Women entertaining guests and working with men

Q 2: Some young practicing Muslims who are zealous and take pride in their religion encounter unclear issues, especially regarding women. The following are examples:a) They are told that there is no harm if a woman hosts her husband's guests by serving drinks and other things and sits with them in his presence. In support, they cite the report narrated by Al-Bukhari on the authority of Sahl (may Allah be pleased with him) (Part No. 17; Page No. 82) who said, When Abu Usayd Al-Sa`idy got married, he invited the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions. None prepared the food for them and brought it to them but his wife Um Asid. She had soaked some dates in water in a clay pot overnight, and when the Prophet (peace be upon him) finished his food, she provided him with that drink (of soaked dates). They also use the narrations mentioned by Al-Bukhari in the Chapter on "Woman catering for men at wedding celebrations" as another proof. They also cited the reply given by Imam Malik (may Allah be merciful to him) when he was asked about this issue, as in his book entitled Muwatta' he asserted that a woman is allowed to do so. What Al-Bukhari stated in the Chapter on "The permissible cases for a woman when she can be alone with a man in public" supports their views.B) They see that there is no reason that disallows the woman to receive her husband's guests even if he is absent. Their proof is based on the report narrated by Muslim that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) stated, after this day of mine no man should enter the house of a wife whose husband is away, unless there is a man or two with him. Additionally, the visit paid by Abu Bakr and `Umar (may Allah be pleased with them) to Um Hani' after the Prophet's death (peace be upon him) stands as another proof.C) They claim that there is no reason why a woman cannot participate with a man or more in jobs and in places of knowledge and Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah) so long as she wears Hijab (veil). They cite many proofs including participation of the early Muslim women in Jihad, and actions of `Aishah who taught and gave Fatwas to the other Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet). (Part No. 17; Page No. 83) D) What is the counterargument for those who claim that the lawful Hijab for women is the dress which covers the entire body except their faces and hands? Their view is based on the arguments mentioned in the book entitled Hijab Al-Mar'ah Al-Muslimah fi Al-Kitab wa Al-Sunnah (Hijab of the Muslim Woman according to Qur'an and Sunnah) written by Muhammad Nasir Al-Din Al-Albany, (May Allah protect him).

A: a) A Muslim who examines the ruling on a certain Islamic issue is obliged to consider the relating texts of the Qur'an and the Sunnah and the other Shari`ah proofs based on these texts to arrive at the truth. He should not rely on one aspect of its proofs, while neglecting the others. Also, he must not apply the approach adopted by those in whose hearts there is deviation from the truth and follow that which is not entirely clear, seeking to cast doubts and cause mystification. As to the issue at hand, he must review the texts of the Qur'an and Sunnah that affirm women's obligation to cover their `Awrah (parts of the body that must be covered in public), and refrain from tempting glances. Also, he must realize that the Shari`ah demands the obligation of protecting honor and lineage. Furthermore, it prohibits transgressing limits and violating them, or means that may lead to this violation. Among these means are woman being alone with non-Mahram persons, women uncovering any part of their `Awrah, traveling without Mahram (spouse or permanently unmarriageable relative), intermingling between men and women, and a man laying with a man under one cover, or a woman laying with a woman under one cover. There are other means that may also lead to (Part No. 17; Page No. 84) other indecent acts. Having examined the narrations collectively, it becomes imperative to interpret the report narrated by Sahl in which he said that the wife of Abu Usayd prepared and served food and beverages to his guests differently. The wife was veiled, was not alone or mixed with non-Mahram persons without her husband, and hence there is no fear of Fitnah. She simply prepared and served the beverages to her husband's guests without sitting with them, as there is nothing in the report that indicates that she sat with them. B) According to the answer given in the first paragraph, the Hadith After this day of mine no man should enter the house of a wife whose husband is away, unless there is a man or two with him should be interpreted wisely. It applies when there are reasons for entering the house of the wife whose husband or Mahram is absent, there is no fear of Fitnah and there is no plan to commit adultery. Interpretation cannot be based on personal views. Rather, it is based on the purpose of Shari`ah deducted from the combined texts that demand the safeguarding of nobility and prohibit violating it, and avoiding the means that lead to an ill result. Among these texts is this Hadith which ensures that there is no suspicion and no fear of Fitnah. It stipulates that entering the house cannot be permissible unless the causes of Khulwah are removed. (Part No. 17; Page No. 85) C) There is no lawful reason that disallows the woman to be a teacher, a preacher or a scholar giving Fatwas, providing that she is separated and wears the Shar`y hijab and there is no fear of Fitnah. This was the line of conduct of `Aishah and the other mothers of the believers about whom Allah states, And remember (O you the members of the Prophet’s family, the Graces of your Lord), that which is recited in your houses of the Verses of Allâh and Al-Hikmah (i.e. Prophet’s Sunnah - legal ways, so give your thanks to Allâh and glorify His Praises for this Qur’ân and the Sunnah ). Moreover, it is permissible for them to go out with the Mujahids (people striving or fighting in the Cause of Allah) to help them and treat the wounded, provided that this takes place in the presence of their husbands or Mahrams to protect the honor and achieve the benefit. These were the customs during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him). As to what other countries do where women participate in military service without their husbands or Mahrams to care for the fighters or take part in combat, it is not acceptable. Jihad, which includes actual fighting, is not obligatory for women. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.