Implementing Sunnah in Today’s Classrooms (Final Part)

classroom

26) Turn the attention of the questioner towards a more important issue.

Sometime it is better to turn the attention of the questioner to a more important issue. Once a person asked the Messenger (sa) when the Day of Judgement would come. Instead of replying, the Prophet (sa) asked him: “What have you prepared for it?” The man said that he hadn’t done much in terms of praying, fasting and charity, but he did love Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa). The Messenger (sa) said: “You will be with whom you love.” (Bukhari)

The question that the person asked was out of genuine curiosity, but the answer was neither revealed to the Messenger (sa), nor did he consider his preparation for it. So he turned the attention of the questioner towards a more important and pressing issue, i.e., his deeds.

If the teacher doesn’t know the answer to a question, or thinks there are other more important things to be taught, s/he should not snub the student but rather divert him/her to what s/he thinks needs to be learnt first.

27) It doesn’t matter, if you are a bit inconvenienced.

A Bedouin approached the Messenger (sa), while the latter was on a journey. The person took hold of the reins of the Prophet’s (sa) camel and then said: “O Messenger of Allah! Inform me of what will draw me closer to paradise and take me away from (hell) fire.” The Prophet (sa) said: “He has certainly been blessed or guided.” The Messenger (sa) then addressed the person saying: “What did you say?” The person then repeated his question. The Messenger (sa) replied: “You should worship Allah (swt) and not ascribe any partners to Him. You should establish Salah, give Zakah and maintain good relationships with your kith and kin. You may now leave my camel.” (An-Nasai)

Note: Even if you are in a hurry, give attention to the seekers of knowledge. A little inconvenience for the teacher may result in a huge benefit for the student.

28) Don’t criticize directly.

Many a time, the Prophet (sa) would observe a person committing a wrong deed. He would immediately take action, but not necessarily point out the wrongdoer. He would stand and address the people saying that ‘some people do so and so’, so that the individual would not be embarrassed before everyone.

Not only does this method protect a student’s self-esteem, it also teaches others about the incorrect action. At the same time, it strengthens the bond between the teacher and the student.

29) Use humour.

A person asked the Prophet (sa) to give him a camel, so that he may carry his goods on it. So the Messenger (sa) said to him: “I will give you the offspring of a she-camel.” The man said: “O Messenger (sa)! What can I do with the offspring of a she-camel?” The Prophet (sa) replied: “Is it not so that camels only give birth to camels?” (Abu Dawood)

The Messenger (sa) used to joke and jest with his companions on certain occasions. However, he spoke nothing but the truth. His humor did not hurt, offend or insult anyone. The companions asked him: “O Messenger (sa)! You joke with us?” He replied: “I speak nothing but the truth.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (sa) used to teach many things through joking and humour. In the above Hadeeth, he teaches analytical thinking and deduction, at the same time lightening the atmosphere of the assembly. A classroom tends to get stuffy at times. A light hearted joke or anecdote blows away the clouds of stiffness and perks up the atmosphere.

30) Show interest in children’s hobbies.

Abu Umayr (rtam) was a young boy who had a pet bird. The Messenger (sa) was aware of this fact. One day, the bird died. When the Prophet (sa) came to visit them, he saw that Abu Umayr was sad. So he asked: “What has happened to him?” The people of the house said: “His bird has died.” The Prophet (sa) said to him: “O Abu Umayr! What has happened to the Nughayr (small bird)?” (Abu Dawood)

This shows the Messenger’s (sa) affection and compassion for the young child, whose bird had died, leaving him heartbroken. Upon seeing the sad look on the child’s face, the Prophet (sa) immediately enquired about the matter and consoled him with words of comfort. I would like to add here that the Messenger (sa) was an exceptionally busy man, assigned the greatest and most difficult task in the history of mankind – yet, he was not too busy to inquire about the happiness of a small child. Such acts develop a strong bond between the teacher and his students, one that is pivotal in successful learning.

31) Be open to suggestions.

When the companions reached the battlefield of Badr with the Messenger (sa), he chose a certain position for pitching the tents of the army. One of the companions, Hubab bin Munzir (rtam), who was a seasoned war strategist, approached him and said: “Has this place been chosen by Allah (swt) or is it your own decision?” The Prophet (sa) replied that it wasn’t a revelation from Allah (swt); rather, he had chosen it by himself. Hubab (rtam) then requested him to consider his decision, because there was another spot at a better location for the battle. The Messenger (sa) readily accepted this proposal and changed the location of the base camp.

If the Messenger (sa) is open to suggestions at all times, the teacher too should feel happy to have students who are able to reflect and suggest ideas to him. This does not make the teacher bound to ‘obey’ a suggestion , but s/he is bound to allow students to make them.

