In a small town in the south the scene is a typical weekend dinner in a restaurant given by one of the community family to catch up and “pay back” and everyone is invited.

At one of the tables the topic of discussion is the upcoming women’s weekend workshop on community building. The organizing ladies are charging 20$ to cover three meals and course material. The speaker has declined any reward from dunya and doing this Fee SabillAllah.

Three very vocal women (from our mosque) are deadlocked with the rest. Their claim is that if we are going to study Deen we should not be paying any fee, and that all Islamic education should be free in the mosque.

I seem to be missing something in this line of thinking; perhaps the readers can help me.

If we look at the most ascetic Imam in the history of Islam to see how he studied and who paid his expenses for books, study material, travel and food it will be illuminating to all of us inshallah.

Here are some of the scholars that Imam ibn Hanbal visited and apprenticed with to study the Deen in all these far flung cities.

Excerpt: from: http://theworldbiography.blogspot.com/2012/03/ahmad-bin-hanbal-biography.html

Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal was apprenticed to many scholars, there are more than two hundred eighty scattered in various countries, such as in Makkah, Kufa, Basra, Baghdad, Yemen and other countries. Among them are:

Ismail bin Jafar

Abbad bin Abbad Al-Ataky

Abdillah bin Khalid bin Umari

Husyaim bin Bashir bin Qasim ibn Dinar Al-Sulami

Imam Shafi’i

Waki ‘ibn Jarrah

Ismail bin Ulayyah

Sufyan ibn ‘Uyainah


Ibrahim bin Ma’qil

In revewing Imam ibn Hanbals biography it becomes apparent that he was fiercely clear on not accepting monies from the rich for his education and accepting positions that would compromise the sincerity of his Deen.

His biography relates that once he was on his way to Yemen to study with one of the famous Scholars. His friend and he were told that the scholar they were seeking in Yemen was visiting Medina.

His friend coaxed Imam ibn Hanbal to study with this Imam right here while he is in Medina (which would save both of them tremendous amount of time and money in travel, board and lodging.

Imam Ibn Hanbal did not think that was right and proceeded to Yemen to study with the Scholar shouldering his own expenses.

Exerpt from: The Saviours of the Islamic Spirit

Prophet Muhammad pbuh said ” To gain knowledge go to China ” Did he mean that we should expect someone to pay our airfare to china, find and pay for our board and lodging and buy us the educational material that we are going to study in China to gain knowledge?

The “hands out” habit, which is rudely called “muft khori” in Pakistan, is a habit that is slowly creeping into the American Muslim Ummah, particularly some affluent factions of the Pakistani ummah in America.

There is a saying in America “there is no free lunch” and thus it becomes relevant for muslims also to understand this idiom:

The many drawbacks of accepting freebies in acquiring the Ilm of Deen are as follows:

  1. Tunnel education: You only get to learn what the person paying for it wants you to hear. You do not get the authentic, original unvarnished version.
  2. Narrow view of the Quran & Sunnah: accepting free ilm of Deen results in rich people feeding you what suits them. Your freedom to seek Deen in all its nuances and factual clarity disappears slowly like salt dissolving in water turning your knowledge of Deen to brine.
  3. Spoon-fed & lethargic: We become lazy in our search of the truth if someone is spoon-feeding it to us free with food and drink attached to it like the corporate conferences and lunches that the drug companies used to lure Doctors with in the past.
  4. One Dimension education: We become cloned zombies of the single sided ideology that is fed to us, instead of studying from many scholars in many places and paying for our own food and lodging with halal money.
  5. Dependence on handouts: None of the Scholars of the past-accepted money from their Government or Caliphs because they felt it would taint their opinion and fatwas. My mom used to say in Urdu “ Muon khayey Ankh sharmaye”

Any and all suggestions are invited as how to stop the work of our eternal enemy from working on our sisters.

This attitude is dissuading those who are already ambivalent about spending a sunny weekend in the mosque instead of being out and about.

Women discouraging women from going to a weekend conference on “essentials of community building and Deen” for which they have to pay $20 which covers three meals, and the course material in a bound book as a sad statement on the few women who are leaning on the others to stay away…

I am perplexed…

What are your thoughts please take our poll:


  1. Ladies who can afford it should donate to cover the expense of a sister who finds it difficult to pay . Registration form can have a box to be marked if applicant wants to be sponsored or is willing to sponsor one or more attendee. Rather than one donor ; spread the good deed to multiple.


    • Alhamdollilah many sisters came spontaneously and gave generously to cover sponsorships and we offered to sisters we knew might need it. However the most adamant are also the most well to do mashallah! They insist that all education in the mosque should be free.
      Allah knows best!


  2. I am of the opinion first we should seek beneficial knowledge, secondly we should pay our expenses with halal money. A beneficial knowledge InshaAllah will benefit the person seeking it, that benefit will, Insha Allah, will enable him to gain more knowledge.
    As our Prophet, peace be upon him, used to pray: O Allah! I ask you of beneficial knowledge, halal sustenance, and accepted deeds.
    This prayer should be recited in the morning.


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