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The Prophet ﷺ as a Teacher – Part 2

The Prophet ﷺ as a Teacher – Part 2
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Love is a Better Teacher than Duty (Albert Einstein)

This is the second of a series of blogs exploring the teaching methodologies of Rasul Allah (ﷺ). This blog covers the second teaching method. The series will continue in subsequent blogs.

Hazrat Anas ibn Malik radhi Allahu anhu was a well known scholar among the sahaba. His mother gifted him to Rasulullah (ﷺ) while he was a young child, in order to give him the best possible upbringing and Islamic education.

Anas R.A. said:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was one of the best of men in character. One day he sent me to do something, and I said: I swore by Allah that I would not go. But in my heart I felt that I should go to do what the Prophet of Allah (ﷺ) had commanded me; so I went out and came upon some boys who were playing in the street. All of a sudden the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) who had come up behind caught me by the back of the neck, and when I looked at him he was laughing. He said: Go where I ordered you, little Anas. I replied: Yes, I am going, Apostle of Allah! Anas r.a. said: I swear by Allah, I served him for seven or nine years, and he never said to me about a thing which I had done: Why did you do such and such? Nor about a thing which I left: why I did not do such and such? Sunan Abi Dawud 4773

This hadith teaches us some important lessons about child-raising.
1. Don’t rebuke children or tell them off, rather come down to their level to make them understand.
2. Don’t appear exasperated or frustrated in front of them; this scares them and their mind gets blocked which hinders learning.
3. Don’t ask them why they did something, or didn’t do something as they don’t know yet how to analyse their own actions.

Subhanallah, such was the manner of our Prophet (ﷺ) . Where do we stand in comparison to this? How easy is it for us to get irritated? Prophet (ﷺ) is our role model and we should try to emulate his character.

As I reflect on my own early years’ learning experiences it is impossible to forget Master sahib. My brother always says I have havoc-wreaking energy. Probably to put it to some good use, when I was about three years old, my father employed a teacher to give me lessons every afternoon (pre-school hadn’t been invented in those good old days of yore!!!). My mother was a petite, beautiful, artistic kind who mostly kept herself busy in housekeeping, reading or a variety of crafts which she was very adept at. I am sure I must have been quite a handful for her with my constant movements, chattering and questioning. So, in sympathy for my mother and also maybe to get some peace of mind himself, I was put into the intellectual care of Master Sahib. He was a very staid middle-aged gentleman and true to his type had very proper manners and habits. My father was another disciplined academic so my tutoring was done with a flair that would put some scholars to shame. Promptly 15 minutes before Master Sahib walked in, which was always exactly on time by the way, the table in the lounge was laid out with my books and stationery. I was fed and washed and all ready to receive tutelage.

I don’t remember one day, with whatever sketchy memory I have of those early days, when I missed my lesson or was late; same goes for Master Sahib. Anyway, so my lessons would begin on a very sombre note and the tutor and taught would be properly in place. However, as my father has always recounted, in another little while our roles would be reversed. I found Master Sahib’s teaching skills too slow for my active little mind and I was sure I could tell him some things he would find much more interesting than ‘abc’! My parents would soon find me in the middle of delivering a lecture to Master Sahib on an array of topics, ranging from how I got hurt on the knee and the medical treatment I received to how to write ‘a’ in a much better way. I thought I was surely smarter than him as I always found him a very attentive listener and he seemed to be learning from me quite well!

Years and years have gone by, in fact ages have passed, and after a lifetime of experiences I wish I could meet Master Sahib again. I need to tell him that as he seemed to learn from me, so I have learned from my own students. He taught me how to enjoy learning at a very tender age and made learning exciting so that I never had a problem taking on an academic challenge. By all standards of innovative teaching and the science of pedagogy, he would probably not rate too high, but he made learning come alive for a raucous three year old. He managed to make me sit and study (yes, study!) at the desk for the full two hours he was assigned to teach, and when he left I had even more stories to tell my parents of all the exciting things I had learned that day. He was gentle and empowering, yet played his role of a guide and tutor to the best of his ability.

I don’t know what he learned from me, if anything at all, and I’ll never find out as it’s a story long past. I do know that when I began my journey as a mother, aunt, later as a teacher and finally grandmother, every day has been a learning experience. My own children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, as well as my students, have been teaching me things I never thought possible, things I had never given a thought to and things which made me grow into a more reflective, caring and competent adult.

This whole blog is dedicated to all the children in my life, who over the years have contributed to my growth and fulfillment, Alhamdulillah.

Rasulullah (ﷺ) said: “Give due respect and regard to your children and decorate them with the best of manners.” [Abu Daud]

Rasulullah (ﷺ) would be the first to give salaam to children as he would pass them, thereby teaching them Islamic manners with his own example. Rasulullah (ﷺ) would have sweets and dates for them. Once Rasulullah (ﷺ) was giving one of his grandsons a ride when somebody remarked to his grandson, “What an excellent ride you have!”. Rasulullah (ﷺ) immediately drew attention to the child instead by saying, “Don’t you see what an excellent rider I have!” This was the nature of Rasulullah (ﷺ), that he would give love and importance to children.

At the same time, Rasulullah (ﷺ) did not overlook the importance of an adult’s role in guiding and correcting children, as we learn from countless ahaadith.

Hazrat Abu Huraira r.a. reported that Hasan bin Ali r.a. was a young boy when he took one of dates of the sadaqa brought before Rasulullah (ﷺ) and put it in his mouth, whereupon the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Leave it, leave it, throw it; don’t you know that we (the kin of Rasulullah (ﷺ)) do not eat the sadaqa?” (Sahih Muslim 2339)

Hazrat Umar bin Abu Salama r.a. reported: I was under the care of Allaah’s Messenger (ﷺ), and as my hand used to roam about in the dish he said to me, “Boy, mention the name of Allaah, eat with your right hand and eat from what is near to you.” (Sahih Bukhari & Muslim)

Are we on the sunnah of Rasulullah (ﷺ)?

In sha Allah we will continue with this series of 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. Aameen

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