Home > Fatwa of Deoband, Hijab in Islam, Indian Muslim Women, Muslim Working Women, World Muslim Women > Muslim “Working Women” and Fatwas against her.

Muslim “Working Women” and Fatwas against her.


India where the door of opportunity is almost closed on their faces, with great effort and compromise when the Muslims both women and men are trying to push open this closed door of opportunity and seeing a ray of hope entering in to their life’s, why are our own people pushing the door to close it again can any one answer.

Islam – a religion of balance, moderation, and modesty- places a strong emphasis on the maintenance of proper boundaries, whether social or moral. The practice of hijab among Muslim women is grounded in religious doctrine, the Qurʾan  stressed, on lowering of gaze for both men and womem,  Hijab of  face is not a requirement in view of  most of the Islamic Scholars of  World today.

And  Quran  al Hakeem,  in  Surah 24: An-Nur: 30 and 31, “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for Greater purity for them: And God is Well-acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women That they should lower their gaze And guard their modesty: and they should not display beauty and ornaments expect what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that They must draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husband’s sons, or their women, or their slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their ornaments.”

The recent Fatwa on Working Women by Darul Uloom Deoband is under critsiism and has become controvercial issue. It is sad and the Fatwa is I am afraid given not keeping the facts and hardships of the women and piety in our Women.

“The largest Muslim seminary in India, Darul Uloom of Deoband, has issued a fatwa against working Muslim women, saying working with men is not Islamic.

The fatwa says it is unlawful for Muslim women to do any job in government or private institutions that entails men and women working together and women having to talk to men without the veil.

The Deoband clerics say it is clearly mentioned in the Shariat that “Women should wear the veil in office and should not mix with male colleagues.”

The fatwa has been endorsed by Muslim clerics of other schools of thought.

Sunni Muslim cleric Maulana Abul Irfan Firangimahli says, “Those women who are following their careers may get great success in this life…but they have to be accountable and answerable for this in their afterlife and then they will regret their career choices.”

The above Fatwa from a reputed Islamic Seminary of India and a largely respected religoius body,  so openly coming out against the working of Muslim women has raised many bothering questions and critisisim, in both Muslim Society and other communities.

“The fatwa says it is unlawful for Muslim women to do any job in government or private institutions that entails men and women working together and women having to talk to men without the veil.” as Stated by Daruloolom Deoband  and subsequently  endorsed by  Sunni Muslim cleric Maulana Abul Irfan Firangimahli.

Light on this issue has to come from many folds. A disucssion is attempted by me though I do not claim to be in any way an experter or a knowlegble person, but in the perspective of my little undertanding and study and refrences, I am trying to  put more light and give clarity to the subject for me to understand and open it for you all to put light on. And correct me if I am wrong.

One has to understand what the true Islamic dictates in this is regards both Quranic and from the teachings of Prophet Mohammed may peace and blessings of Allah be upon The Qur’an lays down the principle of the law of modesty. In Surah 24: An-Nur: 30 and 31, modesty is enjoined both upon Muslim men and Muslim women.

“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for Greater purity for them: And God is Well-acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women That they should lower their gaze And guard their modesty: and they should not display beauty and ornaments expect what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that They must draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husband’s sons, or their women, or their slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their ornaments.

One of the verses in the Qur’an protects a woman’s fundamental rights. Aya 59 from Sura al-Ahzab reads:

O Prophet! Tell Thy wives And daughters, and the Believing women, that They should cast their Outer garments over Their Persons (when outside): That they should be known (As such) and not Molested.

Although this verse is directed in the first place to the Prophet’s “wives and daughters”, there is a reference also to “the believing women” hence it is generally understood by Muslim societies as applying to all Muslim women. According to the Qur’an the reason why Muslim women should wear an outer garment when going out of their houses is so that they may be recognized as “believing” Muslim women and differentiated from street-walkers for whom sexual harassment is an occupational hazard. The purpose of this verse was not to confine women to their houses but to make it safe for them to go about their daily business without attracting unwholesome attention. By wearing the outer garment a “believing” Muslim woman could be distinguished from the others. In societies where there is no danger of “believing” Muslim being confused with the others or in which “the outer garment” is unable to function as a mark of identification for “believing” Muslim women, the mere wearing of “the outer garment” would not fulfill the true objective of the Qur’anic decree. For example that older Muslim women who are “past the prospect of marriage” are not required to wear “the outer garment”. Surah 24: An-Nur, Aya 60 reads:

Such elderly women are past the prospect of marriage,– There is no blame on them, if they lay aside their (outer) garments, provided they make not wanton display of their beauty; but it is best for them to be modest: and Allah is One who sees and knows all things.

