By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
As said in previous articles, there are specific exclusiveness surrounding the status of women in Islam, as they are considered among the most important portion of society. Therefore, any aspect and notion relating to women must secure their rights, exclusiveness and moral codes, which are linked to her obligatory religious duties. Among those important aspects of a woman’s life is work and her choice to adopt a professional career in society.
Islam does not prohibit women to attain any job or position if it does not violate and contradict their obligations and codes. Becoming an elected official, university professor, physician, consultant or any other professional expert is a legitimate right of any woman. Muslim women have held high political, academic and social posts in the modern era which shows the acceptance of Muslim nations toward having female leaders. In addition, Islamic history is filled with honorable examples of women being glorified in history as legends and unforgettable figures.
The daughter of Imam Ali (a), Lady Zainab is a great example of how a woman can carry a role, which man men cannot. Distinguishing between right and wrong has been outlined by women in times of ambiguity and loss, as Lady Fatima Al-Zahra (a) indicates in her sermon after her father’s death. Other female figures in Islamic history are excellent case studies for academic researches and even books regarding gender equality issues in Islamic societies. Studying these cases will reveal the illegitimacy of any violent and unethical treatment against women in Islamic countries, which doesn’t represent the teachings of Islam and its Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H).
General Jurisprudential rules regarding work & workplace for women:
Unanimously, careers and jobs that place a female with other females only are perfectly fine and permitted for any Muslim women. For instance, many obstetrics and gynecology departments suffer from lack of female experts, which is an excellent opportunity for Muslim women to seek education and career in this field if interested.
Other cases like segregated schools in some parts of North American and Europe and many place in Middle East are great work environment for Muslim women to seek a job, as their interaction with opposite sex is minimized.
In addition, according to majority of Shia scholars a woman is able to work in all places, jobs and positions where her modesty, faith and dignity is not jeopardized.
- A woman is not allowed to come in direct contact with another male. (They can work together and cooperate in work-related material, yet contact is prohibited)
- A woman’s uniform at work must be compatible with Islamic rules, which prohibit revealing parts that are not allowed to be shown in public. (even tight uniforms, where body figure is visible are considered as prohibited as well)
- A woman’s job and career must not jeopardize her role in the house as a mother and a spouse. (not exclusive to men)
- A female physician is not allowed to touch a male patient, unless necessity mandates such contact.
- The income attained by a women doesn’t have to be shared with spouse for household expenditure, as this is the responsibility of the husband.
- The permission of husband to work outside the house is necessary for a wife.
There are many other rules and guidelines that govern the affairs of a woman in workplace, yet they are all for the benefit of women to secure a healthy, dignified and honorable environment for her. Guarding faith and dignity should be priority of any human, whether male of female in workplaces.