You wonder why should Muslim women work outside the home? Especially if a father or husband is providing for all a woman’s basic needs. There are plenty of great reasons for Muslim women to be employed. Let’s review.
1 – Financial Stability in the Case of Divorce
The cultural views and social stigmas surrounding divorce in Islam leave women vulnerable. Additionally, ex-husbands sometimes refuse to pay child support. This leaves mothers to manifest incomes and self-support her and her kids.
The Islamic and legal processes for divorce can also take months or years to complete. Having a job or one’s own business is a reliable source of income. It’s the difference between hardship or hanging in there while the situation stabilizes.
2 – Future Protection for Illness or Death of a Provider
With severe illness or death of a provider, he unintentionally cannot provide for his family. Lawsuits, wrongful death compensations, and inheritances can take months or years to complete.
In such cases, self-support is more dignified than begging from others. Asking for handouts, applying for zakat, or availing state benefits are humiliating experiences. Having a stable source of income plus savings provides a financial cushion.
3 – Desire to Build Intergenerational Wealth
Wealth-building can mean a steady rise out of debilitating intergenerational poverty.
Women who work invest earnings into their children to make a better life for the next generation.
One report cited by the United Nations states that girls and women who are employed spend 90% of their earned income on their families!
While there are stereotypes about Muslim women hoarding their personal wealth, this is not usually the true. Women working can and often do help break the intergenerational cycles of poverty for many Muslims.
4 – Desire to Care for Parents and Other Family Members
Both men and women desire to take care of their own siblings, parents, and extended family. It’s also our responsibility to care for our parents in their old-age.
If parents are not in a position to take care of themselves, that care-taking role falls to males in the family. But, men’s contributions may not meet the elders’ needs. Thus, all children, including daughters, would want to contribute to maintenance and care.
5 – Ability to Give Sadaqah
We all take great personal satisfaction in putting our wealth to good use helping others. Women also want to spend their earned wealth in charity. Easing hardship can extend to distant family, friends, and strangers in need of help or zakat.
The hand that gives is better than the hand that begs. For both Muslim men and women, it’s better to give our wealth to others than receive it.
6 – Desire to Contribute to Society Aside from Motherhood
Women desire to contribute to creating healthy and beneficial societies. A woman’s way of looking at the world differs from a man’s. Women’s perspectives deserve consideration and comparison against alternatives.
This includes advocating for implementing laws and policies that protect women’s and children’s rights. It means creating products and services to address the specific needs of women. It also means addressing the needs of the whole society from different angles and perspectives.
7 – Share Her Gifts and Knowledge with the World
Women want to put their degrees, knowledge, skills, and God-given gifts to good use.
Most times, women also prefer to work with and seek services from other women. For example, women should have the option to visit a female doctor, learn from a female professor, or frequent a female tailor.
Having multi-gendered service providers helps us all access the most qualified and comfortable help in all areas of our lives.
8 – Desire for a More Comfortable Living
When a woman marries, the financial responsibility of her maintenance falls on the husband. If unmarried, it falls on her father or other male mahrams.
Islam requires men to provide the basics (within their means). But sometimes that income is not enough. And not all women want to live in poverty or constant stress.
Having extra income helps ease the pain of financial or temporary hardship. But, gifts and loans to the provider should never become a permanent solution. Women in such situations are right to question the health of those relationships.
Some women may also want to seek higher education, travel, or provide themselves and their family with healthier foods. Working supplements a woman’s income. It can provide a better quality of life and extended opportunities.
9 – Entrepreneurs Provide Halal Income to Others
When women own their own businesses, they can help others in the community earn a halal living. This means that successful female entrepreneurs extend wealth-building beyond earning only for themselves. They are crafting a means of providing income to others too!
10 – Personal Satisfaction
Working outside the home provides women with a deep sense of personal satisfaction. Achievements outside the physical and emotional labor of homemaking make us proud.
Women deserve to find satisfaction in other than housework. I hope this non-exhaustive list shows how important it is to encourage working women.
Women can and should work outside the home because we have a lot to offer. We also deserve respect and support as we honor all sides of ourselves as we earn a fair and equal wage.
First published: July 2019