In this counseling answer:
• As you are 17 and considered a minor, what the teacher has confided in you about her marriage, her life as well as agreeing to marry you is against US child protection laws and professional standards.
• Her confiding in you about her marriage is illustrative of her need for attention, her instability as well as her lack of a moral compass.
• Cut off all communication with this teacher.
• Please do look to the future for graduation and marriage.
As-Salamu ‘Alaykum dear brother,
Thank you for writing to us with your question. Alhamdulillah, you have spoken to your teacher about Islam and she has accepted and is now a Muslim. Your efforts to teach others about Islam are admirable, dear brother. May Allah bless you.
While teaching her about Islam is wonderful, the relationship and feelings which followed are not.
It is understandable how you feel, brother. Also, you may have a big heart and be concerned about her safety and happiness as a new Muslimah as she went through an abusive marriage. It seems she has really caught your attention and your heart.
There are several issues going on here that are of concern. First of all, when talking with someone who is a teacher at your school, there are ethics, laws, and professional standards in place which serve to protect students and under-age minors such as yourself. As you are 17 and considered a minor, what the teacher has confided in you about her marriage, her life as well as agreeing to marry you is against US child protection laws and professional standards.
It appears that the two of you have been talking for a while now as you stated she became Muslim on your 17th birthday, which means the relationship started when you were 16. As a teacher, she should have maintained a teacher-student relationship with you. This means she has boundaries to uphold. It is inappropriate for her to confide in you – a student, about her marriage problems as well as stating she would marry you.
Teachers are held to very high standards with respect to moral ethics as their work in non-university settings often involves underage children. Teachers are expected to conduct themselves in professional ways which do not infringe upon nor harm a student, child/minor. The same ethical standards apply to doctors, nurses, counselors, psychologists and to most professions which serve the public, especially where children are concerned. While you may not feel at the moment that your interactions with this teacher harm you, the interactions are still haram and inappropriate.
You are 17 and a student, brother. She is around 30 years old and a teacher. You are not her peer, therapist nor are you her friend (at least you should not be). She had no right treating you as such. Based on her actions and poor judgment, it could be that she has some mental health issues going on possible due to her abusive marriage. Therefore, you could be at risk if you decide to stop talking to her or if you chose to marry someone else later on.
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People who are unstable can be unpredictable. This is a part where the danger lies. As a teacher in the US, I am wondering if she knows she has crossed lines with you or if she is truly disillusioned as to the relationship. It appears as if she erroneously views you as a peer. Her confiding in you about her marriage is illustrative of her need for attention, her instability as well as her lack of a moral compass. Her job and only function is to teach you academically and guide you to professional resources should you need assistance.
The Pennsylvania Professional Standards and Practices Commision (PSPC) states in regards to student-teacher relationships that ”when teachers become confidants, friends or counselors of students, a dual relationship is created which creates an ambiguity in the student-teacher relationship where roles are less defined. This ambiguity helps to foster inappropriate actions and educator misconduct. In addition to criminal offenses where the victim may or may not be a student, the PSPC considers sexual misconduct to include any act or conduct directed towards or with a child or a student of a romantic or sexual nature regardless of the age of the child or student, including any sexual, romantic or erotic contact with the child or student as well as any verbal, non-verbal, written or electronic communication or physical activity designed to establish a romantic or sexual relationship, including but not limited to:
- sexual or romantic invitations;
- dating or soliciting dates;
- engaging in sexualized dialogue;
- making suggestive comments;
- self-disclosure of a sexual or erotic nature; and
- exchange of gifts with no educational purpose.”
While perhaps at this point you and the teacher have not engaged in any of the above behaviors, it is still a dangerous situation because the boundaries have been crossed and it can easily lead to this. In a lot of states, it is criminal and the teacher will not only lose her license to teach but she could also go to prison.
I understand brother that you made du’aa’ to Allah (swt) for three things concerning a wife. However dear brother the nature of your relationship has turned from giving dawah, which of course is halal, to haram. Allah (swt) does not grant us our duaa’s in haram ways. As you are only 17 and she is older and a teacher who is in the position of power and authority, she is the one to blame for allowing this to happen, not you.
On the other hand, as a Muslim, you know that you should not be talking to a female in private and discussing such intimate matters such as her marriage.
Perhaps you are not familiar with the child protection laws or the laws regarding professional ethics, but they exist as a safeguard. In some states, even if you were over 18, it would still be considered unethical as well as a possible crime due to the strict nature of the teacher-student relationship.
To look at it another way, brother, what if you had a younger sister attending high school and her teacher (or a teacher at her school) began talking to her, telling her about his bad marriage and stating he would marry her. How would you feel? Or, if your mom was a high school teacher and started talking to a young male student about her “bad marriage” and was interested in marrying him? Would you feel it be appropriate? Or would you feel there is something wrong in the two scenarios I just gave you?
The ability, dear brother, to look at your situation from another perspective is going to be critical in determining what you will do regarding the situation.
I would kindly suggest that you cut off all communication with this teacher. She has accepted Islam and if she really is serious and desires more information or help with her marriage or life, she can go to the mosque and speak with the imam or the sisters there. This is what should have happened in the first place. Most adults would thank you for showing them Islam and then that would be it.
In sha’ Allah, if you stop talking with her, she may ask you why you do not wish to speak. You can just briefly state that as a Muslim it is not allowed and that you suggest she goes to the Masjid for support and education.
If she gets upset or continues to try to contact you, I highly suggest that you report it to your school authorities as well as your parents. In sha’ Allah, she will not become offended if you stop talking to her; however, if she does, you do have to protect yourself and the best way is by letting your parents and school know what has happened.
My dear brother, please do look to the future for graduation and marriage. You only have a short time to go and school will be finished. While you stated that your parents are more cultural when it comes to marriage, please know that In sha’ Allah when the right girl comes into your life, they will be happy.
It is my feeling that they would be upset mostly because she is a teacher at your school and she has violated boundaries, trust, and the teacher-student relationship. Please do cut off the relationship immediately and report any further contact from her to the school as well as your parents. Hopefully, she will apply Islamic principles to this situation as well as realize the seriousness of what she did. However, we never know how people will react.
Please let us know how things went.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.