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Islam gives a complete outlook on life for people from all walks of life. A person to be qualified to teach Islam must possess some distinguished qualities so that he can be trusted with such a noble duty. Our Prophet Muhammad acts as the best role model in all spheres of life and no doubt he is the epitome when it comes to teaching as well. It is only a proof of Allah’s special mercy and his proficiency that after 1400 years when we read about his saying and actions, we are so affected and motivated. We can only imagine how his most immediate students would have been affected. For truly, history is a witness to the kind of students Prophet Muhammad left behind. So this essay analyzes the main qualitues of a good teacher in Islam.
For a person to be able to teach Islam, he must have some basic knowledge in all the fields of Islamic education. It is important that the teacher has credible qualifications. He must also be aware of the limitations of his knowledge and able to admit his ignorance on matters he don’t know rather than leading someone astray as was the way of Salaf. Knowledge broadens one vision and gives a person more coherent view on life. This allows the person to act as one who bridges gaps. He must also be aware of controversial issues in society arising at that time. So that he is able to tactfully deal with any student who brings them up in order to avoid any confusion and discord among other students. He must also have a strong commitment to truth and should not be willing to compromise it.
The second quality of a good teacher is wisdom. He must be wise enough to deliver knowledge according to the student; to know what to say to whom to say. Prophet Muhammad showed this key quality with his example as a simple-minded Bedouin used to leave satisfied and so the likes of Abu Huraira. As ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiallaahu ‘anhu said: “Relate knowledge to people according to their level of understanding. Do you wish that Allah and His Messenger should be disbelieved?”. A person must also teach for the sake of Allah, then this teaching becomes a source of goodness not in this world but also in the next. Focusing on the reward in the next life also helps a person be more tolerant and patient with ill-mannered students. Prophet Muhammad advice offers guidance on it, Ibn Abbas reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Teach others, make things easy, and do not make things difficult. When one of you is angry, he should remain silent.” The teacher must also be considerate and know how much to teach and when to teach, as it is narrated by Ibn Mas’ud: “The Prophet used to take care of us in preaching by selecting a suitable time, so that we might not get bored. (He abstained from pestering us with sermons and knowledge all the time).”
Actions speaks louder than words. A proverb that aptly captures, an important psychological principle. Since, Islam places such an emphasis on good etiquettes, a teacher without good manners will fail to affect his students. It was our Prophet Muhammad character that made him so successful in delivering the message and affecting people the way he did. Quran testifies to it in the Quran as, “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].”
Implementing what you say and corroborating it with your actions makes it so much more effective. Quran complains of people who do not practice what they preach, “Do you order righteousness of the people and forget yourselves while you recite the Scripture? Then will you not reason?”
The credibility of a person adds great weightage to what he is saying. Henceforth, if a teacher is kind, polite, honest, responsible and God fearing in his dealings. It’s only natural that what he teaches would have a great impact. Even though, a student must be open to truth no matter from where it comes. Nevertheless, it has a great impact which is hard to deny.
No matter how much knowledge a person has, if he is unable to explain it to others, he cannot illuminate and help others. Thus, the ability to clearly explain yourself is highly important. The beautiful dua of Hazrat Musa suitably points to it when he said, ‘My Lord, expand for me my breast [with assurance]. And ease for me my task. And untie the knot from my tongue. That they may understand my speech.” Prophet Muhammad was granted the gift of explaining huge and complicated things clearly and briefly Consequently, many one-line Hadis full of wisdom can be found.
For a teacher to be affective it’s important that he must be passionate about what he is teaching. If the teacher shows enthusiasm, automatically student would be more interested. This however is true the other way around as well. The teacher must create a friendly environment encouraging his students to question, this helps to enhance one’s interest. However, this leniency should not be at the expense of discipline. The teacher must be able to maintain a certain decorum by being firm when need arises.
A teacher is not perfect, and like for anybody, his faults must be overlooked but since he has a greater responsibility, he must hold himself to higher accountability. Thus, it is important that he must strive to continue to learn more of the beneficial knowledge, have a righteous conduct, and develop tolerance and patience in himself.
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