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Quran and Sunnah

Homely Homemaking Homebodies? Why the Quran Commands Muslim Women: “Stay in Your Homes”


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In Surah Al-Ahzab, Allah addresses the wives of Prophet Muhammad [صَلى اللهُ عَليهِ وَ سَلم] with specific commands to guard their chastity:

وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُولَى وَأَقِمْنَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتِينَ الزَّكَاةَ وَأَطِعْنَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا

And abide quietly in your homes, and do not flaunt your charms as they used to flaunt them in the old days of pagan ignorance; and be constant in prayer, and render the purifying dues, and pay heed unto Allah and His Messenger: for Allah only wants to remove from you all that might be loathsome, O you members of the [Prophet’s] household, and to purify you to utmost purity.” [33:33]

The word قَرْنَ stems from the root letters وق ر or, according to other scholars, the root letters ق ر ر, both implying more or less the same implicit meaning. According to Lane’s online Arabic-to-English lexicon, the root of the word قَرْنَ means –> to settle; be firm, steady, fixed, settled or established; be motionless, quiet, still, standing, stationary; to rest, remain, continue or reside in a place. Synonyms are ثَبَتَ and سَكَنَ which, when used for a man, also imply to reside or rest somewhere ‘with authority or power’.

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According to Tafsir ibn Kathir, “And stay in your houses” means “stay in your houses and do not come out except for a purpose. One of the purposes mentioned in Shari`ah is prayer in the Masjid, so long as the conditions are fulfilled, as the Messenger of Allah [صَلى اللهُ عَليهِ وَ سَلم] said:

لَا تَمْنَعُوا إِمَاءَ اللهِ مَسَاجِدَ اللهِ وَلْيَخْرُجْنَ وَهُنَّ تَفِلَات

– “Do not prevent the female servants of Allah from the masjids of Allah, but have them go out without wearing fragrance“.  According to another report:

وَبُيُوتُهُنَّ خَيْرٌ لَهُن

“…even though their houses are better for them” [Abu Dawood: 567]” [End quote]

Tafsir Maududi expounds, “The word قَرْنَ in the original is derived from قرار according to some lexicographers and from وقار according to others. In the first sense, it will mean: “Settle down, stick firmly;” and in the second sense: “Live peacefully, sit with dignity”. In both the cases the verse means to impress that the woman’s real sphere of activity is her home; she should carry out her functions within that sphere peacefully, and she should come out of the house only in case of a genuine need.

This explanation makes it abundantly clear that what Allah forbids for women is to move out of their houses showing off their physical charms and beauty. He instructs them to stay in their houses because their real sphere of activity is their home and not the world outside. However, if they have to move out of the house for an outdoor duty, they should not move out as the women used to do in the pre-Islamic days of ignorance. For it does not behoove the women of a Muslim society to walk out fully embellished; to make their face and figure conspicuous by adornments and tight-fitting or transparent dresses, and to walk coquettishly.”

[End quote Maududi tafsir]

We need to keep in mind the context of the revelation of these verses of the Quran. The wives of the Prophet [صَلى اللهُ عَليهِ وَ سَلم] were being specifically addressed. Just before this verse, they were commanded not to soften their speech when conversing with non-mahrum men due to necessity. After being told to stay in their homes, they were commanded not to do تَبَرُّج (wanton display of charms and beauty).

Muslim women emulate the wives of the Prophet [صَلى اللهُ عَليهِ وَ سَلم], considering them role models. Any Quranic command addressed towards the latter, particularly one that aims to establish lofty moral character and conduct, automatically becomes a praiseworthy goal for the average Muslim woman, for all time to come. Therefore, the necessary traits of moral behavior of exemplary Muslim women, whom other women of the ummah would always look up to, viz. the Prophet’s wives, are being outlined here.

The question arises as to why the wives of the Prophet [صَلى اللهُ عَليهِ وَ سَلم], as the epitomes for all Muslim women, were commanded to mostly stay in their homes? Also, what falls under “genuine need” that allows a woman to emerge from her home in full hijab?

The purpose of this command is not the confinement of women to their homes out of a disdain for their intelligence or productivity as individuals. Neither does Islam consider a woman solely responsible for the moral vices that emerge in a society. If that were the case, men would not have been commanded to lower their gaze and guard their chastity [Reference: Quran, 24:30].

As the word meaning of قَرْنَ implies, a Muslim woman should keep her home as the focus of her attention and activities, and make it the base of her affairs. A cursory glance at women all over the world shows that, no matter how hard they work outside the home (whether in plantation fields, picking up the children from school, or for other pursuits), eventually they always return home. When they do, they have to run its affairs too, such as the sometimes mundane tasks of cooking and cleaning. Even if they choose to delegate these internal home affairs to employees or paid helpers, the task of supervision, planning and follow-up still remains their primary responsibility. Whether it is a rural lass in the valley of Chitral or a housewife in suburban California, matters such as what the family will eat for the day and when the clothes will be washed, are up to the women of the house to decide and execute.

Here are a list of necessities that allow Muslim women to leave their homes:

  1. To perform salah in the masjid, especially the Jum’uah and Eid salah.
  2. To perform hajj and umrah.
  3. Pursuit of education/knowledge.
  4. Islamically permissible entertainment and outdoor recreation.
  5. To visit sick relatives, or to respond to social calls and dinner/wedding invitations; to visit neighbors, extended family, and other people for the sake of joining relations; commiserating after a death and attending a funeral, or matchmaking/negotiating marriage proposals between families.
  6. To visit the doctor or the hospital when sick and needing medical treatment, or to give birth.
  7. To work at a job, if there is no mahrum man providing for them (out of chance or choice). For the conditions that allow a Muslim woman to work, please see: Guidelines on Women Working Outside the Home (
  8. To teach or cater to other women and children viz. work as professors, primary school teachers, Montessori teachers, daycare providers, or institution administrators/program coordinators.
  9. To work to provide medical services and other care to women and children viz. to work as  doctors, nurses, dentists, surgeons, physiotherapists, lactation consultants, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and necessarily, as obstetrician-gynecologists and midwives.
  10. To work as domestic helpers/maids, nannies, cooks, personal assistants/secretaries, and as attendants to elderly or invalid women. We all know how often Muslim women need other women to help them in their day-to-day affairs. For example, a doctor’s office or ladies’ gym might need a receptionist or office assistant; a Professor at a University might need a teaching assistant; and so on.
  11. To work for security. At airports, visa-issuing embassies, and other checkpoints, women need to be present to check other women for security reasons. This is extremely necessary in order to prevent Muslim women from being checked by male security personnel.
  12. To work as technicians, trainers, fashion designers or beauticians. Again, the restrictions ordained by Islam need to be observed whilst pursuing this line of work, but it is a fact that women love to beautify themselves and they need/pay other expert women to help them out, for example, to achieve just the right shade of lowlights in their hair, or to have henna applied for a wedding. The beauty industry can actually be a very fruitful profession, especially for young artistically inclined girls, as it allows them to offer services for a fee to women clients even within private homes.
  13. For passports and national identity documents, women need to be photographed and those who choose to cover their faces, should have the option to uncover their faces only before a female photographer. Unfortunately, because women do not usually enter these fields as professionals, veiled women have to have their pictures taken by men instead.
  14. Similarly, in laboratories, trained female technicians should be present to serve female clients, e.g. to draw blood from their veins for blood tests,or take their blood pressure and other vital statistics.
    Although our scholars are quick to point out very quickly and all-encompassingly that “Muslim women have been commanded to stay in their homes!”, they do not point out those fields or professions, where some women should work, as a fard kifayah, in order to serve the other women of the ummah, especially to prevent them from going for the same services to men. For example, I know many women who were not exactly pleased to find out, after having chosen to take an epidural for childbirth, that a man will come in to administer it to them, right above their backside (which meant uncovering their lower back to him, and that too while in labor!). In Pakistan, at least, no women are trained to administer the epidural shot.

It becomes clear, then, that far from being confined to their homes twiddling their thumbs, Muslim women will need to emerge very often in order to fulfill the obligations of Islam – such as seeking and imparting knowledge – and to perform social and moral duties in their society. It is for this purpose that hijab has been ordained and they have been warned in the same verse not to do tabarruj as in the days of the first ignorance/jahiliyyah (implying that the same jahiliyyah would re-emerge in the future, which has unfortunately happened).

No matter what their religion, culture or ethnicity, women today who choose to pursue full-time, demanding careers almost always face a crossroads in their professional lives when they hear their biological clock ticking loudly during their thirties, especially if they have consciously chosen career over marriage and motherhood. Even after having babies, those women who choose to work, admit to living with a constant guilt; a nagging feeling of having let down their family, or not being there for their children when they need them (which is several times a day). And even those women who have achieved accolades and won awards for their accomplishments in their professional lives, admit to feeling a sense of desolation when, at the end of the day, they come home to a lavish but empty apartment/villa and have dinner alone.

In contrast, those women who keep their home their priority, or shall we say, their “primary occupation”, but continue to dabble in their professions and hobbies on a part-time or freelance basis – viz. at a level that doesn’t obstruct fulfillment of their responsibilities at home – lead a more satisfied life, entering into a win-win bargain. Their homes and families are taken care of, fulfilling their maternal and nurturing instincts, whereas their mental and intellectual faculties also remain stimulated because their spare time is used constructively for the benefit of others in society.

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Sadaf Farooqi is a postgraduate in Computer Science who has done the Taleem Al-Quran Course from Al-Huda International, Institute of Islamic Education for Women, in Karachi, Pakistan. 11 years on, she is now a homeschooling parent of three children, a blogger, published author and freelance writer. She has written articles regularly for Hiba Magazine, SISTERS Magazine and Saudi Gazette. Sadaf shares her life experiences and insights on her award-winning blog, Sadaf's Space, and intermittently teaches subjects such as Fiqh of Zakah, Aqeedah, Arabic Grammar, and Science of Hadith part-time at a local branch of Al-Huda. She has recently become a published author of a book titled 'Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage'. For most part, her Jihad bil Qalam involves juggling work around persistent power breakdowns and preventing six chubby little hands from her computer! Even though it may not seem so, most of her time is spent not in doing all this, but in what she loves most - reading.



  1. Sayf

    June 30, 2010 at 12:39 AM

    Mash’Allah, a nicely written and well-balanced article. For those who may be quick to question the role of the man, there are also articles on MM explaining he can never run away from his fatherhood duties either.

    • Susan Borden

      September 4, 2014 at 11:28 PM

      God, the real one, are you out of your minds. Get over it Muslims even if Islam does not see females as independent human beings they are get over it. No where in your books does it ever see women as equals and not the property of men. Mohammad hated females he called them stupid and said that most of the residence of hell were women. He married a six year old child and thighed her in other words a sex object. He raped her when she was 9 and called it a wedding night. Mohammad said a wife does not have the right to say “not to night dear I have a headache”. He can however get 3 additional wife’s, I call that a harem not a marriage. If he sees an other female as potential sex slave he can say I divorce you 3 times. Too bad for the previous wife. Islam is the most evil ideology that happened to women . Give it a rest you fool and read you evil books for the truth. The truth will set you free.

      • Sumaira

        June 8, 2015 at 12:01 PM

        @Susan Borden U r just an ignorant who does not know anything to its depth and wants to spread hatred. U were not here to UNDERSTAND things but just to find out an Excuse to defame Islam and Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). What ever u said shows that u never ever had a glimpse of a Knowledge based book. Woe to u on ur blasphemous comments. May u be doomed.

      • Farhan

        August 1, 2015 at 4:07 AM

        Study about Islam more and read your comment again. You are 100% wrong.

      • Nadia

        August 3, 2015 at 7:48 AM

        you got some huge hatred in your heart hun…. you know what you are doing? you are just relying on non muslims or anti muslims madeup stories and saying it as a parrot does without knowing the soul and the deep meaning of it.

        But guess what i am still glad you took your time out to comment on something related to islam.It proves that you want to know the facts.And you are curious.

        I never went on an buddist or christian , or hindu or Atheist website or blogs to comment negative even though i as a muslim do not agree on other religion teachings. YOU KNOW WHY?? Because i am satisfied with my religion and i know its the best religion in the world. :) Think about yourself where you are standing my lovely.
        May you be blessed with peace and contentment in this life and hereafter Ameen. Love from a muslim sister.xx

      • gazala khan

        August 22, 2015 at 5:33 AM

        My God..Nadia said right about you..i am never interested in any other religion though am a student of religious study of different religion but no religion attracted me because i was already on the best of the best..You know what you guys have a problem, you know what is right but due to Ego problem & in the name of modernization you will never every try to accept the Right path..Anyways do whatever you wanna do man.May you use your sense & come on the right path otherwise you will have only word with you in hereafter is ALAS..

      • Ali

        October 24, 2015 at 9:42 AM

        My friend u don’t know anything about Islam so don’t even think of saying a word against our Prophet,He is the most perfect man
        I won’t say anything about ur religion becz my religion dosen’t teaches me tht
        May Allah give u Hidayah

      • Habeeb haider

        February 14, 2016 at 5:58 AM

        This a wrong tradition that Ayesha was 9 she was 25 year old. Shiite traditions mention that. Islam gave women right to equality and right to inheritance. She is not the property of men as she is not obliged to cook for him, clean the house etc its obligatory on men to do such things.

      • ur wrong

        May 7, 2016 at 10:06 AM

        NOT TRUE!!!!! Mohammed did not call women stupid!! With what you said are you even a muslim???

      • seemal

        May 8, 2016 at 3:49 AM

        that’s not true! Islam was the first religion to give women rights!!

      • guy

        May 19, 2016 at 6:30 AM

        What you are stating is absolute nonsense. You mention rape? Aisha was given in marriage by her father. SHe even wrote and spoke of the prophet after he was gone. if she was raped would she have spoken good of him in her haadith? Mary herself was 9 to 12 years old when she gave birth to Jesus. was the christian god a paedophile? The king of egypt was a 9 year old. for the simple fact that the 18 years legality was not implemented then. It wasnt even implemented by 1930. Get over your hate speech

      • Maryam Sabir

        June 16, 2016 at 7:25 AM

        You should study more about Islam and than comment again. I hope you would no longer be confused. Stop spreading hatred.

      • Masiha

        September 1, 2016 at 6:42 AM

        Whtever u hav written sister is just a very bad n wrong thing ..abt Muslim religion ..when u dont know anythng about the internal affairs of Mohammed hwo can u know did he rape or really he cared for each n every need of women be it a small girl or older women than him..he was a man who married many types of women of diff ages not to hav sex ..u silly but to set an example for Muslims that to marry we should see the situation n help muslim women n support her by marrying ..not for othr satisfying purposes which the non muslims do…pls read the translation or search on the net before wriitng such things…hope one day u will realise u were so wrong sis.

        Sis in Islam..

  2. F

    June 30, 2010 at 12:50 AM

    Here come 100+ comments.

    • Concerned Sister

      June 30, 2010 at 3:28 AM

      Agreed. This blog just can’t get women’s issues right. The posts are always misogynistic.

      • Waris

        June 30, 2010 at 9:59 AM

        Assalamalaikum Sister,

        Sister can you please give reasons for your comment. Saying 2+2=5 is will not suffice.


      • Farhan

        June 30, 2010 at 11:39 AM

        I once attended an ‘Eid Khutbah where the Khateeb said men should grow their beards and such and women should cover.

        In the end, the khateeb was verbally attacked by people saying it was sexist against women. I find it odd that no one said it was sexist against men for telling them to grow beards. Double-standard

        We see oppression of women from the Muslim world and get upset about it- especially that our name is being dragged through the mud. So, we take an extreme counter-reaction.

        This was repeated in the MSA scene, where someone would give talks about how Muslim men need to be more mature, more this, more that, and the sisters would all say “Yes!” and “Good!”. But if the ‘should be’s’ ever dared go the other way…that would be misogynistic.

        Think about it, how would you honestly react if you read a MM post saying ‘Men should support all of the financial needs of their wives’. Would you see that as misogynistic?

  3. WorkHalal

    June 30, 2010 at 1:32 AM

    Good article, jazak Allah khair!

  4. CA-Sister

    June 30, 2010 at 2:30 AM

    MashaAllah beautiful article!! I love the list of things you put as these are very much needed to be defined for a muslim woman and helpful for a young muslimah who is pursuing her education and would like to know how she can benefit the Ummah.

    A verse that can be so criticized is displayed so beautifully in this article because of the fruits that come out of practicing it.

    “In Pakistan, at least, no women are trained to administer the epidural shot.” SubhanAllah that is beyond sad. We really need more anesthesiologists who are women because in America there’s a huge uncomfortable issue of needing an epidural and having to accept the fact that a man is going to do that. It really hurts a woman who spent all her life being covered for the sake of Allah and to have to show that, even though it isn’t a sin based on the emergency and necessity of the situation, no one can control the feelings she has afterwards, and no one really can put themselves in her shoes, so we really need muslim women to do this for us. It’s sad to see that it’s not even in a muslim country, May Allah give tawfeeq for the women be trained to do those shots and help the Ummah. Ameen

    • muslimah

      June 30, 2010 at 7:47 AM

      we surely do need women doctors. i wish MM had an article encouraging women to seek out jobs that are needed by the community, instead of always posting about how good women should be ‘staying in their homes’.

      • Ify Okoye

        June 30, 2010 at 7:52 AM

        • muslimah

          June 30, 2010 at 7:55 AM

          yes i read that one. but its just a sister’s account of her experience..not something encouraging women to get out of their homes and seek jobs to help the ummah.

          • Hassan

            June 30, 2010 at 9:12 AM

            From the article above:

            Here are a list of necessities that allow Muslim women to leave their homes:

            8. To work to provide medical services and other care to women and children viz. to work as doctors, nurses, dentists, surgeons, physiotherapists, lactation consultants, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and necessarily, as obstetrician-gynecologists and midwives

          • Ify Okoye

            June 30, 2010 at 9:59 AM

            Do you think you can write one for us? I’d like to but it’d probably get pushed down on my list of priorities but I try to keep it in mind, insha’Allah.

  5. ibrahim

    June 30, 2010 at 2:40 AM

    The verse that is qouted (33:33) very specifically addresses the “wives of the Prophet”. If this was to apply to all women then one would have expected all women to be addressed such as ” Oh believing women” Does anyone have an explanation for this.

    • muslimah

      June 30, 2010 at 7:53 AM

      it IS for the wives of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhee wasallam. they were obligated to observe some specific rules (eg not marrying again after the death of the Prophet, niqab- which is a controversial issue). If some women wish to follow them, be it but no woman should be made guilty for not following their footsteps. i find it amazing how people always talk about how muslimahs should follow the ummul mu’mineen. how about encouraging the guys to follow the footsteps of rasulAllah? I dont have a problem with articles on women, but lately that’s the only thing happening on MM. why cant we have something on how men should be MEN cos seriously guys these days are so lazy and simply not MEN and then they have the nerve to say women are not feminine anymore.

      • Ibn Masood

        June 30, 2010 at 12:42 PM

        Although the verse does speak of the Ummuhaatul Mu’mineen, there is enough other evidence (e.g. the ahadeeth the sister posted above) to indicate that it refers to Muslim women at some level too. And they weren’t obligated to do niqab, rather it was a complete purdah, i.e. behind a curtain so even their form couldn’t be seen by non-mahrams and men. The only juristic controversy with the Niqaab is between its role as a recommendation or an obligation, not on its legal validity.

        Regardless, the evidence in the Qur’an and Sunnah to prove the above is not just present in the 3 provided above, but can be induced from many more evidences in the Qur’an and Sunnah. If the evidence indicates such a viewpoint (of making the home primary and outside secondary for the sisters), then we shouldn’t dispute too much about it –> And I have yet to hear of a single scholar who argued otherwise. The article is even mentioning all the masaalih in the matter that would allow a woman to go work outside and address needs legally verified needs in the community, and same goes for the IslamQA article.

        As for Men not being Men, I agree with you 100%. But often in these men/women gender arguments we become too polemical or emotional and often lose sight of the clear fact that nowadays, BOTH genders are not occupying the distinct roles they are supposed to be in the Shariah, or according to the Islamic ideal.

        However, I think you’re spot on one point… there needs to be more articles on MM about males and our mistakes and problems.

        • sebkha

          July 3, 2010 at 2:36 AM

          I really, really don’t like statements such as “Most Men, muslim men, are hypocritical when it comes to women issues..” and the like. I don’t like it when that kind of thing is said about women, and I don’t think it’s fair or decent to do the same thing to men. I am married to a Muslim man who is most assuredly not hypocritical when it comes to women’s issues, or any other issues. His behavior and his deen are a source of inspiration to me, and I am very blessed that he is mine. There are many, many wonderful husbands, brothers, fathers and uncles out there, that deserve respect and admiration, instead of being thrown under broad statements that most of them are hypocrites.

          Some men…need some fine tuning in their current state. Others need an entire engine overhaul. Some just need some maintenance work done every now and then. But it doesn’t do anybody any good to make statements like the one above, or constantly harp on men about all the stuff they’re not doing so great in. It’s not going to make the men who do this to women stop doing it, that’s for certain. Some dialogue would be great on how men can step up their game in being good Muslim husbands, fathers, etc. But beating them over the head, literary wise, isn’t going to help them. Or those women who have to live with them on a day to day basis.

      • AZ

        July 6, 2010 at 7:09 PM

        how about encouraging the guys to follow the footsteps of rasulAllah?