32) Leniency in punishments.

The Messenger (sa) said: “Allah loves that one should be kind and lenient in all matters.” (Bukhari)

The Messenger (sa) himself disliked awarding a physical punishment to people and encouraged mildness in all matters. The way of the Messengers (sa) was one of love and affection. Those around him obeyed him, because they loved him and feared his disobedience, because they knew their sins upset him, not because they would be beaten.

The anger of the teacher should be feared, because it might banish someone from his/her good books, not because of corporal punishment.

Anas bin Malik (rtam) narrates: “I served the Prophet (sa) for ten years, and he never said to me, ‘Uff’ (a minor harsh word denoting impatience) and never blamed me by saying, ‘Why did you do so or why didn’t you do so?’” (Bukhari)

The Messenger (sa) did not, however, ban physical punishment. He said: “Teach the child to pray, when he is seven years old, and smack him, if he does not pray, when he is ten.”

Firstly, keep in mind that a Muslim child ought to see his parents and those around him involved in prayer from the time s/he is born. Growing up in such a household would automatically result in him/her engaging in Salah from a very young age. The Messenger (sa) has asked us to encourage a child to offer Salah regularly at the age of seven and to ensure that s/he does so by the age of ten. This means that the next three years should be spent teaching and training him. And when all this fails, then he has suggested physical punishment. There are certain things to be noted. A ten-year-old child, having spent his/her entire life watching people offer Salah, would not abstain from it. In case s/he does so, there might be some special reason behind it, which must be attended to. And before someone starts beating up their children, remember that the Messenger (sa) forbade striking anyone on the face, hitting so hard as to leave a mark on the body and beating excessively. Also, remember the purpose of physical punishment is not to injure a child but to scare him/her from an evil deed, nor should the punishment serve as a vent of frustration, when the teacher fails in his/her own duty.

A piece of advice: do not use your hands to inflict a blow; whenever your hands reach out to the child, it should always be for affection. Also remember that the fear of physical punishment should be used more often than the punishment itself. Another thing is that physical punishment does not necessarily have to be hitting, but it could also be strenuous exercise or banishment from an enjoyable task.

Adapted (with permission) from “How the Messenger of Allah (sa) Taught his Students” written by Maulvi Jahangir Mahmud (jahangir@ser.com.pk).

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Fiqh of Tawbah

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The Prophet (sa) used to ask Allah (swt) for forgiveness more than 70 times a day. (Bukhari) Should we not be concerned about asking for forgiveness 70 times more than that?

The term ‘Tawbah’ is defined in two ways. In the linguistic sense, Tawbah is derived from the Arabic root word ‘Taba Yatutbu’, which literally means to ‘return to something’. Sinning is not a part of human beings’ natural disposition. Hence, when we sin we fall out of our Fitrah, we repent we return to our Fitrah. In the conventional sense, Tawbah is defined by Hafiz Ibn Hajar as leaving a sin due to its ugly nature, feeling remorseful over indulging in a sin, resolving to never repeat a sin and returning the rights of the people, if it was involved in a sin.

Elements of Tawbah

For repentance to be accepted, it needs the following important elements.

  1. Sincerity of Intention

We repent to Allah (swt) because we fear Him. It is not because of people or any other reason. Allah says: “…invoke Him…with the intention that you are doing your deeds for Allah’s sake only…” (Al-Araf 7:29)

  1. Feeling remorseful

The Prophet (sa) said that remorse is repentance (Ibn Majah).

  1. Resolve to stay away from sins

If this determination is lacking, it can nullify the Tawbah itself. However, if one returns to the sin, it doesn’t nullify the repentance as long as this resolve is intact. For one to stay determined on one’s Tawbah, one should keep doing good deeds, stay away from the places and sources of sins, adopt good companionship, engage in Dhikr and be prepared for death.

  1. Return the rights

Return the rights to Allah (swt) (if it’s Allah’s (swt) right that is taken away) and/or to people (if it’s people’s tangible or intangible right that is taken away).

  1. Repent before it’s too late

Tawbah is accepted only if offered before the prescribed time. This time for an individual is when one sees one’s death approach him or her. Hence, it’s the time before the soul leaves the body or reaches the throat. As we see in the example of Firaun, the time he made repentance was not accepted as he had already seen his death approach him.

Collectively, the time of Tawbah will expire when the sun will rise from the west instead of the east, which is one of the biggest sign of the Day of Judgement. (Muslim)

Virtues of Tawbah

There are many benefits to achieve by doing Tawbah. Following are some of them:

  1. Attaining love of Allah (swt)

Allah (swt) says: “…Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance…” (Al-Baqarah 2:222) Those who are loved by Allah (swt) will receive guidance, Allah’s protection and safety from hellfire.

