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Can a woman work in a public environment, if she doesn’t have any male relative to support her?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

Salaam Aleikoum. I am a young woman and my only support is my mother. I have no male relatives. My mother is getting old and she is often very sick, I do not think she should be working anymore. This means I have to get a job. I am not wanting to work in public, but don’t know how to avoid this. I have not found anything I can do out of my home to support us – living costs are getting quite high and I don’t have many talents. Everyone says it is a sin for a woman to work in public. I would have to wear western clothes with a scarf. Is this permissible. I feel like I am a bad daughter if I don’t support us. Is it permissible for me to work in public?

Answer

Yes, it would be permissible for you to work especially under the circumstances. However, the following have to be borne in mind:

1. In the Tafseer of ?wa qarna fiy buyootikum?, it has been mentioned that a woman can leave her home to attain the necessities of life or to earn a living if there is no one to provide for her. However, this will only be permissible if a woman goes out dressed in strict Shar’ee Hijaab, not in merely western clothes with a scarf as you have mentioned.

2. If a woman can go out to work during her Iddat period out of necessity, whereas Iddat has many stringent conditions attached to it, then in this case too it will be permissible for a woman to go out in search of her livelihood. (Alamgiri vol.1 pg.553; Rashidiyyah)

and Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

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This answer was collected from Askimam.org, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.

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