        I think men hear this all the time actually……i.e. follow his sunnah……i’m not sure what you mean by this

  6. Concerned Sister

    June 30, 2010 at 3:26 AM

    Salam MM,

    Please discontinue posts concerning the roles of Muslim women in general. I know you have good intentions, but the writers on this blog tend to write them in the most patriarchal and misogynist way possible which is quite demeaning. I doubt any non-Muslim reading this will get that Islam is for women’s rights.

    May Allah grant you guidance in knowing how to put across this message properly.

    • Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

      June 30, 2010 at 3:35 AM


      Misogynistic and patriarchal are kind of subjective. I’m sure you wouldn’t consider the wearing of ḥijâb, for example, misogynistic but some people would emphatically consider it misogynistic. Can you please therefore be more specific on what your criteria is for determining what is and what isn’t misogynistic?

    • Ify Okoye

      June 30, 2010 at 5:52 AM

      Salaam alaykum Concerned,

      I hear you but disagree with your assertion and with your suggestion to discontinue the discussion. We have published a variety of views and opinions on issues pertaining to women, some I agree with and others I do not. I think it’s important to recognize that there can be a multiplicity of views within the realm of orthodoxy, which are dynamic and can range from liberal to conservative. I don’t think we need to stifle all voices, which may dissent from our preferred view of the situation. One of our teachers, Wisam Sharieff would often remind us that “if it’s not on your plate, don’t eat from it” meaning that if we can’t or don’t understand something or if a situation doesn’t apply to us rather than trying to take it in, we should just move on. Perhaps, the advice is not meant for you or even applicable or perhaps you see the world differently. We accept guest submissions, write a rebuttal, if it’s good, we’ll publish it, insha’Allah.

      The usual and oft-quoted advice to stay or pray in one’s home or the traveling with a mahram issue are largely abstract for me because the reality of the situation is more complex and requires a more nuanced approach than quoting a hadith or ayah in isolation. Yet, I recognize others may have a valid difference of opinion. I may take issue with the way certain matters are presented on MM (and I’m one of the writers) but as long as it falls within the realm of orthodoxy and decency, I’ll defend their right to say it even if I think they are wrong. I believe the medium of a blog is one format to further the discussion of ideas and opinions. The writer has expressed an opinion and others can comment and critique.

      Ameen to your dua and thank you for reading.

    • Rebeca

      July 11, 2010 at 2:08 PM

      I agree somewhat. Considering the current situation of the ummah, we need to make sure that everyone is getting a realistic idea of women’s rights in Islam. I do not agree that we should not talk about these issues, but I do think that it should be written by a Muslim woman who can explain very clearly why this applies to women and why it is not misogynist.

      Plus, there should also be an article as to why men should not be roaming the streets endlessly.

    • Ahmed

      March 28, 2015 at 1:37 PM

      Brother Ibrahim, I totally agree with you. The Quran is a fullly detailed complete book and if Allah addresses the Prophet’s wives then these instructions apply only to them and not to any other women. In fact for other women to follow these instructions would be to be disobedience to Allah.

  7. Babar

    June 30, 2010 at 3:27 AM

    very good article.

  8. kishwar

    June 30, 2010 at 7:22 AM

    assalam o alaikum sadaf,
    i loved ur article…..very well done
    i surely agree with everythingt that has been stated…
    i know how many times i have had to uncover my face in front non mahram men just becoz women were not present, in the delivery room, at the laboratories, at the passport office, nadra offices…..etc
    wish more women come and work at such places where other women like myself, need them so badly
    May Allah increase u in knowledge

    • Abu Abdillah

      June 30, 2010 at 3:07 PM

      When you live in a decent Muslim country you’ll find that fortunately (alhamdulillah) many institutions are setup to have women deal with women. Especially medical and government.

      Unfortunately, find said “decent” Muslim country is something else. May Allah make it easy.

      • elham

        June 30, 2010 at 4:57 PM

        hmm i don’t know but i think Saudi has a lot of women working in those medical fields where women are concerned,i got that impression from watching their main tv channel and how its always women in lab coats!.

        • Abu Abdillah

          July 1, 2010 at 2:12 AM

          You are correct that in general Saudi Arabia has many women working in the field of medicine, sometimes even in somewhat mixed environment as it is unavoidable. However there is of course, walillah alhamd, a level of professionalism and modesty, the same can be said of most Arab countries when it comes to government facilities and hospitals.

  9. Uthman

    June 30, 2010 at 7:58 AM

    What a nice artilce mashAllah! Very nice analysis on the ayah mashAllah! really enjoyed it.

    This article coming from a sister is really good for if it were to come from a brother maybe he would be in a lot of trouble right now for not knowing the issues of women and probably being misogynistic or not being relevant to women’s issues.

    Well done mashAllah! keep it up!

  10. Zayna

    June 30, 2010 at 8:24 AM

    Everyone has an opinion on Muslim women.. Muslim men, women, kids, non-Muslim men, women, kids.. we become pawns for politicians and religious leaders alike.. seriously, please let us be! We were raised by good parents that instilled all the values that we need just like others. Telling us how to live our lives, what to wear, how to behave when we can decide for ourselves is not needed.

    And remember only Allah can judge, no one else. And the list of 13 deeds that would allow a Muslima to leave her house.. ya Allah, if that was only the case. Maybe I was raised by two very hardworking parents, so maybe I do have a misguided view on life but really, but do not question my/our Eman just because we do not fit into the little square box drawn for us.

    PS: This does not make me a pseudo Muslim – whatever that means!

    • Hassan

      June 30, 2010 at 9:15 AM

      And where exactly in article the author questioned your eman?

      • Zayna

        June 30, 2010 at 9:33 AM

        It is a jab at a woman’s Eman when someone says by not emulating the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhee wasallam wives, that you are not be righteous.

        • Abu Abdillah

          June 30, 2010 at 3:13 PM

          In general Allah has revealed legislation and regulations via the Qur’an and the Sunnah to not only guide us, but to increase us in righteousness and closeness to Him. Therefore, upon a sincere intention, following said legislation, whether in issues of prayer, fasting, hijab, etc, should increase one’s iman.

          A complete Muslim strives to perfect the inner and the outer manifestations of Islam. One cannot be complete without both.

    • Maria

      February 11, 2016 at 10:47 PM

      That 13 deeds…it’s A LOT. Enough to make women be out of the house more than in,actually. Which part of it is constricting/limiting? I myself spend a lot of time outside my house (doing at LEAST one or two from the above list), and I do wish that I am home more often!

  11. muslimah

    June 30, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    14. To work for the sake of maintaining their sanity and challenging their intellect

    from my experience, women staying at home usually fall into the fitnah of gossiping and backbiting. working women dont have so much time on their hands. This is what I observed personally.

    • rhiohki

      June 30, 2010 at 10:35 AM

      If you say you have observed this backbiting & gossiping from women staying at home and then mention it out in a public online forum, the onus is on you to at least voice your concerns sincerely to these women. You never mentioned if these women were Muslim or not, but regardless, backbiting is disdained in all religious traditions from my knowledge.

      As for the actual comment you made as a whole, I find that “backbiting and gossiping” and “staying in the home” are not related at all. Backbiting and gossiping, from an Islamic science perspective, is a disease of the heart, not a result of staying home. One’s internal state of being is the driving force into whether or not one will backbite, gossip, speak ill of another and is independent of time and environment.

      • Nimmy

        July 1, 2010 at 9:42 AM

        In fact stay at home women have more leisure time at hand,so they engage in fitna,where as working women are engaged with work,so they have less time for fitna and fight..Whatever time they have,they spent quality time with husband and kids..It is not quantity of time,but quality of time that matters…

        • Amal

          July 1, 2010 at 12:03 PM

          Too true. One can only clean the house so many times, then it’s time to go looking for mischief. Women who live only for and through their children and husbands, who’ve never been encouraged to engage their minds constructively, are often emotionally stunted and behave just like 12-year-olds; gossiping and snickering and superficial. Articles such as this one only promote such behavior.

          • Amad

            July 2, 2010 at 5:56 AM

            My mother doesn’t behave like a 12-year old, and so are many other mothers, wives and daughters who live for ALLAH, and believe their husbands/children are indeed their priority. Your constantly judgemental and insulting style as well as outlandish comments are becoming quite difficult to bear.

            Try to engage with respect. And you’ll get more respect in return.

          • elham

            July 2, 2010 at 9:56 AM

            wow,what an insult you just threw at ,god knows, generations of women right there.I don’t think you people realize what you are saying and are just emotionally reacting.

          • Amal

            July 2, 2010 at 10:23 AM

            I notice you don’t take issue with the generalizations and nasty insinuations being bandied about regarding working women. Indeed, with your statement “ are many other mothers, wives and daughters who live for ALLAH, and believe their husbands/children are indeed their priority” implies that women who work outside the home (like MY mother, since we are being sensitive about our mums here) are somehow not living for Allah and neglect their families.
            As for being judgmental and insulting, I’m not sure what you mean. If anything, I’ve tried to encourage the people on this site to stop condemning and judging their sisters who work outside the home, but again, it seems that generalizations and judgments are acceptable, so long as they’re aimed *only* at women who work. Stay at home mothers are somehow sacrosanct, but the rest of us are fair game. Bit of a double standard here, wouldn’t you say?
            Also not sure what “outlandish statements” I’ve made, so please do enlighten me on that point.

          • Amad

            July 2, 2010 at 10:34 AM

            Indeed, with your statement “ are many other mothers, wives and daughters who live for ALLAH, and believe their husbands/children are indeed their priority” implies that women who work outside the home

            Thanks for highlighting the problem. I didn’t imply anything. YOU implied it for yourself. The reality of one situation doesn’t mean another situation cannot exist. It’s not a zero sum game. This is the same issue with a lot of your comments. You assume things of other. You make up conclusions and implications for others. First ask, then conclude.

            Other outlandish statements (a few samples for your delight):

            I generally avoid all Albani-ist sites and those that employ the excessive double vowels transliteration method for *every* word, as such sites are often riddled with pseudo-Salafi nonsense,

            More “he is implying”

            I think that’s what he’s implying; that the rest of us are misguided and “blinded by Western feminism”

            And the list goes on
            sometimes just go back and read your comments.

          • Amad

            July 2, 2010 at 10:36 AM

            Its not the content of your comments, it’s your tone. Insulting and judgemental. And there is a history of it.

            As I said, do a little reading of your own comments… I do that too… and find myself having to edit some of my own words. Self-reflection is never a bad thing.

          • Amal

            July 2, 2010 at 11:14 AM

            You did indeed make a generalization loaded with implications and I *inferred* from what you *implied* that you intended a slur on working women. So no, I didn’t imply, you implied, I inferred. There’s a difference.
            I still don’t see how my comments could be termed “outlandish,” but I do wonder whether you read the comments to which I responded? Taken in the context of the comments to which I responded, I think you’ll agree that my statements were perfectly rational. Many of the comments toward working women have been downright NASTY (someone called working women “masculine” and accused them of being “men in skirts” or some such nonsense) but again, I don’t see you castigating those people for their “generalizations” or “outlandish statements.” I’m beginning to think the problem here is that perhaps you can’t tolerate a woman debating you, or holding a firm opinion? I suppose I could be wrong, but given that you’ve not unloaded on the male commenters the way you have on me, I’m bound to think the fact that I’m a woman who stands firm in my beliefs somehow offends you.
            The matter is that many here are passing judgment on *all* working women and you’ve not said much on the matter. When the tables turn, however, and anyone makes a comment supporting working women and questioning homemakers decisions, THEN you get angry. The fact is, whether or not a woman works outside the home, whether she’s an academic or a waitress, is the qadr of Allah. He made us each differently, so the fact that the author and so many commenters here wish to force ALL women into the same mold and have the gall to condemn those whose destiny does not suit their narrow interpretation of what ALL women should do is insufferable.

          • Ify Okoye

            July 2, 2010 at 11:34 AM

            Amal, I tend to agree that much of the discourse around the “idealized” Muslim woman or anyone who might fall outside those supposedly normative values is often loaded and it seems many people simply can’t handle these discussions without recourse to questioning the faith of those who may disagree with them. Choosing or being forced to stay at home or work or whatever is not by itself, praiseworthy or blameworthy, there are many relevant and individualized factors which need to be accounted for and taken into consideration.

            On a side note, I love words and the use of the word insufferable is great, language can be so beautiful :)

    • Ibn Masood

      June 30, 2010 at 12:45 PM

      Maybe they just need more taqwa, and to spend their time more constructively, whether it be in deen or helping out the community.

    • Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

      July 1, 2010 at 7:03 AM

      from my experience, women staying at home usually fall into the fitnah of gossiping and backbiting. working women dont have so much time on their hands. This is what I observed personally.

      The exact opposite could be argued, e.g. “In my experience, women who go out fall into the fitnah of not dressing properly, being friendly with men in inappropriate ways, neglecting the kids who many times become corrupted by the TV, etc. etc.”

    • Sherin

      July 6, 2016 at 7:56 PM

      I disagree with the statement that simply staying at home will somehow challenge their intellect. For many housewives, this is not the case. There are countless stories of Muslim housewives who out of boredom will gossip and also of stories of housewives who suffer from mental disorders such as depression due to loneliness , low self -esteem , and a feeling of incapability to handle “real life”. Finally, there is a case to be made that working women can manage work and home. We need women on the economic field and their intelligence is greatly needed for our societies to succeed. Khadeeja radiyallahu anha was not simply a housewife but also a succesful businesswoman who managed both. Aisha radiyallahu anha was also not simply a housewife but also an empowered female scholar who was even a millitary commander .

  12. ibrahim

    June 30, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    Interesting discussion. I have noticed one reoccurring theme of the general Islamic discourse on women. The advice that is often given to women regarding their Islamic obligations is always restrictive in its underlying tone. For example, don’t go out of your homes, don’t leave your head uncovered, don’t speak to unrelated men, don’t do this, don’t do that. The end result of this discourse is a Saudi Arabia-style society where the women are so confined they do absolutely nothing except become fat, bored, and depressed, yet is it not the case that all Muslims (men and women) are commanded to do righteous deeds and that means being active in many ways? Indeed, many of these women remain confined to their homes where all their domestic chores / child –rearing are undertaken by poorly-paid and abused non-Muslim servants. So what do these women do confined to their homes? To keep individuals confined to indoor spaces is unnatural and unhealthy.

    • Hassan

      June 30, 2010 at 9:19 AM

      My wife does not work,. goes out for prayers sometimes, groceries, and entertaining kids, and at home she does what is necessary to make home running, rest of the time in day she spends reading quran and doing dhikar. At end of the day she has done much more worship than what I can do in a week. (taking care of kids and looking after house is also worship by the way)

      • ibrahim

        June 30, 2010 at 9:32 AM

        Allah created a world of beauty with trees, mountains, lakes, birds. The sky itself is an ornament. Going out and breating fresh air and hearing birds sing is a marvelous experience. If women choose to remain indoors then that is their choice but forcing all women to remain confined and denying them the chance to experience the outdoors is just plain stupid. There are women, for whatever reason, that are not content with remaining in the house all the time and that they require some nourishment from communicating with other people whether it is through a work enviromment or through charity. By the way, we all seem to forget that there were a large number of great muslim women in history, who most men tend to ignore, who made great contributions to their society not within the four walls of their homes but out in the community ” performing rightious deeds”.

        • water_bottle

          June 30, 2010 at 9:54 AM

          I don’t see how your ‘rationale’ conflicts with the commandment of this ayah? Women are permitted to go outside, but subject to restrictions. I believe the sister made this extremely clear.

          • sebkha

            June 30, 2010 at 1:50 PM

            The rationale conflicts because none of the reasons listed in the article include just being outside for the sake of seeking the beauty of the natural world around them, one of the most spectacular creations of Allah. Most of the list just includes possible career choices for women, where female employees are of great need to a Muslim community. Which is fine. But there’s more to it than that.

            I don’t see any mention there at all about taking your children to feed ducks at the park, or pushing them on a swing. I love doing those things, and fail to see anything wrong with myself, or anyone else doing that or similar. It certainly doesn’t constitute an essential need, but my family really enjoys doing things like this. Children love the outdoors, and need fresh air, and they need their mother outside with them to keep them safe and happy when they’re playing out there. And what exactly is wrong with my husband taking me to Williams Sonoma or Sur Le Table to pick out new kitchen tools, or going to the grocery store to pick out my dinner? There’s no need, he can go to the grocery store all on his own, but sometimes I like to pick out my own food, and my own kitchen wares. I am the one that uses them the majority of them time, it only makes sense that I have a hand in selecting them. Am I supposed to be feeling insufficient in my deen and iman because of this? Striving to eliminate these benign behaviors?

            I’m all on board with the idea that it is just not decent and proper to want to go outside for the sake of showing off. But there are a whole lot more legitimate forms for women to participate in society and enjoy their time with their families than are listed here in this article.

        • Daughter of Adam (AS)

          June 30, 2010 at 3:29 PM

          “house”, doesn’t mean you are confined to four walls. houses include the backyard/courtyard/garden etc…
          also, most of the examples of righteous women I hear about did do most of their great contributions within their “houses”. they raised amazing righteous children, for one.

          • sebkha

            July 1, 2010 at 1:33 PM

            Most people don’t have Yellowstone, or Yosemite, or the likes in their backyards/courtyards/gardens. Allah has created such profound beauty in this world, and so many breathtaking sights, and we’re meant to believe that only one gender should ever get to behold them?

            I have amazing, righteous children that I am raising in my home. I’ve also taken them to many amazing places in this world. They have insights into what the world is like that the majority of kids in the US have never seen. But I’m supposed to be seen as unrighteous because I accompany my husband or parents in taking them to these places, because there was no “real need” for me to do so? Selfish, western, feminist me, for wanting to share the beauty of Allah’s creation with my children, along with my husband…

    • Alina

      October 17, 2015 at 1:42 AM

      Couldn’t agree more brother,
      I’m new to this site, so I’m not aware of any reoccurring themes here, but I am aware of the continuous discourse there seems to be in regards to everything remotely applicable to Muslim women,
      I can see how some sisters are becoming so terribly frustrated and argumentative here and elsewhere, and have resorted into demanding to Just be left alone,
      I think the way forward is too step back, any Muslimah with an iota of common sense, is not picking her nose on street corners, do our brothers ‘really’ need a khutbah every Friday on ‘Hijaab’ since i’m sure there are Inuits in Siberia who are aware of it.
      we need to work together in our communities to allow for and create non-Fitnah riddled alternatives for our sisters to engage themselves in, in regards to leisure activities etc,
      if there is opportunity, citing the potential restrictions a sister faces/responsibilities etc might then not seem like a sentence and or oppressive, since despite some restrictions, she is still able to have interests/hobbies, socialize etc, thus making her better equipped, psychologically, emotionally, physically for any/all responsibilities Islam has decreed for her.

      • Alina

        October 17, 2015 at 1:43 AM

        My comment was @ Brother ibrahim

  13. africana

    June 30, 2010 at 8:54 AM

    assalamu alaikum,

    if a muslimah has a supportive spouse and family and no mediacal issues then she would rarely leave her home at all.

    in algeria, for example, women go for months at a time without leaving their homes and don’t seem to suffer negatively as a result of it.

    i have observed this amogst both the religious and the irreligious and i think it’s just a matter of overcoming one’s initial aversion, as well as having a busy, well structured programme of activities, including much worship and rememberance of Allah. Fulfilling one’s purposes in life (to worship the Creator) is the only real happiness and when one has been granted some of that the transitory pleasures of this world will seem much less appealing since we were not created for the purpose of play and amusement.

    the reason some women, i think, consider remaining in their homes in negative terms is that they see only the outer act of staying at home and neglect to see it as an opportunity for great spiritual growth.

    • Nimmy

      July 1, 2010 at 9:45 AM

      To each its own..Just bcoz staying at home makes 5 people happy,doesn’t mean that the rest 5 too are obliged to find happiness in staying at home..Allah has made each person differently..

  14. Laila Nasheeba

    June 30, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    Alhumduliallah wa Mashallah! This is one of the best written explainations of this verse that I have read. May Allah bless you sister and reward you with the best of this world and the hereafter..ameen!

  15. shajar

    June 30, 2010 at 9:38 AM

    masha’allah, very well written. I am very impressed with your excellent style of writing. It takes a lot of courage to write the truth these days. Fear no one but Allah!

    Note: For those who disagree with the sisters views in this article, then remember: Read some of the most prolific tafasir of the qur’aan (Ibn Kathir, Sabooni, Muyassar ….). There are also some very strong authentic narrations which specifically mention women leaving for necessity only. See Saheeh Bukhari chapter of nikaah.

  16. Hasan

    June 30, 2010 at 9:39 AM


    The command to stay at home is specifically for the wives of the Prophet. Imaam Ibn Ashoor says:

    هذا أمر خُصِّصْنَ به وهو وجوب ملازمتهن بيوتهن توقيراً لهن، وتقوية في حرمتهن، فقرارهن في بيوتهن عبادة، وأن نزول الوحي فيها وتردد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم في خلالها يكسبها حرمة. وقد كان المسلمون لما ضاق عليهم المسجد النبوي يصلُّون الجمعة في بيوت أزواج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم كما في حديث «الموطأ». وهذا الحكم وجوب على أمهات المؤمنين وهو كمال لسائر النساء.

  17. Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

    June 30, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    May Allâh reward you Sadaf for this beautifully written article (as always).

