بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
(In the name of Allah, the entirely merciful, the especially merciful.)
Praise be to Allah. I ask Allah to exalt the mention and grant peace to the final messenger Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, his family, his companions and all those who follow him on the path of righteousness until the end of time.
Looking at the large amount of sisters leaving their countries (especially from Hyderabad, India) and heading to the west for pursuing higher education, I thought of writing this article as a naseehah (advice) to them, and I hope that they will comprehend on its content and take necessary steps to be on the path that leads to paradise (as that is the aim of every muslim alive).
This article has two parts, one part is aimed at those sisters who have already left their homes and gone abroad, whereas the other part is for those who are thinking to follow the footsteps of the sisters addressed in the first part. (The first part is advice, and the second part discusses the Islamic ruling in brief.)
Part 1 (The advice)
Those who have already left will bear witness to the fact that there’s a lot of evil involved for an unmarried muslim sister leaving parents and siblings behind to head out to the west for seeking worldly education.
“Since I’m already here, and have jumped into this ocean full of evils, what can be done now?” may be the thoughts of someone reading this who is trapped in such a situation. I would advise, if you can, please go back dear sister, there is nothing more important than safeguarding your eeman. But if you cannot, please fear Allah in each and every matter of yours.
The people who sin in the west usually give the reason: “Bhai, majboori hai bhai, majboori me haraam cheez bhi halaal hojati.” (Meaning: Brother, it’s a necessity, and during a necessity, whatever is haraam (impermissible) becomes halaal (permissible). But they fail to understand this principle correctly. I will attach a link to the fatwa which explains this principle underlining its conditions. (You can check it for a detailed discussion.) However, I will explain it in layman terms below.
Consider a person who is hungry and has nothing halaal to eat in front of him. If his hunger reaches to the point that he fears death due to his hunger, then he can eat the haraam which he sees in front of him (flesh of swine, dead animal etc.). But if his hunger is not intense, and he can wait for sometime (if his hunger wouldn’t cause him to die) he must wait. He cannot simply eat the haraam. It only becomes halaal when he is about to die because of hunger.
Also, if you were to consume this haraam food, how much would you eat? Would you eat your fill? No. You cannot do that. You can only eat few morsels that would keep you alive. In other words, if you are eating your fill, you are overstepping the mark. The haraam food that you are consuming becomes halaal for you to save you from death. Therefore, you can only eat what will keep you alive.
Similarly, these people who say majboori hai (meaning: it’s a matter of necessity) should sincerely examine their cases fearing Allah whether it’s really al-dharoorah (necessity) or not. You cannot just do everything and anything in the west just because it’s a necessity. Each case needs to be examined. Is there a halaal alternative to this problem? And if there is, then it’s no more a necessity and what you are doing is haraam no matter what excuses you give.
Now, since (in the above example) you can only eat what would keep you alive and cannot eat your fill, the matter in which you are involved due to necessity, you have to fear Allah in it, and cannot do whatever you like.
Let’s understand this by an example. We know that it is not permissible for a muslim woman to study in a mixed university (I will discuss why in the next part if you are curious about the reason), but let’s say, there’s a sister who is compelled to do so. She just doesn’t have an option. So, since it’s a majboori for her, can she do anything in the university? Can she take part in events that involve free mixing between the genders? Can she study in a group with men?
The answer is no. That is because, it is like she is compelled to eat the flesh of swine. So she can consume it, but she should not eat her fill (as she is not compelled to do so). She should only eat enough that will keep her alive. She is not compelled to take part in events. She is not compelled to study in groups that consist of men. So, she needs to fear Allah and interact with men only when she doesn’t have an option. And she must always try to find an alternative to this interaction. Maybe she can get her work done without getting involved with men. Maybe she has an alternative. She has to cut down the interaction as much as she can.
I hope this makes it clear about the majboori thingy. What about the hijab dear sister? Just because you live in the west doesn’t give you an automatic permission to get your hijab off. And by hijab, I mean the Islamic hijab which has some guidelines. Yes, it doesn’t have to be black (as some people think), it can be of any color that will serve its purpose. But, it’s not just a headscarf as many people in the west think of it. I will attach a link to the guidelines of hijab and their evidences here. (The first link contains the conditions without evidences, and the second link contains the evidences of those conditions, if you are interested to know about them.)
As long as your hijab satisfies the above conditions, it can be of any color. So, please fear Allah in this area and put your hijab on. Yes sister, I know it’s not that easy. But, do you really want jannah? If yes, then you need to put some efforts to achieve it. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in the Qur’an:
“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested.” (The Qur’an 29:2)
He also says:
“Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving;” (The Qur’an 67:2)
So you see sister, life is a test! Nobody can go to jannah without being tested in this dunya. The prophets were the best of people and faced the most difficult tests. Until we start passing in these tests, we cannot really succeed and make it there.
