Sayyed Fadlullah: Islam
regards the physically and mentally mature woman as a legal
entity and an independent figure financially and socially
"Laha" Magazine interviewed the Religious
Reference, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah, on the rights and duties
of the working woman from an Islamic perspective. The following are the
questions and answers:
Q: Does the husband have the right to ask his wife
to help him with the living expenses?
A: In Islam, if the woman is physically and mentally mature, she is thus
a legal entity and an independent figure and she is not under the
control of anyone. She is free to deal with the money she earns from her
freelance or fixed job or the money she inherits from her parents. She
is also free to choose her future husband, whether she is a virgin or
not. The virgin woman has the right to chose and to marry her husband
without the consent of her father, grandfather, or brother. The husband
does not have the right to ask his wife – from a religious perspective –
to share the living expenses unless the marriage contract stipulates
otherwise. He is responsible for her expenses even though she is
financially capable of covering her personal needs.
Perhaps this is the reason why Islam made a distinction between the
share of the male and female in the inheritance. The man – husband – is
responsible to spend money on his wife and children and cover their own
needs. Thus, Islam made a balance in terms of the rights and duties
between the male and the female and as such, the man's share is bigger
than that of the woman as he has to give a dower to the woman and pay
the alimony [Nafaqa] from his own share, while the woman is not
responsible for these expenses.
Q: Do the parents have the right to ask their
married daughter to give them part of her salary?
A: No, the parents do not have the right to ask their married and
unmarried working daughter to give them a part of her salary, because
religiously, she is only asked to be kind to them and she has the right
to use her salary to manage her own affairs and needs.
Q: Does the working woman (the wife and the
mother) have any financial duties towards her house?
A: No, the working mother (the wife and the mother) is not responsible
for any financial duties towards the house (the husband and the
children), because Islam did not task her with such duties. Yet, Islam
said it is recommendable for the woman to take part in the expenses out
of ethical values and for the sake of social integration within the
framework of the family unit.
Q: What about the wife's salary if her husband in
A: There is no difference whether the husband is employed or unemployed.
A number of jurisprudents say the wife must spend on her children if
there is no one to shoulder this responsibility. But she is not
duty-bound to spend on her husband.
Q: Is the man's right only restricted to approving
or rejecting his wife's job without having the right to share her money?
A: If the wife was employed when the marriage contract was signed or if
she stipulated at the time of marriage that she would carry on working,
her husband does not have the right to prevent her from going out to
work. In our opinion, he does not have the right to stop her from
working if her job does not contradict with his sexual rights. In other
cases, he has the right to stop her from working if her job clashes with
their marriage relationship. In this case, he can ask her to give him
part of her salary in return for allowing her to carry on working.
Q: Does Islam call the woman to share the living
expenses with her husband?
A: Islam does not ask the woman to share any living expenses with the
man, but he encourages her contribution especially if their situation
requires cooperation and if the husband alone is unable to meet all the
financial needs of the family.
In brief, the Islamic fatwa that the woman is not responsible to spend
on the house and her family is based on legal considerations in terms of
the allocation of rights and duties. But from a humanitarian and ethical
perspective, Islam does not regard marriage as a financial corporation
between the man and the woman in which everything undergoes accurate
calculations. Instead, Islam said that marriage is a humanitarian
relationship based on love and mercy. Thus, the husband and the wife
must cooperate to establish a stable family, and each partner must do
every effort to support the family even though she is not religiously
bound to do so. For instance, the woman is not responsible for doing the
household and looking after her children as this is the husband's
responsibility, unless it was stipulated otherwise in the marriage
contract. But out of her ethical and humanitarian and spiritual
responsibility, she must look after her house and raise her children and
spend her money and effort, in order to become closer to God and to
integrate with her husband spiritually and physically.