    It seems that some of the commentators haven’t even read the article and are just commenting based on the title.

    • Amatullah

      June 30, 2010 at 10:12 AM

      It seems that some of the commentators haven’t even read the article and are just commenting based on the title.

      Agreed. Please read the whole article before commenting.

  18. Amad

    June 30, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    The following is for those who don’t want MM to publish this piece or go about slandering MM on being this or that (and the two are not necessarily the same group). The following points don’t take a position on the content of this article, but are quite neutral:

    If you don’t want MM to publish an opinion shared by a large section of our Muslim community (fact, not opinion), an opinion that is perfectly valid (if not recommended- again fact, not opinion), then pls tell us why you think that censorship of opinions is the best way to approach this. Either (a) you are weak in your own position against the arguments presented here, or (b) the arguments here intimidate you.

    Let’s also keep the focus on what the post means to you as a Muslim, and not the red-herring of “what the non-Muslims would think”, as most of the visitors are Muslims, so our focus is a Muslim focus. Those who don’t share our faith probably find discussions about jinn, magic, details of taharah, etc. quite weird as well. So, should we stop talking about those subjects as well? And even for this red herring, are the same people going to be emailing NY Times to complain about their misogynist article: Educated Women, Opting for Motherhood.

    Finally, this issue came up in Hebah’s article as well. And I proposed the same thing. If you have an article that can provide helpful points for the working Muslim woman, or encouragement for her in certain fields (and ways to go about that), pls by all means write it and send it to us. We publish what is made available to us. So, get off the soap-box and start typing :)

    • F

      June 30, 2010 at 11:07 AM

      Assalamu Alaikum Amad,

      How do you gauge a certain opinion is shared by a large section of the community? You said it was a fact but just wondering how you arrived at the conclusion quantitatively?

      I mean no maliciousness but an honest question.

      • Amad

        June 30, 2010 at 12:17 PM

        An observation of Muslim societies, nothing scientific. Sadaf provided a nuanced pov, giving several areas where women are needed to be outside home. So, I think if you keep the entire article in perspective, most practicing Muslims would tend to agree. And I am not saying you are not a good/practicing Muslim if you don’t agree.

        Good challenge.

        • Safiya Outlines

          July 1, 2010 at 7:22 AM

          Salaam Alaikum,

          “An observation of Muslim societies”

          Quite. We can observe many things widely practiced in Muslim societies which are horrific distortions of our beautiful deen.

          In Muslim societies where women are often confined to their homes, in any areas where they do encounter men, the men will often behave abominably towards them, because such women are viewed as ‘unrighteous’ and worthy of such treatment. Hardly Islamic.

          I try to give MM the benefit of the doubt because I know there is a lot of sincerity here and some topics are tackled very well indeed, but this article and the kind of comments it attracts (although there has been a good mix here) terrify me.

          We live in a world where many Muslim (and non Muslim) women are mistreated by men who twist the words of our deen for their own purposes. Societies where women live in seclusion are often not pleasant places for women to live. It is one thing to discuss a theory and another to live with the reality.

          Too many articles here seem unwilling to acknowledge how certain ideas about the role of women can have very negative consequences, consequences that would be more abominable to Allah the Almighty, then the very ‘fitnah’ they were meant to prevent.

          And, yes this article does question a women’s iman if she doesn’t agree the with such opinions, these sort of articles usually do, such guilt-tripping tactics mirroring uncannily so much of the secular media aimed at women.

          • Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

            July 1, 2010 at 7:39 AM

            This comment is so general (and honestly comes off as just emotional). Can you please point out the specific problems you have this with this article? How exactly is this a perversion of Qur’ân and Sunnah? Or is the problem that it contradicts your (current) societal norms? If you feel your îmân being challenged, then perhaps it is the latter?

          • suhail

            July 2, 2010 at 12:13 PM

            And what is your response to the article in terms of objectivity. You went on an emotional trip and never returned. Many things happen in this world which is horrible. It happen to men. women and children but the shariah remains intact.

            Rather than making emotional comments like woman have this problem and that problem outline to me what is the position of Quran and Sunnah for the woman working outside.

            Otherwise i can understand that indeed this article challenged yoru Iman and now you are having a guilt trip by feeling you violated the laws of Allah(SWT). If not provide an answer with evidences not some emotional barrage about woman suffering.

        • Nimmy

          July 1, 2010 at 9:47 AM

          It would be great if people stop generalizing in term of whole community…

          • Safiya Outlines

            July 1, 2010 at 9:53 PM

            Salaam Alaikum,

            I think my comment is perfectly clear. I will treat the ’emotional’ jibe as the cheap slur it was intended as.

  19. Ihssan

    June 30, 2010 at 10:54 AM

    When is MM going to tackle issues like Muslim owned liquor stores or something more relevant in regards to issues American Muslims are facing today. These topics are so mundane. STEP IT UP! PLEASE!

    • Amad

      June 30, 2010 at 12:17 PM

      Ihssan, MM is you and me. All of us. So if you have something to offer on this issue, pls feel free to send it to us.

    • Daughter of Adam (AS)

      June 30, 2010 at 3:33 PM

      I disagree with this being a mundane topic- this is SO NEEDED! we live in a society that keeps trying to push us women out of our homes and away from raising a family, and feels SO NEGATIVELY towards anyone who feels it’s righteous to stay home, take care of the house and the kids!! kudos to mm. masha’Allah and jazakAllah :D

  20. Umm Bilqis

    June 30, 2010 at 11:08 AM

    Masha’Allah Sr.Sadaf, really enjoyed reading the article,
    Interesting to see the many areas or careers that are needed in the community.
    Here is an interesting read by John Taylor Gatto for those sisters who are interested in homeschooling.

    • y

      June 30, 2010 at 9:00 PM


      wow, someone else reads here? interesting.

      Yes, i think homeschooling is the way to go too.

  21. Ibn Masood

    June 30, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    I don’t get some of the comment on this piece. Yes its true that more pieces need to be written about men, but let’s face it… this is one of the best articles that a Muslim woman can read…

    Not only has Sister Sadaf mentioned the ruling of where a woman’s primary duties lie, she has mentioned even the many allowances that scholars have put in where women can freely address needs in their community with no legal blame.

    But I agree…men need to man up badly… and we need articles on it pronto!… But while we do that, let’s not forget that women need to women up too. We’re all in the same FAILboat folks.

  22. Jon

    June 30, 2010 at 1:18 PM

    Assalamu alaikum, Jazakum Allahu kharyan for the thoughtful article and responses. I really enjoy reading articles on and want to send a message of support to the authors and community here.

    I also want to encourage the sisters to write and express their views more. I don’t want to go as far as saying that only sisters should write about “sisters” issues, but maybe there would be (a lot of) wisdom in that. Sisters please have patience with us brothers. We need to hear more from you. May Allah open our hearts.

    I heard a brother speak to a mixed audience recently and he said something to the effect of, “I’m going to speak to the brothers right now because I’m not a sister and I can’t speak to the sisters.” It can be pretty self serving when a brother tells his wife that it’s her job to make the home nice.

    In turn, we brothers need to take whatever the sisters say and do our best to follow their sincere advice. I want to especially encourage the brothers to give the sisters in their lives (wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, etc.) their rights in Islam and refrain from demanding their own rights all the time. Make sure you fulfill your responsibilities to your wife and have patience (silently) when you feel you have be wronged. Salam.

  23. Obaidullah Ahmed

    June 30, 2010 at 2:26 PM

    Assalamu alaikum,

    Very well written article MashAllah. JazakAllah khairan for the effort that you put in to your writing. I find it to be very beneficial.

    The knowledge gained from this article and others dealing with the same subject have been really helpful. As a man I am not aware of a lot of the problems that are of concern to the sisters. I am hopeful that the knowledge I gain through your article and others (Sister Ify’s article being an example) help me to be a better muslim. Another source of knoweldge that I have found to be really helpful is the Book “Al-Muhaddithat”. If I may, I would recommend it as a source of knowledge for other students.

    As an added note. The MM team is doing a great job. As muslims we need reminders and we need to gain knowledge. Discussion (in a respectful manner) is a great way to learn and to grow as a human. The articles published on this website coupled with the comments have been a great resource. JazakAllah Khairan.

  24. Hebah Ahmed

    June 30, 2010 at 2:33 PM

    Asalam Alikum Sr. Sadaf,

    Jazak Allahu Khair for a great article. I have always struggled with the understanding and implementation of this verse and you have explained it well. Masha Allah.

    I do think perspectives on this matter vary based on the part of the world one is from. For example, in more conservative Muslim countries (like your home country of Pakistan), there seems to be a societal pressure for women to stay in their homes no matter what the situation, whereas on the other side of the world in the West, Muslim women are pushing back against western feminist perspectives that attack Islam for it’s “oppression” of Muslim women. Two extreme reactions to the same issue which very much affect the baggage a person carries in dealing with this issue.

    After reading the activities considered “neccessity” for women to leave the home and after reviewing the Islam QA guidelines, I wonder how it is that a woman can get a degree and work in the west? There are several professions that fullfill many of the guidelines most of the time (like teaching), but in general you would be hard pressed to find a 100% halal work environment (even with self employment there are gender discrimiation laws that would not allow you to deal with women only if this is not naturally the case). Particularly with the Medical profession, how can a woman get medical training and practice in a place like the U.S. when it seems to violate almost every guideline (dress codes, total mixing, being alone with male patients, touching male patients, traveling to conferences without a Mahram, etc). And to be fair I am hard pressed to understand how even men can practice in this type of environmen.

    Can someone explain this?

    Jazak Allahu Khair,

    • F

      June 30, 2010 at 3:23 PM

      Walaikum Assalam sr. Hebah,

      Your questions are excellent and to be honest, there is no straight forward answer. The opinions mentioned in this article and the link at IslamQ&A are a slice of the scholarly understanding and interpretations of the Quran and the sunnah. The author resides in Pakistan and her understanding has developed through interaction with scholars than are more conservative than others. This doesn’t mean every scholar is of the same opinion.

      As an example, the author of IslamQ&A who resides primarily in Saudi Arabia would very much agree with this article. But another scholar from Saudi Arabia (not even the West) who also runs a site has a more relaxed understanding of the role of women at home versus the workplace.

      While IslamQ&A seems to be the choice of site for many MM authors, the readers have to understand that it is not the only site out there. IslamOnline (when it was running) and Islamtoday are two other very trusted sites that used sound scholarship and proofs. In fact, the former heavily relied on western scholars to deal with issues afflicting Muslims in the west.

      Usually the best practice is to consult scholars in your local community who have a grasp of what the people are going through but I realize that is not always possible or realistic.

      • Amad

        July 1, 2010 at 4:02 AM

        While IslamQ&A seems to be the choice of site for many MM authors

        I am not sure how you came to that conclusion. That’s certainly the main choice for me. I much prefer Islamtoday.

        • F

          July 1, 2010 at 3:18 PM


          I didn’t think all of the MM writers preferred IslamQA but judging by the number of times it is used as a reference point in the articles and in the comment section (by the MM staff), I figured that most used it as a primary source.

          I could have gone through all the articles and comments to confirm my observation quantitatively but didn’t think it was worth the time.

          I refer to the site sometimes in cases of questions related to acts of worship specifically where the time and place are not relevant (ie. difference of opinion on witr, etc).

    • Maiiino

      June 30, 2010 at 10:49 PM

      I completely agree, which is why I I follow IslamQA, but at the same time, how can you follow all the guidelines? And do not forget that islamQA stresses the importance of niqab being fard (I observed niqab also), and at the same time, it is more difficult to find work with niqab regardless of laws.

      • Amad

        July 1, 2010 at 9:29 AM

        You take the good and bad from the available sources. Islamqa is one of the sources that you’ll also find stuff that is relevant and some that is less relevant or practical. Because the people who run it are based in Saudi, I have a hard time believing that they (or any other foreign site) can fully appreciate the situation of Muslims in the West. But that doesn’t mean I discount them in all situations, just the ones where perspectives greatly matter. And to be honest, one of these situations where perspectives/experience of living in a land matter, is the case of working women, where I personally would be less inclined to accept everything said.

        • Amal

          July 1, 2010 at 12:23 PM

          Take what you want from whomever you wish, but I for one will never accept *any* opinion from a site that posts drivel like this:
          “…‘because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other’ i.e., because men are superior to women and are better than women. Hence Prophethood was given only to men, as was the position of khaleefah…”

          “Yes, the male gender is superior to the female gender in general, for many reasons…”

          Or, on the matter of women driving cars and why it’s “haraam”:
          “– It is a means of women rebelling against their families and husbands; at the least provocation they may go out of the house and drive in the car to wherever they think they can get some peace, as happens in the case of some young men, who are able to put up with more than women…
          -When women drive it leads to overcrowding in the streets, or it deprives some young men of the opportunity to drive cars when they are more deserving of that”

          I generally avoid all Albani-ist sites and those that employ the excessive double vowels transliteration method for *every* word, as such sites are often riddled with pseudo-Salafi nonsense, but Islam QA takes the prize for sheer, full-on woman hating. Whether or not they post any useful advice, such hateful statements make it impossible to trust *anything* they say. In any case, though, the fact that the author cites them as a source at least gives readers a clue as to her worldview.

          • africana

            July 1, 2010 at 3:37 PM

            i think it’s a little unfair to accuse them of women hating.

            take this, for example:

            “The husband has nothing that makes him better than his wife so that she should take his surname..”


            also shaikh al albani’s fatwa on men’s dress does not let them off the hook as can be seen

            It is surprising to find many young Muslims taking exception to ladies wearing tight clothes since they cling to their bodies, yet these young men are forgetting about themselves. There is no difference between a lady wearing tight clothes, which press against her body and a man wearing trousers, which also cling to his body. The buttock of both a man and a woman are part of the ‘awrah and both of them are the same. So it is compulsory for the youth to be warned about this predicament about which, many of them are blind, except for he whom Allah has guided, which by the example set, seems to be a few.

          • Amal

            July 1, 2010 at 5:23 PM

            @Africana: Posting the very well-known fact that Muslim women do not have to change their last names does not negate the misogyny that is so nauseatingly rampant on that site. “Men are better than women” is a direct quote and is the overriding theme of the site.
            Really, they’ve posted nonsensical “fatawa” saying that women should not be allowed to join women’s only gyms, nor be involved in other women’s only groups (book clubs, etc.)because they will take too much interest in such activities and thus annoy men by talking about them. But I suppose you agree with that as well?

            So far as what you wrote about Albani, I’m not sure what that has to do with what I wrote. So as I said, take from whomever you wish, but don’t expect the rest of us to do the same.

            -Edited. You dont have to agree with Sh. Albani or any other scholar. But if you cannot stop yourself from abusing them, then pls feel free not to comment here. This is a warning. And it would have come whether you had insulted Sh. Albani, Sh. Qaradawi or any other scholar.

  25. tabassum

    June 30, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    nice article :), i agree with what ever our religion enforces upon us, but truly speaking am always confused. so basically when ur little girl wants to choose her profession it should either be a teacher or a doc/ nurse/ health professional, (the rest, taking pics and all probably dont require mandatory qualifications).?? i dont know but a girl these days needs to be able to stand on her own two feet, never know when it might be required of her to earn (in case of divorce or being widowed… these days very glaring possibilities) and if all women just go in these two fields…. ok if thats whats required. and come on in the list of when the women can get out , u should have put recreation, out door get togethers, swimming, gym, eating out etc etc
    so if education is allowed , working is allowed and a bit of recreation is allowed, hmmmm what do v do about this word ‘qarn’…… :D am not even sure where am going with this comment, i think its too much of reading things woman should do, nearly every one has an opinion on this. but seriously in younger days i was a feminist, as to when ever a boy s education was preferred over girl’s i would argue or comment. but now after so many years of reading so many articles on this issue, i think the choices the older ppl made were right. when u pay hefty tution fee for girls in private colleges, and in the end they should not be pursuing their fields, parents should make bettter use of that hard earned money.

  26. Olivia

    June 30, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    While the aya does indeed indicate that it is a praiseworthy trait for a woman to stay at home, it does not say that she should only go out of necessity. That is an indirect derivation that is debateable and certainly subject of ‘urf. I think it would be correct to say that a woman shouldn’t go out without reason, but that reason doesn’t have to be a need. And then again, even needs are relative, and i think its futile to try to make a list of needs. One person may need to get out for a walk alone so her 5 children don’t drive her crazy, but another woman may claim she’s fine inside all day. (And the list of needs mentioned is already very colored by the ‘urf of the scholars who gave them, may Allah bless them. I think it is may be worthwhile to take that into account when generally writing to a Western audience instead of copy-paste). May Allah reward you for your article, though, even if I disagree with some aspects of it.

    • Yus from the Nati

      June 30, 2010 at 11:30 PM

      You raise an interesting point of ‘Urf Makaan.

      Amazing how the most simple word can change a whole view on something. جزاك الله خيرا

    • BintKhalil

      July 1, 2010 at 7:27 PM

      Assalamu alaikum

      These are the sort of rational arguments that need to be made instead of “this is such a misogynistic post”.

      Jazakillah khair

    • Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

      July 1, 2010 at 9:24 PM

      And the list of needs mentioned is already very colored by the ‘urf of the scholars who gave them, may Allah bless them. I think it is may be worthwhile to take that into account when generally writing to a Western audience instead of copy-paste

      Can you please elaborate on this? Which of the exceptions have anything to do with ‘urf? Also, where does it say that the author copy-and-pasted the list from another source?

  27. Firoj Khan

    June 30, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    A very interesting and refreshing article on the same subject:

  28. Siraaj

    June 30, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    Dear MM-Needs-To-Write-Articles-For-Men-To-Step-Up people,

    As mentioned earlier by Farhan, both sides need to a healthy respect for construction criticism and an eye towards self-improvement. Women do have issues in their practice, and men do as well. While the balance of discussion is fairly lopsided in the West due to feminist influence, MM need not be – part of helping the community is helping both sides grow, not just in what is common between us, but also in what is specific to our respective genders as well.


    • Farhan

      June 30, 2010 at 5:55 PM

      Right…I just skimmed through and didn’t see any ‘this is sexist against men!’ comments.

      The “should be’s” are acceptable when directed towards men. But the other way around is seen as demeaning. Its a double-standard!

      That’s why I just try to ignore side banter and just go with the Qur’an mixed with some ‘Urf customs.

  29. Uthman

    June 30, 2010 at 6:09 PM

    The article Sister Sadaf has written is very balanced and according to the Quran and Sunnah.

    Since most of readership of this blog comprises of a Western audience we see(from the comments) there is a seepage of feminist overtones. Muslim men and women who have been raised in the West have a somewhat distorted concept of roles of men and women. Obviously we are not talking about exceptions to the rules. Infact, we are talking about the general way the ideal muslim society is to be structured. Men have their roles and women have their roles. Any imbalance and deviation from what their duties are and the whole fabric of the society will collapse because afterall the family is the building block of every society and a pious individual is the building block of a pious family.

    The Christian right, although is very anti-muslim and blah blah but they are the ahl kitab and as such they are also having a problem dealing with this feminist attitude. Take a look at this here.

    We must change our attitudes if we are to fix our rising divorce rates and youth related issues. Perhaps one of these days(inshAllah), I will write on the feminist culture and how it has destroyed us and how we can solve this issue.

  30. Cucumberr

    June 30, 2010 at 6:34 PM

    Great piece. Jazakillah Khair! :)

  31. Sh

    June 30, 2010 at 6:51 PM

    Sister Sadaf i have not even read this but I am already excited and already know this is going to be an awesome article…as I have been waiting for this from you since you said you were working on it.

    Jazakallahy khayir in advance! haha

  32. Mohammad Sabah

    June 30, 2010 at 7:20 PM

    Assalam alaykum. Excellent article Sr. Sadaf masha Allah tabarak Allah. Don’t worry about the negative criticisms that you have received from some ‘liberal-minded’ muslims on this blog – may Allah give hidayah to all of us. I found this to be a very balanced and relevant article, more so because of the professions and avenues that you highlighted where Muslim women can and must contribute to the Ummah. I don’t want to comment on any of the negative comments made here as this is not what most ‘liberal-minded’ readers here would like to read, but I believe that with knowledge and iman, more people will see the truth in sha Allah. It is difficult to stand up for and speak the truth, and all I can say is keep speaking the truth fearlessly in sha Allah.

  33. Perspective

    June 30, 2010 at 7:41 PM

    There are a plethora of problems I have with the rationale used in this piece, but here are the 2 most compelling contentions:
    1. ) It provides an incredibly narrow list of reasons that make it permissible for women to leave their homes.
    2.) The last 2 paragraphs express the largest generality I have ever read, and showcase that the author has an inherent bias, removing all objectivity from the piece.

    In regards to the first point of contention, the author lists 13 reasons why women may leave their homes; the majority of which include to work in professions that need Muslim women. If you remove the reasons which discuss a specific profession the list would include FIVE things (salah in the masjid, hajj, education, visiting sick relatives, and going to the doctor). At the moment I don’t have time to delve into the absurdity of this, but I hope someone can understand when I say this is incredibly narrow, unrealistic, unhealthy (psychologically, emotionally, physically), and completely out of touch with reality.

