Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan
Question: My father is making me attend exams for university and skip my last year of school, something that is considered cheating and illegal. I know this is wrong, but I’m a minor who is still dependent on my family, so I don’t know what to do. I also have these more specific questions:
1)My friends are sure to ask about my education. Can I tell them and smile about it? Or would it be like smiling about a sin? Can I ever be happy at university, knowing my education was attained by wrong means?
2)) Could you call my education haram as of now? And the education that I have to undertake in the following years to come?
3) Would I be receive hardships for these sins I did not commit? You mentioned that in Islam, “we are not questioned by God of sins we commit under duress, mistake or forgetfulness”, so will we be physically tested upon?
4) Could these sins be cleansed by good actions?
Is this question considered backbiting?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith.
May Allah Most High facilitate this matter for you and reward you for your sincere concern.
Some General Considerations
Cheating is unlawful. Our Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever cheats us is not among us.” [Sahih Muslim] A deceptive Muslim remains in Islam, yet the harshness of the prophetic statement indicates the seriousness of the sin.
Another key principle to keep in mind is the prophetic injunction “there is no obedience to creation if it entails disobedience to the Creator.” [Tabarani, Mu’jam Kabir; Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba]
Maintain respect and proper etiquette with your father, yet convey to him that you refuse to engage in the unlawful. Do not listen to him if he commands you to cheat or be deceptive. Consult a local scholar there to help you deal with this situation in the best manner possible.
Turn to Allah with all your heart, and be a person of God-consciousness (taqwa): inshaAllah you will find relief from this dilemma. Allah Most High states, “Whoever has taqwa of Allah, He makes for him a way out; and He provides for him from where he least expected it” (65:2-3).
Finally, make much supplication (du’a), such as the beautiful du’a of our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him): “O Allah, suffice me with your lawful, such that I avoid the unlawful; and by Your grace, free me from needing anyone besides You.” [Sunan Tirmidhi]
Your Specific Questions
(1) You are correct in hating the cheating – that is a sign of true and genuine belief. The believer is not pleased with disobedience, and does not express happiness regarding it.
However, you can smile and show gratitude for Allah’s mercy in this situation. You can smile and intend thankfulness at the good in the situation, like your intention to be fair and your commitment to use your education for the sake of Allah, to serve His religion and His servants.
(2) As mentioned above, deception is haram. Yet your university education will come after this phase, and inshaAllah you will uphold full honesty and diligence therein.
(3) InshaAllah, you will not be given hardships for this situation, as you are trying your best to avoid the unlawful.
Do your utmost to avoid the unlawful, and then have a good opinion of Allah Most High. Our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us that Allah says, “I am in the opinion of My servant” [Bukhari].
(4) Yes, good actions wipe out bad actions, as Allah states, “Verily, good deeds cause bad deeds to disappear” (11:114).
This was confirmed by our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), who said in one of the most comprehensive statements of guidance in our tradition, “Be God-conscious wherever you are; follow up a bad deed with a good deed, for it will wipe it out; and interact with people with noble, beautiful character.” [Tirmidhi]
Lastly, it is not considered backbiting when you ask a question to a scholar seeking counsel or legal verdict. [Nahlawi, Durar al-Mubaha]
May Allah give you a way out of this situation, and open doors of goodness and blessing for you in your education. Amin.
And Allah knows best.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani