Imaam Shaafi`ee (Rahmatullahi Alaih) is reported to have said that it is better to undergo temporary disgrace by asking a question than to remain ignorant. It is the system of Allah Ta’ala that there will always be two classes of people; those who know and those who don’t know. It is the duty of those who do not know to ask and enquire.
The benefit of asking is that one is clear and confident about what he is doing, whilst the consequence of not enquiring is that one will always be stormed with doubts and unclarity regarding certain aspects. We generally confine our queries and questions to matters that relate to our outer-selves, whereas Deen applies to the inner-self as well. Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum) would enquire regarding aspects of ikhlaas etc. These are all related to the inner-self. Hence, there is a need to refer to the mashaayikh for one’s spiritual reformation as well.
Amongst the things that the Sahaabah (Radhiallahu Anhum) enquired was a woman’s relationship with her brother-in-law. Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied that he (the brother-in-law) is death. They never felt shy to enquire about any matter. It never bothered them as to how would Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) view them. What mattered most was their preparation for the aakhirat. We tend to restrict purdah to outside the home, but in the home we leave out these aspects. There is free mixing between cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law etc. We do not understand the harms and consequences that arise from here. The children need to be educated regarding the laws of purdah. If nobody speaks about these aspects now, then the consequences are serious. If it’s not in school then it will be through the media and internet that they will get enticed to all sorts of related evils. (Mufti Ebrahim Salejee)