    Moving on to the second point. The last two paragraphs of the article essentially state that working women are constantly plagued with guilt, and only women who stay at home are capable of being satisfied with their lives. The second to last paragraph even leaves the reader with the image of a working woman coming home to a lavish apartment and eating dinner desolate and alone. The views expressed in the last two paragraphs alone showcase the largest generality I have ever read, and prove that the author is incredibly bias in her views towards what woman should be doing. We all have opinions regarding the role of women in Islam, but I find it extremely difficult to intellectually respect the views in this piece when they are so inherently one sided.

    It appears that MM is stuck in a bit of a rut in regards to women’s issues. I am assuming that most of your contributing authors are house wives, and thus all of the articles discussing women’s roles tend to strongly support the view that women should stay home. I would be extremely cautious with this trend because of what it is clearly resulting in – a viscous cycle of “group think” . So far, what I have observed is that articles such as the one presented above are less about intellectual discussions/debates, and more more about a particular demographic (in this case housewives and their husbands) reinforcing each others views on the decision to stay at home. This isn’t entirely MM’s fault, as these women are the ones that have the time/desire to write such pieces, since working women largely receive intellectual stimulation through their respective jobs (and thus contribute to the site less). Regardless, I would strongly encourage MM to post pieces that express differing view points about the role of women. That is NOT to say that pieces such as this one should not be posted, censorship is not the answer to this dilemma; but rather a wider spectrum of opinions should be expressed alongside what is currently being written by your staff.

    Regardless, interesting article and my apologies to the author if anything I said came across as rude. By no means do I intend to attack or insult anyone or their views. Ultimately, Allah (SWT) knows best.

    • Safiya Outlines

      July 1, 2010 at 7:30 AM

      Salaam Alaikum,

      Yes! A thousand times yes!

      However, It is making me ponder whether I should try to write a piece for submission here…

      • Amad

        July 1, 2010 at 9:25 AM

        Sure, try us.
        If it falls within the large umbrella of orthodoxy, then we will definitely consider it.

    • Amatullah

      July 1, 2010 at 10:58 AM

      . This isn’t entirely MM’s fault, as these women are the ones that have the time/desire to write such pieces, since working women largely receive intellectual stimulation through their respective jobs

      It seems that you are the one generalizing now.

      As for the sisters of MM, majority are ‘working women.’ sister Sadaf is a teacher and coordinator at a major islamic institution where she lives, plus a writer for magazines like SISTERS and newspapers like the Saudi Gazette.

      • Perspective

        July 1, 2010 at 4:01 PM

        @Amatullah. There is a significant difference between free lance writing, and full time employment. When I say that “working women” generally do not have the time/desire to write such pieces, I am referring to women who work a set schedule of hours per day at their respective jobs, and then come home. Housewives can still be considered “working” if they engage in free-lance writing, dawah etc, but this does not pose nearly the same limitations on ones time as full-time employment. As you may have noted, I began my last paragraph by stating that it was an assumption, based upon my own observances of the work on this site. I have no idea what the demographic of MM’s female writers is like, but I would be extremely interested in getting an actual number of how many female writers publish for MM, and how many of them are employed full time (particularly in professional work). I think this would provide extremely important insight into the pieces being written and the motivations behind them.

        • Amatullah

          July 2, 2010 at 6:56 AM

          The most active sister writers for MM all work; full-time, part-time or from home. At least four sisters would fit under your definition of working professionally full-time.

    • Sally

      July 3, 2010 at 9:31 AM

      Perspective, you summed up my constructive feedback nicely in this post! I think I’m ready for a nice article on Khadijah (ra), or other SuperWomen from the seerah who made their above-and-beyond life work!

      I am not going to write something, but for anyone curious about some strong inspirational women I recommend Hesham Al-Awadi’s “Women Inspired by The Beloved” series!

  34. Maiiino

    June 30, 2010 at 10:42 PM

    I am extremely pleasant about staying at home because I rather be home than work, so I am not saying stay-at-home women are useless. But first, i would like to say that I rely on IslamQA for a lot of fatwas and help, however I find these guidelines particularly difficult to follow. They are not wrong per se, just most of them are not possible, and here the reasons why:

    “That she needs to work in order to acquire the money she needs, as in your case.” -> That is true and I entirely agree. If one needs money, she should not be stopped from being able to work and suffer poverty.

    “The work should be suited to the nature of woman, such as medicine, nursing, teaching, sewing, and so on.” -> What is considered nature of women, exactly? So men cannot work with medicine, nurse, teach or sew? What about office and retail work? They are unisex.

    “The work should be in a place that is only for women, and there should be no mixing with non-mahram men.” -> I entirely agree, but we are getting this from a scholar.. whom from what I remember, spends most his time in Islamic-majority areas where most rulings are followed. If you live in North America, which i am sure the majority of us do, we will never or hardly ever find work where there is no men. And as such, employers are just going to be rude and say we are being too picky and never get a job. Eh… and also aren’t medical jobs just take ages to receive and just do worse for women having to be acquiring degrees and working “high” jobs as Western societies want, as the other article stated? (“Submit for your baby’s sake”)

    “Whilst at work she should observe complete shar’i hijab.” -> Completely agree, however he also states that niqab is fard. As said earlier, even my niqabi friends says no one has ever hired niqabis. I have tried (I observed niqab), so has they. Unless you work in an halaal grocery or Muslim owned store, which will mostly be opened by men anyway and regardless.

    “Her work should not lead to her travelling without a mahram.” -> Agreed to an extent. As such, here, we should have a mahram, but in reality we are not always going to have a father-in-law, brother, uncle, son or husband following us onto the bus, then the train then back from work?

    “Her going out to work should not involve committing any haraam action, such as being alone with the driver, or wearing perfume where non-mahrams can smell it.” -> I dislike perfume anyway, I consider it pollution, but this goes back to the point where you cannot leave without a mahram again. As I said, if you do not live in a country which is Islamic-majority, you are never going to have a relative with you on a car service trip and back. There are actually more haraam actions to worry about (not that this one wasn’t important, but many women could be flirting, cheating, gambling, backbiting, etc.)

    “That should not lead to her neglecting things that are more essential for her, such as looking after her house, husband and children.” -> This is true, but some husbands neglect their wives also thinking that just because he puts food on the table, that he is free from her being a nuisance or something. However, if you work a low wage job and is suffering tremendously (whether from a lazy husband or just financial difficulty), you have to make some sacrifices. You cannot get paid $7 a week, and work 10 hours a week and expect that to care for your children.

    I like having a mahram, you can talk to him and he can protect you from all the harassment you may receive outside, but as MOST North Americans, you are never going to find mahrams with you every second of your life as you’re outside. I would love my husband to come with me, but he works, my non-Muslim father works, I do not have sons, my uncles do not live here, etc etc. So what now?

    I stay at home too, and even in Muslim neighborhoods here, women who observe hijab and niqab walk around with strollers and are grocery shopping, chatting, taking walks with other sisters, etc. They are outside, not committing any sins. They pray on time, they are responsible, they pick their children up from school, etc. However, they do not have mahrams around. And despite that being wrong in a sense, I think non-Muslims now actually have a view that Muslim women can leave their house.

    I just find it annoying sometimes how a lot of other women who stay at home have to discourage other women with their life choices (not referring to anyone here), because I do not do that, and they are probably doing a better job at work than me. Who knows? I could be home gossiping, abusing my children, talking to men on the phone, not praying, watching television 24/7, etc.

    I do not reject any of the shaikh’s work, but his guidelines are part of an idealistic concept of what a Muslim woman should be doing in a society that can actually deal with those guidelines. North America have no way of dealing with it so far (astugfirAllah) Instead, lets be realistic here, that not everything is Islamically well in the US and it is the truth. I am not part of any party or political party; I just wanted to point out the realism in this world, that not everything can be 100% the way we are or want it in this planet. All you can do is ask Allah to guide us.

  35. Yus from the Nati

    July 1, 2010 at 12:04 AM

    I think the article is decent overall, but maybe would be better to exclude the list of necessities (I’m not disagreeing with them, but one could 4 list innumerable points).

    More narrations from the salaf re: the manner the Sahabiyaat lived, and tabi’een and etc.

    The points raised about the customs of the time then, and now, and what is considered “necessity” would be different from time and place.

    Those who have “beef” with the article.

    Can we agree that the “default” is to be a “homebody”? as in Muslim nature/scripture wise?

    or do we not agree on that?

  36. Sara

    July 1, 2010 at 12:47 AM

    Assalaam Alaikum,

    Having read the aforementioned comments, I thought I would give my two cents on this piece. My perspective on this article slightly double sided. Though I will not make any generalizations regarding articles on MM relating to women and women’s issues, I will make a few comments on this one.

    I would like to begin by saying I appreciate how the author uses the Qur’an and Sunnah as references, JazakAllah khair for the information conveyed. But unfortunately, I too could not help but notice an inherent bias in the piece, especially within the final few paragraphs. I am in no way a ‘liberal’ or ‘western minded’ Muslim, and strongly believe that Islam should be followed by none other than the Qur’an and Sunnah. Regarding sister Sadaf’s article, as she has stated and to the best of my knowledge, it is a woman’s right to work outside the home if she desires, of course this being in a completely halal (permissible) manner, following the guidelines Islam bestows upon us. It would be unfair however, to presume that remaining at home as a caretaker (which is certainly a commendable job, MashaAllah) somehow provides more peace of mind than working as a doctor, nurse, lawyer, teacher, etc. I don’t know of any working women that fits the following description “at the end of the day, they come home to a lavish but empty apartment/villa and have dinner alone.” This statement alone is a grave generalization. Both women who work and stay at home deserve to be honored for their efforts.

    Apart from the qualms above, I think the piece is quite well written. And I certainly disagree with those who have said MM should refrain from posting articles concerning women all together. All well supported views should be respected, even if they do not conform to one’s own. A part of me does feel however, that more a more balanced piece regarding women and their rights inside and outside of the home should be published. Perhaps I may even submit my own if I find the opportunity, Insha’Allah.

    Finally, may Allah (SWT) reward you for your contributions sister. =)

  37. Leila

    July 1, 2010 at 7:23 AM

    Next time i want to leave the house, i will refer to the 13 listed criteria.

  38. ukhti

    July 1, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    Great article and much needed!! Sis Sadaf I really enjoy your writing. You know I am more of a liberal Muslim but when it comes to women and the need to be home I definitely lean to the more conservative side. Its so funny to see all the strawman arguments being brought up. The point is for Muslim women, home is the default. You should plan your life to make it easier to be home. Its so funny the constant harangue about Muslim women and careers. Seriously, what are the actually numbers of women who can have these great careers, its such a minority. Does it make sense for us to keep pushing the majority of women out of the home when only 5-10% will have these medical and teaching careers. Also you don’t have to work when you are young. If you have the brains for med school go when you kids are out of the house, that is the way it used to be done in America not too long ago. And why is it when women do go to medical school, they end up, surprise, surprise, at home with their kids and work part-time. This is actually a huge drain on the system, its a big problem in England in that they cant find enough GP’s because so many women take spots and then only work part-time.

    Stop denying reality, that most women want to be home, that most women if they do work only want to do it part time. That it is completely rational that men should be favored in the workforce.

    And about worrying about non-Muslims reading this. This is a huge form of dawah. You Muslim women really have no idea how bad things are with non-Muslims. So many long for the days of tradition, when women cared about their family, when women were not getting divorced left and right. There is a huge movement of men who are not going to marry because they can’t stand career women (most men don’t).

    There has now be 3 generations of kids suffering from women leaving the home and what do we have: higher crimes rates. Out of wedlock rates that are abominable. In some communities 70% of kids are born out of wedlock. This is coming to the Muslim community if we as women do not stop being selfish and childish and start looking at the bigger picture and get back to our families. Do you guys realize how many spinster Muslim women there are going to be in the next 20 years because they were pushed into careers and never thought about marriage or home life. Have you ever talked to a sister who is 45, will never have children and may never be married. Trust me career becomes the last thing on their minds, they are very sad about what was lost.

    So sisters leave your house in droves if you want to but realize their are costs to your decisions. Realize that more and more men (non-Muslim included) will be going overseas to find wives, or will not marry at all and just use you (misyar marriage anyone), that you will lose opportunity for child bearing as your fertility drops and when you get that career you will most likely hate it.

    Too many female doctors

    Men advocating no marriage

    Western women realizing what was loss with leaving the home

    • Sayf

      July 1, 2010 at 12:57 PM

      I’m inclined to agree with a lot of what you said except for:

      There has now be 3 generations of kids suffering from women leaving the home and what do we have: higher crimes rates. Out of wedlock rates that are abominable. In some communities 70% of kids are born out of wedlock.

      It’s very difficult (which is my euphemism for impossible) to isolate women going to work as the independent variable and see how crime rates and wedlock rates change, there are a ton of confounding factors.

      • Yaqeen needed

        July 1, 2010 at 11:16 PM

        Sayf, kindly list those confounding factors and then let us weigh them or qualify their impact.

        What the sister is saying that once the main pillar of the family is no longer there, as is often the case today, these evils have become the order of the day. Al khayr kullu khayr fi ittiba as sunnah

  39. ukhti

    July 1, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    • Maiiino

      July 2, 2010 at 3:48 PM

      I can see why this is, but at the same time, I know many housewives that is not the typical image you see on tv where they are all in perfect shape and weight. I know many housewives whom gained weight from pregnancy, never lost it, have had unhealthy diets and also gain weight at home due to the lack of movement and a bit of freedom to exercise. I am not saying you are wrong, but there is a lose-lose in this scenario.

      Then again, my mother was not a working mother for a while, and I seem to have gained weight regardless whether she was working or not..

  40. ukhti

    July 1, 2010 at 10:25 AM

    I am being harsh because no one tells women the truth. Habibti, you say you want to be a doctor. A surgeon in fact, do you know how harsh that environment is. No one cares about your feelings, no one is going to hold your hand. Look at the links in my post, from non-Muslims. Honestly I could post some things that are much worse but the the sites are too crass. The point is women leaving the home has consequences, not wanting to hurt the feelings of few women is silly, you need to know the consequences of your choices. I honestly am shocked at your comment, how can you handle a male oriented environment and you can’t handle criticism brought with facts.

    And seriously your strawman argument is really silly, yes the people here tend to be conservative but no one has said don’t leave your house. The point is the house is the focal point of a woman’s life and she should make choices to ensure she can be at home as much as possible. Simple as that.

  41. Obaidullah Ahmed

    July 1, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    I am curious as to how many of the commentors actively learn Tafsir and/or learn Seerah. Also, how many read the history of our people ( the companions “men and women” and the following generations) and how society was structured then ?

    • Amal

      July 1, 2010 at 12:37 PM

      Plenty of us.
      And I wonder how many male commenters ignore the tremendous women of our history who *didn’t* stay in their houses? I also wonder how many of them have a distorted idea of “how society was structured then” because they choose to focus only on the women who were timid and stayed in their houses, rather than those who were constantly out and working for themselves and their religion [i.e., men who glorify Fatima (ra) and all but ignore zainab (ra)]?

      • ukhti

        July 1, 2010 at 12:54 PM

        Why do constantly pick the 1 or 2 examples and not the majority. Islam tells us women are not like men. Science tells us women are not like men. What is so difficult, why is it that masculine women want all women to be like them.

        • Amal

          July 1, 2010 at 12:58 PM

          Masculine? You are incredibly rude. Obviously, you feel the need to defend your *own* choices by belittling women who have made different choices, which indicates your insecurity.
          As far as there being only “1 or 2 examples” of strong and fearless women in the history of Islam, I suggest you remedy your lack of knowledge by having a good read of our history. “1 or 2 examples” indeed. Allah Yahdikhi.

          • ukhti

            July 1, 2010 at 1:12 PM

            I did not mean out of over a 1000 year history there are 1 or 2 examples. But that percentage of all women, these women are not the norm. If you look Muslim society, women are traditionally at home. We dont know their names but they are the majority, I love to hear stories of the Mothers of the Sahaba or of our great Scholars. We don’t hear about them enough. Of course there are great women in all aspects of our history but why do we constant focus on the few who competed with men instead the many who were at home raising pious children and taking care of their families.

            You see it today. Look at who everyone praises, the women who are doctors, fashionable, busy competing with men. The typical traditional Aunty who slaves for her family is constantly looked down on. Well I admire them, I wish I was more like them to sacrifice for my husband and children and insure their success. We don’t hear about them or praise them enough.

          • ukhti

            July 1, 2010 at 1:18 PM

            That was a rude comment. I apologize.

          • Obaidullah Ahmed

            July 1, 2010 at 4:05 PM

            To be honest. I think the actual issue lies in the way the discussion is taking place. I would suggest that both of you pick up a copy of Al-Mohaddithat by Mohammed Akram Nadwi. It is the English preface of his biographical dictionary of 8000 women scholars ( in Arabic). I think the act of reading the book will be an eye opening experience.

            Our goal (in my humble opinion) should be to emulate the society as it was setup by the Prophet (S.A.W). These were the most blessed among us. The history narrated within the book manages to draw a very informative picture of that society. As such it should be a beneficial read. ( The book gives examples of Mohaddithat from the companions and from generations that came much later)

  42. Amatullah

    July 1, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    I don’t quite understand why this article is generating so many defensive comments. Sisters, at the end of the day, this is your choice. If you want to work, by all means go ahead. If you want to stay home, by all means go ahead. If you chose either of these routes, you’re not wrong or right – you are just living your life the best way you see fit within the set limits of Islam. This is not something like praying, where it is obligatory to perform and not doing so is considered a sin.

    SubhanAllah, Allah has really honored the Muslim women. We are not responsible for any ‘bread-winning’ and the money you make is all yours. This is a choice for you while Allah has made it obligatory for the men. Alhamdulillah what a blessing. For those who feel like they are ‘fighting’ for the right of women to work, just remember that there are plenty of women who don’t want to work and prefer to stay at home as well. This is their own choice, just like your choice to work, so we should respect each other’s decisions and stop judging our fellow Muslims.

    • Maiiino

      July 2, 2010 at 3:54 PM

      I agree.. we should not judge who works and who does not work, because at the end, those who work may be doing a better job in taqwa and faith than the ones at home, and the ones at home can be doing better than those at work, as I stated earlier.

      At the end, it is each of our choices to be at home or work, and whatever sins committed at home or work is our fault.

  43. A-MAN

    July 1, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    It is kind of scary how some of our Muslim sisters have jumped on this cancerous feminist movement in America, which in the long run hurts them but they are blinded by their own insecurities. Trying too hard to play the role of men. You dont see us men trying to walk around with skirts. It just comes to show that these feminists want to be men and wish they were born with a different gender.

    • Zayna

      July 1, 2010 at 12:32 PM

      SubanAllah, are you serious?? Men (muslim and non-muslim) can hide behind your sentinmentality of feminism and what not, but take a step back see why women have to be up in arms to be heard! And what do you mean, blinded by insecurities? The fact that most women are far more educated than most of our self absorbed men who can’t do anything but throw religious scripts around and issue fatwas?

      And to the the last line, remove the “veil” from your face and how beautiful the world is because of women like us, and then speak. I don’t know where you got this mentality of subjecting women beneath you, but I hope your mom, wife, daughter, sister had nothing to do with – inshaAllah, you are not like this real life.

      • Study-Islam

        July 6, 2010 at 10:42 AM

        “throw religious scripts around and issue fatwas”?? I hope you arent taking a stab at muslim men that decide to become teachers and seek Ilm instead of the pathetic extensive knowledge in medicine that others seek. If so, this is exactly what is meant by your blindness.. you dont see past the dunya into the Ahira..

        Your husband could be a poor mechanic with a significant knowledge in islam but I guess working as a knowledgeable professional, your opinion would be better qualified aye?

        • Zayna

          July 7, 2010 at 3:17 PM

          You have clearly taken that line out of context and I, by no means was taking a stab any men or women seeking knowledge in Islam or any other religion for a fact. And seeking knowledge is to better yourself and your Ummah is part of Islam, just in case you skipped that part.

          And big faux pas from your end.. “working as a knowledgeable professional” – you drew the distinction here, not me! So first, tame your bias feelings before call the rest of us pathetic. And if it weren’t for some us pathetic enough to go into medicine, I guess we would singing a whole different tune here… oh I’m sorry.. we are allowed to sing!

    • Perspective

      July 1, 2010 at 4:29 PM

      You have done an excellent job exemplifying an illogical association that is often used to discourage women from working. The first step of this association is playing the feminist card, which immediately brings a negative connotation to the table. Then you continue by saying that women are only projecting their insecurities and hurting themselves by trying to emulate men. Do you not see anything illogical with the connection you have made?

      Simply because women want to work, does not mean that they are trying be men in any way, shape, or form. With all due respect, to fear that women are challenging the role of men through pursuing individual careers highlights your own insecurities, not those of women. I don’t think a man confident in his own masculinity would ever make that connection, or equate women working with “men walking around in skirts”.

      I sincerely pray that you do not project such misogynistic views upon your daughter, wife, sister, or mother.

    • Maiiino

      July 2, 2010 at 4:00 PM

      Well, I am not part of any group other than being a Muslim, but I think a feminist movement is indeed, a nuisance. Most of them decide to be the voice for all women and I think it is wrong, i.e., telling a Muslimah that hijab is wrong because it takes away her freedom is ridiculous and unnecessary.

      If they want to liberate women and let them work, by all means go ahead. But from my knowledge, I do not think any Muslim woman needs to do this because as Muslims, we have been given rights for a very long time.. and some countries have just been catching up. If she wants to work, let her work. If she does not, then she does not have to work. All those years these few feminists have been trying to “liberate” women and stop the “housewife” concept, yet now many women (such as I) feel much better at home instead.

      I am making the intention of not taking sides in this story, and I hope I am not giving the image of taking sides, because I agree with the points in the article though they are not do-able in many many places. Plus, hatred is a very powerful concept and it takes a lot of time and energy to hate, so none of us should take this too personally and cause hatred between ourselves.

  44. man

    July 1, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    I don’t know about you sisters wanting to work, but the majority of men around the world would love to stay home and not work. lol

    • muffassir

      July 1, 2010 at 12:37 PM


    • Amal

      July 1, 2010 at 5:36 PM

      If you think being a mother and housewife is “not work,” you are sorely mistaken. Spend two weeks as a housewife and you will be weeping and begging to go back to work.
      That was a shameful comment; you might as well call your own mother lazy.

      • Study-Islam

        July 6, 2010 at 10:31 AM

        Considering we fix the cars, mow the lawns, clean the toilets, clip the trees, build things for the backyard, I suggest, rather, YOU are the one sorely mistaken for assuming we cant handle housework. For, in fact, we have handled “housework” for generations..

      • Study-Islam

        July 6, 2010 at 10:33 AM

        Considering we fix the cars, mow the lawns, clean the toilets, clip the trees, build things for the backyard, I suggest, rather, YOU are the one sorely mistaken for assuming we cant handle housework. For, in fact, we have handled “housework” for generations..

        Its surprising how easily women forget the work men do around the house…

        • Bushra

          July 8, 2010 at 5:23 AM

          I agree…men DO work around the house. But women, DECENT women, appreciate it. And in return for those 5-6 things you do, we bear your children, cook big dinners, keep the house spick and span on a daily basis, look after your parents and other members of extended family, do big banquets for your friends, look good for you and provide you with intellectual conversation. Oh yes, we also manage your money.

          So as sister Amal said above, try being at home with the kids for a whole week and you will see that housework is not as easy as it seems. I know mothers who are up at 6am and sleep at midnight every night. My mother in law has been a housewife all her life and she STILL wakes up at 6am everyday. She’s been doing this with rheumatoid arthritis for 30 years, a VERY debilitating disease, but she pushed herself to live her life for her husband and children.

          Women don’t forget what their husbands do for them, rather men tend to forget the pains that we go through trying to make their money go further, trying to cook different and GOOD food, helping our children with homework, disciplining them, cleaning, washing and folding your clothes, etc, etc. The list is endless.

          Honestly speaking, women will continuously make full breakfasts, lunches and dinners everyday and won’t get a break from it…neither will they receive any appreciation for it. So please don’t say that you would much rather stay at home, because, trust me, you wouldn’t be able to hack the physical, emotional and psychological stress that comes with it.

    • AZ

      July 6, 2010 at 7:36 PM

      AGREE!!! I am very jealous of women!

  45. ukhti

    July 1, 2010 at 12:47 PM

    Also I hate to bring up facts and statistics. But most jobs are terrible. Honestly I wish I were a better writer because I have been wanting to submit an essay praising how amazing men are particularly Muslim men. The sacrifices they make to keep this world running is truly awe inspiring. When women talk about careers they don’t want to work in coal mines, or as garbage collectors or on the front line of the military. Women only want to work in a small percentage of jobs and there is limited supply of these jobs. Just from an economic perspective its impossible for all women to have “careers” because such jobs are very limited.

    Muslim men who want to work to take care of their families are denigrated just because they know its easier if the woman is home mostly. If you look at societies where women are pushed into the workforce like Sweden or Russia, women can’t even chose to stay home because they are seen as parasites if they don’t work. Subhanallah, wanting to take care of your children and husband in considered immoral.

    • Amal

      July 1, 2010 at 12:54 PM

      Since you’re obviously not Russian, perhaps you shouldn’t generalize with a bunch of outdated Cold War tropes. We would certainly appreciate your not denigrating our society with your nonsensical stereotypes (a society wherein many, many Muslims have lived for many centuries).

    • Maiiino

      July 2, 2010 at 4:04 PM

      That is the issue. Muslim women should be able to choose. Other countries have not been catching up to things that Islam have given humans for so many centuries. Many women cannot work in other countries, but if you had the choice and opportunity, why would anyone not want to make a decision?

      That is almost like children in other countries who cannot afford education, then come to America and realize education is free. Does that mean they shouldn’t choose to educate themselves? They have a choice to do it or not…

    • ALINA

      August 9, 2016 at 5:36 PM

      Sister, calm down already,
      I do actually believe, that is better for women to stay at home and not seek employment if she can avoid it, but the problem now seems to be, at least in the west, is that many Muslim women cannot avoid it, you speak of husbands and children, as if this is a given for a Muslim woman, which is extremely naive, in the west at least, there is a marriage crisis, thousands and thousands of Muslims women are well into their thirties and forties and have never received a single marriage proposal,
      i have lived in the west all my life and know this all too well, the amount of unmarried Muslim women, who always ‘believed’ they would marry is shocking and heartbreaking, it naive and quite insulting to them, that you assume they remain unmarried because they are busy chasing careers,
      Its also important to mention, that Muslim fathers, brothers, uncles etc are neglecting their duties in providing for their adult unmarried daughters /sisters, nieces adequately, so she does not have to seek employment herself,

      whereas it is wise, if you can to remain in the home, its just not feasible for so many, and it is unjust of you to judge them and to think you know, their circumstances better then them

  46. B.A.

    July 1, 2010 at 6:23 PM


    I think this is a good article. However I would say that maybe in the west there are advantages for our sisters to seek employment, not just for the benefit of other sisters in the community (as alluded to in the above list of jobs). Obv. i’m not talking about full time employment* or careers which require sisters to work twenty three hours a day and then spend the other hour taking care of everything else at home, but a wife working part-time (many good jobs out there have this option – including medicine) may be beneficial to a muslim couple. This may be particularly true considering the unstable economic climate that we live in and the fact that money is one of the major reasons for a couple to go their separate ways.

    If a sister really wants to further pursue a particular interest in a particular field, as they feel they have a talent in this area that can be used for the benefit of others, then I can understand why some would allow her to follow her ambitions. I would very much agree with this course of action, provided that particular sister can fulfil all her obligations at home and to her family, as this is what is important first and foremost. Some sisters out there might say these two are impossible to balance together, but as we know all too well – not all people are alike and some individuals are able to accomplish many feats in their life and be an amazing wife, husband, father, mother, daughter or son at the same time. It is up to the individual to understand the limits of their capabilities and to know their deficiencies. If they feel that can balance these two competing interests in their life in sha Allaah, then by all means go for it. If on the other hand, they realise that maybe they aren’t up to the task (not due to lack of ambition but through realising their own weaknesses/strengths) then I agree that focusing solely on family life would be better.


  47. B.A.

    July 1, 2010 at 6:30 PM

    It is necessary to take an objective standpoint when viewing what is an important and delicate issue.

    It is even more necessary to be lenient when listening/reading other people’s comments or articles. If you feel upset at the comments they make, don’t reply back straight away but take a time out to cool your anger.

    Some of the comments and replies above are, in my opinion, not only harsh but also unnecessary. Go out of your way to be nice to people and even if you have a negative comment to make, qualify it by making dua for the individual and recognising the good points that he has made. I’m sure all of you are aware that, especially on the internet, things can come across as far more cruel than they were originally intended.

    Just sharin’ some thoughts :)

    Feel free to disagree!


  48. Sadaf Farooqi

    July 2, 2010 at 12:54 AM

    بسم اللّٰہ الرحمٰن الرحیم
    السلامُ علیکم

    Jazakum Allahu khairan everyone, for your feedback. Sorry for the late response, but there were connectivity issues with MM on my browser.

    I wanted to address a few valid concerns of some of the readers:

    1. I accede that outdoor recreation and permissible entertainment was unfortunately missed out from the list of “permissible needs” for which women can leave their homes. Recreation should of course be done within the guidelines of Shar’iah, but as a work-at-home mother of two little children, I know how stressful it can be for women to stay indoors for even two days at a stretch, particularly in an urban setting where there are no trees lining the streets, backyards or front lawns (viz. living in sealed, small apartments).

    Those of you sisters who have pointed this out are indeed right — women can leave their homes to go to the park, gym, grocery store or out eating with female friends, family members, or their children. However, I reiterate that this should be within Islamic limits and Shar’iah guidelines. What limits? Please refer to some mufti/scholar on jurisprudence for answers:

    فَاسْأَلُواْ أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنتُمْ لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ

    “Ask Ahl Al-Dhikr if you do not know…” [Quran – 16:43, 21:7].

    I will be editing the list and adding a point number 14 about this, insha’Allah. I am thankful to those of you who pointed this out politely; may Allah reward you and forgive me for overlooking a factor that is so crucial in my own life as a de-stressor and sanity-maintainer!

    2. The portion of the Quranic verse that I have attempted to explain in this article says to the Prophet’s [صَلى اللهُ عَليهِ ÙˆÙŽ سَلم] wives, “Stay in your homes….”. I did not say it, even though I kept it as the title of this article. Allah said it — in the Quran. I repeat: I AM NOT SAYING that women should stay in their homes! :)

    We can choose to believe that this command was specifically for the Prophet’s wives and not for us; however, if we go on to read the rest of the same verse, it will be clear that Allah has issued other commands in it that are of an obligatory nature and that apply to all Muslim women — (i) to abstain from tabarruj (ii) to pray salah (iii) to give zakah, (iv) to obey Allah and His Messenger [صَلى اللهُ عَليهِ ÙˆÙŽ سَلم]. Are these commands, mentioned just after the one I have discussed, also applicable only to the Prophet’s [صَلى اللهُ عَليهِ ÙˆÙŽ سَلم] wives? The answer is crystal clear.

    3. Thirdly, I accept that scholars of our time need to ponder on this issue and come up with more detailed guidelines for women working outside their homes, especially in the West, where work circumstances and professional environments are not so simple and clear-cut as in some Muslim-majority areas. However, the Quran’s words are there for all of us to recite, read, ponder upon, and of course, obey. I tried to think up all of those professions where women can work comfortably and easily, without having to deal with issues of harassment or gender-based discrimnation viz. “the glass ceiling”. However, the 13-point list above is certainly not all-inclusive or exhaustive.

    As for any of the personal stuff that has been said about me, I will choose not to respond to it. :) I’d just like to say that the last 2 paragraphs of this article above, though they might seem to embody bias and “broad generalization”, are based on my candid counselling sessions with working Muslim women — both “hijabi’s” and non-practicing ones (e.g. those who do not pray or fast). Also, most of these women are not based in Pakistan, but are working/living in other countries e.g. UAE, US, UK or Canada. Relocation has increased to such an extent that most of my distant cousins, my colleagues at school and college, my ex-students of Al-Huda, and my childhood friends and neighbors are by now residing in other countries. Most of them work — whether single, married or divorced. Many of them email me or call me up for advice, and they share their feelings about their careers openly. They include teachers, bankers, chartered accountants, dentists, doctors and social welfare workers. Granted, they present just one side of the “working Muslim woman” story, but at least they are honest in their acceptance of their innate desire to stay more at home than have to go out and work!

    I hope one of the readers will be able to write an article about her satisfying career for MM, to present the other side of this picture, insha’Allah. Especially if she can share tips on successfully juggling work with her motherhood and homemaking duties, and express how it satisfies her innate need for intellectual stimulation.

    I really appreciate those of you who have been polite and respectful in your criticism. Jazakum Allahu khair. And mostly those who have additionally sent gracious dua’s along the way. I really appreciate the sincere gesture! May Allah be pleased with all of us! Ameen.

    May Allah forgive me and all of us our mistakes in conveying His message, and accept our endeavors.

    For those choosing to continue the discussion, I request that they please remain polite, whether they’re for or against the article’s content.

    Allah knows best and is the source of strength.

    • iMuslim

      July 2, 2010 at 6:35 AM

      Jazakillah khair Sadaf for clarifying some points, and for taking the time to address this issue.

      Having browsed through some of the comments, I’ve noticed that many are complaining that MM is focusing too much on women-issues lately… yet in the community, we often complain how women are excluded and their problems ignored…?

      Also, I fear people think too highly of the MM team. We are not so capable of planning ahead as to have an ‘agenda’. The reality is, that the most prolific writers on MM happen to be female: e.g., sisters Sadaf, Ify and Amatullah. I post once a week (or so), via the Islamic Arts feature… but clearly I’m not as controversial. ;)

      As we all tend to write about what we know, the articles written by women tend to be about women. Or at least offer the female perspective. Many of the regular male MM writers have all become busy at once it seems, for different reasons, which means we are lacking in male-orientated posts. As has been stated already, guest posts on these issues are very welcome to fill the gap, insha’Allah. :)

    • Sara

      July 2, 2010 at 8:50 AM

      Walaikum Assalaam sister Sadaf,

      I’m so thankful you were able to address and clear up the highlighted points of contention.

      Upon reading the article, I was initially quite surprised at your not having mentioned leaving the house for recreational purposes, following the guidelines as per Shari’ah of course, and appreciate that you have added that to the list. I am also glad you were able to provide a personal rationale/reasoning for why you feel perhaps working women aren’t exactly as satisfied/fulfilled as is sometimes assumed (mainly from the western perspective). I really gained some insight from your piece. JazakAllah khair.

      For those interested, I’d like to recommend an excellent article (in my humble opinion) relating to the idea of the feminist movement and women’s issues.

    • F

      July 3, 2010 at 12:22 PM

      Assalamu Alaikum sr. Sadaf,

      Jazakillah for writing this piece as it was refreshing to see a piece that quoted proper sources in its arguments and justifications. I also appreciate the time you spent in writing this considering you have two little ones.

      I had a few questions that I was hoping you can answer.

      1. The list that you provided didn’t have a source so was this a product of your thinking or given by a teacher/scholar?

      2. I feel the list can equally apply to both men and women, especially in Pakistan where some men tend to have a habit of hanging out in the streets in groups doing nothing of benefit. Do you agree?

      3.. While I might not completely agree with the concept of having a list of permissible needs since I think it would have been more beneficial from a naseehah point of view to have an “Impermissible to go out for” list, I nonetheless respect your opinions because I realize that many scholars would back this up. On the other hand, there are many scholars who will have a different point of view on the permissibility of women leaving the home, one that is also grounded in the Quran and sunnah. Would you also respect such opinions even though they might be contrary to what you hold to be more righteous?

      4. Majority of the mosques in Pakistan don’t have women only spaces primarily because it is taught that a woman’s prayer is better in her home. As a result, we have generations of women in Pakistan who have never, and I repeat, never been to a mosque. As an unintended consequence, majority of them are ignorant in the most basic concepts of the deen. While Al-Huda has done excellent work to change that in the major cities, it doesn’t change the fact there was a severe negative consequence of following an opinion that was seemingly the better one.

      Since you live in Pakistan, I’m confident you realize how expensive education is and for the middle/lower classes, money is the biggest hurdle. So if we were to have a society where women studied but only worked in dire necessities, then don’t you think it would be a matter of time before families would stop spending money/time on their daughters’ education considering the majority in Pakistan and outside pursue higher education for jobs and not for the sake of ‘seeking knowledge.’

      5. It is becoming evidently clear that girls do better than boys in schools and tend to gain the top marks for entrances to colleges in Pakistan. So from a societal point of view, why should half (probably more) of the spots in colleges go to women who beat out a not so smart man but one that will become a provider to his family one day? Wouldn’t it make more sense in a society where men have the sole responsibility of earning be given the best chance to succeed and excel since they will actually use it for the benefit of their families?

      Jazakillah for your time and may Allah(swt) bring peace and security to Pakistan. (I’m a brother just so there is no confusion)

      • Perspective

        July 3, 2010 at 5:21 PM

        You pose an incredibly relevant and interesting set of questions. I too would be interested in Sr. Sadaf’s response to the aforementioned issues.

        I think its extremely important to think critically and look below the surface when discussing issues such as women working, leaving their homes etc. Restrictions on women in such areas often appear to be beneficial for society initially, but tend to have several unintended long term consequences that are counter-productive, and even harmful to the demographic they intended to help and protect (in this case women).

  49. ibrahim

    July 2, 2010 at 2:50 AM

    I have another perspective on this debate. I live in a medium-sized town in England and there is an area of the town that is inhabited by a large number of muslims. If one explores this area at night what you will often observe are large numbers of young males hanging around, some of them up to no good at all : often engaged in drug-peddaling and trying to be gangsters etc. Thankfully you will not see any muslim women out at this time . Why don’t scholars and commentators like Sr Sadaf focus more on this probelm rather than simply picking on women again. We have a muslim male problem. In my country we make up only 2% of the population but we make up around 12% of the prison population.

    • amad

      July 2, 2010 at 5:44 AM

      Ibrahim, if I asked you to focus on the needs of pregnant women instead of talking about gang-related issues among Muslims, do you think you would feel inclined/motivated/qualified to speak about the former?

      Sr Sadaf is writing about what she feels passionate about. And if you wish to write about the subject you mentioned, by all means do, and send it to us.

      • ibrahim

        July 2, 2010 at 6:00 AM

        Salam Amad

        I think I was a bit harsh on Sadaf – having reflected on my previous email.

        My point, though I think is still valid. We focus a lot on trying to reform women and issuing very prescriptive advice on how they should behave. The production of a list showing which legitimate outdoor activities are allowed for women is an example of this.

        The same degree of prescriptive intensity is not being directed at muslim men.

        • Maiiino

          July 2, 2010 at 4:08 PM

          Well, usually women tend to focus more on women topics. But I do agree. Despite how Muslims definitely are not local criminals, and only a small minority are worldwide terrorists, in the NYC area, many Muslim teenagers are becoming the highest of crime… and I pray to Allah that this does not become a fashion.. it upsets me a lot :(

  50. africana

    July 2, 2010 at 9:05 AM

    assalamu alaikum,

    that women are not naturally suited to the work environment and shouldn’t be working for pleasure is clear if you think about the requirement of a post-martital waiting period for a widowed or divorced woman.

    whilst this is in general taken to mean that a woman remains in her home for the duration of three intervals of menstruation, the fact is: if the individual’s menstrual cycle is long it could potentially result in her waiting period being in excess of three months.

    i understand that if a woman is obliged to work, she is permitted to leave the home for that purpose but this would not apply to the woman who works only for reasons of self-development etc..and she would be required to leave her work place which would be very inconveniecing to her employees, particulatrly if they’ve spet time training her. and in the case of the woman herself that time would be wasted.

    i really think that we have to disabuse ourselves and our daughters of the idea of the outside world being a source of comfort. in some traditional societies if a girl fails to succeed at school she remains in her home til marriage ad is rarely seen outside of the home during that time without suffering any undue consequences. such a girl is probably raised to view the outdoor world as dangerous and inhospitable and so doesn’t hanker after it as those of us raised in ac ulture that places emphasis on the health giving properties of the great outdoors which is a movement within western culture stemming back to the 1920’s.

  51. ukhti

    July 2, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    I dont know if anyone has see the slew of articles about how men are not needed. Here is another one.

    • Study-Islam

      July 6, 2010 at 10:13 AM

      the article says the best parents are lesbians… try to be somewhat educated before sharing opinions.. you are recommending an article that suggest lesbians are the best parents.. completely haram… seeriously what have you been smoking? :P

  52. muffassir

    July 2, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    Though not generalizing, still I have come to a conclusion based on my experiences that increasing number of muslims in the “west” are following the authentic teachings of Islam and love following Islam, while muslims in the “east” are inclined to dilute Islam and think that the authentic teachings of Islam are a restriction to personal freedom. These muslims get increasingly angry when a command of Allah is shown to them and come up with various excuses such as it was just a cultural arab practice, or it was mean only to the Prophet(saws) or to the mother of the believers, or that these teachings do not apply to the present state of the world (to name a few excuses). Hence I would like to ask the author to explain as to what was the reaction of the Sahabah to this command of the Quran. Basically if they understood it to mean the same as explained by the author, then Muslims today also need to follow them.
    Also this is an accepted fact that those who have reverted to Islam are more regular practicing Muslims compared to those whose parents are muslim, for example, brother Abdul Raheem Green, as you all know, has just missed one Salat till now after he reverted back to Islam.

    • ibrahim

      July 2, 2010 at 9:45 AM

      Salam Muffassir

      I think you are generalising too much. There are good and bad in both the east and the west.

      I don’t agree with your last paragraph. I am a convert (revert) and our eeman is just as susceptible to the same ups and downs that are normally experienced by muslims that have muslim parents.

      I also think you need to allow Muslims the ability and freedom to ask questions about their religion. There is nothing wrong with a muslims asking whether a particular verse has a speficic context or whether it is universal or specific in its application.

  53. someone

    July 2, 2010 at 11:38 AM

    Some of these comments are alarming, especially the ones that mention that there is no need to spend copious amounts of money to educate women, since they will be reverting back to their homes in no time. Subhanallah since when is education a means to financial stability. It is definitely a product of our times that we think knowledge equates big bucks. We should seek knowledge( i mean knowledge in the broadest terms) to become a literate society not to have a five figure salary.

