In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
2- The wife is to be commended if she — out of her free will — cooperates with her husband and agrees to work in a suitable job in order to help her husband in spending on the house or to meet necessary or permissible needs.
In this context, Dr. Rif`at Fawzi, professor of Shari`ah at Cairo University, states:
Marriage is not just a financial and physical arrangement of living together but a sacred contract, a gift of God to lead a happy, pleasant life and to have children.
The main goal of marriage in Islam is the realization of tranquility and compassion between the spouses. For the attainment of this supreme goal, Islam defined certain duties and rights for both the husband and the wife.
The husband bears the responsibility for full maintenance of the family, a duty which he should discharge cheerfully without any sense of condescendence.
Allah Almighty says, “Let him who hath abundance spend of his abundance, and he whose provision is measured, let him spend of that which Allah hath given him. Allah asketh naught of any soul save that which He hath given it. Allah will vouchsafe, after hardship, ease.?” (At-Talaq 65:7)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to help his wives with the housework and they did not even work outside the house. Any husband should help his wife at home and not expect her to do everything. This becomes a fortiori when she works outside the home.
If he thinks that her added income will make them happier but he does not help her at home so that she ends up with two full-time jobs (in and out of the house), he is likely to find his wife too tired and stressed. If he wants her to share the work outside the home, he should equally share the work inside.
It should be clear that the responsibility of providing for the marital house is one of the husband’s duties. It is not the wife who should work to provide for the house even if there is a need for that.
Therefore, the husband is not allowed to force his wife to work in order to spend on necessary, let alone unnecessary, needs.
However, the wife is to be commended if she — out of her free will — cooperates with her husband and agrees to work in a suitable job in order to help her husband in spending on the house or to meet necessary or permissible needs.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.