Explanation of Hadees
The unparalleled teacher
Nasir Jamal Attari Madani
The Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم stated: اِنَّمَا بُعِثْتُ مُعَلِّماً ‘I have been sent as a teacher.’ (Ibn-e-Majah, vol. 1, p. 150, Hadees 229)
We come to know the following things from this Hadees:
1. The real purpose for the arrival of the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم was to educate. Allah Almighty stated:
وَ یُعَلِّمُكُمُ الْكِتٰبَ وَ الْحِكْمَةَ
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 2, Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 151)
2. Note that it was Allah Almighty’s (act of) teaching to the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم that made him a teacher; it was not creation’s act of teaching that made him a teacher.
3. The Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم was a worshipper of the highest rank. Even his act of performing worship was practical education. Therefore, he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم was also a teacher when offering Salah. (Mirat-ul-Manajih, vol. 1, p. 220; Mirqat-ul-Mafatih, vol. 1, p. 516)
O devotees of the Prophet, knowledge is a basic right of mankind. It paves the way for learning how we should live and aids us in ascending the ladder of success. When the right to acquiring knowledge is withdrawn from man, he is misguided into the realms of ignorance and falls into the pit of ruin. An in-depth analysis of the world prior to the arrival of the Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم reveals that whichever community was deprived of knowledge, their character development came to a halt. Furthermore, this resulted in such hideous incidents appearing on the pages of history, which if read today, still cause one to tremble with fear. It was in these circumstances that Allah Almighty bestowed His generosity upon mankind and sent the Final Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم to teach the book and wisdom. The Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has mentioned this role in the aforementioned Hadees and it was accomplished in such a beautiful manner that the companions who received education from the prophetic institution obtained the honour of being the most noble people of the Ummah. They also received the good news of having pleased Allah Almighty. Imam Qarafi mentions: ‘If the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم had no miracle other than the companions, they themselves were a sufficient proof of his Prophethood.’ (Al-Furooq, vol. 4, p. 303)
What should be the standard of knowledge?
Everyone advocates the importance of knowledge. However, which knowledge meets quality standards and which does not? People would answer this based on their level of interest, necessity and understanding, and sometimes the results can be worrying. The Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has declared benefit to be the criterion of knowledge that meets quality standards. Hence, he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم made Du’a in the following way: ‘O Allah, I seek refuge in you from the knowledge that does not benefit.’ (Muslim, p. 1118, Hadees 2722) Whichever knowledge is measured up against the standard of being beneficial will remain protected from destruction. A question may arise here, what is the criterion for testing whether or not knowledge is beneficial? The answer to this has been given by the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, that the knowledge which brings benefit to people is beneficial. Hence, the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: ‘Whoever amongst you is able to benefit his brother should do so.’ (Muslim, p. 931, Hadees 219) In current times, effort is being made to augment skills. If everyone adopts this criterion given by the Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم with the correct intention, the selfishness that we see in the society can be overcome. Moreover, our communities would be full of people who are righteous and sympathetic.
What should be the method of teaching?
In addition to setting out the criterion for quality knowledge, the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has given a practical method of imparting knowledge, and it is one that does not entail scolding or chiding. Once, when Sayyiduna Mu’awiyah Bin Hakim Sulami رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ was praying and someone sneezed, he رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ reacted by saying ‘یرحمک الله’. Others who were also praying found this to be discomforting, and so they made their feelings apparent to him in their own style. After completing the Salah, the Teacher to the Universe صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم called him nearby. Regarding this, Sayyiduna Mu’awiyah رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ states: ‘I have not seen a teacher before him or after him who teaches the way he does. I swear by Allah, he did not scold me, beat me or revile me. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, ‘Nothing from the common speech of people is appropriate in this Salah. Salah is Tasbih [glorifying Allah], Takbeer [declaring His greatness] and recitation of the Quran.’ (Muslim, p. 215, Hadees 537)
Another manner of the prophetic teaching was to provide an example and elaborate on it. For instance, the Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم gave an example of someone who recites the Quran and someone who does not by saying: ‘The example of the believer who recites the Quran is like the orange whose fragrance is pleasant and whose taste is sweet. The example of the believer who does not recite the Quran is like a date that has no fragrance but has a sweet taste. The example of the hypocrite who recites the Quran is like a basil whose fragrance is sweet, but whose taste is bitter. The example of the hypocrite who does not recite the Quran is like the colocynth that has no fragrance and has a bitter taste.’ (Muslim, p. 311, Hadees 797) Likewise, by giving an example and explaining it to show the significance of learning and reciting the Quran, he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: ‘Learn the Quran and recite it, for indeed the parable of the Quran for the one who studies it, recites it and stands with it (in prayer) is that of a sack full of musk whose scent completely fills the house. And the parable of the one who learns it and then sleeps while it is in his memory is that of a bag containing musk that is tied shut.’ (Tirmizi, vol. 4, p. 401, Hadees 2885) He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم also illustrated implications of a good and bad companion by explaining the following example: ‘The example of a good companion (who sits with you) and a bad one is like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith's bellows. As for the musk seller, you will either buy the musk from him or enjoy its good smell. As for the bellows of the blacksmith, it will either burn your clothes or your body, or you will find a foul odour from it.’ (Bukhari, vol. 2, p. 20, Hadees 2101)
Many events can be found in the biography of the Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم that encourage all teachers to teach with favour and grace. These include examples of not only teaching with grace, but also examples of nurturing in a friendly manner. Both of these elements are those that cause knowledge to impact both, the inner and the outer state of humans. Furthermore, they play an influential role in moulding a person to become a beneficial member of society.