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Having a women as a business partner?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by DarulIftaBirmingham

Hijab is fardh upon every woman who is close to the age of puberty or has reached it.

Hijab means a screen or a curtain. In Shariah it means to completely cover one’s self from the view of the non-mahram. (With whom marriage is permissible)

In the Holy Quran Allah has said:

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“They should draw their veils over their bosoms” (Al-Noor V.31)

The word “Khummr” means veil. And the veil means a piece of cloth, which covers the face. (Al-Mawrid)

In another verse Allah has stated:

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 “O’Nabi say to your wives, your daughters and the believing women that they should suspend over themselves the “Jilbaabs”.

“Jilbaab” is the outer sheet or cloak. At the time of the Prophet (SAW) this sheet was so large that two women would easily be covered by it. The women used to wear it in such a way that it would not reveal their shape.

Ibn-Abbas (ra) has said that the word jilbaab means a woman should be wrapped, from her head to her feet and that her face, nose should be hidden-leaving only the eye uncovered to see the way.

To sum up, the whole body of a Muslim woman including the face must be covered in front of a non-mahram. Her dress should be tailored in such a way that it conceals all her body in a modest manner not exposing her body shape.

It should be noted that women are recommended to stay in their homes. Allah has said in the Holy Qur’an:

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“And remain in your homes.”

It is best for women to stay at home and leave outside jobs for the husband who could earn and support them. However, if for some reason this is not possible, then Islam being a comprehensive religion takes into consideration all human needs and has given women permission to leave the house under certain circumstances that include adhering to the order of Hijab.

Imam Tabrani relates another hadith:

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 “For women, there is no share in going out except if it is necessary.”

According to Islamic law, a woman has a right over her money, estate or other properties. This right undergoes no change whether she is single or married. She retains her full rights to buy, sell, mortgage or lease any or all her properties. (Hidayah p.352 v.3) Therefore, generally speaking it will be permissible to be a business partner with a woman if the following conditions are met:

  1. One should ensure that such a situation does not a rise where he will be alone with a strange woman as mentioned above. If there are two women and one man that is permissible. The reason for this impermissibility is for the protection of the woman and the man so that a situation does not arise where a man might be tempted. (Fathul Bari P.276 V.9)
  1. Guard your Gaze. This is proven through the aforementioned Quranic verses from Surah Noor.  Guarding your gaze is a sign of modesty and respect. It is narrated by Saaiduna Jarir Radiallahu Anhu that he asked the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam regarding looking at a woman suddenly, he replied “turn your eyes away.” (Sahih Muslim)

It does not mean one should keep one’s eyes glued to the ground all the time. Scholars have said that looking at a woman in certain situations will be permissible. For example, if you are seeking a woman for marriage, if you work in such a job where you need to look and interact with a woman, looking will be permissible as long as you do not look with desire. Similarly, if you are a teacher, looking at female students is permitted as long as you don’t look more than necessary or with desire.” (See Sunan Tirimzi P.207 V.1)

  1. It is also important that the woman adheres to the guidelines of pardah and nakedness. For a woman, this means covering the whole body except the face and hands. (Raddul Muhtar p.532 V.9)

In conclusion, when you find yourself in a situation with a woman and there is a need to talk to her, then it will be permissible as long as one adheres to the teachings of the Shariah and remains within the boundaries of Islam.

However, the down side to this business proposition is the nature of the job this Muslim sister will be doing. As you mentioned, she will have to go in front of strange men and do presentations to sell contracts and so on. Due to this reason it will be preferable not to be partners with this Muslim woman in this business.

Having a job where ones income is 100% lawful is a very important part in ones life. Being a true and practicing Muslim is not restricted to praying and fasting, however it is a complete way of life and one cannot be termed as a practicing Muslim if he is earning through unlawful means.

Saiduna Abu Hurayah (RA) narrates that the Prophet of Allah (SAW) said: “Allah is pure and accepts only that which is pure. Allah has commanded the faithful to do that which he commanded the messengers.” And Allah has said: “o you who believe! Eat of the pure things and do right.” Allah has said: “Oh you who believe! Eat of the pure things we have provided you.” Then the Prophet of Allah (SAW) mentioned a man who journeyed far and dishelved and dusty and spends out oh his hand to the Heavens: “O lord! O Lord! While his food is unlawful, and he is nourished unlawfully, so how can his dua be answered!” (Sahih Muslim)

From this Hadith we can understand that unlawful income does have an effect on ones worship and acceptance of ones duas.

Only Allah Knows Best

Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham

This answer was collected from DarulIftaBirmingham.co.uk, which is run under the supervision of Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah from the United Kingdom.