    Also, this is one opinion and we should respect that opinion just like we should respect sisters who chose to balance a career and family. We need to stop lumping ourselves into one big bowl of homogeneity, as long as you reach a consensus with your husband in whats right for YOUR family, and also selves, then alhamdulilah May Allah make it easy on you.

    the person who said that all this is feminism fault…umm ok. Feminism was a solution to a problem in the WEST. Prior to that women weren’t even considered actually persons. As misogynistic as some pre dominantly Muslim societies can be we were never involved in that type of discourse. No one ever questioned our humanity.

    I personally don’t believe in the 40 hours week and the problem, also, lies within savage capitalist system whose flaws amongst many is equating a individuals career to identity, and exporting this line of thinking globally.

    • sebkha

      July 2, 2010 at 3:03 PM

      I agree with a lot of the points you make here! When I was getting my nursing degree, I studied several other subjects, completely unrelated to nursing, because they were interesting and I wanted to know more about them for my own personal enrichment. I earned two degrees, and the 2nd one is never going to earn me any money, but I’m certainly glad I learned all of the things I did while I obtained it. Never underestimate the benefits of having a well-educated spouse or parent-my son and my husband love when I share random historical or scientific facts with them. And I learn things from them all the time as well. It’s fun and interesting to share knowledge amongst one’s friends and family, even when no one is getting paid to do so.

      • africana

        July 2, 2010 at 3:42 PM

        very good point, sebkha! studying and learning should be for, as you say, personal enrichment first and foremost.

        it pains me the way in which educated people hold no enthusiam for learning beyong passing the necessary tests and bemona the fact that they have to study. learning and enquiry ishould be a life long process and the actual qualification shouldbe of secondary or little importance.

  54. Ummaasiah

    July 2, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    A very interesting article and subhanllah an even more interesting debate in the comments  First of all I’d like to commend Sister Sadaf to take the step to write such an article, which in my opinion is very much needed. Good advice (nasihah) is never enough, and should always be accepted with an open heart and mind. The author I’m sure in no way meant to be an authority on limiting the reasons which necessitates a woman to leave the house, she just shared some ideas, which I found very interesting. I personally believe that a woman’s primary domain is her house, and taking care of her family is her primary job. Sisters, a thought to ponder over is your own body. Women have been created by Allah to bear children, men haven’t! Pregnancy and giving birth is sometimes so difficult that we are unable to go out and work, if we were made responsible to provide for the family it would have been a burden on us. Allah has made our lives easy, instead of embracing it why do we like to fight it? Ofcourse we have been given ease in the matter that if need arises we may leave our houses… even for recreational purposes …but brothers are qawwam they haven’t been given the ease of just staying home and not providing for the family just for recreational purposes…if u know what I mean. They are responsible to provide for the family while we are responsible for the house, once these responsibilities are taken care of we may pursue our hobbies in a halaal way. We all need to set our priorities right , give complete Haq of the commands of Allah including the one mentioned here for us sisters of staying home inshallah, and whatever we do shud be for the Pleasure of Allah.
    May Allah give us the Taufeeq of fulfilling His rights and the rights of all the people who are concerned with us Ameen.

  55. ummMaryam

    July 2, 2010 at 4:24 PM

    salamu ‘alaikum sister Sadaf,

    jazakillah khair for your post. one thing that everyone can learn from, regardless of their point of view on this issue, is that mashallah sister Sadaf’s articles are always very politely written. I have no idea who you are but from your writing style I would love to meet you, and feel Icould learn kindness from you.

    for those reading this, please read /search for sister Sadaf’s other posts…simply beautiful topics and a gentle, soul awakening approach, not an approach that turns ppl off.

    just trying to reflect on this issue a bit myself: discussing it with my husband I/we concluded: many times people don’t realize that in general, people today are lazier than they were a thousand years ago…the car, the plane, the diswasher,the clothes washer, the microwave,etc and even in terms of occupation of people who go out to work….going “out to work” used to mean hard physical labor…and why would women prefer to go do that ….that was a man’s domain. today, as their husbands sit in front of a desk/computer all day, women’s jobs’ “seem” harder in relative terms, though we also have it much easier than the women of old.

    so it is reasonable that by 10 pm at night a woman may be more drained/tired out than her husband would in today’s lifestyle situation. thus, why women want to go “out to work” is sometimes for the obvious…to get a little rest :) sit in front of a computer while someone else deals with the fussing/crying/chasing etc. for a few hours.

    for some, yes it is for intellectual stimulation, change of pace, for others, it is just to get some rest I would think.

    ask any man who’s taken off paternity leave to help take care of his newborn for a week or so….was it a bit relieving :) to go back to work? i think many would say yes :)

    wallahu ‘alam

    • Ameera Khan

      July 3, 2010 at 8:24 PM

      Haha, what an interesting take on the situation! :) A new idea. :)

  56. africana

    July 3, 2010 at 5:56 AM

    “When did we start talking about physical and emotional abuse?”

    one thing i’ve noticed in recent years in the uk is that when a woman asks for help with her marital situation, organistaions are very quick to label the treatment she’s receiving as abuse. i think the muslim organisations have adopted this way of thinking. they are quick to label, even without knowing the full facts of the case,any husband who has had a couple of abusive episodes as an abuser for which they encourage a no tolerance approach ie;,divorce or separation. very often, men simply believe, in their ignorance, that having rapidly changing moods in front of their wife is the only way to achieve marital harmony. such men are ignorant of islamic teachings.

  57. africana

    July 3, 2010 at 7:13 AM

    ,” I know how stressful it can be for women to stay indoors for even two days at a stretch”

    do you think, though, that we give too much importance to going outside for recreation? surely, if it were of such importance to general well being it would not be possible for husbands to exercise his authority and disallow her from leaving the home.

    a man on the other hand is required to feed and clothe his wife, treat her kindly. failure to do these things would surely result in injury both emotional and physical.

  58. Sureyya

    July 3, 2010 at 8:17 AM

    Assalamua Alaikum,

    I think that people are looking for conflict and letting the men re-intrepret to put women into the unislamic box of being oppressed in the name of Islam again. Look at the article. It was excellent, but opened that door by its organization. It admits that women are needed in the work force, but states women shouldn’t work if husbands are supporting them first. First, education and work should be separated, but looked afterwards with respect to how they are dependent. Muslim women in the time of the Prophet, pbuh, were a part of the society and did help in herding, business ownership, and even when necessary, wars. We are falling into poverty as an Ummah and women are significantly underserved in education, healthcare, and social services, and many times abused because our Islamic role and rights are simply withheld because we have no alternatives. Women need to be a part of helping the Ummah, or we lose over half of our potential. But, we can’t do that if we aren’t educated and experienced. Our contributions would be substandard. The Quran is clear that our focus should be our homes, and we shouldn’t go out to make a show. However, it is derogatory and discriminatory, not Islam, to say that if a woman takes care of her home, but loves practicing medicine, representing women or children in court, or being a teacher–that is wrong, unless necessary. You are practicing arrogance and chauvinism to make up rules. IT IS NECESSARY. Sisters who can and want to do that should do so, but dressed and behaving Islamically and keeping their priorities. Brothers need to place restrictions based on actual duty to protect and maintain, not insecurities from unIslamic influences.


  59. Sally

    July 3, 2010 at 9:21 AM

    the article is fine- jazaki Allah khair Sr. Sadaf, and I think it was ambitious of you to put together a list of permissible things for which a woman can leave the house. I don’t think MM needs more articles on women, or men.. Most people who visit this blog probably know how to live their life and 1 article will not change that. I think the goal should be to provide content that is relevant to our lives, informative, not preachy, and embraces the multitude of ways that Muslims manifest Islam in our current place and time. The comments show that readers don’t want to feel alienated from the words of the Quran, or the posts here, so I think the tone and interpretation is where some creative wording can be used.

  60. africana

    July 3, 2010 at 9:43 PM

    i am however pleased that you included recreational activities in your list since a husbnad should not seek to interfere in his wife’s going out for recreation unless he perceives a genuine threat to her safety or honour.

  61. Saad

    July 4, 2010 at 7:21 PM

    Salam all,
    It is slighty humorous that there has been so much drama and emotive commments in the feedback to this article. I though the article was very well written and I didn’t find it offensive or biased, but then again, I’m a guy so I guess I don’t count (maybe that’s a double standard, maybe not). In my understanding though, gender roles are very well constructed in Islam, ranging all the way from dress (hijab for women to hijab for men) to careers. In particular, I think everybody can agree that Islam atleast encourages women to stay at home and have families with many kids while it encourages men to go work and prvide for their families.
    Various sisters mentioned various examples of companions of the Prophet (PBUH) who worked jobs, i.e. Zaynab (RA) who was very charitable. If I recall, she was highly skilled in making handiwork of leather and worked primarily from home. Additionally (in my recollection), Khadijah (RA) ran her business using other male merchants to conduct business from her home, which is how she hired the Prophet (PBUH). I am not saying that these two are limiting cases, as I am sure that women have traveled and contributed heavily to society while outside of their houses but I would suggest that early Islamic society atleast encouraged women to build roles revolving around the home.
    Notably, even here in America, during the era when the cult of domesticity was in full swing, and women were encouraged to be housewives, there were always a handful of women who worked and during the two World Wars, they came out to into the labor force, but when the need disappeared they went back to occupying their roles aorund home. It was only after the feminist revolution initiated by Betty Friedan’s book, the Feminine Mystique, that women came out of their houses in the West.
    I am not saying that shifting norms is necessarily a bad thing, however, it does seem that the second wave of feminism caused many problems in Western society after it took hold. In particular, I think many might blame the destruction of the family system and increase in divorce rates due to it. But hey, I’m no one to judge. I guess it is upto an individual female if she wants to work or not and she may be able to handle it or not. I would guess that most of them can’t but then again I believe there is a hadith that the muslims will follow the Christians and Jews step by step even if those steps took us to the bottom of a pit. That might seem harsh, but I think there is an element of truth in it.

    • Ameera

      July 5, 2010 at 1:04 AM

      Your comment hit home with me and I’m a final year medical student! :) JazaakAllah for sharing your thoughts (and subtle advice). May Allah guides us! Ameen

  62. Amy

    July 5, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    Bored, depressed, and fat.

    That’s how I feel on days that I stay home. I don’t work a job, just volunteer some time teaching and going to halaqas, and make a regular habit of working out. But as a “housewife,” staying at home is boring, depressing, and unhealthy.

    So I’m supposed to stay home unless I have a need? I will manufacture needs, in that case. I found out after I got married that if I just stay home, I’m moody, I don’t have anything to do but surf the internet (possibly the worst way to waste time, ever.) And I’ve seen similar experiences from other housewives, actually–they get bored and depressed until they find something else to do. And if they stop doing stuff then they get bored again.

    I think it’s important to raise kids personally and give them quality time– but kids can’t stay home all day either. They need to get out, be active, see the world and experience things.

    So unfortunately I really don’t understand the article or this ayah from the Qur’an any more than I did to start with. Why stay home? I understand the emphasis on raising children–but the ayah doesn’t really talk about that. Not all of those women even had kids, so what then?

    • africana

      July 5, 2010 at 6:15 PM

      assalamu alaikum,

      i can see how a person might get bored if you saw the home as only a place in which to do wordly things such as cleaning. however, when comparing the home and work place you are only contrasting household chores with what goes on in a hospital, for example and concluding based on a comparision with household cleaning that the hospital provides more of everything
      however, i think the reason we think this way is because we are out of touch with what the real task of every human being is, which is to worship our Creator. if the focus was on worship and then contrasted it to the work place we would see that the home is a far better place, where far more fruitful work takes place, unencumbered by all the rules that come with being in a work place.

      if we were to contrast the opportunities for and ease with which one can attain a satate of God conciousness the home wouyld certainly come out trumps.

    • Rebeca

      July 11, 2010 at 2:31 PM

      Assalam aleykum Amy,

      I know how you feel. Something that I learned of great importance recently is that everything depends on how I view my Creator and my Creator tells me in the Quran that if I imagine God as evil, then I will not prosper.

      With this in mind, after I read the above article, I turned to my husband and asked him to brainstorm with me all the reasons that I leave the house. We found that everything I leave the house for is completely permissible in Islam. I go to school, work, run errands, pray at the masjid, go hiking, hang out with my friends, visit my family, garden, everything that makes me happy and it is all permissible! Subhanallah!

      What I see is that the accursed one sometimes whispers in our hearts lies about the compassion of our Creator. The accursed one tries to conjure up emotions about oppression and so forth (things that our Prophet clearly told us to fight against) and mix it with the wisdom for our compassionate Creator.

      Whenever I feel this, I say “Audubilla minush shaitan irajeem, bismillah al Rahman al Rahim” and then I try to look for the wisdom behind this verse. Then things become apparent. For example, I grew up in an inner city, lower class neighborhood. I was never accustomed to roaming the streets until I made a new friend, who was older and already having boyfriends, who encouraged me to leave my house with her and walk around our neighborhood. I found out that this girl was already sleeping with boys, drinking alcohol, and skipping school. I was shocked. I realized that because this young girl was allowed to roam the streets aimlessly, without purpose, she was falling into all kinds of dangerous situations. The problem was that she had no purpose to leave the house. She was just wandering around looking for some kind of entertainment….and look what happened.

      If we have good intentions for leaving our homes, everything is fine. The article attempts to show this with the list of things that are permissible. Like I said, as a Muslim convert, I have not felt that I am restricted in anyway besides in things that will hurt me.

      I hope that helps!

  63. Umm Ibraheem

    July 5, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    Am I missing something? How does a woman who works outside the home find time to successfully manage the home and raise her children? Most of the ones I ‘ve seen ( I am in Saudi Arabia) are completely exhausted and outsourcing much of their household responsibilities to a full time maid and cleaner ( which brings about countless problems, but thats another post altogether!)

    I have 4 kids and can not even contemplate working outside the home as truly my household will suffer. I am barely managing the simple tasks of cleaning, cooking, giving time to my kids and husband, ibaadah and looking after my personal health.

    I do however understand that we are all different in our capacities and whereas I may not be able to balance working outside the home and my household responsibilities, another sister may successfully do so.

    Alhamdulillah I am very happy being a full time homemaker and have never felt the need or desire to seek a role outside the home.

  64. africana

    July 7, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    assalamu alaikum,

    i think that what also leads women to think of the home as depressing is the fact that many of us brought up in western societies have internalised some of the ideas that first came about in the 1930’s about the outdoors being health promoting. it was the promulgation of this idea that led to the development of the youth hostelling and other outdoor pursuits.

    i think the health benefits are probably somewhat exaggerated and that the home in itself is not the cause of depression, but rather a person’s negative attitude to it would likely be the cause of the depression. let’s remember that before the emergence of the sunshine movement, people preferred to spend rather more time indoors as women do to this day in the arab world.

    “The thirties in Britain saw a general CULT of fresh air and physical exercise; (3) the emphasis was on fitness, health and vigour, with the focus not so much on organised games as on individual physical exercise, albeit in a collective and often social setting. It was a phenomenon that occurred across Europe, and the German influence of the romantic cult of the Wandervögel was felt in Britain in developments like the Youth Hostel movement, founded in 1930. ”

    • anonymous

      July 7, 2010 at 1:39 PM

      Africana, it’s probably best to leave “I think” statements to professionals who know more about this. My friend who stayed indoors all the time was dangerously low in vitamen D and her doctor said that was the reason. I guess a little sunshine and air doesn’t hurt anyone. Anyways, women HAVE been outdoors working in fields in the greater part of the world for hundreds of years (and many still do unless we’re talking only about N. America)…

    • Amal

      July 8, 2010 at 5:52 AM

      If you imagine Arab women spend most of their time indoors, you’ve obviously never lived in an Arab state. Arab women are out and about just as much as American women. It is a great misfortune that American Muslims have so idealized (and utterly incorrect) a notion of how Arabs live, and that they try to emulate this mythical lifestyle. Really, even in the most conservative Arab states, it is recognized that women are not animals to be kept in cages, and that air, light, exercise, and simple interaction with fellow human beings are necessary to mental and physical well being.
      So far as the medical risks, there have been numerous studies done showing that staying indoors leads to vitamin deficiencies (especially vitamin D, which can be a *huge* problem) depression, anxiety, and a variety of other ailments.

  65. africana

    July 8, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    i didn’t mean that all arab women stay indoors.

    what i meant is that there are women who do spend weeks at a time inside their homes (as all of their outside needs are taken care of by male relatives) and yet do not suffer as a result of it. i will admit that the traditional arab house with the enclosed inner court yard where one can grow plants and sit in the sun is very conducive to this lifestyle but it wouldn’t be impossible to acieve a similar experience through the opening of windows to aerate the apartment and extensive planting of herbs and flowers both in window boxes and in back yards.

    the inner court yard is, i’ve been told, a feature of the arab house that didn’t exist at the time of the prophet (salla Allah Alehi wa salam) so it would appear that those women who did stay in their homes manged to stay in rather less salubrious conditions than secluded women of later periods.

    the link between vitamin d and rickets is also not as clear cut as you might think. there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that diet is a more important factor.

    • anonymous

      July 8, 2010 at 1:47 PM

      You say “the link between vitamin d and rickets is also not as clear cut as you might think. there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that diet is a more important factor.” again, I’m just asking you to be careful, it’s always best to consult a doctor before making statements like this, you wouldn’t want to lead someone down the wrong path even if the information is found on the internet, the internet is not the best source, the best source is from the doctor his/herself. My friend was told her vitamin D deficiency was due to staying indoors and not getting sunlight, her case was that her son was very ill and and she couldn’t leave the house so she was indoors all the time basically beside his bed, her husband ran the errands.

      “but it wouldn’t be impossible to acieve a similar experience through the opening of windows to aerate the apartment and extensive planting of herbs and flowers both in window boxes and in back yards” no it’s not the same thing to just open the windows…

      • sebkha

        July 9, 2010 at 1:55 AM

        Skin color and ancestry play a large part in the vitamin D issue as well. The amount of melanin in a person’s skin affects how well they are able to absorb sunlight in order to make vitamin D in their bodies. The darker a person’s skin is, the longer they have to spend in the sun in order to absorb enough sunlight to make sufficient vitamin D, because melanin blocks absorption of UV rays. So darker skinned people from warm, sunny places have a much harder time getting enough vitamin D than lighter skinned people when they move to cooler places with less sunshine.

        I’m pale, pale, orig. from No. Europe, while my husband is Moroccan, and our children’s pediatrician recommended that we give them vitamin D supplements because we live in cool, rainy Oregon. Neither of my kids wear niqab. On the Oregon coast, there’s lots of kids with vitamin D deficiencies who don’t wear niqabs either…they just live in a very rainy place. A lot of them live on dairy farms, where they drink milk from their farms before it has been fortified with vitamin D.

        I agree w/ anonymous, opening windows to the outdoors or sitting around in a courtyard is hardly the same as being outside. We have a balcony in our back yard, with a cow pasture behind it, and forest space, that are lovely. But looking at it from the balcony is hardly the same thing as walking through those trees, and seeing how beautiful the sunlight is when it filters through their leaves. The author of this article clearly stated in the comments section that women going outdoors for recreation and halal entertainment is completely fine. She said “women can leave their homes to go to the park, gym, grocery store or out eating with female friends, family members, or their children.”, and I am in full agreement. I don’t understand why there are still people quibbling over “being outdoors isn’t really necessary, it’s just some cultural obsession” etc, etc. My enjoyment of being outside, rain or shine, with my family has nothing to do with cults of fresh air and exercise, it’s just fun, and stress relieving, and helps families bond together over shared appreciation of Allah’s gorgeous creations. Subhan’Allah.

    • Amal

      July 8, 2010 at 5:23 PM

      And what of depression and inactivity, and all the other ills that come of being deprived of human interaction? Just as important as vitamin D, surely.
      You mentioned in your other argument regarding niqab, “i find it hard to believe that God would reqire something of us that would be injurous to health.” This argument is misleading, as whether or not niqab is “required” is 1) a matter of scholarly contention, and 2) the majority opinion is that it is *not* required.

      I have no quarrel with women who, of their own volition, choose to confine themselves in spite of the many disadvantages and psychological detriments. What I *do* take issue with is women who choose to live in such a way arrogantly claiming that *every* woman should live this way, and condemning those who don’t with absolutely no consideration for differences in God-given temperament or circumstance.

      • Amad

        July 8, 2010 at 11:56 PM

        What I *do* take issue with is women who choose to live in such a way arrogantly claiming that *every* woman should live this way, and condemning those who don’t with absolutely no consideration for differences in God-given temperament or circumstance.

        I don’t think you are alone in this. The majority of niqab-wearing women would agree with you too… arrogance and piety don’t go well. If someone feels like that, they should take off the niqab until they can get a grip on their kibr.

        • muslimah

          July 9, 2010 at 6:11 AM

          i dont think so. If someone let’s say has a gf, would you ask them to stop praying? Everyone sins, we all have partial credits. None of us do things exactly how we are supposed to.

          • sebkha

            July 9, 2010 at 8:06 AM

            I think he means if the individual is using the niqab as the source of their pride and arrogance then they should take it off. In that particular person, it’s not serving the purpose of submission/worship/remembrance the way it is supposed to, instead they are using it to make themselves look and feel superior to others. Which if I remember right, has been deemed a form of shirk by many scholars. Whereas in the case of praying guy with a girlfriend, one would be hard pressed to make a case for said guy’s prayers being the source of why he wants to have a girlfriend. His prayers aren’t the source of his sinful actions in that case.

  66. africana

    July 8, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    thank you for your perspective, anonymous.

