Islam encourages women to study all fields of beneficial knowledge
Fatwa No: 347407

  • Fatwa Date:10-3-2017 - Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 12, 1438
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Question

Assalaamu alaykum Shaikh. I know that this is a silly question and sounds crazy, but I am very confused about it, and maybe I suffer Waswaas (obsessive thoughts) regarding this. I am a woman. Though I study medicine, I am interested in other subjects. I found an online library which has a collection of textbooks of many categories (accounting, finance, business,mar­keting, management, co­mputer science, information systems, economics, education,­ engineering, humaniti­es, languages, journal­ism, media studies, communication, law, ma­thematics, statistics­, medicine, natural & physical sciences, social science, student success, etc.). If I read those books out of interest as a women, is that wrong? Is it considered imitating men given that men study and work in those fields? In the 18th century, women could not be a doctor in a certain country, it was considered such a crime that it carried the death penalty. I want to know, does Islam also consider the education of women as a bad thing, or not? If you would clarify that, it would be easy to remove my confusion. I hope that you will give a direct answer to my question, for my full understanding, instead of pointing to other fatwas.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

There is nothing wrong for women to read books about beneficial knowledge, as in principle all things are permissible; Allah says (what means): {It is He Who created for you all of that which is on the earth...} [Quran 2:29] Allah mentioned this in the context of conferring His favors upon us.

Salmaan  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, “What is lawful is what Allah made lawful in His Book, and what is forbidden is what Allah made forbidden in His Book, and what He has kept silent about is among the things that He pardoned.” [At-Tirmithi and Ibn Maajah]

For instance, ‘Aa’ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her learned different knowledge, such as medicine, poetry, inheritance laws, and the lineage of the Arabs. At-Tabaraani narrated in Al-Awsat that ‘Urwah said:

I said to ‘Aa’ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her ‘My aunt, I was thinking of you and was wondering about some things which I do not wonder about regarding others; I found you one of the most knowledgeable people of Fiqh, and I thought to myself, this is not strange as she is the wife of the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) and the daughter of Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq; and I found you knowledgeable about the lineage of the Arabs and their history, and I thought to myself, this is not strange as her father is the most knoldedgeable of Quraysh; but I find it very strange that you are knowledgeable about medicine, so how did you learn this?’ She replied, ‘O ‘Urwah, the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) was very often sick, so we used to treat him.’

The Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaybah reported that ‘Urwah also said, “I have never seen someone more knowledgeable about inheritance laws, Fiqh, or poetry than ‘Aa’ishah.

If a woman learns such sciences, it is not considered the imitation of men that is forbidden in Islam. The ahaadeeth that cursed women who imitate men do not include this.

Al-Munaawi said in Faydh Al-Qadeer, “Ibn Abi Jamrah said, ‘The apparent meaning is to deter women from imitating men in everything, but other evidence indicated that the intended meaning is imitating them in dress and some traits and movements and the like, but not imitating them in goodness.’

Ibn Al-Atheer clarified this even more in An-Nihaayah, as he said, “The women who are cursed are those who imitate men, meaning in their dress and appearance, but as for knowledge and opinion, then this is praised.

It is very important that women learn medicine and practice it in accordance to the Islamic conditions.

The fatwa of the Standing Committee reads:

Learning medical sciences is a communal obligation for the Muslims, both for men and women, due to their need for it in treating men and women... especially with regard to women and children. The Muslim nation is in urgent need for female doctors so that a woman will not be obliged to be consulted by men, who would see her ‘Awrah (what should be covered of the body) when she gives birth or when diagnosing her illness. If a woman has a sincere intention when learning medicine and fulfilling her mission, then she will have a great reward, so she should seek the reward from Allah and have a good intention and engage in learning the science of medicine with the blessing of Allah.

For more benefit, please refer to fatwas 86424 and 84369.

Allah knows best.

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