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Employing female staff

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Fatwa.org.au
In business, we do a lot of conversation with our suppliers from overseas such as China, Malaysia etc through messenger or emails.

1. And sometimes the suppliers are women. So is it permissible to do business dealing with them?

2. Also we have female staff such as cashiers, accounts section, saleswomen, receiptionist. Is it permissible to employ them considering that we don’t get a good male worker and always we find that women do better job in terms of work, honesty and reliability. Also, some positions like cashiers even if we do advertise we can’t get male cashiers.

3. Also customers are women so is it permissible to converse with them in business?

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Firstly, we would like to commend you for your concern about implementing Islamic teachings in your business. May Allah Ta’ala give barakah in your business and sustenance.

1) Before we answer this question, we would like to advise that Islam has clear and firm rules pertaining to interaction between ghair mahram men and women.

Note: A ghair mahram person is any person of the opposite gender with whom marriage is not forbidden. For example, the following women are ghair mahram for a man: all unrelated women, cousins (from mother’s side as well as father’s side), maternal uncle’s wife (maami), paternal uncle’s wife (chachi), sister in-law, etc. Similarly, the following men are ghair mahram for a woman: all unrelated men, cousins (from mother’s side as well as father’s side), maternal aunt’s husband (khalu), paternal aunt’s husband (fufa), brother in-law, etc.

Families in Fiji and other parts of the world are increasingly facing many complex problems, such as break up of marriages, affairs, domestic violence, abandoning one’s children and family and even leaving Islam (May Allah protect us). And in many cases, the root cause of all these problems is ignoring the teachings of Islam pertaining to interaction between ghair mahram men and women. Therefore, one must not take these teachings of Islam lightly. Rather, one must be very cautious and particular about following these teachings of Islam.

Because many people nowadays are ignorant of these important teachings of Islam, we have enumerated some of them hereunder:

  • It is not permissible to look at any part of a ghair mahram woman. Looking with lust is worse; however even looking without lust is not permissible. The only time it is permissible to look at a ghair mahram woman is when there is a dire necessity, such as when a doctor needs to treat a female patient (however the doctor can only look at where it is required to do so for diagnosis and treatment). Similarly, it will be permissible for a person who intends to marry a woman to look at her face with the intention of acting upon the Sunnah.
  • It is not permissible to touch any part of a ghair mahram woman.
  • It is not permissible to unnecessarily talk with a ghair mahram woman.
  • It is strictly not permissible to joke or flirt with a ghair mahram woman.
  • It is not permissible to intermingle with ghair mahram women.
  • If a ghair mahram woman says salaam to a man, if she is very old then he should reply to her salaam in an audible voice. If, however, she is young, he should not reply to her salam in an audible voice; instead he should reply in an inaudible voice.
  • It is not permissible to be alone with a ghair mahram woman when there is no one else present. The hadith tells us that if a man and a woman are alone together, Shaitan will be the third of them.

The abovementioned teachings of Islam are applicable at all times, even when dealing with female customers, suppliers, workers etc.

May Allah Ta’ala give us all the tawfeeq to act upon these beautiful and pure teachings of Islam. Ameen.
 
Now coming to your question:

It is advisable that a man does business dealings only with men, especially in this age of many fitnas. However, if there is a need to do business dealings with females, it will be permissible to do so provided that you strictly follow all the rules mentioned above.

Therefore, if you need to correspond with female suppliers through email, messenger or phone, you must restrict your conversation to the topic and you must not joke or flirt etc.  It will not be permissible to talk or chat with them unnecessarily and for longer than what is necessary. Similarly, it will not be permissible to intentionally look at female suppliers, workers or customers or to be alone with them.

2) It will not be permissible to employ women if they will have to intermingle and interact with men, as this is a great source of fitna. Yes, if they will only have to deal with female customers or they will have to work on their own, then it will be permissible (provided all the rules mentioned in the first answer are observed).

Make dua to Allah and apply your mind; inshallah you will come up with strategies to attract reliable, honest and hardworking male workers. Also remember that the money a person makes by following the orders of Allah will have much more blessings than money made by employing forbidden practices, even if it appears that in quantity the former is less than the latter. Allah Ta’ala says in the Holy Quran, the translation of which is:

“And he who fears Allah, He will make for him a way out; And will provide for him from where he expects not. And he who puts his trust in Allah, He is sufficient for him.” (Quran 65:2-3)

3) It will be permissible if you restrict the conversation to what is necessary and if you follow all the rules of interacting with ghair mahram women mentioned in the first answer.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Faizal Riza
30/9/2011

This answer was collected from Fatwa.org.au, which is connected to Darul Ifta Australia, based in Melbourne, Australia.
It is operated by Mufti Faizal Riza, a student of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.

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