Article 112: The primary role of women is that she is a mother and responsible over the household and she is an honour that must be protected.
This article is derived from numerous evidences: firstly, the evidences which encourage marriage and that the woman has more rights in the nursing of the child. Secondly, the evidences which prohibit the woman from leaving her husband’s house without his permission and obligate her to serve her husband. Thirdly, the evidences regarding the Awrah (private parts of body that must be covered in public and in front of non-family members), the private sphere of life for her, the prohibition of khalwah (for an unrelated man and woman to be alone together in private space), the prohibition of the woman travelling without a close male relative and the prohibition of Tabarruj (beautification which attracts attention).
The first evidence has been mentioned in a narration from Anas that the Prophet used to instruct people to be chaste, while vigorously prohibiting celibacy; he said
«تَزَوَّجُوا الْوَدُودَ الْوَلُودَ، إِنِّي مُكَاثِرٌ بِكُمُ الأَنْبِيَاءَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ»
“Marry from those who are tender and fertile, for indeed I will compete with the Prophets in your great numbers on the day of judgement” (reported by Ahmad with a Hasan chain).Ma’qal b. Yasar narrated
«جَاءَ رَجُلٌ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ فَقَالَ: إِنِّي أَصَـبْتُ امْرَأَةً ذَاتَ حَسَبٍ وَجَمَالٍ وَإِنَّهَا لاَ تَلِدُ أَفَأَتَزَوَّجُهَا؟ قَالَ: لاَ، ثُمَّ أَتَاهُ الثَّانِيَةَ فَنَهَاهُ، ثُمَّ أَتَاهُ الثَّالِثَةَ فَقَالَ: تَزَوَّجُوا الْوَدُودَ الْوَلُودَ فَإِنِّي مُكَاثِرٌ بِكُمُ الأُمَمَ»
“A man came to the Prophet and said “I have found a woman who is beautiful and of noble descent, but she cannot bear children. Shall I marry her?” He said: “No”. Then he came to him again for the second time and he told him not to. Then he came to him a third time, so the Prophet said “Marry those who are tender and fertile, for indeed I will compete against the other nations with your great numbers””(reported by Abu Dawud and Ibn Hibban and Al-Hakim, who authenticated it).This indicates that the wisdom behind marriage and the intended result is childbirth, and he prohibited marrying a woman who was known by her fiancé to be barren, though this is a non-decisive prohibition due to the absence of an indication of decisiveness, as well as the evidences reported that permit withdrawal, in other words, for the sake of preventing pregnancy. From these evidences is what Muslim reported from Jabir who said
«كُنَّا نَعْزِلُ عَلَى عَهْدِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ فَبَلَغَ ذَلِكَ نَبِيَّ اللَّهِ فَلَمْ يَنْهَنَا»
“We used to withdraw (practice coitus interruptus) at the time of the Messenger of Allah , and that reached the Messenger of Allah and he did not prohibit it”. So it is permitted to marry a woman who is barren, though it is preferable to marry those who can bear many as it is recommended in accordance with the previous narrations. In other words, the woman is primarily to be a mother, and then a wife and to have spousal relations in accordance with what the Shari’ah made permitted and recommended. Additionally, it is narrated from ‘Abd Allah b. Amr b. Al-‘Aas
«أَنَّ امْرَأَةً قَالَتْ: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، إِنَّ ابْنِي هَذَا كَانَ بَطْنِي لَهُ وِعَاءً، وَثَدْيِي لَهُ سِقَاءً، وَحِجْرِي لَهُ حِوَاءً، وَإِنَّ أَبَاهُ طَلَّقَنِي وَأَرَادَ أَنْ يَنْـتَزِعَهُ مِنِّي، فَقَالَ لَهَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ : أَنْتِ أَحَقُّ بِهِ مَا لَمْ تَنْكِحِي»
“A woman said: “O Messenger of Allah, this is my son whom my stomach carried, my breast is a water-skin for him, and my lap is a guard for him. His father has divorced me and wants to take him away from me”. He said: “You have more right to him as long as you do not remarry”” (reported by Abu Dawud and Al-Hakim that authenticated it and Al-Dhahabi confirmed it). So the narration enumerated the various situations which occur between a mother and child, which indicates the importance of her motherhood, and he gave her custody. These two narrations indicate that the primary role of the woman is to be a mother, in addition to the rules related to pregnancy, birth and suckling the child.
As for the second evidence, it is narrated from Anas that a man travelled having prohibited his wife from leaving their home, and subsequently her father became ill and so she sought permission from the Messenger of Allah to visit him, and the Messenger said to her
«اتَّقِي اللَّهَ وَلاَ تُخَالِفِي زَوْجَكِ»
“Fear Allah, do not disobey your husband” as mentioned by Ibn Qudamah in Al-Mughni. It is narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said
«لاَ يَحِلُّ لِلْمَرْأَةِ أَنْ تَصُومَ وَزَوْجُهَا شَاهِدٌ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِهِ»
“It is not allowed for a woman to fast while her husband is present, unless she has his permission” (agreed upon narration). And it is narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Prophet said
«وَمِنْ حَقِّ الزَّوْجِ عَلَى زَوْجَتِهِ أَنْ لاَ تَصُومَ تَطَوُّعاً إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِهِ»
“The husband has a right over his wife that she does not undertake any voluntary fasting except with his permission” (reported by Al-Tabarani). The Shari’ah has given women the right to visit their father if they became ill, and the right to do voluntary fasting, but it made it subservient to the husband’s right over her, which indicates that the primary role is that she is responsible over the home.
Additionally, it is reported that the Prophet
«قَضَى عَلَى ابْـنَتِهِ فَاطِمَةَ بِخِدْمَةِ البَـيْتِ. وَعَلَى عَلِيٍّ مَا كَانَ خَارِجَ البَـيْتِ»
“ruled that his daughter Fatima discharges housework, and ‘Ali the outdoor work” reported by Ibn Abi Shaybah from Damrah b. Habib, and although Abu Bakr Bin Maryam Al-Ghassani is in the chain of the narration, the meaning of it is in the narration which Ahmad reported in Al-Musnad with a Hasan chain from ‘Ali (ra) which mentioned:
«... فَقَالَ عَلِيٌّ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهِ لَقَدْ سَنَوْتُ حَتَّى اشْتَكَيْتُ صَدْرِي وَقَالَتْ فَاطِمَةُ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهَا قَدْ طَحَنْتُ حَتَّى مَجَلَتْ يَدَايَ وَقَدْ جَاءَكَ اللَّهُ بِسَبْيٍ وَسَعَةٍ فَأَخْدِمْنَا... ثُمَّ قَالَ أَلا أُخْبِرُكُمَا بِخَيْرٍ مِمَّا سَأَلْتُمَانِي قَالَا بَلَى فَقَالَ كَلِمَاتٌ عَلَّمَنِيهِنَّ جِبْرِيلُ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَام فَقَالَ تُسَبِّحَانِ فِي دُبُرِ كُلِّ صَلَاةٍ عَشْرًا وَتَحْمَدَانِ عَشْرًا وَتُكَبِّرَانِ عَشْرًا وَإِذَا أَوَيْتُمَا إِلَى فِرَاشِكُمَا فَسَبِّحَا ثَلَاثًا وَثَلَاثِينَ وَاحْمَدَا ثَلَاثًا وَثَلَاثِينَ وَكَبِّرَا أَرْبَعًا وَثَلَاثِينَ قَالَ فَوَاللَّهِ مَا تَرَكْتُهُنَّ مُنْذُ عَلَّمَنِيهِنَّ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ فَقَالَ لَهُ ابْنُ الْكَوَّاءِ وَلَا لَيْلَةَ صِفِّينَ فَقَالَ قَاتَلَكُمْ اللَّهُ يَا أَهْلَ الْعِرَاقِ نَعَمْ وَلَا لَيْلَةَ صِفِّينَ»
“….and so ‘Ali said: O Messenger of Allah, I swear by Allah I irrigated the land until my chest hurt, and Fatima said I have grinded flour until my hands got blisters, and Allah has brought you many captives so help us (in this work)…So he said: should I inform you of something which is better than what you asked me? They said yes. He said: Some words which Jibril taught me: After each prayer Say Glory to Allah (sabih) ten times, Praise be to Allah (hamd) ten times, and Allah is Great (Kabbir) ten times, and when you go to bed then Sabih, and Hamd thirty three times each and Kabbir thirty four times. I swear by Allah, I did not leave doing that from the time that the Messenger of Allah taught me. Then Ibn Al-Kawa asked him: Not even on the night of Siffin (the battle with Mu’awiyah)? So he replied: May Allah fight you O people of Iraq, Yes, not even on the night of Siffin”.
In this report the Messenger did not blame Ali (ra) for working on the irrigation outdoors, nor Fatimah (ra) for grinding flour indoors, but rather gave them some words which would make the difficulty of life easier for them, and be of more benefit and lasting to them in the hereafter.
Similarly the narration indicates the obligation of the work of the woman in her house, and the man’s work outside of it, since the request for a servant is an evidence of the difficulty of the work upon her inside and him outside, and if these issues were not obligatory upon them there would be no indication from the difficulty of the work, in which case there would be no difficulty and no hardship, if it was not obligatory.
This is from the angle of what is understood from the narration of Ahmad as a support for the narration of Ibn Abi Shaybah.
Also Abu Hanifah used the narration, as did a number of jurists, such as Abu Bakr Bin Abi Shaybah who reported the narration, as well as Abu Ishaq Al-Jurjani who also reported the narration through numerous chains as mentioned by the author of Al-Mughni, though he (ibn Qudama) did not use it himself.
In the same way Ibn Habib Al-Maliki in Al-Wadiha took the narration and used it. Ibn Hajar mentioned in Fateh Al-Bari: “And Ibn Habib reported from Asbagh and Ibn Al-Majishun from Malik that the housework is obliged upon the woman, even she was noble, if her husband was not financially able to pay (for a servant). He said: and for that reason the Prophet obliged Fatima with the indoor work and Ali the outdoor”.
Based upon that we take the mentioned narration of Ibn Abi Shaybah
«قَضَى عَلَى ابْـنَتِهِ فَاطِمَةَ بِخِدْمَةِ البَـيْتِ. وَعَلَى عَلِيٍّ مَا كَانَ خَارِجَ البَـيْتِ»
“he ruled his daughter Fatima with the housework, and Ali with the outdoor work”.
And he used to order his wives to help him. Muslim reported from 'Aisha (ra) the mother of the believers that the Messenger of Allah said
«يَا عَائِشَةُ هَلُمِّي الْمُدْيَةَ، ثُمَّ قَالَ اشْحَذِيهَا بِحَجَرٍ فَفَعَلَتْ»
“O 'Aisha, bring the knife and sharpen it with a stone”. And Ahmad reported with an authentic chain from Ya’ish b. Takhfa Bin Qays Al-Ghifari who said my father was from the Al-Suffa (poor people at the time of the Prophet )…until he mentioned
«فَانْطَلَقْنَا مَعَهُ إِلَى بَيْتِ عَائِشَةَ، فَقَالَ: يَا عَائِشَةُ، أَطْعِمِينَا ... ثُمَّ قَالَ: يَا عَائِشَةُ، اسْـقِينَا»
“So we went with him to the house of 'Aisha, so he said: O 'Aisha, feed us, ... then he said, O 'Aisha, bring us drinks”. If serving him conflicted with any action that the Shari’ah made Mubah (permitted) for her, such as trade, or anything recommended, such as recommended prayers, then serving him is preferred. So it would be upon her to leave behind the optional and recommended actions and instead serve him. These two evidences are proof that the primary role for the woman is to be responsible for the household.
As for the third evidence, the Prophet said
«إِنَّ الْجَارِيَةَ إِذَا حَاضَتْ لَمْ يَصْلُحْ أَنْ يُرَى مِنْهَا إِلاَّ وَجْهُهَا وَيَدَاهَا إِلَى المِفْصَلِ»
“If a girl reaches puberty (indicated by starting menstrual cycle), it is not correct that any part of her be seen other than her face and her two hands up to the wrists” reported by Abu Dawud as a Mursal narration from Qatadah, and Qatadah had met the companion Anas and so his Mursal narrations are acted upon. This is the restriction for the woman’s clothing and her Awrah, and it a proof that she is an honour that must be protected.
