Islam forbids men from becoming homemakers

Islam prohibits its married men from being the homemaker in the family, the government’s Malaysian Institute of Islamic Understanding (Ikim) has said, amid Putrajaya’s efforts to discourage women from dropping out of the workforce to raise children.

Siti Fatimah Abdul Rahman, consultation and exercise unit leader in Ikim’s center for economic and social studies, said the Quran mandates the husband, not the wife, to provide for the household, the Sunday edition of local daily New Straits Times reported today

“Although there is no prohibition for wives to work and even if the wife earns 10 times more than the husband, he still has to provide basic sustenance for the family,” Siti Fatimah was quoted saying in the New Sunday Times report.

The official from the government research center cited the Quranic verse 34 of chapter An-Nisa in her argument that Islam made it imperative for men to be breadwinners and said it was unacceptable for a husband to manage the home while earning nothing.

Putrajaya is aiming to increase Malaysia’s female labour force participation rate to 55 per cent this year from 52.4 per cent in 2013, even as the nation plans to reach developed status in just five years’ time by 2020.

A 2012 World Bank report has noted that the Muslim-majority country’s female labour force participation level was the lowest in the Asean region at 46 per cent, compared to Singapore’s 60 per cent or Thailand’s 70 per cent, and said the rate was unexpectedly low given Malaysia’s level of development.

Muslim right-wing group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia said last month that Malaysia could still be a high-income nation if men remained breadwinners and women focused on raising children.

The suggestion drew ridicule from social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, who called the idea old-fashioned and questioned its practicality given that women accounted for two-thirds of all tertiary students in the country.

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