There was once a kitchen spoon who longed to get out of the house. Every day, she would gaze out the window and envy the garden spade who was outside. One day, the kitchen spoon received her wish! Instead of stirring biryani, bhindi and methi bhaji, she was going to be used as a spade in the garden!

The spoon was taken out of the kitchen, but as she was thrust into the hard soil, she winced as her shiny surface became scratched and damaged. “Oh well!” she thought, “It’s a small price to pay for my freedom!” A few minutes later, she struck a hard rock, causing her handle to bend and body to become dented and deformed. By now, she was totally ruined. Not only had she lost her beauty, shine and appeal, but she had become so damaged that she could not even effectively fulfil her role as a kitchen spoon any longer! She now realized, only too late, that the ‘freedom’ she had sought was actually her ruin and destruction.

Everything in this world has a purpose and function, and the purpose and function of the item is best known by its creator. In the example above, though the spoon and spade are both made from metal and both resemble each other in shape, etc., the purpose of the kitchen spoon is completely different to the spade. The spoon is meant to be used for delicate tasks in the kitchen, whereas the spade is designed to be wielded with brute force, in the harsh outdoors, while withstanding the knocks and bangs that it encounters. To use the spoon as a spade would be to ruin the spoon, and conversely, to use the spade as a spoon would damage the pot and ruin the food.

In the very same way, Allah Ta‘ala, the Creator and Designer of men and women, has ordained and decreed that the role of women is to remain in the home, attending to the domestic duties and household responsibilities relating to the children etc. As for men, then Allah Ta‘ala has decreed that they are responsible for venturing out of the home in order to earn an income to support their families. This was clearly mentioned by Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) on the occasion of the nikaah of his respected daughter, Sayyidah Faatimah (radhiyallahu ‘anha), to Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). (Musannaf Ibni Abi Shaibah #29677)

Unfortunately, with the passage of time and degradation of hayaa, we find more and more women leaving the sanctuary of their homes and entering the workplace. This fitnah was foretold by Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) when he mentioned that among the signs of Qiyaamah is that business will become widespread (i.e. earning money will become the order of the day), so much so that a woman will assist her husband in business. (Musnad Ahmad #3870) In another narration, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) similarly mentioned that one of the signs of Qiyaamah is that men and women will all be engaged in business and trade. (Tabraani – Majma‘uz Zawaaid #12498)

When we examine the position of a woman in Islam, then we find that she is extremely privileged in regard to her livelihood. Before she is married, it is her father’s responsibility to support her and take care of her. After she is married, the duty of providing for her falls on her husband’s shoulders. In the event of her not having a father and thereafter being widowed, divorced, not finding a spouse, etc. then certain of her close male relatives, such as brothers, uncles, etc. are obliged to provide for her and support her (the exact details of which can be enquired from the ‘Ulama).

In essence, Islam has not abandoned a woman and left her to fend for herself, but has made adequate arrangements for her in all situations. Unfortunately, in most cases, it is the stinginess and miserliness of the close family relatives that compels the woman in need to commence earning a livelihood. How lamentable indeed that a man can go for ‘umrah once or even twice every year, or upgrade his car to the latest model, while his own sister struggles to pay the rent and purchase her basic groceries!

Even in the uncommon case where a woman has nobody at all to assist and support her, she should try her best to earn a living from the safety of her home. In this lies the security of her Deen and dunya, while this means of earning will be one filled with barakah and goodness. Among the women of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) who would earn a living from home was the respected wife of Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ood (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). On account of her husband being engaged in the service of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and the service of Deen, she assisted him by making products and selling them from home in order to support her household. Though it was her husband’s obligation to earn a livelihood for the household, she was happy to assist him on account of him being engaged in the service of Deen.

In this day and age as well, we have learnt of several cases of home industries that became so profitable that it became the means of assisting other poor family members as well!

As far as entering the corporate environment to earn a living is concerned, then this is absolutely disastrous and detrimental to a woman’s Deen, imaan and hayaa. In this environment, she will be forced to interact and communicate with strange men, be in seclusion with them and work closely with them for hours and hours at a time. This causes familiarity, which breeds informality, which often leads to intimacy. A ‘casual’ glance, a humorous remark or ‘innocent’ joke, a ‘kind’ gesture such as a gift – all are stepping stones to zina. This is besides all the other sins found in this environment such as music, photography, etc.

Forbes conducted a survey this year (2024) regarding romance in the workplace, and a few key findings were: (1) over 60% get involved in workplace romance, (2) 40% cheat on their spouse with a coworker, and (3) 50% engage in flirting. When a Muslim woman enters such a fitnah-filled environment, she will be faced with a choice – sacrifice her respect, dignity and hayaa for the sake of the job and money, or leave and protect her Deen and imaan.

Ahmad Wafeeq Pasha ‘Uthmaani was a diplomat posted in Europe, representing the Ottoman Empire at that time. On one occasion, a non-Muslim Western politician asked him the following question in a tone of derision, “Why is it that women of the East (i.e. Muslim women) remain veiled in their homes throughout their lives, without interacting with men and joining in their gatherings?” Ahmad Wafeeq Pasha spontaneously responded, “The reason is that they do not want to bear the children of men besides their husbands!” Hearing this response, the politician was dumbstruck, (as he was forced to acknowledge that the consequence of free intermingling is inevitably zina). (Maqaalaatul Kawthari pg. 232)

May Allah Ta‘ala bless us all with true hayaa, aameen.