And you don’t need to think about those things which aren’t in your control. You don’t need to feel depressed to the point that it affects your present life. You are supposed to worry about only that which is under your control. If you are compelled to do something, in sha Allah, Allah will not hold you accountable for that. But you need to act wisely in those things which are at hand. If you were involved in anything sinful, repent sincerely to Allah and leave off the sin. Take help from someone who can help you to leave that. You need to put a full stop, and not return. In sha Allah, Allah will accept your repentance, verily He is at-Tawwab (the one who accepts repentance), and ar-Raheem.
“Except those who repent and believe (in Islamic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds, for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds, then verily, he repents towards Allah with true repentance.” (The Qur’an 25:70-71)
I will end this part by giving you a deal. Please think about it.
Sister, you might have cooked in the kitchen before. It is possible to get burns and cuts while you work there. You may even have got one. How did you feel? Can you bear that? If no, then can you bear the fire of Hell which is seventy times hotter than the fire in this world? If no, then do you want to enjoy this transient life (free of struggles) and become one of the losers in the Hereafter?
If the answer is no, then please reflect on all the points mentioned above sincerely, and start making the positive change that will help you reach your goal.
May Allah help you.
Part 2 (Ruling on muslim women going to the west for the purpose of studies)
Before I begin to talk about the ruling in brief, I highly recommend that you watch this lecture that I delivered a year ago. It is titled “Women Empowerment & Islam (MJCET Student Chapters: IEEE, ECell etc. specifically addressed)”. In it, I have highlighted few important points regarding women empowerment from an Islamic perspective.
Secondly, with regards to the ruling on this issue, please check out this fatwa.
In brief, Islam doesn’t stop women from seeking knowledge. Seeking knowledge is not haraam fi nafsihi (in and of itself). It is what the environment and other things that make it haraam. There is absolutely no problem if a woman were to seek a master’s degree in the country in which she resides (along with her family) if all the Islamic guidelines are met. Heading to the west involves a lot of evils. For example, it is not allowed for a muslim woman to travel alone unless she is accompanied by a mahram.
“Come on, we are in the 21st century! It was haraam back then because they used to travel on camels and blah blah! Today, we have airplanes and this and that.”
Being in the 21st century doesn’t change the Islamic ruling. Didn’t Allah know of the future from before? Didn’t He know that airplanes are going to be invented in the future? If you say no, you do not remain a muslim anymore, because you don’t believe that Allah has knowledge of the past and the future. If you say yes, then how is it possible that the rulings of Islam would change when Allah revealed the following aayah during al-hajjatul wada’ (the farewell pilgrimage):
“…This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion….” (Al Qur’an 5:3)
Apart from free mixing between the genders, and travelling without a mahram, there are many other evils that the sister will face when she lives alone. On whom will she depend to get her daily chores done? Who will support her if she gets ill and needs someone to help her and look after her? Living in a country where there is no protection whatsoever and with wolves wandering everywhere who can use her as they like leave her in great danger, and Allah’s refuge is sought. Only Allah is al-Hafiz (the protector), who can save her from all sorts of evil out there.
And that is why, due to the nature of women in which Allah created them, He enjoined that she is to be guarded by her maharim (plural of mahram). Allah gave a muslim woman the status of a queen who has bodyguards around her. Her maharim are her guards protecting her from every calamity. He enjoined that women be under the care of her maharim, and they go with her (whether the mahram is her father, brother, husband and so on) wherever she goes. Why does she want to reject this status and become a regular woman like the kafirah?
Lastly, this trend of muslim sisters going to the west is acting as an example for their juniors. It is as if they are calling their juniors towards misguidance indirectly.
The prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said, “Whoever calls others to guidance will have a reward like the rewards of those who follow him, without that detracting from their reward in any way. And whoever calls others to misguidance will have a burden of sin like the burden of those who follow him, without that detracting from their burden in any way.” (Narrated by Muslim, 2674)
May Allah help and guide the all the muslims worldwide to follow the only path that leads to Paradise.
Verily, Allah said the truth when He said:
“And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers’ way. We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell – what an evil destination.” (The Glorious Qur’an 4:115)
May Allah send blessings upon the final prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam.
And Allah knows best.
Some relevant fatawa:
“And who does more wrong than he who is reminded of the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of his Lord, but turns away from them forgetting what (deeds) his hands have sent forth. Truly, We have set veils over their hearts lest they should understand this (the Quran), and in their ears, deafness. And if you call them to guidance, even then they will never be guided.” (The Noble Qur’an 18:57)