Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:
Read! in the name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists).
So as Muslim women we are encouraged to get an education. .
( سورة العلق , Al-Alaq, Chapter #96, Verse #1)
Education is a necessity in this time and age. Islam exhorts us to get educated.
In all times and especially in our times to be able to face the many challenges of life we need to be educated.
Allah swt says addressing both men and women in the Holy Qur’an:
O mankind! Reverence your Guardian Lord,
Who created you from a single person,
created of like nature his mate
and from them twain scattered (like seeds)
countless men and women. (Holy Qur’an 4:1)
And Allah also says in the Holy Qur’an
“Surely the men who submit and the women who submit,
and the believing men and the believing women,
and the devout men and the devout women,
and the truthful men and the truthful women,
and the patient men and the patient women,
and the humble men and the humble women,
and the charitable men and the charitable women,
and the fasting men and the fasting women,
and the men who guard their chastity
and the women who guard their chastity
and the men who remember Allåh much
and the women who remember Allåh much,
Allåh has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty reward.” (Qur’an 33:35)
From the above verses , we can establish that there is equality between male and female (what’ s good for one is good for the other) with a few exceptions , those exceptions deal with the nature and function of the female rather than reflect badly upon her competence morally or rationally.
The life of Aa’ishah (radiyallaahu ‘anhaa) is proof that a woman can be far more learned than men and that she can be the teacher of scholars and experts. Her life is also proof that the same woman can be totally feminine and be a source of pleasure, joy and comfort to her husband.
She (ra) did not graduate from any university but still her utterances are studied in faculties of literature, her legal pronouncements are studied in colleges of law and her life and works are studied by students and teachers of Muslim history as they have been for over a thousand years.
How can we get education in the West?
Problem: Segregation between the sexes in educational institutions or rather the lack of it.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked:
Is it permissible for a man to study in a mixed university where men and women mix in one classroom, knowing that the student has a role to play in calling people to Allaah?
What I think is that it is not permissible for anyone, man or woman, to study in a mixed school, because of the grave danger that it poses to his chastity, integrity and morals. No matter how great a person’s integrity, morals and innocence, if a woman is sitting beside him on the seat – especially if she is beautiful and unveiled – he can hardly avoid fitnah and evil. Everything that leads to fitnah and evil is also haraam and is not permitted. We ask Allaah to keep our Muslim brothers safe from such things which will only bring evil, fitnah and corruption to their youth. If there is no other university apart from this one, he should go and study in another city or country where this mixing does not happen. I do not think that this is permissible but others may have a different opinion.
Fataawa Islamiyyah, 3/103
This might be possible where there are single sex educational establishments in our countries or if we have the means to go and study elsewhere.
Seeking an education we first have to exhaust all routes that comply comply with the Shareeah.
Now days when technology is so far advanced, we have the option of distance studying and learning.
But what happens if our course requires us to attend in order to qualify?
It becomes a case of necessity
It is a well-established rule that Muslim society is under a collective obligation – Far∂ Kifayah – to have enough professional personnel to cater for the needs of the society.
Muslim jurists say that there has to be enough tailors, bakers, teachers, Imåms, judges, medical people and midwives, etc. to satisfy the needs of the community. Muslims prefer female doctors for examining females, males to examine males. From a professionalpoint of view this is much better. From a religious point of view it is essential. Unless, therefore, we have females in such professions we will be failing in our religious duty.
What steps can we take to protect ourselves and our children from fitnah?
To meet the challenge :
1) Be diligent in prayers and ask Allah to strengthen our faith;
2) As we step out from the home, ask Allah to guard us and protect us against all temptations;
3) Hang around with only good friends who are upright and moral;
4) Make ourselves always busy with our study; if we have spare time take up some good projects which will keep us busy;
5) Use our free time to learn Islam by attending classes with respectable teachers;
6) be Modest- Observe the Hijaab ( males and females)- Outer garments and behaviour;
Allah (swt) says in the Holy Qur’an:
“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their private parts from sin and not show of their adornment except only that which is apparent, and draw their headcovers over their necks and bosoms and not reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women (i.e., their sisters in Islam), or their female slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants free of physical desires, or small children who have no sense of women’s nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah altogether, O you Believers, in order that you may attain success.[An-Nur, 24:31]
…And do not make a display of yourselves like the displaying of the ignorance of long ago… [Al-Ahzaab, 33:33]
O Prophet, Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their outer garments about themselves (when they go out). That is better so that they may be recognised and not molested. And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. [Al-Ahzaab, 33:59]
7) Try to keep our distance from the opposite sex, avoid idle talk.
8) We should never allow the distractions of this world and our education to overthrow the importance of our duty to Allah (swt).
The above solutions sound so simple, the reality is that they are not always.
You have to have faith in yourself and in Allah. “Each step a person takes order to become closer to Allah, he/she will be rewarded for every dust particle that settles upon him whilst on that journey.”
May Allah( swt ) bless your efforts to be close to Him and get an education.
The above article is not a fatwa.If you need specific advice tailor made to your personal circumstances please speak to as scholar.