Boss Choosing A Female Secretary For The Workplace: Is There Any Sin On The Company Owners?
Islamic Rulings -
Living Shariah Verdicts
Islamic Questions & Answers
question is: is it permissible for a woman to work as
a secretary for a service company, knowing that the
company's office consists of two rooms and a reception
area, and the owners of the company are of good
character and religiously-committed. Their reason for
choosing a girl to work there is that this is the
custom in our country, in addition to the fact that
she is more capable in secretarial skills and using
Is there any sin on the company owners because of
this, and is it permissible to work so long as they
adhere to modesty and religious dictates? Is it
permissible for them to employ a female worker to
clean the offices etc?
I hope that you can explain, with evidence: is there a
difference between khulwah (being alone with a member
of the opposite sex) and ikhtilaat (free mixing)?
Praise be to Allaah.
It is not permissible for a woman to work in a place
where she will mix with men, because of the bad
consequences and haraam things that this leads to,
such as khulwah (being alone with a member of the
opposite sex), looking, shaking hands and becoming
attached to bosses and colleagues, and other things
that are well known. Hardly any mixed workplace is
free of these haraam things.
We have already quoted the evidence for mixing being
haraam in the answer to question no. 1200.
It is not permissible for bosses to employ a woman to
work among men, whether as a secretary, cleaner, or
anything else, because that is helping in haraam
The fact that this is the prevalent custom in a
country does not serve as a justification for it in
terms of sharee'ah, rather customs must give way to
shar'i rulings and are subject to them .
The claim that women are better at secretarial skills
and at using the computer is not true. There are also
men who are good at these skills, and the matter
depends on making a good choice. Men are more entitled
to jobs because it is the man who takes care of the
family and he is the one who is required to spend on
them according to sharee'ah. If a woman is able to
find work that is free of haraam things, she may do
that, otherwise her house is better for her.
It is haraam for a man and woman to be alone together,
because the Prophet (Peace And Blessings Of Allaah Be
Upon Him) said: "No man is alone with a woman but the
shaytaan is the third one present." Narrated by al-Tirmidhi
(2165); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.
And he (Peace And Blessings Of Allaah Be Upon Him)
said: "No man should be alone with a woman without
there being a mahram present, and no woman should
travel unless she has a mahram with her." A man stood
up and said: O Messenger of Allaah, I have enlisted
for such and such a campaign and my wife has set out
for Hajj. He said: "Go and do Hajj with your wife."
Narrated by al-Bukhaari (3006)and Muslim (1341).
What is meant by "being alone" is that they are
together in a place where no one else can see them.
With regard to mixing: it may be without khulwah
(being alone together), such as when a number of men
are together with a number of females. What is haraam
is that which leads to any of the haraam things
mentioned above, such as looking, touching, speaking
in a soft alluring voice, and forming attachments.
This – as stated above – is hardly absent in any mixed
workplace, because people meet so often and sit
together for lengthy periods. This breaks down all
barriers, especially in small or confined spaces with
a limited number of people, as in the case mentioned
in the question. In this case the opportunities to get
to know one another and become attached are even
Mixing may be free of khulwah, but it does not prevent
making appointments to meet elsewhere, and things that
are worse than that.
Whoever studies the evidence for mixing being haraam –
which is quoted in the answer referred to (no. 1200) –
will understand the wisdom behind Islam closing the
door to it, and will understand that this command is
based on an understanding of the nature of both sexes
and what results from their being close together.
Islam is keen to protect both of them.
It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa'imah (12/156):
Mixing between men and women in schools and elsewhere
is a great evil and adversely affects religious
commitment and worldly interests. It is not
permissible for a woman to study or work in a place
where men and women mix, and it is not permissible for
her guardian to allow her to do that.
May Allaah help us all to do that which He loves and
which pleases Him.
And Allaah knows best.