I need to ask about learning Arabic here in the U.S.; specifically in New York. What are the conditions a teacher must meet before we can start to learn the language with him? There are some teachers who are very good but they associate with some callers who have spoken ill of Salafiyah even though this teacher ascribes himself to the Salafi manhaj. Your advice would be greatly appreciated and may Allah reward you.
This is the same as what I previously mentioned; may Allah bless you. The teacher should be a Salafi who is clear, mindful of Allah, pure and who is away from the people of innovations and desires. It is well known that the student is affected by his shaykh and teacher. So if the student sits with this type of teacher who sits with the people of innovations and desires while magnifying them and respecting them, a student might get affected by him. So for that, we don’t advise anyone to learn with the people of partisanship or with the people who have doubts. This is so he doesn’t get affected by them. In general, the people get affected by the actions more than they are affected by the statements. It has been mentioned about Ayyub Asikhtiani, that one of the people of innovations told him, “I want to speak to you just one word.” He said to him, “No, not even half of a word.” Ashafiee, may Allah have mercy on him refused to even listen to the quraan from the innovator. He said,” I might like how he carries himself, and may get affected by him.”
So even if he was to teach the quraan while he leans towards the people of innovations, respects them and magnifies them, then staying away from him is preferred. This is so that the person is not affected by his character, or his actions. So it is important that the teacher is clear and pure, Salafi and firm. Whoever leaves something for the sake of Allah, Allah will reimburse him with something that is better than what he left.
Our lord said in his honorable book: “…will replace you with another people, and you will not harm Him at all…” At-Taubah 39
So for the brother who wants to learn, he should learn under a teacher who is upon the sunnah but if he didn’t find this type, then he should be patient until Allah makes it easy on him to find one who is better than him.
(Answered by Shaykh Abdur Razaq Al-Nehmee)