  67. africana

    July 8, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    i just wanted to add, though, that the vitamin d argument is one used against the niqab and the argument that staying indoors is bad fpr health could be broadened out to include covering the face.

    i find it hard to believe that God would reqire something of us that would be injurous to health.

    • Rebeca

      July 11, 2010 at 1:54 PM

      Assalam aleykum Africana,

      I found your comment interesting so I wanted to reply. I took a nutrition class last semester and my professor tried to make a big deal about women wearing the head scarf causing Vitamin D deficiencies (she, of course, forgot to mention that women who expose their legs, arms, and chest are 100 times more likely to get skin cancer). Anyhow, I did more research and according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, whether or not sun rays can penetrate clothing all depends on the the thickness of clothing. Most clothing keeps out a reasonable amount of UV light but nevertheless allows some rays in. Therefore, wearing modest clothing allows a modest amount of sun light to hit the skin while also protecting the skin from harmful UV light. For most hijabis (who have their face, hands, and feet exposed) and who see the sun on a normal basis, there is no need to be concerned about Vit. D deficiency and they can be thankful that they are the least likely women on the earth to get skin cancer.

      Now, I know that you were referring to the niqab. Yes, there is growing concern about women wearing niqab in Northern countries, and because of the urban societies they live in, do not feel comfortable to move about freely. I think these women simply need to find a way to get around their restraints such as taking vitamin D supplements or renting a private area where they can sunbathe. Not that I wear niqab, but my husband built me a wonderful privacy fence so that I can sunbathe in the privacy of my own home while I garden. It is interesting to note that this is exactly the model of housing from most Muslim majority countries. The homes have high walls and private gardens so that women can freely spend time outside.

      • muffassir

        July 13, 2010 at 8:22 AM

        The mounting concern about the relationship between solar exposure and the development of skin cancer has led to increased reliance on dietary sources of vitamin D.
        Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 17`Edition Chapter 346. Bone and Mineral Metabolism in Health and Disease

        Strict veganism poses some risk of micronutrient deficiencies, particularly of zinc, iron, calcium, and vitamins B12 and D.

        Nutrition in Clinical Practice: A Comprehensive, Evidence-Based Manual for the Practitioner, 2nd Edition

  68. Rebeca

    July 11, 2010 at 1:37 PM

    Jazak Allah Khair for the article. While I recognize that the purpose of your list was to ensure that everyone knows that Muslim women are permitted to still do everything in society that is decent, I think it would make more sense to just make a list that says what is not a permissible reason for leaving one’s home.
    For example, it is not permitted for a woman or man to leave their homes:
    1. to go to a bar
    2. to buy illegal drugs
    3. to engage in crime

    Plus, you inevitably forgot things that are permissible such as:
    1. picking up the kids from school.
    2. grocery shopping
    3. going to the bank

    In the end, this is just common sense. I think that the point of the Quranic verse is not to make a big deal out of a woman stepping out of her home, it is merely to say that Muslims should not be roaming the streets looking for cheap thrills, when they have family matters at home that need to be attended to.

  69. Uthman

    July 12, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    Found an interesting hadith,

    المرأةُ عورةٌ وإنها إذا خرجت من بيتها استشرفها الشيطان وإنها لا تكون أقرب إلى الله منها في قعر بيتها
    “The woman is to be concealed. When she leaves her house, Satan makes her alluring. She is never closer to Allah than in the innermost portion of her house.”
    (Recorded by al-Tabaraani in al-Ausat; Sahih al-Targheeb #342)

    • muslimah

      July 13, 2010 at 4:17 AM

      what are you tying to prove? Im aware of that hadith. Where does it say ‘hence women should be locked up in their homes, deprived of the world outside’. Get real. You obviously interpret it the way YOU want to.

      • Uthman

        July 13, 2010 at 5:24 AM

        Can the Shaykha please elaborate?

        • muslimah

          July 13, 2010 at 10:25 AM

          NO ONE and that includes men and women should go out for a cheap’s a world of fitnah outside. go out when you have to and dress and behave modestly. now it’s up to you to decide what your needs are that require you to go outside. Not everyone is going to have the same list. make sure your prospective spouse is on the same page and leave judgment to Allah ta’ala.
          wallahu ‘alam

          • muslimah

            July 13, 2010 at 10:32 AM

            it’s really hypocritical how for some ppl it’s ok for the brothers to hang out with their gang of friends and have fun and if the sisters do the same all hell breaks loose.

            by all means go out, socialize. nothing wrong in that. just dont do it in excess. islam is a moderate religion. wallahu’alam

  70. africana

    July 13, 2010 at 5:29 AM

    assalamu alaikum,

    yes, i had that hadith in mind when writing the above posts. i think it shows women being outside is viewed in the negative. even if we (and that includes all those arab women who are unable to draw themselves away from the lure of the street) are not able implement the verse stay in your homes we should try to accept this as a failing and not try to justify our behaviour.

    • sebkha

      July 13, 2010 at 1:21 PM

      YOU may think so, but the author of the original article vehemently disagrees.

      1. I accede that outdoor recreation and permissible entertainment was unfortunately missed out from the list of “permissible needs” for which women can leave their homes. Recreation should of course be done within the guidelines of Shar’iah, but as a work-at-home mother of two little children, I know how stressful it can be for women to stay indoors for even two days at a stretch, particularly in an urban setting where there are no trees lining the streets, backyards or front lawns (viz. living in sealed, small apartments).

      Those of you sisters who have pointed this out are indeed right — women can leave their homes to go to the park, gym, grocery store or out eating with female friends, family members, or their children. However, I reiterate that this should be within Islamic limits and Shar’iah guidelines.

      Are you then saying that when Sadaf pointed out that women have the right to participate in their societies, as long as it is done in a wholesome manner it was a failure on her part? That she’s justifying wrong behavior, and so are the women who agree with her comment that there’s nothing wrong with taking their kids to a park with another sister and her children, or going to the library, or visiting a museum with their husband? How very, very strange.

      • africana

        July 14, 2010 at 7:31 PM

        assalamu alaikum,

        while obviously i do take advice from others, i think that advice has to be considered in the light of hadiths such as the one uthman posted:

        “The woman is to be concealed. When she leaves her house, Satan makes her alluring. She is never closer to Allah than in the innermost portion of her house.”

        i feel that the evidence is very much weighted towards remaining in one’s home as much as possible however, i would be what you say re:outdoor recreation if there were evidence to support your views.

        we have to remember that any research studies speaking of the negative effects of seclusion would have involved, unless specifically stated, people who were not folloers of islam and so obviously wouldn’t have been using the home as a place in which to rememeber God in the way that he has prescribed. the participants since they were bereft of this benefit and would need to seek outdoor thrills.

        similarly, if there are studies, that speak of depression and such like amongst say muslim women, you would find that these women were rpobably spending too much time polishing kitchen benches or watchinfg soap operas raher than enaging in more useful activities. going around and around is only a short term, sticking plaster solution to a spiritual problem and whilst it might be seen as the only solution by secular people as they do not have religion as a healing salve, muslims have a better solution.

        • F

          July 15, 2010 at 12:42 AM

          We have to get out of copy pasting hadiths for our argument. Hadiths need to be interpreted by scholars because they are not often stand alone, many times there is a context, other times they are part of an injunction that has a condition.

          It’s not as black and white as we like to think.

          • Uthman

            July 15, 2010 at 12:57 AM


            you are right. Hadith need to be interpreted by scholars because they are not often stand alone, many times there is a context, other times they are part of an injunction that has a condition.

            I quoted this hadith from a book by Shaykh Jamal Zarabozo(who does not need an introduction hafidhaullah u ta3ala). The book is a small commentary on Imam ad Dhahabi’s book entitled “The Great Sins”. This particular pasage is from sin number 46. A wife being rebellious to her husband. The whole passage is:

            “The wife must seek to please her husband and must avoid angering him by not answering his call when he desires to have sex with her unless she has a legal reason for not doing so, such as menstruating or fasting the obligatory fast of Ramadhan. During those times, they are only not allowed to have sexual intercourse. The wife should always have modesty with respect to her husband, obey him and try not to anger him.
            The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
            اطَّلَعْتُ فِي الْجَنَّةِ فَرَأَيْتُ أَكْثَرَ أَهْلِهَا الْفُقَرَاءَ وَاطَّلَعْتُ فِي النَّارِ فَرَأَيْتُ أَكْثَرَ أَهْلِهَا النِّسَاءَ
            “I was shown the inhabitants of Paradise and saw that most of them were from the poor and I was shown the inhabitants of Hell and saw that most of them were women.”
            (Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)
            Commenting on this hadith, al-Dhahabi (p. 176) said,
            “That is because they do not obey Allah, the Messenger and their husbands as much as they should and they publicly display their beauty often. This implies that when she goes out, she wears the fanciest dress, beautifies herself and she goes out in a way that attracts men. Even if she herself is safe from temptation, that does not mean that the others are safe from her temptation. In fact, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The woman is to be concealed from view; if she goes out, the Satan makes her look attractive [to men].”
            The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,
            المرأةُ عورةٌ وإنها إذا خرجت من بيتها استشرفها الشيطان وإنها لا تكون أقرب إلى الله منها في قعر بيتها
            “The woman is to be concealed. When she leaves her house, Satan makes her alluring. She is never closer to Allah than in the innermost portion of her house.”
            (Recorded by al-Tabaraani in al-Ausat; Sahih al-Targheeb #342)
            The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said,
            مَا تَرَكْتُ بَعْدِي فِي النَّاسِ فِتْنَةً أَضَرَّ عَلَى الرِّجَالِ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ
            “I have not left after me among the people a trial more harmful to men than women.”
            (Recorded by Muslim #2067)
            In another hadith, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,
            لا تُؤْذِي امْرَأَةٌ زَوْجَهَا فِي الدُّنْيَا إِلاَّ قَالَتْ زَوْجَتُهُ مِنَ الْحُورِ الْعِينِ لا تُؤْذِيهِ قَاتَلَكِ اللَّهُ فَإِنَّمَا هُوَ عِنْدَكَ دَخِيلٌ يُوشِكُ أَنْ يُفَارِقَكِ إِلَيْنَا
            “A wife does not harm her husband in this life except that his wife from al-hoor al-ain (spouses in Paradise) says, ‘Do not harm him, may Allah destroy you. He is with you now only as a guest and soon he will be leaving you to come to us.’”
            (Recorded by Ahmad and al-Tirmidhi; Sahih al-Jaami #7192)
            It is more private and concealing for the woman to remain in her house, worship her Lord, obey her husband, recognize the rights over her, no to be overburdening and not have a bad character.
            All of those hadith indicate how great the right of the husband is over the wife. Actually, we discussed this topic in greater detail because it is something that is a great trial spreading among the women of today. This is the result of many Muslim women forgetting the teachings of the Quran and the sunnah and, instead, following the unbelieving women of Europe and the United States by travelling alone abroad, leaving their houses without the proper attire or while being perfumed, or going out of the house for unnecessary wandering about and other reasons. They also imitate those women in not obeying their husbands. In fact, many of the affairs have passed from the hands of the men to the hands of their wives—and there is no power or might save in Allah. We ask Allah for safety and goodness for us and all of you. We pray that Allah will make their be more believing, pious women who dress properly and obey their husbands.
            Furthermore, we advise you, dear brother, not to marry any woman other than a pious, believing, properly behaving woman who will protect you with respect to herself and your wealth. She will also obey you and she will not leave the house fully adorned and perfumed. We give you this advise because the ship that the others are steering is soon to sink.
            Finally, if a Muslim’s wife is performing her duties properly, then it is the man’s duty to also treat her properly and respectfully. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has advised us to treat our wives properly,
            اسْتَوْصُوا بِالنِّسَاءِ خَيْرًا فَإِنَّهُنَّ خُلِقْنَ مِنْ ضِلَعٍ وَإِنَّ أَعْوَجَ شَيْءٍ فِي الضِّلَعِ أَعْلَاهُ فَإِنْ ذَهَبْتَ تُقِيمُهُ كَسَرْتَهُ وَإِنْ تَرَكْتَهُ لَمْ يَزَلْ أَعْوَجَ فَاسْتَوْصُوا بِالنِّسَاءِ خَيْرًا
            “I advise you to treat women in a good manner. Women were created from a rib and the most crooked part of the rib is its top. If you attempt to straighten it, you will break it; if you leave it, its crookedness will remain. So I advise you to act kindly towards women.”
            (Recorded by al-Bukhari #5186 and Muslim #1468)
            From the advice to the women is that they should be told to follow what Allah has ordered and refrain from what He has forbidden as this will lead them to Paradise by the will of Allah.
            Some women are very quick to ask for divorce from their husbands due to some difference or something that she has requested. All of those types of acts are not allowed as the Prophet (peace be upon him) has stated,
            أَيُّمَا امْرَأَةٍ سَأَلَتْ زَوْجَهَا الطَّلاقَ مِنْ غَيْرِ مَا بَأْسٍ فَحَرَامٌ عَلَيْهَا رَائِحَةُ الْجَنَّةِ
            “For any woman who asks her husband for divorce without their being any fault [on his part], the scent of Paradise is forbidden for her.”
            (Recorded by Ahmad; Sahih al-Jami #2703)
            It is not allowed for a woman to seek a divorce from her husband unless there is a Shariah sanctioned reason behind it, such as the fact that her husband does not pray, he drinks, he takes drugs, he forces her to do things that are forbidden, prevents her from getting her Islamic rights, or other reasons that are sanctioned by the Shariah. In those cases, it is permissible for her to seek a separation after she is certain that advising him brings no benefit or bringing an intercessior to mediate the problem is of no avail. After all of that, she may seek a divorce. However, quickly resorting to seeking a divorce any time there is the smallest reason or problem is not allowed.”

            Hope that helps.

          • AZ

            July 15, 2010 at 1:12 AM

            Regarding women not wearing beautiful clothing, isn’t there an ayah in the Qur’an, where Allah ta’ala says that He provided clothes for us in order to beautify us?

            O CHILDREN of Adam! Indeed, We have bestowed upon you from on high [the knowledge of making] garments to cover your nakedness, and as a thing of beauty: but the garment of God-consciousness is the best of all. Herein lies a message from God, so that man” might take it to heart.

            There is of course a boundary for this as well. As always in Islam, there is moderation, as the Prophet, peace be upon him, brought with him the middle way.

          • sebkha

            July 16, 2010 at 2:54 PM

            Is there any commentary provided by Shaykh Zarabozo in regards to the great sins of men disregarding the rights the women in their lives have over them? In some parts, that commentary reads more like a warden telling newly admitted prisoners how they need to behave than it does for how to have a peaceful, tranquil, committed and loving relationship amongst spouses. I’m all for women pleasing their husbands, and spouses should be able to freely enjoy physical intimacy with each other, whenever either one of them wants to. Men should equally respond to their wife’s expressed desire for physical intimacy in order to avoid hurting her emotionally. It’s only fair.

            But why isn’t there any mention that husbands should make themselves so completely warm, sweet, charming, compassionate, and affectionate that their wives should find them utterly irresistible, physically and emotionally? Is there no responsibility on a husband that he should make himself desirable in the first place, so that not answering him would be simply unthinkable? Men have the same responsibilities to maintain their modesty for their wives, to respect their thoughts and feelings as human beings, and they shouldn’t go around trying to make them angry either.

            And how is this supposed to work? “if a Muslim’s wife is performing her duties properly, then it is the man’s duty to also treat her properly and respectfully.” Why doesn’t he just obey Allah and His messenger(peace be upon him) regardless of how he’s treated, and provide a good example for his wife in any and all cases? Why not try to win over her heart and mind with kindness and compassion rather than trying to wield his rights over her like a metaphorical club or something? Why not be a real leader of a family than a bully? If one half of the couple is not behaving the way they should, they are not going to get put on the right track if the other half starts behaving the same bad way too. That just sounds like a recipe for disaster.

            Is there any mention of it being a great sin if a man seeks a divorce for anything other than a Shariah sanctioned reason? Treating a woman as though she were a used car, that one wants to trade in for a newer make and model is certainly not from the Sunnah. Does the man who does so get the same assurance of Hell?

    • Rebeca to Uthman

      July 16, 2010 at 5:09 AM

      Brother Uthman,

      InshAllah, you have good intentions, but I do not think you are helping the situation by posting a bunch of hadith about women and one that is often misinterpreted regarding how men should treat women. Why did you only post one about men’s treatment of women and 5 or more about women’s behavior? As Shayk Hama Yusuf said at ISNA 2010, “Even Bukhari and Muslim can lead you astray”. Plus, the way that you are posting them seems to me as if you are interpreting them. I have heard and seen other interpretations than what you have presented.

      Another point, when the Prophet (pbuh) spoke to women about Islamic virtues, they understood, agreed, and complied. However, I think the strategy you are taking might be leading women astray.

      No offense intended, but please work on being a better man before judging women. It is hypocritical to spend so much time speaking about women when I see a lot of “Muslim” men going to the bars and doing forbidden things with women. You might want to start a blog for them.

      Thank you.

      • Aisha

        August 3, 2015 at 3:30 PM

        Thank you for your comment. I have much respect for you.

  71. africana

    July 13, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    anyone here heard of sunlight rickets?

    that is, rickets developing in a person inspite of their being exposed to bright sunlight.

    there have been cases in india amongst agricultural workers whose whole back and chest were exposed to the sun and in iran, also.

    • sebkha

      July 13, 2010 at 1:29 PM

      Yes, it’s rather uncommon and is caused by an errant gene that impairs bone mineralization.

      • africana

        July 16, 2010 at 8:31 PM


        assalamu alaikum,

        ” Men should equally respond to their wife’s expressed desire for physical intimacy in order to avoid hurting her emotionally. It’s only fair!”

        whilst a husband is duty bound to keep his wife chaste, we have to remember that a wife, whether she is desirous of intimacy or not, is still physically able to have sexual relations whilst a man could only accede to his wife’s request if he was similarly interested.

        a man’s ability to perform sexually is tied to his physical state and he can hardly be blamed if he doesn’t feel any desire for sexual intimacy. women, however, are to be blamed for failure to engage physically because

        1). with the exception of periods of ritual impurity or illness a woman is always physically capable of having sexual relations.

        2) since it is enshrined in religious law that since a woman is not responsible for her own upkeep, sexual intimacy is the price she pays for her husband’s maintenace and, failure to engage is disobedience for which a man is entitled to withold spending on his wife.

        since men,generally, crave intimacy more than their wives, being mindful to ensure her satisafaction during their moments of intimacy should be enough to ensure that most women are not having to ask husbands for sexual intimacy at times when the husband has no desire.

        islam recognises the importance of sexual satisfaction for both parties. women are generally more timid in nature than men and if a woman’s right to sexual intimacy were to be dependant on asking, then it would interfere with her abilty to achieve sexual fulfillment. i recognition of this difference in natures and importance of satisfaction for both parties, men are required, as per the hadith, to ensure that their wife achieves what she desires from the act of intimacy before moving on to the fulfillment of his own desires.

        • africana

          July 16, 2010 at 10:15 PM

          furthermore, i think it’s more than a little unfair to attribute a woman’s unwillingness to engage in intimacy to some defficiency on the part of her husband. it has become quite fashionable for people to problematise the male when there is a lack of female sexual desire. he’s either not not well dressed enough, not attentive enough, not suffciently well groomed enough, helpful enough or appreciative enough….certainly, a man shhould make himself appelaing to his wife but in fact there are men who report doing all of these things and still their wives lack interest in physiacl intimacy.

          a woman’s sexual drive is not like a man’s. unfortunately, this difference as now been medicalised into female sexual dyfunction.

        • muslimah

          July 17, 2010 at 1:15 AM

          can you provide me the daleel for the 2nd point? You make it sound like women are just objects to be used for sex. If a woman works, is she expelled from the ruling of providing intimacy to her husband since she’s supporting herself? I’m sorry but i disagree. Women too NEED to be READY before they get intimate, otherwise it results in physical and emotional damage.

          Sebkha, you are right. Shaykh riad ourazazi explained in one of his lecture- whatever rules/rights are imposed on men, same are for women unless there’s a specific ruling stating otherwise. This, is a rule of fiqh. So if a woman asks her husband for intimacy, he must give it to her or he is cursed by the angels too. Moreover it’s not fair to think women are ‘weak’ in regards to sexual desires. Some women desire sex just as men do. It’s not fair to generalize.
          Both the husband and wife should respect each other and their desire for intimacy. Both should know the art of attracting their spouses physically and emotionally. Men, if you are treating your wife with love and respect, if you are treating her like every wife deserves to be treated, then trust me, she will give back your rights 100Xtimes. This is how Allah created us women. The gateway to our heart is thru our souls.

          • africana

            July 17, 2010 at 5:19 AM

            “Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked what a husband should do if his wife refuses him when he asks for intimacy.

            He replied:

            It is not permissible for her to rebel against him or to withhold herself from him, rather if she refuses him and persists in doing so, he may hit her in a manner that does not cause injury, and she is not entitled to spending or a share of his time [in the case of plural marriage].” Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 32/279.

            And he was asked about a man who has a wife who is rebellious and refuses intimacy – does she forfeit the right to maintenance and clothing, and what should she do?

            He replied:

            She forfeits her right to maintenance and clothing if she does not let him be intimate with her. He has the right to hit her if she persists in being defiant. It is not permissible for her to refuse intimacy if he asks for that, rather she is disobeying Allaah and His Messenger (by refusing). In al-Saheeh it says: “If a man calls his wife to his bed and she refuses, the One Who is in heaven will be angry with her until morning comes.”

