Can you shed some light on the need for our Muslim sisters to go more into the field of higher education in universities, to have Muslim women doctors, midwives, dentists and teachers in all subjects?
Jazakallah for your detailed question which I have summarised. Please bear in mind that a lady is a wife and mother first and everything else second. Today we need good wives and mothers who care for their husbands and children fully and reap the rewards from Allah.
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam once saw some ladies approaching with children. He said:
“These ladies bear the child, give birth, then have mercy upon the children. If it was not for what they do to their husbands, they would definitely enter Jannah.”
In another hadith he, Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam said:
“When a woman prays five times a day, fasts through the month of Ramadhan, is obedient to her husband and protects her modesty, then she may enter Jannah from whichever gate she wishes.”
Her kingdom is in her house. She should be provided with her basic needs and taken good care of. This is what Shari’ah teaches us. She should never be forced to earn livelihood or be put in a position where she has to do so.
Now, going into a professional field is of personal interest. Whoever wants to pursue a particular career will definitely do so. We would never discourage any individual from entering the field of her interest. There have been professional ladies in the past, they are available today and they will remain in the future.
What we do need to encourage is for them to study while guarding their modesty. There are limits to everything. They should study while holding onto those limits. Alhamdulillah many young women are doing this.
I once went to the University of Toronto, where I saw many girls in their hijab come to the prayer facilities, perform salah, do their Iftar and go back to the lessons.
Once, a girl who was punctual of her niqab sent in a question. Her superiors were extremely kind. They let her wear the niqab while studying medicine. She was a very bright student. When the time came to go on hospital rounds, the professor called her in office and explained, “I don’t mind you wearing niqab. However, all patients are not the same and some may cringe at seeing you in the niqab, so you should consider your position.” She was reluctant from removing the niqab as she had never opened her face in front of a non mahram.
After some consultation with my colleagues, I gave the answer that, when on hospital rounds, she should remove her black niqab and put on a facial mask. This way, her face will be covered and the patients won’t feel bad either.
The conclusion is that ladies should pursue with the course of their interest and stay within the limits. If unable to cover the face with niqab, they should at least avoid heavy make-up and avoid revealing parts of the body and hugging the opposite gender or any other kind of intimate contact with male students.