. In this case, the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “There will be at the end of my people (women) dressed (but) naked, on their heads (there are jewelry) like the hump of a camel, curse them because (indeed) it was cursed (kept away from the mercy of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala).”
In another hadith there are additions:
“They will not go to Heaven and cannot smell it even though the smell can be smelled from such a distance and so on.”
Imam Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullah said:
“The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam forbade women to leave the house by wearing or touching perfumes because this is really a means (cause) to attract men’s attention to her. Because the smell is fragrant, the jewelry, the posture, and the beauty that is shown are really inviting (male desire) to her. Therefore, the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam ordered a woman when she left the house (to pray in congregation in the mosque) so as not to wear perfumes, stand (in shaf) behind male worshipers, and not worship (as instructed to male) when something happens in prayer, (woman is ordered to clap). All of this is in order to close the road and prevent damage (slander).”
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The reward for A Wife Who Earns A Living
A wife who supports her family will get two rewards at once.
Al Bukhari narrated the hadith of Abu Sa’id Allah be peace ‘anhu in his Saheeh, he said:
عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ اَلْخُدْرِيِّ رضي الله عنه : …جَاءَتْ زَيْنَبُ امْرَأَةُ ابْنِ مَسْعُودٍ تَسْتَأْذِنُ عَلَيْهِ فَقِيلَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ هَذِهِ زَيْنَبُ فَقَالَ أَيُّ الزَّيَانِبِ فَقِيلَ امْرَأَةُ ابْنِ مَسْعُودٍ قَالَ نَعَمْ ائْذَنُوا لَهَا فَأُذِنَ لَهَا قَالَتْ يَا نَبِيَّ اللَّهِ إِنَّكَ أَمَرْتَ الْيَوْمَ بِالصَّدَقَةِ وَكَانَ عِنْدِي حُلِيٌّ لِي فَأَرَدْتُ أَنْ أَتَصَدَّقَ بِهِ فَزَعَمَ ابْنُ مَسْعُودٍ أَنَّهُ وَوَلَدَهُ أَحَقُّ مَنْ تَصَدَّقْتُ بِهِ عَلَيْهِمْ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ صَدَقَ ابْنُ مَسْعُودٍ زَوْجُكِ وَوَلَدُكِ أَحَقُّ مَنْ تَصَدَّقْتِ بِهِ عَلَيْهِمْ
“From Abu Sa’id al Khudri Radhiyallahu anhu: … Zainab, the wife of Ibn Masud came to ask permission to meet. Someone said: “O Messenger of Allah, this is Zainab,” he asked, “Which one is Zainab?” Then someone answered: “(Zainab) the wife of Ibn Mas’ud,” he replied, “Alright. Allow her,” then she (Zainab) said: “O, Prophet of Allah. Today, you order charity whereas I have jewelry and want to give alms. But Ibn Masud said that he and his child were more entitled to receive my alms,” the Prophet said, “Ibn Masud said it right. Your husband and child are more entitled to receive your alms.” In another lafazh, the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa salllam added:
نَعَمْ لَهَا أَجْرَانِ أَجْرُ الْقَرَابَةِ وَأَجْرُ الصَّدَقَةِ
“Right, he gets two rewards, the reward of establishing kinship and reward of charity.”
But even though the law of women working in Islam is permissible, the husband’s obligation to earn a living will not fade, therefore the husband should do business according to his abilities.
Allah Ta’ala said,
لِيُنْفِقْ ذُو سَعَةِ مُنْ سَعَتِهِ وَمَنْ قُدِرَ رَزَقْهُ فَلْيُنْفِقْ مِمَّا آَتَاهُ اللَّهُ لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا مَا آَتَاهَا
“Let people who are able to provide according to their abilities. And those who are narrowed by their sustenance should provide for the wealth God has given him. God does not burden someone but only what God gave him.” (QS. Ath Tholaq: 7)