SP Answers: Women, Work and Circumstances
Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher
I am in real anxiety and I am not sure what to do, please give me some advice. Many years ago my ambitions were for this Dunya and as others I went to university with hopes of career and so forth. Within the years at university, Allah guided me from darkness in to light, I learnt more about Islam and my life changed. Alhamdulillah, my ambitions were no longer for this Dunya, but I still continued my degree. I have graduated now but am not sure what to do. I don’t want to work as I know for a female it is not the right thing. However, my father passed away last year, I have no brother and am not married. My mother is old and can not work but alhamdulillah our situation is not bad; we still receive half of my father’s pension money that he used to receive monthly. However in England we have to pay extra tax on housing for each person, and I don’t want my mother to be burdened with all the bills and so forth , even though she says she will be able to cope. I also am afraid of missing salah if I work and I don’t know what I will answer to Allah on the day of judgment. This keeps on going around in my head and it’s all I think about; I feel anxiety all the time. I am scared I do not want to go back into the wrong path after Allah has guided me. I know if I miss one salah, before long shaitan will have a chance to work his evil. Also if I don’t work , family and people will say I am a bad daughter for not supporting my mother. I did my degree on radiography, I x-rayed patients in hospital. Is this permissible? Please advise me. I wanted to do Salat al-Istikhara but I do not know the dua off by heart, is it ok for some one else to pray this salah for me?….Also can the dua be read by looking at a book?
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Praise be to Allah and may Allah’s peace and blessings be on the Messenger
I pray this message finds you in good health and spirits.
Although your situation might appear to present a dilemma, from an outsider’s point of view, it seems that there are some promising and entirely feasible solutions.
1. On praying istikhara:
This is not a difficult prayer to make. There are plenty of places where you can purchase dua books. All good dua books contain the major Sunna supplications like istikhara. You should obtain a copy of Reflections of Pearls, available at whitethreadpress.com.
To make istikhara, all you do is make a good ablution, then pray two raka’at of voluntary prayer, then remain on your prayer rug, praise Allah, invoke peace and blessings on the Messenger, and then say the special dua of istikhara. Complete instructions on how to perform Salat al-Istikhara, or the Guidance Prayer, are available right here at SunniPath: Istikhara: The Guidance Prayer.
You do not need to learn the dua by heart. Simply make your two raka’at, then read the dua from the book, or print out the instructions from SunniPath.
2. On women in the workforce:
There is nothing wrong with a woman’s going out and working. If a woman has male relatives to provide for her, then, in general, it is better for her to stay home. However, even this ruling has its details. For example, many women are providing critical services to the community, so as long as they are observing the limits of Sacred Law, then their going out is permissible.
Your situation is very different. In your case, you should go out and work because you don’t have any male relatives to provide for you. Even more importantly, you have an elderly mother. It doesn’t sound entirely prudent to try to eke out a living on your deceased father’s pension, when you have the skills and ability to work. This leads me to my next point.
3. On the obligation to support parents:
If our parents don’t have the means to support themselves, or if they’re elderly, then the Shariah requires us to support them.
You are all your mother has, so why wouldn’t you work? As long as the work you do is within the boundaries of the Shariah and doesn’t compromise your dignity, then it is completely permissible to work. Moreover, there is great blessing in work which is done with one’s own hands. And there is immense reward both in this world and the Hereafter in providing for one’s family members.
Think of the satisfaction you will have as you provide financial security for both yourself and your elderly mother.
And do see the following “Fiqh of financially supporting one’s parents and other relatives.”
4. On missing prayers if one goes out:
Why assume that you will miss your prayers if you get a job? Plenty of Muslims successfully pray on the job, and there’s no reason to assume that you can’t. If you do miss a prayer, then you make tauba (repentance), make up the prayer, and keep on going.
I pray that Allah Ta’ala facilitates the best solution for you and your mother.