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I Have Become Religious, But Co-Education Is an Obstacle: What To Do?

09 November, 2018
Q Respected scholars, as-salamu `alaykum. I am an 18-year-old Tunisian female. I studied last year in a co-educational school. But since I’ve become religious, I no longer bear studying there, although I have been doing quite well academically. Besides, I've been met with some annoyances since I've worn hijab (head-cover). The problem is that my parents insist that I continue my studies even under such circumstances. They consider this as a kind of jihad in the cause of acquiring knowledge. Furthermore, there are no single-sex schools in Tunisia. What aggravates the problem is that my mother is ill and she blames me for increasing her pain [by adopting such a strict stance]. She is of the opinion that there is no alternative for me and says she will not be pleased with me unless I finish my study this year (which is, in fact, the graduation year of the secondary school). Would I be wrong if I disobeyed my parents in that regard?


Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

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

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

1- Uncontrolled mixing between members of the opposite sex is really serious.

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2- There is nothing wrong in joining co-educational schools or colleges, so long as the Muslim males and females abide by the rules of Islam and avoid that which is prohibited.

Responding to your question, Sheikh Faysal Mawlawi, The late Deputy Chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, states:

A Muslim may live in a society that does not seek Almighty Allah’s pleasure. If he/she cannot dispense with living in that society, he/she can be morally uplifted (by being keen on observing the Islamic teachings in his/her life). This is what referred to by the hadith to the effect that one is to modify the abominable things by one’s tongue and heart [if one cannot do that with one’s hand].

Seeking knowledge is a collective duty upon Muslim males and females. Having co-educational schools does not entail that Muslims give up education.

It is right that we should do our best so that there be no mixed education and choose the single-sex schools to join if they are available.

But as for your case, you say there are only co-educational schools. Hence, there is no blame on you if you continue studying this year in the mixed school, since you wear hijab [and stick to the teachings of Islam].

Who knows, maybe your wearing hijab will attract your female colleagues to follow in your footsteps. If you managed to guide one of your colleagues in that regard, this would be extremely good [and would please Almighty Allah]. So, you can continue studying in your school, especially, if your parents want you to do so.

In my point of view, if you disobeyed your parents in that respect, you would not be fully innocent. It is known that disobeying one’s parents if they order one to commit a sin is lawful, but enrolling you in a mixed school is not a sin in itself. The sin in that regard is giving up wearing hijab and violating the Islamic teachings and codes of conduct.

Hence, you can join the mixed school so long as you abide by the teachings of Islam, and it seems that your parents trust you in that respect.

Allah Almighty knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.