Shaikh Yahya’s advice on teaching English
The sheikh ( may Allah preserve him ) received a question during the lesson between maghrib and isha’ prayers, he said:
… A brother wrote, after an introduction in which he mentioned that all Praise and thanks are due to Allah, and he mentioned some of the evidences, he is requesting the answer to a question, “Some of the Salafi brothers teach English…”then the sheikh adds “Meaning our Salafi brothers in San’aa and some other places.”
“And if advised, they respond with baseless arguments. We hope that you will make clear for us the Hukm (i.e. halal or haraam) of teaching English. Keeping in mind that teaching English involves many issues, from them is learning about the etiquettes & character (culture) of the Kuffar (disbelievers). Also from the issues involved is that the books being taught contain pictures of beings with souls and some of the pictures contain indecencies (i.e. exposed women), and some of the lessons revolve around learning the names of their deities, like those of the Hindus, and some of the lessons involve listening to music and watching films. Some of the lessons are biographies of kuffar which require the student to memorize the biography of those kuffar. As for their baseless argument, they say,
“It’s not possible to get out of the lands of the kuffar except by teaching in these schools that provide a visa.”
Secondly, we (the students of Dammaj) heard a fatwa from a scholar permitting the study in universities that mix between the sexes, in the lands of the Kuffar, in order to attain a diploma! Finally, we would like an advice.
~ End of Question
The Noble Scholar, Abu Abdur-Rahman Yahya bin Ali Al-Hajoori said,
We advise, as was requested by our brother the questioner, with the spread of the Arabic Language; its teaching and being learned, and working hard at that. That is what we advise and in that is goodness for the one whom Allah has made easy for him, coming to a country in which he can learn his religion. And from the important points is understanding Allah’s deen in Arabic. At present there is a pull to learn English, rarely do you find a graduate from a university, except that he has learned English or something from it, nor do you find a home except that it contains someone who has learned English or something from it, and so on and so forth, and that is a pull (a da’wah) and it is a warning of the weakened condition of the Arabic language, and a warning of the invasion of the English language that is in reality the language of the Kuffar in this time. There is no need for that, and all praise is due to Allah. (There is no need) For the one in their condition (coming from the land of the Kuffar to the lands of Islaam to study the deen or for Hijrah) to busy himself with studying English or teaching it.Allah says that which means ,
“Allah raises up those who believe and those who have been given knowledge by degrees”. And the knowledge intended in this Ayah is the knowledge of Book & the Sunnah. Additionally, the Prophet Salallahu Alayhi wa Salaam said, “Whomever Allah wants good for, He gives him understanding (Fiqh) of the religion .“ And from the fiqh of the deen is knowing Arabic. That is what we advise our brothers, and as far as pictures of beings with souls, it is waajib (obligatory) to deface them, whether it be in books or in other than that, according to one’s ability to do so. And likewise with regards to biographies of kuffar and the people of falsehood, it is not appropriate to teach them to people, nay what is obligatory is to expose them and their condition to the people, and warning against falsehood and its people.
As far as their saying, “It’s not possible to get out of the lands of the kuffar to the lands of Hijrah”. That is not correct, how many students of knowledge made Hijrah, and they do not teach English. And the fatawaa of some, permitting co-ed schooling that is not correct – equally incorrect in Arabic studies or in other than that. Studying with a mixture of men and women unrelated to each other is haraam. This is our advice, and we ask the aid of Allah, and that he brings the hearts of the servants to His worship and obedience.
Someone in the audience comments and the sheikh replies,
“That’s not far-off, in some of the English books there is da’wah to Christianity, that’s not far off. And that is from the means to Evil & Haraam, and it is waajib to abstain from that which is a means to bring about haraam.”
Another person in the audience asks,
“If English were taught without the use of those books and without mixing of the sexes, would that be permissible?”
The Sheikh responds,
“You mean is it permissible to teach English without those books containing haraam pictures and without ikhtilat (co-ed)? The preceding advice is sufficient. Insha Allah devote yourself to knowledge, “the one Allah wants good for He gives him fiqh of the deen”. Devote yourselves to that and nobility lies in beneficial knowledge. If you start to teach, you or other than you, you will be preoccupied won’t you?”
The questioner says, “Yes.”
“So you will waste time, and your time will be lost. Instead you could have been learning and teaching Arabic. We want some of the non-Arabs to teach Arabic. And there’s no prohibition in that, let him go wherever he wishes and we will make dua for Allah to reward him with good. It’s better to be devoted to Arabic, because that benefits him and Allah will benefit others with him. But if he were to stay, for example in San’aa, They need English teachers, translators, and so on, he will go to waste, he won’t be successful with beneficial knowledge, (knowledge of the deen) he will stay in San’aa as an employee, a translator or the likes of that, with no real benefit. We don’t like waste for him, we want him to benefit and that’s what he came for. And if he is patient (in seeking knowledge) and seeks Allah’s aid, perhaps Allah will make him beneficial, and perhaps the ummah has been waiting for someone like him. That is sufficient Insha Allah. Many of our brothers who came to seek knowledge, were distracted. He found a job in San’aa to busy himself. Once a foreigner came to study with Sheikh Muqbil, Rahimuhulah, and after that went to Masjid Jamayda, Sheikh (Muqbil) said, “Some of them have no understanding, they come from another country, face the hardship, tire themselves, all to study, and end up with our brothers at Jamayda”. Doing what? Nothing. Sitting in the masjid, with no benefit (i.e. no knowledge), if he were to stay there until his goes grey with old age, he will not have benefited anything (of knowledge). So, some of them need to be made to understand. O my son you come for Taalib-elm, to a place of Taalib-elm, so seek knowledge, be firm, be patient and if you can’t (be patient) then travel back to your country, especially if your country is a muslim country like Algeria, serve your mother and father and be rewarded. And establish a da’wah there, to the best of your ability. But to come from such and such a country to here, and then end up going to some little place (i.e. an apartment) the most important thing becomes that you have something to eat. That’s a waste, you came for knowledge. If not you could have stayed where you came from, and perhaps been a business man and eaten the best of foods, and lived in the best of homes. So, he who comes for knowledge is patient for its sake and stays firm. That is what we advise those who have been sidetracked by some of the treacherous ones.
-end of the sheikh’s advice
Translated by Raami Al-Masri