Fatwa: # 24543
Category: Misc. Fiqh
Country: Argentina
Date: 22nd February 2013


What is the origin of the word “Jahannam” and is it okay to study at online alim institutes?


Assalamu 'alaykum Mufti Saab.

Two questions:

1) I've been reading that the origin of the word Jahannam comes from Gehenna, or Ge Hinnom, which is the hebrew word for Valley of Hinnom, which they consider to be the place of hell.

Do we as muslims believe that Jahannam will be on that place also?

2) Is it ok to study in places like ealim or dar ul uloom online? Those are "web madrasas", but I've been told that 'Ilm is transmited from hart to hart going up until the time of our Prophet Muhammad (saws), so the only thing I'll get by studying on the web is information, not 'Ilm.

In case it's possible to gain knowledge that way, how can I do to get Ijazah after finishing?


Jazak Allah.


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

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

1.) The origin of the word jahannam according to grammarians is that it is either arabicized from Persian or Hebrew or it is an original Arabic word. [i]

The location of jahannam is in the seventh earth. [ii]

2.) It is a blessing of Allah that one is given the yearning and desire to pursue 'ilm (Knowledge of Deen). From the time of Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam), the sacred sciences of Islam have been transferred from generation to generation, preserved and intact.

The traditional way of passing down knowledge has always been from teacher to student, person to person, and this is still the preferred way for a person to gain 'ilm. In this procedure, a student observes the conduct and Taqwaa of the teacher and he benefits from the Roohaniyyat (spirituality) of the teacher.

However, with the advent of technology, a lot of people who could not previously seek 'ilm can do so now. Since situations vary from person to person, it is not always possible for one to leave his family and country and devote many years to learning 'ilm. One might have obligations at home, financial responsibilities, or other issues because of which, a long term commitment away from home becomes unfeasible.

Furthermore, the purpose of 'ilm is not that one either becomes a full-fledged 'alim or remains a layman. It is not about all or nothing. Rather, all of us have been made responsible and accountable for knowing at least 'ilm al-hal (that is as much knowledge that is necessary for us at that particular moment in our life). For some that might be just wudu, salah, sawm (fasting), while for others who have been blessed with wealth it could entail zakat and hajj as well. For a businessman it would mean also learning fiqh al-buyoo' (business transactions) and so on. [iii]

Nowadays, there is a dire need to learn 'ilm from traditional sources due to the many misconceptions, erroneous ideologies and widespread ignorance that have become rife in our society. In addition to that, we have been encouraged to pursue as much knowledge as our time and situation allows us to benefit ourselves and those around us. For this reason, enrolling in an online institute is a beneficial and practical option for many.

Distant learning through communication is analogous to the concept of Kitabatul Hadith and Irsalu  Hadith where the Muhadditheen used to benefit from each other by sending their compilations of Ahadith to each other.

In the first Tarjumatul Baab (Subject) of Kitabul Eemaan of Bukhari Shareef, Imam Bukhari (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) refers to Umar Bin Abdul Azeez’s letter to Adi who was from Musil in Iraq informing him on the fundamentals of Eemaan. He even expressed his wish to elaborate the issues of Eemaan for the people of Iraq.

If a person cannot travel or enroll in a traditional institution to study Islam, then he should take advantage of online institutes that have been set up by reliable and traditional 'ulama to learn as much he can. This way he will learn 'ilm that is necessary for him and also 'ilm that he can use to help and teach others, if his teachers permit him to do so.

Further, since the goal of knowledge to apply 'ilm to life with the niyyah (intention) to please Allah, the student enrolled online and the student in a traditional setting have the same purpose and goal. When the niyyah is correct, the 'ilm gained is visible in a person's actions and deeds. 'Ilm then is the name of that knowledge which manifests itself through application. As a result the one who applies what he learns from proper sources with the proper intention has in fact gained 'ilm. [iv]

Yes, the student studying online will not be at the same level under most circumstances as the one who spent years in a traditional institute. Neither will his struggles and sacrifices equal that of a regular student. However a believer is rewarded according to his niyyah (intention), the rewards of Allah are infinite and Allah might open a way for him to complete his studies at a traditional institute, Insha-Allah.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Sohail ibn Arif,
Student Darul Iftaa
Chicago, USA

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.



The Darul Iftaa has received queries regarding Mufti Ebrahim Desai Saheb’s teaching and affiliation with Madrassah In’aamiyya, Camperdown. The confusion is probably due to the previous Fatawaa and Google searches of Mufti Ebrahim Desai Saheb issued under the name of Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In’aamiyyah, Camperdown.

Mufti Ebrahim Desai Saheb has resigned from Madrassah In’aamiyya two years ago and has no affiliation with Madrassah In’aamiyya, Camperdown.

Mufti Saheb has established the Darul Iftaa in Durban that facilitates for post-Ulama courses and training Mufti’s. He teaches Hadeeth at Darul Uloom Nu’maniyyah.

Email: darululoomnumaniyyah@gmail.com or arkhanar@telkomsa.net


 جهنم: الجهنام: القعر البعيد. وبئر جهنم وجهنام، بكسر الجيم والهاء: بعيدة القعر، وبه سميت جهنم لبعد قعرها... ويقال: هو فارسي [i]

 معرب الأزهري: في جهنم قولان: قال يونس بن حبيب وأكثر النحويين: جهنم اسم النار التي يعذب الله بها في الآخرة، وهي أعجمية لا تجرى للتعريف والعجمة، وقال آخرون: جهنم عربي سميت نار الآخرة بها لبعد قعرها، وإنما لم تجر لثقل التعريف وثقل التأنيث، وقيل: هو تعريب كهنام بالعبرانية

لسان العرب، ١٢/ ١١٢ دار صادر


[ii] ويمكن الجمع بينهما اعنى بين كون السجين تحت الأرض السابعة وكونه فى جهنم ان جهنم تحت الأرض السابعة السفلى اخرج ابو الشيخ

فى العظمة والبيهقي من طريق ابى الزعراء عن عبد الله قال الجنة فى السماء السابعة والنار فى الأرض السابعة السفلى واخرج البيهقي فى الدلائل عن عبد الله بن سلام الجنة فى السماء والنار فى الأرض واخرج ابن جرير فى تفسيره عن معاذ قال سئل رسول الله - صلى الله عليه وسلم - من اين يجاء بجهنم يوم القيمة قال لجاء بها من الأرض السابعة بها الف زمام لكل زمام سبعون الف ملك فاذا كانت من العباد على مسيرة الف سنة زفرت زفرة فلا يبقى ملك مقرب ولا نبى مرسل إلا جثا على ركبتيه يقول رب نفسى نفسى.

التفسير المظهري ١٠/ ٢٢١ مكتبة الرشدية


[iii] تعليم المتعلم، ص. ٧ مكتبة البشرى


 و أما تفسير العلم: فهو صفة يتجلى بها لمن قامت هي به المذكور كما هو...وقال: ما العلم إلا العمل به [iv]

المرجع السابق ص.

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