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Can Husband Prevent Wife From Working?

25 August, 2022
Q As-salamu `alaykum. If a married woman wants to work outside the home, is she obliged to get her husband’s permission? Is it lawful for the husband then to prevent her from going to work? Likewise, is it permissible for a woman to stipulate before marriage that she work outside the house after marriage? If so, would this condition be binding upon the husband? Can he take back his approval of her working after marriage? Would it be permissible for him to stipulate that she shares in paying the household expenses in return for his approval of her working? If she helps her husband financially to buy a certain property, does she have the right then to be a co-owner of this property? Or will her participation here be to no avail? Is it permissible for the husband to prevent his wife from going to work solely to cause her harm, or because she continues working when this is against the interest of her family?

Answer

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

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All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.


In this fatwa:

  • It is not permissible for the husband to misuse his rights upon his wife by preventing her from going to work or demanding that she leaves it for no valid reason, especially if her leaving work in this case would cause more harm than good to the general interest of the family.
  • Likewise, it is not permissible for the wife to continue working when doing so negatively affects the interest of her family and causes more harm than good.

Responding to the question, the Islamic Fiqh Academy, affiliated to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), states:

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Wife’s right to have possessions and income

Each spouse has an independent financial state. The wife has every right to have possessions and income of her own.

She has the full legal capacity within the framework of the Shari`ah to dispose of her own income and property without having to take the permission of her husband.

The husband is to provide for his wife’s sustenance and basic needs according to his financial income and the social norms agreed upon. This right of the wife is not to be denied at all except in case of her disobedience to him.

The primary responsibility of the wife is to take care of her family in the home and bring up her children well.

Conditions of women’s work outside the house

She may work outside the house if there arises a need for this, but there are certain conditions to be followed in this case:

  • that her work suits her nature and the field of her specialization in accordance with the norms of the Shari`ah;
  • that she sticks to the teachings of Islam [with regard to her clothing and behavior] ;
  • and that she does not neglect her primary responsibility towards her family.

Her working outside the house and earning money does not mean that the husband is exempted from the religious obligation upon him of providing for her, unless she has disobeyed him by so working outside.

Wife’s sharing in family expenses

The woman is not legally obliged to share in the family expenses; this is an obligation that principally falls on the husband. Hence, it is not permissible for the husband to oblige her to take part in the family expenses.

However, it is desirable that the wife voluntarily participates in the family expenses, for this increases affection and enhances cooperation between the spouses.

The spouses may agree with each other on how to spend the wife’s salary.

If the wife’s going to work brings about additional expenses pertinent to her, it is she who is to pay these expenses from her income.

Wife’s work as a condition in marriage contact

The woman may stipulate explicitly in the marriage contract that she works outside the home after the marriage. If the husband agrees to this condition, it becomes binding upon him.

The husband may afterwards ask his wife to leave work if doing so will be for the benefit of the family.

It is not permissible from the viewpoint of the Shari`ah that the husband accepts the wife’s working conditional on her sharing in the household expenses or giving him a portion of her salary.

It is not also permissible for the husband to compel his wife to work outside the home.

If the wife has contributed financially (with her own money or salary) to buying property with her husband or making a business project, she has the right to become a partner in the ownership of the said property or business according to the portion of money she has paid.

There are certain mutual marital duties and rights that should be observed by both spouses. The marital relationship is to be based upon fair treatment, solidarity, mutual support, and mercy.

Abusing any of these rights and duties is considered a wrongdoing from the viewpoint of the Shari`ah.

Hence, it is not permissible for the husband to misuse his rights upon his wife by preventing her from going to work or demanding that she leaves it for no valid reason, especially if her leaving work in this case would cause more harm than good to the general interest of the family.

Likewise, it is not permissible for the wife to continue working when doing so negatively affects the interest of her family and causes more harm than good.

Allah Almighty knows best.