Allah Himself has effected the division of labour. He has charged the male of the species with the responsibility of running the affairs outside the home. Man bears the burden of acquiring the means of livelihood and subsistence. He must shoulder the economic, the political and the social responsibilities. Women on the other hand have been awarded the affairs of the home. They should rise to the occasion and take charge of their responsibilities. The commandment of Allah awarding the management of the home to the women, and the outside to the man should suffice. That fact alone is enough! One may not protest against this division of labour. One dare not disobey. Logic also dictates that such a division of labour is only fair. Any other distribution of functions would not be equitable. It would make life miserable for men as well as women. A woman does not possess the physical attributes of a man. That fact cannot be denied and goes without saying. Allah has bestowed strength, vigour and vitality upon the man far more than He has upon a woman. That is self-evident. The tasks outside the home require the use of physical force and raw muscular strength. They cannot be accomplished without expending considerable physical energy. It is therefore befitting, and in keeping with the laws of nature, that man should be required to perform the tasks outside the home. Running the affairs of the home, on the other hand, should be the responsibility of the woman. In Qur’an verse 33 of chapter 33 (surah Al-Ahzaab) Allah, SWT, has directly addressed the chaste and modest ladies of the house of the prophet, SAW, and has commanded all Muslim ladies to:
“And abide in your houses and do not display yourselves as [was] the display of the former times of ignorance…..” [Qur’an 33:33]
Rest assured that the command of Allah to “And abide in your houses” does not banish women inside the four walls of their home. They are not in prison. By no means does the order suggest that the women should be confined to their homes and kept under lock and key. Women need to leave home for various reasons. They have family and relatives and other close friends they would like to visit. They have personal needs that require them to leave home. They may also need to go out for entertainment. The order of Allah does not prevent women, ever, to fulfil their legitimate needs.
It just means that ladies should establish themselves in their homes firmly, and stay there steadfastly. It does not just forbid women to leave home without a valid reason. It also expounds a fundamental fact about the woman: that she was created to take charge and manage the matters of her home. She should abide by her home and make it the center of her attention and activities. Such division of labour existed between Hazrat Ali, RA, and his wife, Hazrat Fatima, RA. Accordingly, Ali, RA, performed all the tasks outside his home while Fatima, RA, managed the affairs within the home. She maintained the household, ground the wheat into flour, fetched the water from the well and cooked the meals.
Allah has, in fact, exempted the woman from the burden of having to earn her own living. At no stage of her life does she have to go out and earn money to cover her expenses. Before marriage her father, and later on her husband, is morally and legally obligated to pay for her needs and requirements. That is her divinely ordained right! So, financial problems should not be any of her concerns. But there are women who neither have a father nor a husband, nor any other means of financial support. Such women would need to leave home to earn a living. Of course, Islamic law permits them to do that. As mentioned earlier, she is also permitted to go out for a legitimate and wholesome entertainment. Prophet Muhammad, SAW, took his wife Aisha, RA, outside the home several times.
A hadith narrates that once a companion approached the prophet, SAW, and said,
“Oh messenger of Allah, I want to invite you (to my home for dinner)”. The prophet, SAW asked, “Is Aisha (also invited) along with me?” Those were simple and less formal times. The companion had not planned to invite Hazrat Aisha, RA. So he said frankly, “Oh prophet of Allah, I want only to invite you.” The prophet, SAW, was also quite frank, and said, “ In that case, no!” He meant that since his wife, Aisha, is not included in the invitation, therefore he would not accept. A few days later, the companion returned and once again extended the invitation. “Oh messenger of Allah, I want to invite you.” The prophet, SAW, asked the same question, “Is Aisha with me?” The companion had the same reply, “Oh prophet of Allah, only you are invited.” The prophet declined again, “In that case, no!” A few days later the companion came for the third time to invite him, and added, “Oh prophet of Allah, I really do hope that you would accept my invitation.” The prophet, SAW, repeated the question, “Is Aisha with me?” This time the companion said, “Yes, oh messenger of Allah, Aisha is also invited along with you.” Now, the prophet, SAW, accepted the invitation, “In that case, yes!”
The companion’s house was not in the town of Medina. It was at the outskirts, considerable distance away. The Prophet SAW, left for the companion’s house along with his wife, Aisha, RA. An open field lay on the way, and there was no other person present there at the time. In that open field, prophet SAW raced Aisha RA. Running is a wholesome and healthy activity, and the prophet, SAW, arranged for his wives to have such a wholesome entertainment. Ladies do require entertainment, and such activities are permitted, provided they take place within the limits of ‘purdah’, and not with strangers. Some narrations suggest that the ‘racing’ activity took place on the same day as the ‘invitation.’ Other narrations suggest that the incidents are unrelated and occurred on different days.
Moreover in a hadees of Bukhari we found that Women has been allowed to go out for their legitimate needs.As we read in Hadees where The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) told his wife Sawdah, that Allah has permitted women to go out for their legitimate needs.Read the Hadees below:
Narrated `Aisha:Once Sa`da bint Zam`a went out at night for some need, and `Umar saw her, and recognizing her, he said (to her), “By Allah, O Sa`da! You cannot hide yourself from us.” So she returned to the Prophet (ﷺ) and mentioned that to him while he was sitting in my dwelling taking his supper and holding a bone covered with meat in his hand. Then the Divine Inspiration was revealed to him and when that state was over, he (the Prophet (ﷺ) was saying: “O women! You have been allowed by Allah to go out for your needs.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 5237]
So,the woman may leave home, but she must meet the requirement of HIJAB. A loose-fitted outer garment must cover the entire body. The familiar ‘burqa’ is commonly used for that purpose in our times. During the times of the prophet, a (large sheet of cloth) ‘chador’ was in vogue. It covered the entire body from head to toe. Letting the women go out and be away from home entails an apparent risk. It might, through the back door, usher in the free mixing between men and women and its resultant evil outcome. HIJAB effectively checks that tendency.The purpose of HIJAB and the segregation of the sexes is to eliminate evil from the society. It nips the evil in its bud.
Thus the ‘SHARIAH’ has permitted women to leave home in order to fulfil their needs, and to discharge their obligations. It has imposed certain conditions for them to follow. A woman may not go out in an ostentatious manner, flaunting her figure and showing off her beauty and charm. Right after it gave the command, “And abide in your houses “, the Qur’an went on to say ‘and do not display your charms in the manner of the earlier days of ignorance’. That is, if there does arise the need for you to leave home, do not display your charms. Do not let your beauty and your adornments attract attention. That would be a practice reminiscent of the days of ignorance.