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Lessons from Sunnah Series: The Prophet (ﷺ) as a Teacher

Lessons from Sunnah Series: The Prophet (ﷺ) as a Teacher

This is the first of a series of blogs exploring the twenty one teaching methodologies of Rasul allahصلى الله عليه وسلم. This blog covers the introduction to this series and the first teaching method. The series will continue in subsequent blogs.

He who dares to teach must never cease to learn. (Anon)

Abul-Aswed ad-Dueli Rahimahullah composed a couple of verses in which he said:

O, man that teaches others! You should have taught yourself first.
Warn not against a manner while you are doing,
This is the great shame on you.
Begin with yourself in forbidding sins.
If you do it then you are truly wise.
Only then, your admonition will be acceded,
And your words will be ensued and teaching be useful.

Teaching and learning go hand in hand, not just for the professional teacher as we know the word, but for all, as there is none that can say that they do not teach or do not learn. The role of the teacher who nurtures or deprives, guides or misguides and educates in the good or the bad encompasses every aspect of human life; father, mother, brother, sister, educator, doctor, judge; even to the extent that life itself is a teacher and nothing teaches better than experience.

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم is reported to have said: “Take care! Each of you is a shepherd and each of you shall be asked concerning his flock; a leader is a shepherd of his people, and he shall be asked concerning his flock; and a man is a shepherd of the people of his house, and he shall be asked concerning his flock; and a woman is a shepherd of the house of her husband and over their children, and she shall be asked concerning them.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Indeed the mother’s role may be even greater: while the children are young they are very close to her and dependent upon her, and they spend more time with her than with anyone else. There is an Arabic saying: “The mother is the first school”. She may be a good school, an indifferent or even a bad school. She may even be unaware that she is serving as a role model in her behavior, and her attitudes. Every mother should be conscious of her role and do her best to make it beneficial for the development of her children as they set out on the journey of life.

So it is no wonder that the first and foremost role that was bestowed upon Rasul Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم was that of a teacher, the noblest profession, as it is stated in Hadith: “Verily I have been sent as a teacher.” (Relevant portion quoted. Sunan Ibn Majah)

What words come to your mind when you think of your favourite teacher? Let me guess: Gentle; Loving; Caring; Guiding; Inspiring; Nurturing; Sympathizing; and an endless list of beautiful words that describe an admirable human being. However, each of these probably characterizes different individuals but if you put them all together and many, many more beautiful words then they symbolize the greatest teacher the world has ever known or will ever know. My beloved Prophet, Rasul Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم, was sent to the world as a teacher par excellence.

Therefore, Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ introduces him to us as an exemplary guide: “And thou (standest) on an exalted standard of character” (Al-Qalam 68/4).

“Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah(صلى الله عليه وسلم) a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰnand the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ” (Al-Ahzab 33/21).

Rasul Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم taught through word and deed, wisdom and insight, depth and perception, gentleness and perseverance. A study of his teaching methods will benefit each one of us in whatever capacity we deal with others: a mother who is the child’s first school, an educator responsible for shaping futures, a student of Deen going forth to guide others to Allah’s Way, and every human being involved in teaching or learning in their own sphere. Accordingly, try and apply these techniques in your life to gain success in this life and the Hereafter, in sha Allah.
These twenty one teaching methods of Rasul Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم, taken from the books of Sunnah, are compiled in the book Ar-Rasool Al-Mu’allim by Abu Fattah Abu Ghuddah Rahimahullah.

Method #1. Do not bore the listener.

Hazrat Aisha رضي الله عنها said that when Rasul Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم would speak, a person listening to him could count the words on his own finger. He did not give a marathon lecture. At times, he would not speak at all and at times, there would be a lecture suitable to the audience, with shortness, directness and clarity of words.

Hazrat Ibn Masud رضي الله عنه‎ was asked to teach every day and he answered: “I could teach you every single day, but this is not how the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم taught us. I am afraid that I will bore you and you will not learn.”

People in authority, tutors, mothers, fathers and all those who lead often continue giving long lectures, thinking they are doing service to the audience but what they don’t realize is that at times the audience is bored or tired and only staying out of respect or some other reason that makes them bound to stay in spite of wanting to leave. This is easy to identify by their eyes which are not focused or looking around, or some actually fall asleep and some start fidgeting, etc. At that point, the speaker needs to either stop talking/teaching, or do something that would capture the audiences’ attention like maybe ask a question, or share a joke or perhaps give a short break to refresh them.

In sha Allah we will continue with this series of the twenty one teaching methods of Rasul allah صلى الله عليه وسلم in subsequent blogs. May Allah ta’ala grant us the taufiq (capacity for goodness) to follow in the footsteps of our Beloved Teacher صلى الله عليه وسلم.



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