....Women can work if they wish to, but are NOT obligated to do so....
Allah (SWT) lifted from women the obligation of working to provide and support themselves and their families. He made this obligation particular for men alone. Allah (SWT) commanded men to be responsible for the care of women during all stages of their life.
While she is a child, she is under the care of her father. This responsibility is not lifted except by her marriage or (his/her) death, nor does it cease after she reaches a certain age as occurs according to the laws in many nations.
After she marries, the responsibility falls on her husband so long as she is under his care due to the contract of marriage.
If she has neither father nor husband, the responsibility of her care falls on her brother who assumes the role of her father when he is not present; and if she has no brother then whoever is her closest male relative from whom she would inherit and whom would inherit from her (would assume the role of her father).
If she has no male relative, the obligation falls upon the Muslim community. The responsibility of her care is a communal obligation and if none fulfills that duty, all have sinned.
Furthermore even if she is wealthy, Islam has dropped from her the obligation of assuming care of anyone. With the presence of her husband (or for that matter her parents), it is not required that she spend upon her children unless she seeks to do such as an act of righteousness, kindness and maintaining ties of the womb. She is not obligated to work in order to take care of herself or her children.
This lifting of the obligation of working for the purpose of providing for herself was in order to preserve her from being degraded, as many jobs that are sought to gain livelihood entail humiliation and hardship. Likewise this responsibility was lifted to preserve her from temptation and mixing with men and because this is from the specialization that Allah (SWT) has made as a law for His creation.
If a woman were charged to work in order to provide for her livelihood in addition to her natural duties of pregnancy, child birth, and breast feeding this would be an obligation above what she could bear and would be an injustice to women. Otherwise this work would be at the expense of her natural duties of pregnancy, birth, breast feeding and raising her children. This is exactly what has occurred with all nations that have deviated from what Allah (SWT) has made a natural state among His creation.
In these non-Muslim societies, men are pleased with this situation as this gains for them greater gratification with women and drops from them a considerable amount of the responsibility of working and supporting their women and children. This is obviously a selfish attitude on the part of men. Sadly many women are pleased with this situation of combining working outside the house to support themselves, and their natural duties of pregnancy, child birth, and breast feeding.
We may ask, what is the economic, moral, or social value for women working in factories, armies, cleaning streets and airports, repairing trains, cleaning public restrooms, as security guards, driving taxis, and all other occupations?
This is all from the wretched life that Allah (SWT) has warned whoever distances himself from His way. Allah (SWT) has said:
"But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (neither believes in this Quran nor acts on its orders, etc.) verily, for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection. He shall say: "O my Lord! Why have you raised me up blind, while I had sight (before)." (Allah) will say: "Like this, Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, leassons, signs, revelations, etc.) came unto you, but you disregarded them (i.e. you left them, did not think deeply in them, and you turned away from them), and so this Day, you will be neglected (in the Hellfire, away from Allah's Mercy)." (Ta-Ha 20:124-126)
Although Islam has not obligated a woman to work to seek a living and has appointed someone to be responsible for her during all the stages of her life, Islamic law has given her the right (so long as she has reached the age of maturity and is competent) to own and dispose of her properties without any guardianship over her (whether that be her father, husband or anyone else).
She has the right to own all forms of property, to buy and sell, give gifts and charity, and all forms of expenditure (without wastefulness) so long as it is her wealth and her acquisition. However if she if incompetent, Islam does not distinguish between men and women in declaring someone legally incompetent. Islam gave women the right to own and dispose property, so that by this she could be a full legal personality possessing the full right to administer her wealth. Islam provides her with specific sources to acquire wealth, like the dower, inheritance, gifts, and all other lawful means for acquiring wealth.
As a woman in Islamic law is not required to maintain herself or others, she was given half of what men receive in inheritance in view of the fact that she is not responsible for the maintenance of anyone and to replenish men's wealth who alone are responsible to work and provide maintenance.
In this matter, Islam opposed the un-Islamic practice that forbade women to inherit under any circumstance because they did not maintain anyone or fight against any enemy. Allah (SWT) sent down in His Glorious Quran: "There is a share for men and a share for women from what is left by parents and those nearest related, whether, the property be small or large - a legal share." (An-Nisa 4:7)
Without doubt those who claim that Islam is unjust towards women because it gives them half of what men receive in inheritance are ignorant of the distribution of rights and obligation in the pure, just Islamic law. Allah (SWT) says: "Do they then seek the judgement of (the Days of) Ignorance? And who is better in judgement than Allah for a people who have firm Faith." (Al-Ma'idah 5:50)
Taken From Al Jumuah Magazine, Issue 2 & 3, Page 11