Additionally, Allah (swt) said
((يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا لَا تَدْخُلُوا بُيُوتًا غَيْرَ بُيُوتِكُمْ حَتَّى تَسْتَأْنِسُوا وَتُسَلِّمُوا عَلَى أَهْلِهَا))
“O you who have believed, do not enter houses other than your own houses until you ascertain welcome (ask for permission) and greet their inhabitants.” (TMQ 24:27), and so Allah (swt) prohibited to enter houses without the permission of their occupants, and considered lack of permission to be estrangeent, and the granting of permission to be made familiar, and said
(( حَتَّى تَسْتَأْنِسُوا ))
“Until you ascertain welcome.” which is an allusion that indicates requesting permission. The permission here is intended to prevent entering into a house when the woman is not covered, which is why permission is necessary even with the mother. In a narration:
«حَدَّثَنِي مَالِكٌ عَنْ صَفْوَانَ بْنِ سُلَيْمٍ عَنْ عَطَاءِ بْنِ يَسَارٍ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ سَأَلَهُ رَجُلٌ فَقَالَ: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَسْـتَأْذِنُ عَلَى أُمِّي؟ فَقَالَ: نَعَمْ، قَالَ الرَّجُلُ: إِنِّي مَعَهَا فِي الْبَيْتِ، فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ : اسْتَأْذِنْ عَلَيْهَا، فَقَالَ الرَّجُلُ: إِنِّي خَادِمُهَا فَقَالَ لَهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ : اسْتَأْذِنْ عَلَيْهَا أَتُحِبُّ أَنْ تَرَاهَا عُرْيَانَةً؟ قَالَ: لاَ، قَالَ: فَاسْـتَأْذِنْ عَلَيْهَا»
“Malik told me from Safwan b. Sulaym from ‘Ata’ b. Yasar a man asked the Prophet ‘Should I seek permission to see my mother?’. He said ‘Yes’. So the man said “she is in the house with me”. He said ‘Seek her permission. So the man said ‘She has no one else to serve her other than me, should I still seek permission every time I see her?’. He said ‘Seek her permission. Would you like to see her naked?’ The man replied: ‘No’. So the Prophet said ‘So seek permission’” reported by Malik in Al-Muwatta and Abu Dawud in Al-Marasil from ‘Ata’ b. Yasar, and Ibn ‘Abd Al-Barr said in Al-Tamhid that it is an authentic Mursal narration, and in Al-Istidhkar he said it is from the authentic Mursal narrations. And Allah (swt) said
((وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَى جُيُوبِهِنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ آَبَائِهِنَّ أَوْ آَبَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَائِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي أَخَوَاتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَائِهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ أَوِ التَّابِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُولِي الْإِرْبَةِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ أَوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلَى عَوْرَاتِ النِّسَاءِ))
“And tell the believing women to not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women.” (TMQ 24:31). Therefore, Allah (swt) has defined what can be shown by the woman in her private life, and that she can only let her family (Maharim – those men who cannot marry her) and those who do not have sexual desires (children and elderly) see more than her face and hands. This restriction clearly indicates that she is an honour which must be protected, and so she is surrounded with these rules. In the same manner that her Awrah is defined, the people who are permitted to see more from her Awrah are also precisely defined, which indicates that the woman is protected.
Additionally, it has been narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that he heard the Prophet addressing the people saying
«لاَ يَخْلُوَنَّ رَجُلٌ بِامْرَأَةٍ إِلاَّ مَعَ ذِي مَحْرَمٍ»
“A man should not be alone with a woman unless she has a Mahram (male family member) with her” (agreed upon). It is also narrated that the Prophet said
«لاَ يَحِلُّ لامْرَأَةٍ تُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ تُسَافِرُ مَسِيرَةَ يَوْمٍ إِلاَّ مَعَ ذِي مَحْرَمٍ»
“It is not permitted for a woman who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgement to travel a day and night journey without Mahram” (reported by Muslim). And in the narration of Ibn ‘Abbas that the Prophet said
«... وَلاَ تُسَافِرِ الْمَرْأَةُ إِلاَّ مَعَ ذِي مَحْرَمٍ، فَقَامَ رَجُلٌ فَقَالَ: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّ امْرَأَتِي خَرَجَتْ حَاجَّةً وَإِنِّي اكْـتُتِبْتُ فِي غَزْوَةِ كَذَا وَكَذَا، قَالَ: انْطَلِقْ فَحُجَّ مَعَ امْرَأَتِكَ»
“A woman must not travel unless she is with her Mahram” A man stood up and said ‘O Messenger of Allah: my wife has gone to pilgrimage and I was assigned to such and such expedition. The Messenger said “Then leave and go on pilgrimage with your wife” (reported by Muslim from Ibn ‘Abbas). So the Messenger withdrew him from the army which was going out to battle, in order to protect his wife.
Also, Allah (swt) said
((وَالْقَوَاعِدُ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ اللَّاتِي لَا يَرْجُونَ نِكَاحًا فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْهِنَّ جُنَاحٌ أَنْ يَضَعْنَ ثِيَابَهُنَّ غَيْرَ مُتَبَرِّجَاتٍ بِزِينَةٍ))
“And women of post-menstrual age who have no desire for marriage - there is no blame upon them for putting aside their outer garments [but] not displaying adornment .” (TMQ 24:60). The meaning is not that they should not be beautified, since beautification is permitted for the woman without any restriction, rather they should not display their beautification in such a way that would turn men’s attention towards them, and so the prohibition is for the open display of the beautification and not the beautification itself.
These evidences all indicate conclusively that the woman is an honour that must be protected, and accordingly the proof of this article has been made clear.