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Was Khadeejah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) a “Working Woman”?

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Question:

Assalaamu ‘alaikum

Respected ‘Ulama

I shared this article on your website, regarding women working, with some of my friends.

Someone then mentioned that since Khadeejah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) was a merchant and used to work, it should be fine for Muslim women to work as well.

What is the correct answer to this?

Jazakallah

Answer:

Bismihi Ta‘ala

Wa ‘alaikumus salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barkaatuh

Respected Sister in Islam

The laws of Deen were gradually introduced to the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) via Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Some aspects were initially permissible and later declared forbidden. Eventually, during the final pilgrimage, the verse “Today I have perfected for you your Deen …” was revealed. Hence, if someone takes something that happened in the initial era but was later abrogated and presents it as “proof”, this will be a clear sign of his ignorance. For instance, wine was initially permissible to consume but was later totally forbidden. If someone cites the incidents of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) consuming wine, hence it is fine to consume wine, this will be the height of ignorance.

In any case, Sayyidah Khadeejah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) married Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) fifteen years prior to nubuwwat and passed away in the 10th year of nubuwwat. The incidents recorded in the books regarding her being a merchant speak about the time before she had even married Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), let alone after the nubuwwat of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Furthermore, the manner in which she conducted her business was totally different to the norm of the business world of today. Reliable historical reports have clearly explained that she would hire people to carry out her business and give them some percentage of the profit. (Seerah Ibnu Hishaam vol. 1, pg. 188)

Therefore, it is totally incorrect to cite her action, which happened even before she got married to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), and present it as Deeni proof. 

Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) still remained in the world for approximately thirteen years after her demise. The question is: “Did any of the other Azwaaj Mutahharaat (Noble Wives) become ‘merchants’ who ‘used to work’ or not?

As for the system that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) advocated; he apportioned all the work indoors to Sayyidah Faatimah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) and the work outdoors to Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). (Musannaf Ibni Abi Shaibah #29677) This is the system that is to be adopted for all times.

Answered by:

Uswatul Muslimah Panel of ‘Ulama

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