By: Maryam Hedayat


“I fail to understand why some Muslim scholars have problem with co-education. What’s wrong with the system?If Allah does not prohibit men and women from praying together in mosque, then who on earth are they to object about co-education”, remarked one of my friends during an evening chat.

She was angry over the news of co-education being banned in Libya. The government has recently passed a resolution to separate boys and girls in all educational institutions.

She is not the only one to dislike the idea of co-education being banned or discouraged in Libya. Surprisingly, there are many who have objection over this.

Co-education means where boys and girls together share a class in school or college to achieve knowledge.

This system of gaining knowledge is a cause of concern for practicing Muslims as it seems to encourage the intermingling of the opposite sexes.

Similarly, there are still many Muslims who support the idea of co-education, arguing in favor of it by comparing a very naive example of mosques with schools and colleges. Thus, they try to manipulate a religious directive in defense of their incompetent thought.

I wonder! At the same time I also question: ‘How can someone think of comparing the house of Allah with college or school? Isn’t there any difference between the two?

Unarguably, there is a huge difference between the environment of a mosque and that of a school or a college.

In moques when we enter we carry an overwhelming feeling of the presence of the Almighty. Our attention is oriented toward spiritual goal. Muslims, both men and women, are required to observe some etiquette while entering the house of Allah with submission and utmost reverence.

That is not the criteria set to be followed in a school or a college. Boys and girls have freedom under certain restrictions to interact, entertain and flirt with the time.

Further, in mosques men and women are not allowed to mix freely. While ladies are asked to dress properly before they enter, men are instructed to lower their gaze.

Narrated by Abu Huraira, the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) said: “Belief (Faith) consists of more than sixty branches, and Modesty (haya) is a part of belief.” (Bukhari)

The importance of modesty (haya) can also be found in this hadith of Prophet (pbuh):

Prophet (pbuh) said: “Haya does not bring anything except good.” (Bukhari)

Isn’t the modern co-education system in schools and other educational institutions going against the spirit of the hadith? Isn’t the mix education system in Muslim society likely to promote immodesty?

In mosques we stand in front of the Creator and we are fully concentrated towards Him. We worship, keep ourselves away from all unnecessary and worldly desires.

In contrast while visiting schools or colleges, both boys and girls have their own mood, way of style, manner of dressing, and so on. The premises of school are like a friendly and pleasant environment. Apart from gaining education, boys and girls have several co-curricular activities.

While studying together in a school, male and female learners suffer from some unavoidable distractions and magnetism of each other which are most likely to generate immorality.

Co-education is,in real, a copy of the west. The system was founded by Christians and other religions on the basis of bringing male and female together in every walk of life.

Muslim countries in enthusiasm of following and copying the west adopt the system of co-education without realizing its effects on the society.

Apparently if men and women are equal we have to first define what gender equality is.

Gender equality refers to equal treatment of individuals based on their gender.  Being equal does not mean that women and men are the same. It means that they have equal values and rights, and should be allowed equal treatment.

The negative aspect of co-education is engaging in some non-required activities, like mostly girls and boys are found hanging around those teashops and cafes, bunking the classes and going out for picnic together.

Perhaps in the co-education surroundings students have more opportunity and temptations to go astray. They cannot maintain the right etiquette as prescribed by the Islamic law at all times during school and college hours.

Seeking knowledge is a collective duty upon every believer. Getting education is considered as the fundamental right of every Muslim whether male or female.

Co-education is not an issue that has specifically been addressed by the Islamic law. It has also not been firmly prescribed by the Almighty.

Hence the co-education system in Islamic society can lead to moral degradation leading the spiritual health of Umma to sickness. It may corrupt the soul and may spoil the mind as to shake the ethical foundation of Islam for which it is being considered a religion of distinction.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of