Studying With A Male Teacher: The Issue of Seclusion (khalwa)

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari Abdul-Razacq

Question: My neighbor is having Arabic lessons from a brother in her home. Can you tell me if it would be permissible for me to attend, as it would just be me, my neighbor and the brother who is teaching and it would be in her flat. I understand that it is permissible to have a male teacher but I wasn’t sure if being in her flat it made it impermissible as it is a place of seclusion, or khalwa.

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

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. May the peace and blessings of Allah descend on the Prophet Muhammad, his family, his companions, and those who follow them.

Dear Sister,

Thank you for your question. If you’re on good terms with your neighbor, you need to caution her against inviting strange men into her home. It is unlawful for a woman to be alone with an unrelated man. From a safety point of view, it is highly risky to invite a strange man into one’s home, even if he is a tutor.

Technically, if you and your neighbor take lessons from this man together, then this is not khalwa, or unlawful seclusion. However, I do not think it appropriate for women to invite male tutors into their homes without the presence of a spouse or mahram (father, brother, uncle, son, et al). I really suggest you find a public venue, such as a library or a mosque classroom. Alternatively, you could hold classes in someone’s home, but it would be much better if this were a home belonging to a married couple. That way, there would be a man around to greet the tutor and you ladies could take your lessons and not worry about any improprieties.

May Allah reward you,

Zaynab Ansari Abdul-Razacq
October 6, 2009
Shawwal 17, 1430

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani