Q: How is permissible for women to go to the market where men are present but it is not permissible for her to go to a mixed gathering wedding while she is observing hijab and niqaab?
A: The Islamic teaching is that the husband should fulfill these responsibilities. Hence, the husband is required to go to the market to buy the groceries and do the shopping, etc. If the husband is unable to fulfill these responsibilities by himself then he may employ somebody to carry them out for him. In the case where a woman does not have a husband or anyone to fulfill these responsibilities, then under such circumstances, it is permissible for her to leave the home to fulfill these necessities while taking care of all the requirements of hijaab and purdah.
The Qur’an Shareef speaks about the incident of Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) when he had fled from Egypt in order to save his life. Upon reaching Madyan, he had seen the shepherds providing water to their flocks and the two daughters of Nabi Shu’aib (‘alaihis salaam) waiting with their flocks at a distance from the men.
Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) was an embodiment of kindness and compassion, as was the salient feature of all the Ambiyaa (‘alaihimus salaam) even prior to receiving nubuwwah. Hence, Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) had gone up to the two young girls and enquired from them as to why they were waiting with their flocks at a distance. They mentioned to Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) that they did not wish to intermingle with the men and preferred to wait for them to complete providing water to their flocks. Thereafter, when the area would be clear, they would provide water to their flocks. They also informed Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) that they had come out from their home to provide water to their flocks due to their father having reached extreme old age and being unable to fulfill these chores.
From this incident highlighted in the Qur’aan Shareef, we understand that women should only leave the home to fulfill such needs at the time of extreme necessity, and they should adopt the requirements of purdah when doing so.
And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.
Mufti Zakaria Makada
Checked & Approved:
Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)