Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) says in the Qur’an,
Translation: It is He who has sent among the unlettered a Messenger from themselves reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom although they were before in clear error. [Suratul Jumu’ah, verse 2]
Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) sent Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) to do four things:
- Recite the verses
- Teach the Qur’an
- Teach the Wisdom (sunnah)
- Purify his followers.
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) nurtured the sahaba and taught them in such a way that the whole of Arabia drastically changed in a matter of 23 years. He had six amazing qualities of teaching that inshaAllah we can implement and follow as teachers, parents, siblings, and any other roles we have in our communities.
Mu’awiyah ibn Al-Hakam said, “I have never seen a teacher before him (Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) or after him better in teaching than he.”
The attributes of a good teacher:
- Desire and keen for goodness for students: In surah At-Tawbah, Allah says, in the translation of ayah 128, “There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer; [he is] concerned over you and to the believers is kind and merciful.” Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) also advised Abu Dhar (رضي الله عنه), “I see that you are weak, and I love for you like I love for myself, so if someone gives you a position of leadership, don’t take it”.
Kindness. Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “Allah is Kind (Rafeeq) and He loves kindness, and confers upon kindness which He does not confer upon severity, and does not confer upon any thing besides it (kindness).” [Muslim] We see his kindness throughout his life (صلى الله عليه و سلم), when he would pass by children in the street he would play with them–unlike nowadays, where people think it is righteousness to never smile. Anas ibn Malik (رضي الله عنه) narrated that whenever the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) would pass by children he would smile fondly and greet them. [Bukhari and Muslim].
Anas also narrated, “I served him for ten years, and he never said “uff” (an expression of disgust) to me. He never said, ‘why did you do that?’ for something I had done, nor did he ever say ‘why did you not do such and such’ for something I had not done.” [Bukhari and Muslim].
Hikmah (wisdom). Hikmah is defined as saying the right thing at the right time to the right people in the right manner. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or is oppressed.” A man inquired: “O Messenger of Allah! I help him when he is oppressed, but how can I help him when he is an oppressor?” He (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “You can keep him from committing oppression. That will be your help to him.” [Bukhari]. Another example is the story of the bedoin who urinated in the masjid. SubhanAllah, while all of the sahaba ran to admonition him and beat him, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) simply said, “Leave him alone and pour a bucket of water over it. You have been sent to make things easy and not to make them difficult.” [Bukhari]
Humilty and humbleness. Abu Rifa’a (رضي الله عنه) narrated that, “I came towards the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) while he was giving the khutba. I said ‘O Messenger of Allah, an estranged man has come asking about his religion, he does not know what his religion is.’ The Messenger of Allah came towards me and left his khutba until he reached me, and was brought a chair, I thought the legs were made of iron. The Prophet sat on it and started teaching me from what Allah had taught him. Then he returned to his khutba and completed it.” [Bukhari]
Saying “I don’t know” if you don’t know the answer. Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) would only answer a question if Qur’an had been revealed answering it, or he would wait for revelation. Once, Jaabir ibn Abdillah (رضي الله عنه) came and asked the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سل) about inheritance, and Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) stayed quiet until Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) revealed the ayah in Surah an-Nisaa.
Speaking slowly. ‘Aishah (رضي الله عنها) reported that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did not summarize his speech, and he spoke in such a way that if one were to count his words, they could be counted. [Bukhari] Anas ibn Malik also reported that Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) would repeat his words three times.
These are only a few of the qualities of Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) as a teacher, indeed in him we have an excellent pattern–as Allah Himself says:
Translation: There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often. [Surah Ahzab, verse 21].
AbdulBary Yahya. Lecture. AlMaghrib Institute. Chain of Command: Hadeeth Sciences. University of Maryland, Rockville. July 2007.