Can Muslim Women Have a Career?

19 July, 2017
Q Asalaamu alaykum, About Islam team. I am engaged to be married but my fiancé told me yesterday that if we get married I will not be able to work. He says that it's not ok for Muslim women to be out working rather than in the house with the housework and the kids. Is this true? My family and even my friends all agree this is something they have never heard. This would be so hard for me, as an educated woman. My family is very disturbed by this because it has always been my dream to be a social worker and now this man says he will not allow it.


Asalamu Alaikum,

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question. You are certainly in a very complicated situation!

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani from SeekersHub addresses this question in the video below:



Can you speak about what’s acceptable and what’s not regarding work for Muslim women who want to please Allah and take care of their children and husband but want to pursue a career—and this is not for any financial needs?

Sh. Faraz Rabbani:

So, it’s not possible to give a blanket ruling on this… there’s several things to consider.

Firstly, you know there’s no categorical prohibition on a woman to work after marriage; that’s number one.

Number two, at the same time, there isn’t any expectation on a woman to work in so far as the husband is obligated to provide for both wife and family. That’s a religious obligation.

The husband is obligated to provide for the wife and family even if the wife is wealthy, okay?

So… a young man gets married, named Omar, and he marries a millionaire lady, named Layla. So Omar says, “I want to sit and write poetry. Can you provide for me?”

No. Even if she’s wealthy, she doesn’t have to buy a slice of bread for herself. He’s obligated to provide for her.

Now, they can agree to the contrary of that, but that’s something to keep in mind.

The third thing to keep in mind is that […] in anything, the guidance of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has come to us with the perfect balance.

Previous traditions talked about virtue as being a balance and the idea of the golden mean in things. But the Prophet (peace be upon him) showed us not the golden mean but the perfect mean and the perfect balance.

And part of that is that […] “The best of manners are the most balanced.” And there’s balance when all considerations are given their due.

And one of the considerations is that one of the greatest things one could do in society is to raise children. That is one of the greatest of tasks, and while that is not all that a woman is for, that is not to be denigrated […] “Oh, you’re not working”, it’s almost like… some kind of negative.

So that aspect needs to be considered as well.

And with that—the great virtue of motherhood—with that, what would also be in the best interests of the children–of their well-being, all things considered.

Also to be considered […] in marriage is the reasonable social societal norms and personal expectations.

So, if Zubayd marries Zubeida and she’s right now in medical school, what is the reasonable expectation? Why is she in medical school? Just to drop out and then not pursue her medical degree? Is that a reasonable expectation?

No! Why did she… years she spent doing this. Why? Because this is something that she was keen about and there’s some consequent benefit, too. So, people’s backgrounds and expectations are also considered there in deciding that.

So, if a woman […] she’s pursued a career, etc—and any human career has some potential some actual or potential–direct or indirect–benefit for others—whatever it is, there’s some aspect of the public good that is considered in it. There’s a range of considerations.

Properly speaking, if two people are getting married, they should discuss these things beforehand. Because we’re in an age of fluctuating expectations; Our own personal expectations are in flux.

So, the same person may expect…  “Well, I want three cooked meals a day!” But he also wants his wife to earn a full salary because “we got to pay the bills and buy the house” and […] live out the middle-class dream—or nightmare. And it doesn’t add up.

And the wife too will have many conflicting expectations. […]

That’s why many of the scholars urge that people should have […] besides the marriage contract—and too few people have written marriage contracts [that are] properly thought-out, that’s secure and clarify rights—to also have a marriage agreement in which the key areas that affect a marriage are discussed and agreed upon beforehand, at least broadly.

And one of the most important is with respect to… the wife’s studying and work. Also related to how they will handle finances, children, and other such areas.

The class that we have on SeekersHub on Successful Marriage touches upon contracts and marriage agreements and the key areas to look at in properly addressing those.

I hope this helps answer your question. You can also check out more from SeekersHub at the link here.

Walaikum Asalam. Please keep in touch.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Working Muslim Women: How to Reduce Stress

Modern Day Marriages: When Wives “Wear the Pants”


Dressed for Success: Professional Muslimah


How Does a Muslim Woman Cope with Practical Life?