August 08, 2011

Learning to Teach from the Greatest Teacher

Certainly did Allah confer [great] favor upon the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom, although they had been before in manifest error. [Quran 3:164]

Every good teacher knows how to reach out to his students, how to bring out from them their full potential. In this regard - as in all other regards - none was, or ever will be, better than the Messenger of Allah (swt). 

  • In teaching others, he was gentle, and he exhorted others to be gentle as well. His gentleness wasn't restricted with the rich and the strong, but also the poor and weak; and he was especially gentle with children.

"Verily Allah is Rafeeq (Kind, merciful, gentle) , and He loves gentleness. And Allah gives for gentleness that which He does not give for harshness." Bukhari (6927) & Muslim (2593)

  • He possessed noble manners to which others were drawn, and wished that they could remain in his company all the time. He was always truthful and sincere.
So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]. Quran 3:159
  • He did not overload his Companions with information; he did not force them to listen to lectures a few times a day or even once a day. The Prophet (pbuh) was afraid that his Companions would become bored with daily, lengthy lectures, so he would leave a sufficient gap between one lecture or sermon and the next. Such a gap allowed the companions to regain a sense of enthusiasm, so that they would yearn for another sermon, one that would give them the spiritual fuel they needed until the sermon that came after it.
  • He did not teach them about matters all at once, but in stages a little at a time.
And [it is] a Qur'an which We have separated [by intervals] that you might recite it to the people over a prolonged period. And We have sent it down progressively. Quran 17:106
  • He would be economical with his words, giving a sermon that was at once meaningful and brief. 
  • His sermons were full of guidance and wisdom, such that they had the effect of increasing the Faith of the Companions.
"Verily, the prolongation of a man's prayer and the brevity of his sermon are signs of his understanding (fiqh)." Muslim 869
  • He encouraged the use of lawful entertainment as a means of diversion that rejuvenates the soul and provides a healthy break from serious affairs and hard work. 
  • He prioritised his lessons, teaching his Companions in order of what was most important. 
  • He repeated what he said three times, giving commands that were at once brief and easy to memorise and changing the pitch of his tone depending on the importance of what he was saying.
  • He used parables, analogies and metaphors which were palpable, easy to understand examples to make matters clear to his Companions.
  • He related stories of past Nations and captivated hearts with beautiful stories and imparting to them important lessons.
  • He exhorted his Companions to spread the knowledge he conveyed to them. 
  • By far, the best method of teaching that the Prophet (pbuh) employed was that of being a good role model. Every religious teaching that the Prophet (pbuh) commanded others to follow, he followed it himself.
The  Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: "Whoever takes a path seeking knowledge, then, because of that, Allah makes easy for him a path to Paradise." Muslim 2699

[Summarised by yours truly from various parts from the book "Muhammad, As if You Can See Him by A'id Al-Qarni]

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