Question # 428: Is it permissible for a male teacher to teach a group of female students whilst lowering his gaze? Most of the girls wear niqab but none of them covers the palms. Will the teacher be sinful even if he does not look at the girls?
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: Teaching students of different gender is permissible as needed within the limits prescribed by shari’ah (for example, proper hijab and no seclusion). Once a legitimate need is proven, then eye contact between the teacher and students is permissible, and no curtain is necessary between them, especially if it reduces teaching efficiency.
Long Answer: In principle, it is permissible for a man to teach women religious studies, there is much evidence on female companions reporting from male companions and vice-versa. However, the religious obligations should be met when doing so; the woman should wear her proper Hijab, she should not apply perfume, the teaching should be administered behind a curtain, and this teaching should not lead to a forbidden matter, like being in seclusion with a woman or the women speaking in a soft and tender voice and the like. (Islamweb.net, a web site belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar)
According to Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah, Member of the Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America: “Teaching students of different gender is permissible as needed. Once a legitimate need is proven, then eye contact between the teacher and students is permissible, and no curtain is necessary, especially if it reduces teaching efficiency.
Education in general is a legitimate reason for gender intermingling. It takes the same rule of looking for marriage purposes, where the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said to the groom “…. look at her (the bride) as this helps bringing harmony between you”. Both marriage and education allow mutual looking. Same rule applies for transactions, making testimony in front of the judge…etc.”
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.