Women who on account of their advanced age are not likely to be regarded as sex-objects are allowed to discard “the outer garment” but there is no relaxation as far as the essential Qur’anic principle of modest behavior is concerned. Reflection on the above-cited verse shows that “the outer garment” is not required by the Qur’an as a necessary statement of modesty since it recognizes the possibility women may continue to be modest even when they have discarded “the outer garment.”

The Qur’an itself does not suggest either that women should be veiled or they should be kept apart from the world of men. On the contrary, the Qur’an is insistent on the full participation of women in society and in the religious practices prescribed for men.

2. The second fold of discussion will be how has this issue of Women Working in Public Places is being handled in the light of Islamic norms in countries like Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Arab World and even in Western Nations like America. The women in countries above are today working in govt public and private sectors with dignity and pride protecting their Islamic Identity and respect as a women and modesty. And they are helping the nations and families and society to get strong and vibrant by their contribution and sometimes doing better than the men for those like to know more can see from them self with open mind and speak to friends in those parts of the world so is in India, we have several examples of women doing extraordinary work in many fields.

3. In the Indian Context, and the State of Economic and Socially Backward community which is struggling for survival mainly in the BPL ( Below Poverty Level )families, Lower Middle Class of Muslims of India.

The economic backward in the lower classes of Muslims see, the male acting as a very irresponsible husband son and a brother.  There are growing issues of divorces, male having vises, marriages or relations out side the bonds of marriage, women beating, drinking, and furhter more, not working if working with irregularity,  disappearing for months with no care or concern to the suffer children and women with no means to support left the merci of destiny.

These women,  wifes,mothers and sisters are forced to work odd jobs and as maids, in small sewing centers, run small street “hookers” and shops totally at the mercy of fate, yet risking herself her dignity and respect to fill the bellies of her infants and children and give them schooling.

Why these “Thekedars of Muslims Societies’ do not reach them to support them and punish those irresponsible drunk and irresponsible Males of these women. Why there are no fatwa’s to punish them and measure to protect and feed the Women and her children and the ageing parents of these men. We have  graver pictures in the society which is plagued by the laziness and indiffernet attitude of Male, which  I am ashamed and cannot discuses due to limits of  modesty.

4. In a time when the women of India is able to took up with raised chin to be liberated from the hiccups of the Male dominated and Male exploitive society with her hard work and without going out of the limit set by hijab, or with out hijab.Most of them respect the modesty of Isalmic ethos, are today Working  in Corporate, Public and Private sectors. They  have become a earning member to give better education, values, and support the society.

We find allegations and disappointing doubts about her character and her sincerity towards Islam, Society and Family.

We find these fatwa’s in numbers embarrassing her and making her laughing stock in the eye her colleges.Though it will not be correct to generalise the approach of the males working around her when she is in the limits of modesty as she is in most cases. And if the lady or the male is indecent in his or her heart and do not value lowering of gaze and respecting the modesty, for them the hijab or no hijab they are on the evil side which none can stop. Important it to the limits and respect with the fear of Allah and be protective.

5. How the Indian Majority Hindu community  and Employers, has to say about this and how respectful and critical they are about such women who work in the public.  We know the Muslim women are seen with immense respect and dignity in our society, they see a lady in hijab in better light than women in non hijab.  The corporate world in India like any part or the World, has respect for her and Religous Muslim male or female, and there are separate spaces for performance of salat, Namaz in many IT companies and BPO’s in India, this shows the attitude of the society is positive towards Muslims.

The purity of thoughts, and the real values in women and men is purity of soul.    “Sharm aur haya, ka zinda hona” and “narzroo ka jukereha” both for men and women.

6. Are we right in thinking that all our women are under scanner, what about our men?

Are they free doing what they like? And work in public places where women  are working,  interacting with them freely just because they are men.

Does Quran not order Men to keep their gaze low when in company of  Women.

7. Can these Religious bodies who frame, strict guidelines gruntee  the piety of those women who are in full hijab just because she is in Hijab  ?  Most do not think so, Hijab is state of Mind and desire to be protected and loyal to Allah and his Rasool Mohammed SaS.

About Male And why do they allow the male to mingle with women in places of work, The principle applies equally on the Muslim Male, as it applies on Women as per Quranic vesres. Are we not expected to keep our gaze low and refrain from speaking to na  mehram women freely.

Are our religious heads loosing grip on the masses, — As the masses are gradually are surly with reasonable amount of success are trying to face the challenges of the world and the society and getting educated and understanding Islam by reading and interacting from the electronic media which is educating them and the internet, which though is a double edged sword is also educating Muslims women to be a good Muslim and also to be a good National and a good Mother,  good sister and good wife.   And support her family with respectable earning thru legitimate jobs.

The fear of greater  isolation of  these religious heads,  they in “Bokhlahat” of losing their grip are coming up and  giving air to very controversial issues to attract attention, only God knows.

