Fatwa: # 46162
Category: Basic Tenets of Faith
Country: African Country
Date: 15th September 2020


Alim course or Degree?


Assalamualikum My brothers who are Alhamdullilah huffaz wished to become
ulama since childhood. As they entered the teen years, people would inform
them that they must get secular education ( college degrees: professions
etc.)first in  order to be able to get jobs to support future family. They
say so because  these days ulama due to lack of jobs struggle financially
and are not able to teach deen 100% fee sabeelillah. Due to financial
constraints and families to feed, ulama are forced to take pay from people
they teach deen. The doubt I have is by the time they finish college and get
a degree they will be aged and might lose the zeal for ilm. Could mufti
saheb kindly clear this conception and enlighten us on the correct route
towards Allah? JazakAllah


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

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

It is pleasing to note that your brothers are Huffadh of the Quran Kareem and are intending to become ‘Ulama. Indeed, it is a great honour for any individual to be involved in acquiring ‘Ilm i.e. studying the knowledge of Quran and Sunnah.

Allah Ta’ala mentions in the Quran:

{قُلْ هَلْ يَسْتَوِي الَّذِينَ يَعْلَمُونَ وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ إِنَّمَا يَتَذَكَّرُ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ} [الزمر: 9]

Translation: Say, “Can Those with (spiritual) knowledge be equal to those who do not have knowledge? Only those with (spiritual) intelligence (wisdom) will heed (good advice). (Az-Zumar: 9)

Furthermore, there are many narrations by Rasullullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wassalam) depicting the great virtue of acquiring ‘Ilm. See the following narrations:

مَنْ سَلَكَ طَرِيقًا يَطْلُبُ فِيهِ عِلْمًا سَلَكَ اللَّهُ بِهِ طَرِيقًا مِنْ طُرُقِ الْجَنَّةِ، وَإِنَّ الْمَلَائِكَةَ لَتَضَعُ أَجْنِحَتَهَا رِضًا لِطَالِبِ الْعِلْمِ، وَإِنَّ الْعَالِمَ لَيَسْتَغْفِرُ لَهُ مَنْ فِي السَّمَوَاتِ، وَمَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ، وَالْحِيتَانُ فِي جَوْفِ الْمَاءِ، وَإِنَّ فَضْلَ الْعَالِمِ عَلَى الْعَابِدِ، كَفَضْلِ الْقَمَرِ لَيْلَةَ الْبَدْرِ عَلَى سَائِرِ الْكَوَاكِبِ، وَإِنَّ الْعُلَمَاءَ وَرَثَةُ الْأَنْبِيَاءِ، وَإِنَّ الْأَنْبِيَاءَ لَمْ يُوَرِّثُوا دِينَارًا، وَلَا دِرْهَمًا وَرَّثُوا الْعِلْمَ، فَمَنْ أَخَذَهُ أَخَذَ بِحَظٍّ وَافِرٍ (سنن ابي داؤد: 3641)

Translation: If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, Allah will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise. The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge, the inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and the fish in the deep waters will ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned man over the devout is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars. The learned are the heirs of the Prophets, and the Prophets leave neither dinar nor dirham, leaving only knowledge, and he who takes it takes an abundant portion. (Abu Dawud: 3641)

أَلاَ إِنَّ الدُّنْيَا مَلْعُونَةٌ مَلْعُونٌ مَا فِيهَا إِلاَّ ذِكْرُ اللهِ وَمَا وَالاَهُ وَعَالِمٌ أَوْ مُتَعَلِّمٌ (سنن الترمذى:2322)

Translation: Lo! Indeed, the world is cursed. What is in it is cursed, except for remembrance of Allah, what is conducive to that, the knowledgeable person and the learning person. (Tirmidhi: 2322)

نَضَّرَ اللَّهُ امْرَأً سَمِعَ مَقَالَتِي فَبَلَّغَهَا، فَرُبَّ حَامِلِ فِقْهٍ غَيْرِ فَقِيهٍ، وَرُبَّ حَامِلِ فِقْهٍ إِلَى مَنْ هُوَ أَفْقَهُ مِنْهُ(سنن ابن ماجه: 230)

Translation: May Allah make his face shine, the man who hears my words and conveys them. It may be that the bearer of knowledge does not understand it, and it may be that he takes it to one who will understand it more than he does. (Ibn Majah: 230)

مَنْ يُرِدِ اللَّهُ بِهِ خَيْرًا يُفَقِّهْهُ فِي الدِّينِ (صحيح البخارى: 71)

Translation: Whomsoever Allah intends goodness; Allah grants him the understanding of Deen. (Bukhari: 71)

From the above, it is understood the great virtue of a person acquiring ‘Ilm, both in this world and the hereafter. Remember, Allah Ta’ala is Ar Razaaq (The Sole Provider). Our sustenance has been decreed. The same Being who sustains and provides for the species in the depths of the ocean provides for men. Hence, the same Being who provides for Ulama provides for a University graduate. See the following verses:

{وَمَا مِنْ دَابَّةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ إِلَّا عَلَى اللَّهِ رِزْقُهَا وَيَعْلَمُ مُسْتَقَرَّهَا وَمُسْتَوْدَعَهَا كُلٌّ فِي كِتَابٍ مُبِينٍ} [هود: 6]

Translation: The responsibility of sustaining every creature on earth rests with Allah. He knows the place where they will stay and the place where they will be kept in trust. Everything is recorded in the Clear Book. (Hud: 6)

{مَا أُرِيدُ مِنْهُمْ مِنْ رِزْقٍ وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَنْ يُطْعِمُونِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الرَّزَّاقُ ذُو الْقُوَّةِ الْمَتِينُ} [الذاريات: 57، 58]

Translation: I require neither sustenance from them nor do I want them to feed Me. Without doubt, Allah is the Sustainer, the Possessor of absolute power, Strong. (Ad-Dhaariyaat: 57-58)

Brother/Sister, when one is confronted with two options, in one there is temporary benefit of this world and the other there is eternal benefit in the Akhirah, rationale demands that one gives preference to the eternal benefit over the temporary benefit.

You mention the aspect of receiving an income for serving Deen. Yes, considering the times we live in today, ‘Ulama should be self-dependent and self-sustained. For this reason, we advise that your brothers do the ‘Alim course. Once they complete the course, they could do some business or even further their secular studies. In this way, they have an avenue and means of income so that they could fully propagate Deen whilst benefitting the masses without a fear of backlash. However, if an ‘Alim manages to serve Deen without any alternate means of income, but from trustees or committees, this income will be pure and permissible and the ‘Alim will get the full reward of serving Deen. Nevertheless, to disregard doing the ‘Alim course purely on the pretense that Ulama are not financially stable and experience difficulty in finding a job is incorrect. It is worth noting that there are many university graduates who are jobless. According to a research in the US, 53% of recent college graduates are unemployed. [i]

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mahmood Suliman

Student Darul Iftaa
Gaborone, Botswana

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.


[i] https://whattobecome.com/blog/college-graduates-unemployment-rate/

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[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]