Question: What is the ruling on a student not being attentive in a university class and doing something else like using my phone for something other than study purposes?
Thank you for the question.
Of the ever-present words on the tongues of our luminaries is, “Whoever has attained success is only due to their etiquette and whoever has fallen is only due to a lack thereof.” [Ma`alim al-irshadiyya li sana’a talib al-‘ilm pg.246] I hereby beseech Allah to grant us the best of etiquette amin.
Not being attentive in class and engaging in any other activity conveys a sense of independence from the teacher. Imam Mawardi in his admonishment of the student says, “He (the student) should not manifest sufficiency and independence from him (the teacher). For indeed that amounts to ungratefulness and ingratitude as well as attaching no importance to him.” [Adab al-din wa al-dunya, pg. 120]
Furthermore, it is recorded in the shamail that the prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace) would give a person his undivided attention when engaging with him.
Knowledge is transmitted from the heart of the teacher to the heart of the student. Settling for a lesser source is a sub-optimal option. Of old, our scholars would go to the greatest of lengths, particularly the muhaddithun (traditionist), to obtain knowledge from its highest possible source.
Not paying attention in class without a valid reason is considered a breach of etiquette and is not expiated by covering the content in any other manner. And Allah knows best.
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani