By Shaykh Muhammad Salim Ghisa
In the name of Allah the Most Beneficent and Merciful.
Allah has defined roles for men and women by looking at their strengths and weaknesses and assigning them with certain responsibilities. However, there is no where in the Shariah where there is a point blank refusal for women to work or for men not to do the household chores.
Both these duties are permissible and sometimes recommended depending on each of the situations.
However, with every aspect of Islam if the work is Haram, then to do that job is also Haram. For example, a man is not allowed to work in an alcohol factory or deal with interest or work in a casino etc as all these activities are not permissible. In the same way if a woman works in an environment where she would be going against her husbands wishes then this would not be permissible as this would create disunity and be the cause of a marriage to break up.
In the same way if a woman works in an environment where she is unprotected or her dignity could be challenged or would have to intermix with men without other people being present then this could have an effect on her dignity; or she could be accused by some of being sinful and therefore exposure in such environments could be severely disliked or could even be Haram.
At the same time we all know that our mother Khadijah was a business woman and the Prophet (pbuh) chose to marry her. But more importantly there are some roles (almost in every walk of life) where women should do these.
The same people who point blank give fatwas for women not to work have problems when their own wives or daughters need to be examined by doctors and they would deprive their families of medical health because the doctor is a male. When women need legal advice because she is being abused by her partner etc then she should have a female Muslim lawyer she can go and see. When a woman needs a driving instructor then she should be able to feel comfortable by choosing a female driving instructor. Even when a woman needs financial assistance she should be able to see a social worker who is a Muslim woman.
Therefore the same situation would apply to all aspects of day to day life: teachers, opticians, dentists, immigration control, Islamic scholars etc etc.
In all the above situations if Muslim women were not allowed to work then how would these roles be filled?
What is also important is that in any of the above roles a Muslim woman should not and cannot compromise her Islamic obligations and values. Such as Salaah, Hijab, dressing modestly etc. as to leave an obligation for something which is desirable is not permissible.
Of course Allah knows best