Question(s):
As an Ālim or Ālimah, our first responsibility is spreading the Dīn of Allāh. So should they (Ālim/ah) study further in terms of secular knowledge so they can get a job to support themselves financially?

Answer(s):

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

 “The Zakaat of Ilm is to spread it.” 

These were the exact words from one of our beloved teachers in our final year of Alimiyyah. An Alim/Alimah is chosen by Allah SWT to inherit the Ilm that has a direct link to Rasulullah ﷺ and thus, Ulama’ have a responsibility to spread/propagate the Deen of Nabi Karim ﷺ just as the Ambiyaa’ would. A noteworthy point at this juncture is that we often use these glad-tidings to console & please our souls, but we’re always negligent of our responsibilities denoted in these glad-tidings. 

With regards to your question, first & foremost, it must be understood that there are two mindsets you will encounter with our seniors. There are those that will totally disregard University/Secular Education & shun it, whilst others will promote & recommend it. 

The first view of shunning Secular Education is primarily due to two factors:

  1. Fitnah in such institutions (free-mixing or other fitnas) 
  2. The need to spread/propagate & serve the Deen, whilst ensuring one does not waste time after the 6/7 years (approx.) you’ve spent gaining the Ilm of Deen. 

These seniors (May Allah shower them with His mercy) will be concerned about these two matters in most cases & their views are totally valid & thought-provoking. 

However, there is the other group of seniors & in our personal experience, this is the overwhelming majority of seniors, that will recommend further studies etc. The reasoning for this view is that: first & foremost, one should make sure to avoid fitna regardless, whichever environment he is in. Furthermore, one should always spread deen & serve the Deen in other professions, such as a Doctor who is serving humanity (Allah’s creation) & other such occupations. Our seniors actually mention that every single (halal) occupation is to be respected & can be used as a platform to serve & spread the Deen.

Imam Bukhari (May Allah shower His mercy upon him) narrates a Hadeeth in his Saheeh  that is as follows:

عن المقدام عن رسول الله ﷺ قال:‏ ما أكل أحد طعاما قط خيرا من أن يأكل من عمل يده، وإن نبي الله داود عليه السلام كان يأكل من عمل يده
Translation: The Prophet (ﷺ) stated, “Nobody has ever eaten a better meal than that which one has earned by working with one’s own hands. The Prophet (ﷺ) of Allah, David used to eat from the earnings of his manual labour.” (Bukhari, Hadeeth Number 2072)

Mufti Taqi Uthmani (May Allah preserve Him) comments in the commentary of this Hadeeth: “It is understood from this narration that to earn with one’s own efforts is virtuous. The thought some people have that we will only work if we get this certain job (is incorrect). For example, some students think we will only teach after graduation or only be a lecturer (or Imam), until they don’t get this occupation, they remain useless (baikaar) and just sit around (at home), this is incorrect. A person should not feel ashamed from doing any work, whichever work is halaal income for a person and it can fulfil his needs, then he should not refrain from it. This is because in a hadeeth (earning) has been mentioned as a fareedah (compulsory act) after the other fareedah (compulsory acts , i.e. worship).” (Mufti Taqi Uthmani in Ina’m al-Bari, vol 6 page 123 in Urdu)

This concept is further echoed by Mufti Saeed Palanpuri (May Allah preserve him) who mentions a piece of advice for students under this same hadeeth of Saheeh Al-Bukhari in (Tuhfah al-Qari (in Urdu) vol 5 page 148-149). He states, “Many graduates today start doing other work other than teaching or religious work, even those that start religious work stop after ten or so years because the wage from teaching is not enough for running a household. Oh graduates, whatever the people give think of that as a bonus, even if people don’t give anything then it is our responsibility to spread the knowledge we have. Why should we depend on the wage of the institute? Prophet Dawud was a prophet and a king, yet he used to do work with his own hands and earn and run the household by it, he never used to take from the treasury; this is a lesson for us. If the wages of teaching are not enough for us then we should do some side work as well, there is no shame in this. In fact, Prophet Muhammad PBUH has called this the best morsel. However, many of our graduates teach for 6-7 hours and waste the remaining time in futile talk or waste time complaining etc. Then when they have no choice, they leave the teaching. This example is like the bad example of the woman mention in Surah an-Nahl, she used to make a suit (clothes) throughout the day, and she used to untwist the spun thread. Teaching for ten years and then leaving is like this the example of this woman. Therefore, with teaching one should do some side work which helps him against any worries of living.”

Another factor to take into consideration is that there is a massive need for well-educated, highly literate Muslims to serve the Ummah, in all walks of life. The fact of the matter is, whether you’re a public speaker, Mu’allim or Mu’allimah giving Dars or otherwise, secular education gives you a foothold in your community & adds to the awe & respect you need in order to ease the serving of the community. Moreover, Ulama’ need to serve in every walk of life in order to educate the masses with the methods of that occupation in line with Shari’ah. Finally, just as if there were to be no Muslim women going to University, our women with illnesses would be left in the hands of non-muslim male doctors (in most cases) and vice versa, whilst this also applies to other occupations. 

Alhamdulillah, just today, we consulted one of our respected Shuyookh & teachers Hazrat Mufti Ikramul Haq Sahib, one of the prominent scholars of England. He advised some of what has been discussed above (2nd view) & further emphasised that it is the duty of Ulama’ (males & females) to serve the deen & warn the people (community etc) away from evil etc. He advised that one should study further if he intends but one must never lose focus of our primary purpose, which is to serve the Deen. Thus, we should dedicate some time, however little, to serve the deen, in whichever form this may be. Mufti SB emphasised that this does not need to be in a madrasah or maktab, rather one can serve khidmah from his house, with the ever-existing condition of Ikhlaas. Even if there are a few children in your community or family you can benefit, do so, on the weekends etc & serve the deen in this manner. Furthermore, regardless of whether you’re teaching or not, keep up your Mutala. Fix a timetable, no matter how little time it is, spend some time reading & doing mutala of a specific book or various different books in a systematic way. Hazrat Mufti sb stated that today, apart from the Madrasah & Maktab system, we have two major ways we can benefit the public: تحرير & تقرير

The latter (تقرير) refers to speaking/oral transmission and this can be practised in various ways. Hazrat Mufti sb described the example of Tablighi Jamaat whereby men can go out in Gusht (Jawlah) & speak to Muslim brothers (hence serving the Deen) & women can do the same in the masturat jamaat household. In fact, even in our local localities, men can serve as speakers at their local masjids & women can do so at home by speaking to their family & Mahram-associates.  

The former of these  (تحرير) denotes serving the Deen via writing, whether that be an actual publication of a book if Allah Almighty decrees or even spreading Deen via a website or social media such as WhatsApp etc. As long as one maintains Ikhlaas (sincerity) & doesn’t surpass any boundaries of Shari’ah, all of this will be serving the Deen. Mufti Sb concluded by mentioning something beautiful: “It’s common that the thirsty one comes to the well to have water but sometimes, the clouds move to the person & shower down rain. Similarly, we Ulama’ have to shower our water on others & benefit others regardless of whether they come to us or not” 

May Allah grant us all the correct understanding. Ameen

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best.
Mufti Mubasshir Ahmed
12 Rajab 1441 / 7 March 2020

Approved by: Mufti Tahir Wadee| Mufti Yusuf Ilolvi

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