            From Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 32/278. The hadeeth was narrated by Muslim, 1736”


          • muslimah

            July 17, 2010 at 7:16 AM

            ibn tayyimah also holds the opinion that it’s ok to dress like a non muslim in a non muslim country in order to blend in with the environment.
            SubhanAllah, is this ‘scholar’ encouraging men to hit their wives? SubhanAllah. RasulAllah never layed a finger on his wives and he was a ‘walking Quran’ as described by A’ishah.
            Im sorry, i asked for daleel from the Quran or the sunnah, not some ‘scholar’.
            Women in islam are honored. Instead of teaching men to treat their wives well, and women to deal justly with their husbands, he is pomoting physical violence. SubhanAllah. I sncerely hope you dont teach your sons to beat their wives if they refuse intimacy. A normal,sane woman who feels love and cherished will never turn her husband down unless she has valid reasons. If a couple has problems they should not resort to physical or emotional abuse rather they should sit down and talk it out like decent, civilized human beings.
            Women are not children to be disciplined. It’s sad you, as a woman let a man tell you how to live your private life when you have the exmple of the prophet who never layed a fnger on his wives.

  72. africana

    July 15, 2010 at 5:17 AM


    a woman is not permitted to go out in attractive dress as this defeats the point of hijab. beautifying oneself should not, in my view, be taken to the extreme for men either as the money spent would be better off being given in charity to the starving people,of whom there are many in the world. there is a hadith that warns against a person setting himself apart from other people by wearing a garment of fame. whilst observing the islamic rules of dress, i think men should seek to distinguish themselves as muslims by their dress but shouldn’t set themselves apart through wearing of fancy, expensive clothing.

    @jazak Allahu khair for your excerpt uthman.

    • Uthman

      July 15, 2010 at 5:34 AM

      wa iyyak afraicana

  73. africana

    July 15, 2010 at 5:24 AM

    to clarify, distingusishing oneself as a muslim is what one should aim for, not setting oneself apart from the people (whether they are muslim or non-muslim) through wearing very fancy clothing or labels as this creates shame and inferiority in those unable to afford such clothes.

  74. muslimah

    July 15, 2010 at 7:53 AM

    I assume we all are adults over here and make our own choices. Since obviously most of us disagree with each other and the self righteous tone unfortunately some comments reek of..let’s make sure we marry a spouse who is on the same page.

  75. africana

    July 17, 2010 at 5:34 AM

    came across this, also.

    “While scholars have distinguished between a man’s right to “demand” sex and a woman’s right to “request” sex, it is nonetheless a man’s religous duty to keep his wife sexually satisfied. A woman may not have an explicit legal right to demand sex in the same fashion as a man; however, this distinction merely accounts for the inherent temperamental, physical, and emotional differences between the sexes.”

    • muslimah

      July 17, 2010 at 7:27 AM

      im outta here. Live your life the way you see it fit. You want a man to bully you, go ahead but don’t expect other women to do the same. Im sure my prophet had much respect for a sacred institution like marriage and he was the perefect example of a husband. I leave you with an ayah from the Quran- And verily in the messenger of Allah you have the perfect example to follow.

  76. africana

    July 17, 2010 at 7:49 AM

    @muslimah there are all sorts of muslims in he world, i cannot imagine any muslim woman of good character being subject to disciplinary measures advised by ibn taymiyyah.

    we must remember that amongst the muslims, there are people, both men and women, who have a well developed sense of mercy who would consider it unthikable to leave a person to experience unnecessay hardship (such as what happens when a wife refuses her husband’s call).

    nevertheless,there will always be “i’m alright, jacks” who, for whatever reason are selfish and unconcerned with the suffering that they are inflicting on others and who perhaps have a relationship devoid of love and mercy but which o the whole works for them. it is for these types of people that it is necessary to have a clear guidelines to follow in order to try to attain harmony. there will always be men who might otherwise overstep the mark in their disciplinary actions and women who would otherwise not rein in their mercilessness if there wasn’t a guideline instructing them how to behave.

  77. Sureyya

    July 17, 2010 at 8:38 AM

    Assalamua Alaikum,

    I have written before and couldn’t find my comment. I think some of these writers need to have some fear of Allah and some humility, including Sheikh Zarbozo and brother Uthman. Both extremes are being arrogant and committing bida by only including hadith which support their views instead of the entire body of quran and hadith to give us true Islam. The truth is both much simpler and much more difficult because it is not difficult to decipher but requires a higher level of humility and honesty than both sides are willing to practice–an unfortunate disease in our Ummah. Women are the helpmates of mean. If men hate us they may be hating a good thing. The most high were active women in the community who were extremely modest. We should not leave our homes to make a display of ourselves and have every right to attend the mosques without anyone prohibiting us. The hadith shows that lack of respect or gratefulness to our husbands is a serious sin, and the Quran gauruntees us that Allah hears the woman who pleads due to her husband’s mistreatment and prohibits men from trying to hold women in marriage against their wishes to harm them. The Prophet, SAW, granted divorces to women without reserve who even simply could not get along with their husbands or found them ugly, and he did not condemn them when doing so, so by what right do scholars and imams dare to prohibit or put further conditions on that? But beware sisters, because Allah will punish women who seek divorce with no reason. Of course a woman must seek divorce from the heads of her community, but when the husband has physicalpower, usually economic power, and could simply prohibit her from leaving, isn’t that the only way to practically get a divorce?–stop trying to make Islam what it is not to feed your egos. But the Prophet only seemed to ignore a divorce request when the woman was manipulative and making false accusations to divorce and remarry a prior husband–lies and deception were apparent, not simply assumed to imprison the woman in violation of the Quran. Humility is a struggle on both sides. Women are to stay in their homes but speaking to men in a gaurded voice and not making a display of oneself when out are part of the same injunction. Women who road camels as part of economic activities helping their husbands, and women who went out to take care of their own needs where praised, and among the best of our Ummah. Furthermore, education (not just memorizing Quran) is a requirement on all Muslims male and female, and women did have medical skills, business skills, and even fought in wars when necessary during the time of the Prophet, without any condemnation–but with praise. BALANCE and HUMILITY. Now look at ourselves instead of each other, and try to be humble and honest–lower your gazes and be modest, and the best among you is best to your wives and families–remember the Sunnah of the Prophet–a man who never struck a wife, and granted them right to divorce on multiple occassions. He condemned those who slandered a woman who was chaste but indiscreet, as did the Quran, and how many supposed pure Muslims would have (and repeatedly do today in new situations) supported the hypocrasy of the slanderes of Aish RAA? Sisters–whatever your believe on hijab-face, hair, or simply body, re-examine and be modest, and ask if you go out for a true reason, and being truly modest or not. Being respectful to your husband does not cheapen your independence but strengthens your character. Wa Salaam.

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  79. ali

    August 6, 2010 at 6:33 AM

    -Removed and banned. Seems you are on the wrong site. Pamella Geller is waiting for your submissions. -Editor

    • Rebeca to Ali

      August 6, 2010 at 8:42 AM


      I am currently studying the Bukhari hadith and you have severely mistranslated many of these hadith and some I cannot even find.

      These sound like they come from an anti-Islamic work. Brothers and Sisters, do not believe what you read above! I have studied several Bukhari hadith with local scholars at Yale University and these are obviously innovations.

      Is you name even ali?

  80. Sarah

    August 29, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    # 4 up there, about women being allowed to go outside for recreation, is directly contradicted by this:

    • AZ

      August 29, 2010 at 11:36 AM

      It saddens me that we are becoming more and more like how Allah describes Bani Israeel towards Prophet Musa (a.s.) as illustrated by Allah in Surah-al-Baqarah (Ayaat 67-74)

      The recommendation was Islamically permissible outdoor recreation. If it were not permissible, then it wouldn’t be against anything in the first place

      Masha-Allah I thought the advice given was excellent. Keep it up.

      • Sarah

        August 29, 2010 at 1:44 PM

        What is the evidence that recreation is a “need” for which women MUST go out?

        • Ify Okoye

          August 29, 2010 at 1:57 PM

          All things are permissible in muamalat unless there is a specific evidence to the contrary. The interpretation of some that the asl is for women to stay in their homes is just that an interpretation, which others such as at-Tabari have disagreed with. Taking either opinion is a fiqhi difference.

          • Sarah

            August 29, 2010 at 2:07 PM

            The specific evidence is “And stay in your homes…”

            If the interpretation is not to stay in their homes, then this article is pointless.

            (Somebody help me out here. My husband says I cant go out for a walk because I don’t “need” to and quotes this ayah. Can anyone come up with a counterargument?)

          • Ify Okoye

            August 29, 2010 at 2:34 PM

            I don’t agree with this interpretation at all nor the article though I respect Sadaf:

            Here’s a counter-argument: Part 1: What a difference a kasrah makes

          • Sarah

            August 29, 2010 at 2:43 PM

            Wow, Jazakillahkhair, that was interesting.

            However, because it goes against the Ijma’ of the scholars it probably won’t be very useful for my case. I appreciate it though.

          • Ify Okoye

            August 29, 2010 at 3:09 PM

            Who says there is ijma? Quoting an ayah or hadith or statement of a scholar does not necessarily prove anything much less ijma. With all due respect to the people of knowledge, it is to be expected that the scholars from Saudi-based Islam-QA will espouse a more conservative interpretation while scholars from elsewhere in the world may and do express differing interpretations as we our all products of our land and culture and experiences. One can find evidence to support either fiqhi opinion. You can choose to agree or disagree with any interpretation but in your situation, it seems something other than evidence is missing from the equation.

            Islam is simple, people make it complicated, Allah gave us an intellect, it must be used. Even though, many people disparage the mind fearing (and sometimes rightly so) that it will lead to following one’s desires, Allah repeatedly asks us to use our minds to reflect and ponder on the ayat in the Quran and all around us.

  81. Areena

    October 20, 2010 at 4:18 PM

    Its very helpful article for me thanks ………

  82. Shireen

    February 18, 2011 at 10:07 PM

    Assalamu’alaikum! Beautiful post sis, I enjoyed reading it. It is well written and explained according to today’s way of life, MashaAllah. May Allah subhanhu wa tala reward you for writing this article, I’m sure there are many that may not like hearing it or necessarily agree but it is the beautiful Truth :) Alhamdulilah!!

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  84. Jaluludin Rumi

    March 27, 2014 at 1:24 AM

    Asalaam Alaykum,

    I would like to know what exactly constitutes Islamically Acceptable Entertainment and Outdoor recreation?

    The discussion I’m having with my wife (who pointed me to this article) is that I would like to accompany her on all shopping trips (we live in a western country). She believes this is oppresive and is entitled to entertainment/Outdoor recreation.

    Can somebody please help.

    Jazak’Allah Khayr

  85. americanmuhajaba

    July 2, 2014 at 5:57 PM

    Ah subhanAllah walhamdulillah, Islam is truly the perfect deen. I had been wondering about this for a while. While I knew important things such as going to the masjid, school, and work were permissible, I was not sure if going out for halal entertainment (of course, while not being excessive in entertainment, as all Muslims should avoid that) was permissible, but this article has informed me that it is. Alhamdulillah, Allah SWT is Ar-Rahman. JazakAllahu khairan for this article. :)

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  87. all

    May 18, 2015 at 10:47 AM

    Wow..was reading at comments and wondering what century we live live in.. Imagine half of the population is confined to homes what’s gonna happen to this world. All ready see what is happening in Muslim world. What is wrong with you ppl how can you some ones hand, feet , face hair etc and start having so called evil desires. Quran in no way stops from doing anything rational and its true many of the words can be translated in many ways. Quran actually brings you more close to nature than anything but what you lot follow is interpretations of different people over periods of time according to their own desires, political agenda etc..

  88. Amanee

    August 29, 2015 at 9:27 AM

    MashaAllah.. very nicely written. Whenever the topic of women’s education and employment arises , the reference of Surah Ahzab comes the very first, without giving proper concern to the context or meaning. Thanks for explaining the context in which makes perfect sense. Can you please give any reference to the part where you listed the necessities when women are permitted to go outside. Without reference from Quran or hadith, the points will not look valid or strong to the so called muslim scholars. Best wishes for you. Thanks.

  89. Ali

    November 14, 2015 at 6:08 PM

    Stupidest article I have ever read. Keep writing this and you’ll create apostates.
    No, a womans job is not to stay at home. There’s the Quran verse where it speaks only towards the wives of the Prophet.

    I can’t believe the morons we have in this ummah.

  90. Student121

    April 11, 2016 at 8:45 AM

    This comment is for women who live in westernized societies only, as I can’t give my opinion for all others:

    All these women here who are pro work, I wonder what kind of cushy jobs you have or if you’ve ever really worked? Lol. I long for the days my husband can make more money InshaAllah so I can quit being a “Nurse” (big pharma pusher) for the U S of A and the all not mighty dollar.

    When my father told me I shouldn’t work and just go to school forever, it sounded great, but then reality hits.

    Oh, and the author makes it clear, you have every RIGHT to go meditate in nature. Go sit outside in natures backyard and meditate and reflect and perform salat give thanks, sit walk stand in all natures wonders.

    If to have to leave the house to WORK you HAVE to! The author makes that clear. Even if you really want to cuz your greedy or you have a retirement plan (lol) or you want a dynasty for your sons then YOU CAN (but really…? Why?)

    I understand the direction of the article. I’m not sure what’s offending everyone else?
    If you wish to be like the Prophets Wives our Mothers, then stay home more often then not and pray, read, reflect, make dhikr, teach and spend more time alone then not.
    If your circumstances require you to work absolutely, go to work, then come home and do the above, it’s not difficult to understand.
    If you don’t want to live up to our Mothers the Prophets Wives and you don’t understand, like myself, yet, that our one and only purpose of being created was to worship Allah and that requires sacrifice in this temporary life for the Trust in the next, then go ahead and waste time excessively shopping or going to cafes, plays, galleries, whatever. It’s up to you as an individual.
    I myself am guilty but I at least don’t deny right from wrong….

    This life is more then just amusement and enjoyment and you and I were not created in vain (key word vain).

    Do we not remember the story of Prophet Suleiman from the Quran? One moment while admiring his horses his mind wandered and how repentful he was…SubhanAllah. The Prophets and their wives were human like us…what they were able to achieve in piety and worship we can too, that’s the whole point!!!!

    Don’t Waste your Time. And the best way to spend time is worship, raising your children, loving your husband, caring for your neighbors and community and charity.

    If you had extra cash from being a greedy fem worker and went to Guam for a week, that’s between you and Allah. Now, if you went away for a week cuz you live in rat city and needed the fresh air to meditate and reflect, that’s a whole other story. Use your intellect.

    And for all the pseudo fems out there, It’s not difficult to understand the difference between a man and a woman.

    When my menstrual comes, I just need to sit sleep eat and do as little work as possible, but were glued to the clock now and that is just not reality. And let’s not get started with being pregnant or just having given birth and breast feeding.Whew! All I wanna do then is sleep rest eat and go to the park. (The “sacrifice” we make for living in non Muslim countries for cushier lives lol.)

    I believe that Allah made the lives of women easier by giving us this ayat.
    It’s extremely difficult if not impossible to balance salaat, motherhood, family time, recreation, charitable activities, community/neighbor time and full time hard labor work in developed countries. You will always sacrifice one or more of those things for the other.
    In most cases today we see sacrificing of the salat, community and neighbor time, and charity work, and motherhood. We are full time workers and part time mothers.

    As for the lucky few women who don’t work or are not glued to a clock, or have more leniency in work schedule, then balancing should be much easier.

    But for those of us without need who willingly choose to abandon peaceful worship or one important duty for enjoyment and amusement or useless works??!!? Why?!?

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  92. Mujahid

    June 11, 2016 at 6:19 AM

    There is a lot of misguidance in the comments I can see. Firstly, in Islam men and women have different roles because Allah created them different. A man is to go out and provide for his family and the woman is to stay at home, cook food, be his companion, look after his children etc. The plan of the infidels is to invert this which is why they are constantly calling muslims misogynists etc. Because they want muslim women to lose their dignity and honour by displaying themselves. Unfortunately a large amount of muslim women have fallen pray to such evil which is spread in the name of freedom and gender equality. You Ify, mentioned in your article the necessities for a woman to go out of the house. My question is this. Are you ignoring or simply reject the hadith of Muslim 1339 in which it is clearly forbidden for a woman who believes in Allah and the last day to travel without a male Mahram. And Bukhari 1862 in which Rasulullah SAW exempt a muslim man to join the muslim army in the battlefield in order to allow him to join his wife who was travelling for Hajj without a Male Mahram in a caravan led by Abu Bakr Al Siddique. Religious ruling is not given based on common sense of a particular individual which is always subjective. It is given based on the Sharia. Moreover, Ijma and Qiyas are performed on issues which are not clearly mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah. Doing so in cases where the matter is clear and making ones own interpretation that has no grounds in Sharia and spreading such deviations is an act of Kufr. Also one should understand ruling in its entirety. A woman who thinks that she can do anything as a long as she wears the hijab is gravely mistaken. The purpose of Hijab and other related rulings for women is not to expose them to the world. Her beauty, love, etc should only be for her husband. The Umm ul Momineen are an example for believing woman on how a muslim woman should be. This view is supported by majority of the muslim scholors and fuqaha. Finally, in Ayat26 of Surah An Nur Allah Almighty Says: “Impure women are for Impure men, and Impure men for Impure women; just like pure women are for pure men, and pure men are for pure women”. Don’t spread deviations and distortions in the name of Islam.
    And Allah Knows Best.

  93. None

    June 11, 2016 at 3:21 PM

    I’ve always found that Islamic societies, perhaps as a result of persistent pre Islamic perspectives, conducts the practice of Islam in a manner which places a disproportionate amount of emphasis on the modesty and morality of women, while neglecting sufficient emphasis on the modesty and morality of men, or meeting their responsibilities to ensure a woman’s rights under Islam are not violated.

    For example, we see often in Islamic societies, organized legions of men, sometimes armed, sometimes not, who go around with the express purpose of making sure women are properly covered and not engaging in what they view to be inappropriate conduct with men. But we do not, on the other hand, see these groups going around making sure men are properly covered. We are told that a woman may not be coerced into marriage but we see intentional lack of inquiry and a blind eye turned towards this matter, because this policy of ignoring Islam on this matter benefits men. If these men were truly concerned with Islam, we would see as much attention given to this matter as they give to a woman’s veil. A woman betrothed to be married would be taken away from her family, and go before a counsel which would say to her “If this marriage has been arranged without your knowledge or permission or is coerced in any way, say so now and we will protect you from your family and those who seek to wrong you on this matter!” But we see no such counsels, because for some reason a suggestion for women to cover requires more attention than a commandment that a woman should not be forced into marriage.

    I’m sure it says somewhere in the quran that a man must not mistreat his wife. But what protection have supposedly Islamic societies extended to meet their obligation to protect their women from men who do mistreat their wives? Sure there are NGO women’s shelters, but what does it say of the “faithful” of Islam, when in a country like Saudi Arabia, a man can beat his pregnant wife within an inch of her life and imprison her in her house and LEGALLY prevent her from seeking medical care for the injuries he has inflicted upon her? Where are the religious police on this matter? Oh yes, they are too busy making sure the skin on a woman’s hands isn’t showing.

    May your god exist and may those who are recklessly and knowingly biased in their practice of Islam, be judged accordingly.

    • ALINA

      August 9, 2016 at 5:41 PM

      could not agree more,

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  95. Shaaban Omar

    October 4, 2016 at 9:03 AM

    I do not say about any religion. I deem it wise that women are required to concentrate, I repeat, to concentrate on their homes. We are talking about women and the labour market. We want women to get in the labour market but we dont insist men to get in the labour ward. A woman who is called a wife is going out to seek a job outside her house. Another woman called a house maid is coming to seek a job in the house of this wife who went out to seek a job. It means the wife has left her job, to be the life server, the teacher, the councellor, the nurse, the hygiene officer, the lab technician (in her laboratory, i.e. the kitchen), the director, in her house, and she goes to seek out the same jobs in other “bosses” rooms called offices (probably a secretary) than her husbands and children’s house. A question comes: If a woman needs to be liberated, and being liberated means getting out of her house, is this woman the wife or the house maid? The family is the basic, most important social unit. Who should be left to manage it? A man or a woman. And if it is a woman, a wife or a house maid? Women are so much fooled by this fancy word called “liberation” which to me is sheer “oppression”. For me, the labour of carrying human beings in their wombs, and taking care of these creatures is quite enough to let them settle, and let men stay in the labour world, to work for the women and their children.

  96. Nora Faria

    December 16, 2016 at 6:28 AM

    The post was very good. I think that every Muslim woman should obey it. However, if everyone adheres to it would be nice if every Muslim woman’s life. Very nice post.

    Thank you.

  97. MH

    September 23, 2020 at 9:39 AM

    I had a criticism to the post I felt there was very little said on the issue of male authorities in this post. Women who take up those higher academic roles generally do believe the authorities can also be women. . It really needs to be based on equality.Otherwise it is an unequal one. As a woman I found it offensive. Would you want your children to only respect 1 parent’s authority? Knowledge is what gives people that role not gender.

  98. Sitara Gull

    April 23, 2021 at 3:46 AM

    Thanks for Study. At last truth exposes itself and lie has at all times to fallen.

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