Tafsir and fatwa - Women must stay at home…?
Tafsir and fatwa - Women must stay at home…?
وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُولَىٰ ۖ وَأَقِمْنَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتِينَ الزَّكَاةَ وَأَطِعْنَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۚ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا
33. And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance, and perform As-Salât (Iqamât-as-Salât), and give Zakât and obey Allâh and His Messenger. Allâh wishes only to remove Ar-Rijs (evil deeds and sins) from you, O members of the family of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), and to purify you with a thorough purification. Qur’an- Surah al-Ahzab 33:33
The word qarna in the original is derived from qarar according to some lexicographers and from waqar according to others. In the first sense, it will mean: `Settle down, stick firmly;" and in the second sense: "Live peacefully, sit with dignity." In both the cases the verse means to impress that the woman's real sphere of activity is her home; she should carry out her functions within that sphere peacefully, and she should come out of the house only in case of a genuine need. This meaning is clear from the words of the verse itself and the Holy Prophet's Ahadith also impress it even more forcefully. Hafiz Abu Bakr Bazzar has related on the authority of Hadrat Anas that the women made a submission to the Holy Prophet, saying: "All kinds of virtues have been secured by the men: they fight and accomplish great deeds in the way of Allah. What should we do that we may also get a reward equal to that of the warriors?" The Holy Prophet replied: The one who sits in her house from among you; will attain the reward of the warriors." What he meant was : The warrior can fight confidently and with full peace of the mind in the way of Allah only when he is sure that all is well at home: his wife is there to look after the house and the children, and there is no cause for him to worry that she will betray him in his absence. The woman who will provide him this satisfaction and peace of the mind will be an equal partner with him in his fighting though she will be sitting back at home. According to another tradition that Bazzar and Tirmidhi have related on the authority of Hadrat 'Abdullah bin Mas`ud, the Holy Prophet said: `The woman must remain veiled and concealed. When she comes out of her house, Satan stares at her. And she is closer to Allah's mercy when she is inside her house." (For further details, see E.N. 49 of Surah An-Nur).
In the presence of such a clear and express command of the Qur'an, it is not at all permissible that the Muslim women should seek membership of the councils and parliaments; that they should run after social activities outside the house; that they should work side by side with men in the government offices, should get education along with boys in the colleges, serve as nurses in the male wards of hospitals, should be employed as hostesses in the airplanes and rail cars, and should be sent abroad for education and training. The greatest argument that is given in support of the permissibility of the women's outdoor activities is that Hadrat 'A'ishah had taken part in the Battle of the Camel. But the people who present this argument perhaps do not know what was Hadrat `A'ishah's own opinion in this regard. `Abdullah bin Ahmad bin Hanbal has related in his Zawa id az-Zuhd and Ibn Mundhir, Ibn Abi Shaibah and Ibn Sa'd in their own books the tradition from Masruq, saying that when Hadrat `A'ishah during her recitation of the Qur'an would reach this verse (wa qarna fi buyut-i kunna), she would start crying involuntarily; so much so that her head-wrapper would become wet, for this reminded her of the error that she had committed in the Battle of the Camel.
Praise be to Allaah.
The basic principle with regard to women is that when a woman gets married she should stay in her husband's house. Allah, may He be exalted, says, commanding the wives of His Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), who are the best example for all women (interpretation of the meaning): “And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance” [al-Ahzaab 33:33].
Al-Qurtubi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
The meaning of this verse is the command to stay in the house. Although it is addressed to the wives of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), other women are also included, even if there were no specific evidence to include all other women. So how about when sharee‘ah is filled with evidence that women should stay in their houses and avoid going out except when necessary, according to what we have stated above in more than one place.
End quote from Tafseer al-Qurtubi (14/179)
Ibn Qudaamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
The house or home may be ascribed to the one who lives there as it may also be ascribed to the one who owns it. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “And turn them not out of their homes” [al-Talaaq 65:1], i.e., the houses of their husbands in which they live. And Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “And stay in your houses” [al-Ahzaab 33:33].
What usually happens, of a woman going to her family's house at the beginning of the postpartum period, is something that is acceptable according to sharee‘ah. There is no doubt that at the beginning of the postpartum period, a woman cannot look after herself properly, let alone look after her husband and take care of her house.
But this should be done with her husband's approval and permission to leave and go to her family's house. If the husband does not give permission, or she knows that he will be upset by that, then she does not have the right to leave without his permission. In return, he does not have the right to overburden her with tasks that are too difficult for her during this period. Rather he has to call her family to come to his house to look after their daughter, if that is possible, or he should bring someone from his family or someone else, even if he has to pay for that, to look after her and take care of her. If that is not possible, he has to help her himself and make up for what she is missing out on of comfort and care from her own family.
If the husband gives her permission to go to her family’s house, as husbands usually do, then the wife has to pay attention to her husband’s rights over her. So she should not stay in her family's house unnecessarily, and she does not have the right to stay there for the entire postpartum period, unless her husband agrees to that. It is well known that many husbands cannot be apart from their wives for this entire period; rather the husband needs her, as any husband needss his wife; even though it is not permissible for him to have intercourse with her during this period, he can still enjoy her in ways other than intercourse.
It is also well known that the woman can look after herself and carry out some of her household duties before the end of the postpartum period. This varies according to the woman’s state of health and the type of birth she had.
To sum up:
If the wife goes to her family's home, there is nothing wrong with that, especially if there is a need for it. But she has to ask for her husband's permission, and if he gives permission, she should not stay away from her house any longer than the length of time for which he gave permission. She also has to pay attention to his rights and his need for her.
And Allah knows best.