  1. Success

Allah (swt) says: “…And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.” (An-Nur 24:31) This can also refer to worldly success, in terms of giving up sins, purifying our habits, etc.

  1. Acceptance of good deeds

Allah (swt) says: “And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds, then verily, he repents towards Allah with true repentance.” (Al-Furqan 25:71)

  1. Forgiveness and Allah’s (swt) Mercy

Allah (swt) says: “But those who committed evil deeds and then repented afterwards and believed, verily, your Lord after (all) that is indeed Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-Araf 7:153) The mercy of Allah (swt) expands to such an extent that evil deeds change into good deeds for the one who does Tawbah. (Al-Furqan 25:70)

  1. Blessings in this world and hereafter

Blessings in this world may include, rain, children, spouses, rivers, gardens and wealth that is not necessarily in huge sums but will benefit more and go a long way. (Nuh 71:10-12) Likewise, the blessings of hereafter includes pardon, paradise, safety from disgrace, being with the Prophet (sa) and having our light perfected. (At-Tahrim 66:8)

  1. Receiving the supplications of the angels

Allah (swt) says: “Those (angels) who bear the Throne (of Allah) and those around it glorify the praises of their Lord, and believe in Him, and ask forgiveness for those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah) (saying): ‘Our Lord! You comprehend all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who repent and follow Your Way, and save them from the torment of the blazing Fire!’” (Ghafir 40:7)

  1. Obeying the will of Allah (swt) and pleasing Him

Allah (swt) says: “Allah wishes to accept your repentance…” (An-Nisa 4:27) Allah (swt) becomes happy with the repentance of His slave such that He erases sins completely as stated by Prophet (sa) that a sinner who repents is like the one who has not committed the sin. (Ibn Majah)

Errors in making Tawbah

There are certain mistakes that people make in Tawbah, of which one needs to be careful:

  1. Not repenting at all: This is a characteristic of Shaytan; Allah (swt) commands us to not follow the footsteps of Shaytan, as indeed he is our plain enemy.
  2. Delaying Tawbah: One thinks that when they will get to a certain point in life or a specific age, then they will repent. However, we do not know when our death is written for us. What if tomorrow never comes?
  3. Not giving Tawbah its due importance: This means to be heedlessness towards Tawbah or forget to repent because it is not important for one anymore.
  4. Heedlessness of sins: One performs good deeds but is not careful about leaving sins.
  5. Fear of returning to sins: Some people think they are too weak to give up certain sins. Hence, out of fear of returning to that sin again, they do not repent. However, repentance will be the cause of increase in strength, Insha’Allah!
  6. Leaving Tawbah out of fear of what people will say: We live in a society where many of us are people pleasers. However, a Mumin or a Muslim is Allah’s (swt) pleaser first and foremost. Moreover, pleasing people is a goal that will never be achieved. If we live to please Allah (wwt), Allah and his people will be pleased with us, Insha’Allah!
  7. The argument of Qadr (predestination): We often hear people saying: “If Allah wants me to pray, he will make me start praying.” However, to understand Qadr, we need to see the two types of will. The first type is existential will that is only in Allah’s (swt) control, for example, our birth and our death. We have no control over them. The second type is legislative will, which consists of commands and prohibitions. In this, we have a choice or free will for which we will be judged upon by Allah on the Day of Judgement. Tawbah falls in the second category.
  8. Despair of Allah’s (swt) mercy: This happens because we forget that the doors to Tawbah are always open His slaves, as Allah mentions: “…Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins…’” (Az-Zumar 39:53) Moreover, Allah mentions at different places in the Quran that even a hypocrite has a chance to repent (An-Nisa 4:145-146); even a disbeliever has a chance to repent (Al-Maidah 5:73-74); even an oppressor has a chance to repent (Al-Buruj 85:10).

There are various signs of an accepted Tawbah in this world and in the hereafter. In this world, the sign is that the person, who did Tawbah, is guided to do good deeds. He or she becomes a caller to Tawbah and has an ultimate good ending. Additionally, the sign of an accepted Tawbah in the hereafter is easy reckoning of deeds by Allah (swt) and attainment of paradise.

We have amongst us a prime example of the one who repented and the one who didn’t repent, along with their ultimate ends. When Adam (as) disobeyed Allah (swt) he asked for forgiveness. However, when Iblees disobeyed Allah (swt) he asked for respite and an extension of life until the end of time to lead the children of Adam (as) astray. Allah (swt) answered both requests. Hence, it is Tawbah that determines one’s ultimate end in the hereafter: paradise or hellfire!

Adapted from a workshop organized by Azan in Karachi. Summarized for Hiba Magazine by Nageen Pervez, team member, Azan.