8. When the struggling Muslims who are in a disadvantaged state and economically so back ward and socially left out in a country like India where the door of opportunity is almost closed on their faces, with great effort and compromise when the Muslims both women and men are trying to push open this closed door of opportunity and seeing a ray of hope entering in to their life’s, why are our own people pushing the door to close it again.  Can any one answer ?.

9. Under one roof of a joint family in a nation like India with limited resources, we invariably see Mahram and Na mehram living side by side under one roof.  I would like to ask these Moulana’s why can’t they give a fatwa to tell all the Muslims to not to live under one roof side by side with Na mehrams ? They will not.

Does our purity of thought and lowered gaze and respect for the relations with purity not a prevailing force which is keeping our family structure intact, are we not modest in our thoughts and actions in general. ?

Or are we blatantly ready to put the whole community under doubt on the intentions in relations, like father in law and daughter in law,   brother’swife and husbands bother, wife’s mother and son in-law.

10.Let us not complicate let us try to be good Muslims  and lower our gaze, be good souls, as good Muslims have good intentions and be good practicing Muslims in the limit,s and guideline and practices hijab as is in the various parts of the world by the Muslim women, do and working with great sence of responsitbility and obideience towards Allah and his messanger Mohammed may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

And do not be harsh on those women who are seen as  not in full hijab,  they  very possibly may have  great concern towards modesty,  but not strictly following Scafff, and Hijab,  They also see the benefit of hijab and the amount of respect the hijab wearing Muslim women gets, in places of work in office and public areas.

As a matter of fact the hijab wearing working women is given respect and looked as good Muslim, by all sections of the society and the majority, they respect her and take care for her privacy.

Let us not generalize the whole issue there is fare amount of decency in most of them. The women is a majority population of Muslims today as a gender, women are more than men, her support to the family with many sacrifices should be appreciated and respected. Let us not be harsh on her brothers.

Allalh Knows best, and any mistake in understanding the ture message the burden  is on me. And ask merici and pardon from Allah Subhanawatala, Oh Allah guide me and correct me if I am wrong.

  1. Dr Ahmed Khan
    May 12, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    I beg to differ. first point, i would like to say is islam is not about ‘what i understand the meaning of this verse is’ islam is about understanding what ALLAH wants from us. MUSLIM menas ‘a person who SUBMITS to the WILL of ALLAH’. second point, quran is the word of ALLAH outlining various rules for muslims but as to how it is to be practiced in real life comes from the sunnah of rasoolalallah PBUH, ex salah is farz but how it is to be done is known only from sunnah. third point, there are several women who have been mentioned in the holy quran but none were mentioned by name, every one was mentioned by there relation, ex wife of pharoah, wife of lut AWS tafseer explains that ALLAH did not even like to mention the name of a women in public how would he approve women to come without a viel in public. fourth point, there was no women among the sahabah who were known to come out in public without face viel after the order for hijaab was revealed. fifth point, hadeeth of mishkat hazrath fatima said ‘the best thing a women can get is that no strange mans sight falls on her and no strange man comes in her sight’ i think if we study quran and hadeeth in the right sense the answer is very clear. i apologise but would like to say that one should refrain from saying what one thinks is the meaning of quran rather understand what ALLAH wants from us.

  2. May 14, 2010 at 8:19 am

    The Deoban Darul Uloom triggered a huge debate on the above subject in media and in public has given a denial.. this is surprising how can our media be so irresponsible, I will be posting the denial and the version of the Media too. But If they are denying says all that they have said against working women and it is true I am happy… and our effort to counter and raise and discuss issues like this is satisfying … hopefully Inshalllah … May Allah guide us all.

  3. Amir
    May 14, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    If the muslim community has to progress in India both men and women have to contribute, Although hijab is prescribed in is prescribed in Islam, I am sure, as far as my knowledge goes, women were never prohibited to work or do business. Infact while staying in the prescribed limits muslim women can do business and work.

    Today, most muslim girls study but there education is not put to use as they are not allowed to work.

    I don’t think it is right for us to ban women from working any where, when Allah(SWT) did not put any such restriction on them.

  4. Ahmed Mustafa
    May 14, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    If The Deoban Darul Uloom is the highest seminary in India then the first action should be the confiscation of their authority. Why I am telling this is they should have mentioned the Quaranic reference of Ayoob (A.S.) [the prophet with the highest patience] wife’s case that she was the bread and butter earner of the family. Therefore under ultimate circumstances a Women can go for work. Now there are thousands of cases where the family is depended on the daughter or wife or a female member they may not be knowing the exception and would think that if they are working along with males even with proper hijab are committing sins. And would lose the confidence in the universality of religion Islam.

    At the same time I also support all the points raised by the author Mr. Adil.

    Appreciating the fifth point of the comments by Dr. Ahmed Khan. I want to refer the story of Ayoob A.S. where divine message mentions that the Wife of Ayoob A.S. has not done any wrong.

    With due respect to Alims would like to mention that if the statement of the Darululum is the one mentioned in the blog then they are degrading the status of Islam.

  5. Arvind Singh
    May 14, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    At the practical level, there are many difficulties that arise when a case of sexual harassment at the work place is brought up. Typically, the employers feel defensive as they have a reputation to protect. but women have to explore their strengths and resolve to be bold in questioning such experiences, not with fear or shame, but with the knowledge that they are right in doing so. http://www.lawisgreek.com/laws-to-protect-women-from-sexual-harassment-at-work-places/

    • May 15, 2010 at 6:12 am

      Thank you Mr. Arvind I appriciate your cocnern and posting of a link. So nice of you thank you very much… take care may god bless you.

  6. May 15, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Lucknow/New Delhi: Darul Uloom Deoband, the country’s foremost Islamic seminary, Wednesday denied it has asked Muslim women not to work along with men and said it only suggested that working women should dress “properly”.

    “We had only given an opinion based on Sharia that women need to be properly covered in government and private offices,” said Maulana Adnan Munshi, spokesman for the seminary in Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

    He denied media reports that the seminary was opposed to men and women working together.

    “No new fatwa was issued,” Maulana Munshi told IANS on telephone, adding that even the opinion on dress code was given when a Muslim woman desired to know if women could go to work without a ‘purdah’ or veil.

    “That too is one-and-a-half months old,” he said.

    The Deoband institution also denied having issued a ‘fatwa’ whereby a husband’s dependence on his wife’s earnings was declared illegal.

    “We have not issued any such ‘fatwa’ declaring a woman’s financial support to the family as illegal. I fail to understand how such a news was flashed across a section of the media,” Mufti Mohammad Shakeel of the ‘Fatwa’ department told IANS over telephone from Deoband.

    According to him, the only case where the income of the lady of the house could be treated as ‘haram’ or illegal was when the means of her earnings were unlawful.

    He stressed that neither has such a fatwa been issued in the past, nor was there any scope for such a ‘fatwa’ to be issued in future as it was against the basic spirit of Islam, which believed in equality between man and wife.

    “I would not be surprised if someone was misusing the name of this esteemed Deoband institution to paint a distorted picture of the Shariat by projecting such a view,” Mufti Shakeel said.

    Maulana Khalid Rasheed, Naib Imam of Lucknow’s Idgah who also heads the city’s oldest seminary Firangi Mahal, said Islam did not discriminate between men and women.

    “There was no question of the tenets of Islam dismissing a women’s earnings through legitimate means as illegal. A woman has as much right to contribute financially towards running a family household as her husband,” he said.

    But the media report claiming that the Deoband seminary had issued a “fatwa” against working women has led to sharp reactions from leaders and scholars from the Muslim community.

    Maulana N A Farooqui, secretary of the Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, said the Deoband fiat “should be understood in the correct perspective”.

    He said Islam does not prohibit women from taking up jobs or moving outside the house but it was obligatory for them to keep themselves “properly covered”.

    Congress MP Rashid Alvi said every religion had its own rules but the law of the land must prevail ultimately.

    “Whatever a preacher says, it is according to religion. But if there is a conflict between religion and constitution, then the law of the land will prevail,” Alvi told IANS.

    Former MP Syed Shahabuddin said Muslim women in contemporary life were educated, had taken up jobs and, in some cases, were helping their husbands in running businesses. “It is not possible to follow such a fatwa.”

    NOW …. PLAESE PAUSE AND THINK

    The Darul Uloom Deoband now denies, having given any fatwa agaisnt women working in govt or public places, as was very widly reported in Media and heated debates were aired, and my I wrote on the subject, voicing concerns and opposing such fatwas, this does not end hear then the Mulsim Women deserves to be apologised f…or such a irresponsible swing from to to against by both The Media and the Darul oolom Deowband,. The fact has to come out who was on a mission to embrass the Muslim Working Women. Was the Media or the Darul Uloom Deoband. The Muslim Women should be told and apologiesed. Yes/NO

  7. May 15, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    This whole issue needs to be probed and the truth has to come out who was trying to defame Islam and Muslims and in particular Working Mulsim Women. Weather it is Media or the Darul olum Deoband.

    The Media and the Darul ollom Deobmand one of them is guilty and they should be asked to expalin and apologize with the Working Women of Indian. Yes/No.

  8. May 15, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Renowned lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar has received a death threat in form of an email reportedly in reaction to his comments against Darul Uloom Deoband’s fatwa against working Muslim women

    On the same issue…

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