2 Islamic articles on: women’s work in Islam

IslamQA: Muslim women may bare their arms if necessary for work

According to a fatwa by the Islamic Moroccan Council in Scandinavia, Muslim women working as nurses are permitted to bare their arms if necessitated by their workplaces. Below are some of the main points from their fatwa:

  • It is widely agreed by scholars that the Islamic dress code for women requires covering the entire body except for the face and hands.
  • The great Ḥanafī jurist Qāḍi Abū Yūsuf permitted Muslim women to bare their arms when they performed jobs that required it, such as working as kitchen aids and laundry workers.
  • There is no strong evidence that prohibits Muslim women to keep their arms covered in all circumstances. The evidence permits for making exceptions when absolutely necessary.
  • The harm to Muslim women in being prohibited from working in healthcare is much greater than the harm of their baring their arms.
  • There is a hadith in Ṣaḥīh al-Bukhārī which mentions Muslim men and women performing wuḍūʾ (ablution) together, which implies that Muslim women bared their arms in front of men for that purpose. There are other authentic narrations that mention groups of Muslim men and women all performing ablution using the same water container (some say that this was before the hijab was made obligatory, but the hadiths do not say that).
  • There is an authentic narration that mentions a woman who was neither a wife nor close relative of the Prophet PBUH performing ablution side by side with him using the same water container.
  • The narrations that some people use to refute the above narrations are unathentic.
  • Baring the arms is not a very important matter and it is not worth a woman losing her job over it.


IslamQA: Muslim women are permitted to work outside the home

According to a fatwa on the website IslamOnline (which is overseen by the respected Egyptian scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi), it is permitted for Muslim women to work outside the home. Below are some points from the fatwa. A link to the full (Arabic) fatwa is at the end of this article.

  • Muslim women are permitted to work outside the home because she is a full human and enjoys all the rights that come with that, and because there is no clear text in the Quran or hadith that forbids this.
  • Working outside the home for a woman is not only permitted, it can also be a religiously desired thing based on her circumstances.
  • Asma, the daughter of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, used to help her husband with taking care of his horses.
  • Muslim society as a whole has a need for certain types of female professionals, such as female doctors and teachers. Society is therefore strongly encouraged by Islam to produce at least some female doctors and teachers.
  • A married woman’s career should not conflict with her duties toward her children and husband.