Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher
In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful
I pray this message finds you well.
You should present your parents with a well-thought out proposal and action plan. Some points to emphasize may be the fact that we have a plethora of doctors, but relatively few scholars who are indigenous to this land. You should read what scholars like Imam Zaid Shakir and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf have to say on this issue. The need for Western-born and Western-raised ulama is pressing.
It is possible to make a living for one's family and work as a scholar. Nonetheless, you and your future spouse will be required to adjust your expectations. One thing to emphasize to your parents is what Allah Most High says, "Who is he that will loan to Allah a beautiful loan, which Allah will double unto his credit and multiply many times? It is Allah that giveth (you) want or plenty, and to Him shall be your return" (Al-Baqara, 2:245).
A sound Islamic education is a very worthwhile investment, both from the point of view of this world, and, especially, the next.
A passion for knowledge of this deen is something that is lacking in many in our community. Your parents should be proud that Allah Most High has put this love of Sacred Knowledge in your heart.
As a final suggestion, you may want to consider pursuing a degree in counseling or social work after you finish your Islamic studies. This would only add to your skill as an Imam and give you another potential source of income.
And Allah knows best.
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The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "Knowledge is only through study." While some knowledge can be gained from reading or casually listening to lectures, the best means to gain knowledge is through finding a qualified teacher and then setting up a systematic program of learning. Picking up a book or reading an article and trying to figure things out on our own is no substitute for learning from someone who has a direct link to our living tradition.
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