Muslim homes and role of women
The holy Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said that every single person is a shepherd, a guardian or a care-taker (ra’in) and is thus responsible for his or her herd (ra’iyyah), that is to say, for what he or she has been entrusted with (Sahih al-Bukhari).
While man is responsible for the total needs and overall condition of the family, woman is responsible for the way the house functions. Although the roles of man and woman are complementary and are very much intertwined, their respective scopes, where each one of them leads the way, are clearly outlined.
As far as woman is concerned, her primary role rests within the realm of the house, the role for which she’s more than anybody else is answerable to Allah.
According to a report on IslamiCity, an online Islamic website, there is no contribution, or service, to society which woman may undertake that is able to offset the harm woman’s negligence, or compromise, of her contributions and services to society through the house institution can generate. Certainly, both man and woman can, and under certain circumstances are even encouraged to, expand and diversify their respective contributions and services to society. They are to share the burdens of serving Allah and advancing society. They are to help each other.
They are to be partners in discharging their respective dimensions of the vicegerency (khilafah) project on earth. Once a man asked A’ishah, one of the Prophet’s wives, whether the Prophet (pbuh) was doing (helping) anything at home.
She replied: “Yes, Allah’s Messenger used to mend his own shoes, sew his own clothes, and was doing all the things you people do in your houses” (Musnad Ahmad). However, for woman the house and her family remain her first and foremost priority. Everything else comes as a second pick.
Woman’s contributions and services to society outside the house domain must not have a negative bearing on her duties and performances at home.
The performance of the house as a family development center by no means can be compromised because there is so much at stake. As said earlier, the future of a society depends on the ways its family and house institutions function.
Hence, as soon as woman’s involvements outside her house start having a detrimental effect on her performances at home, her outside involvements become doubtful.
In the worst scenario, neglecting the institutions of the house and family could mean for a family concerned a spiritual debacle. It could mean, furthermore, that the people not only failed to guard themselves and their family members against the chastisement of the hellfire, but also that they were inducing and shoving each other towards it.
The Prophet (pbuh) therefore said that the prayer of a woman inside her house is better than in the courtyard of the house, or near the house’s main entrance, that is, in the places of the house where woman’s privacy is most vulnerable.
However, a woman’s prayer in her bedroom, or inside those inner spaces of the house where she is hidden most, is better yet (Sunan Abi Dawud).
The Prophet (pbuh) also said that woman is closest to her Lord when she is inside her house (Musnad Ahmad). It has been reported, furthermore, that some women came to the Prophet (pbuh) telling him that their men get a hold of the best of deeds in the form of struggling and fighting for the sake of Allah (jihad).
Thus they queried if there was a feat which they could accomplish and attain thereby the huge reward reserved only for jihad. The Prophet’s reply was: “If you stay at home (doing what is required and expected from you to do), you will surely attain the reward of the men who struggle and fight for the sake of Allah (mujahidun)” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir).