A Teacher’s guide:
"Teaching Pupils what they should be
We live in a world where
misconceptions about life and its purpose, materialism, greed, racism, violence
and other forms of injustice and immorality are everyday realities. Are we
teaching our pupils what they should be taught about the TRUTH and REALITIES of
the life as our Creator Allah (swt) wants us to teach? OR we are simply teaching
them what the materialistic and secular world wants us to teach them?
Across the ages and throughout
the world parents, teachers, philosophers, religious and civic leaders have
wrestled with the question of how to raise morally and ethically responsible
citizens. Today the task is greater: teachers have not only to raise good
citizens of the state, but also to train them to be good citizens of the world,
to be part of the community of nations and humanity that at present are
bedevilled by misconceptions about religion, greed, materialism, atrocities,
ethnic cleansing and genocide.
There is indeed a revealed
book, the Qur’an, full of wisdom and guidance to lead humanity out of its cycles
of misconceptions, hatred, tyranny, oppression and war. "[This is] a Book we
have revealed onto you, in order that you might lead humankind out of the depth
of darkness into the light" (Ibrahim 14:1). Indeed its simple directions for
human conduct are plain and easy to understand and act upon. "And We have indeed
made the Qur’an easy to understand and to remember" (ad-Dukhan 44:58).
Thus we teachers should teach
our pupils the TRUTH about life from the Divine Quranic perspective, and not
from the prevalent secular and materialistic outlook, otherwise we have failed
in our duty.
TEACH PUPILS THE
FOLLOWING LESSONS ABOUT THE TRUTH OF LIFE FROM THE QURANIC PERSPECTIVE.
TEACH YOUR PUPIL THAT ....
(Note that the word 'he' below represent both the male and female gender).
Lesson No. 1 - He is
Allah’s Khalifa on the earth and has been created for a special mission. Allah
says: "I will create a vicegerent [to be my representative] on earth" (al-Baqarah
Lesson No. 2 - His
obligatory mission is to change himself, society and the larger environment to
create morally and ethically balanced selves and a peaceful just Islamic
society. "You are the best community which has ever been brought forth for the
guidance of humankind: you enjoin good, forbid evil, and believe in Allah" (Al-Imran
Lesson No. 3 - He is
responsible of his action, whether good or bad, and he will be asked for that.
Quran says: "Every soul draws the consequences [only] of its own action" (an-Nahl
Lesson No. 4 - Apart
from his material and physical needs, he should also nurture his spiritual
needs. The Qur’an states clearly that human personality is not only physical and
psychological but is also spiritual in nature. "And when your Lord brought forth
from the children of Adam, from their backs their descendants, and made them
bear witness to their own SOULS: Am I not your Lord?" (al-A’raf 7:172).
Lesson No. 5 - All
humanbeings are equal. Quran tells us that Allah has created humanity from the
same essence or nafs (soul). "Humankind! Be conscious of your sustainer who
created you of a single soul" (al-Nisa’ 4:1). This verse leaves no room for
racial, ethnic or gender superiority among nations. "And among His signs is the
creation of heaven and earth, and the variation in your languages and in your
colours. Verily in that are signs for those who know" (ar-Rum 30:22).
Lesson No. 6 - He must
change himself towards betterment constantly. He must be ready and always
courageous to change himself. The focus of reform in the Qur’an is the
individual personality, when it clearly points out that the condition of the
people will not change unless they change their own thinking and behaviour. (ar-Ra’d
Lesson No. 7 - Our
role-models are the Prophet (saww), Bibi Fatima (as) and the 12 Imams. Children
need role-models (also known as "good examples"), and teachers are their primary
examples. To be good role models themselves, teachers must also have models or
mentors of their own whose example they can emulate. For teachers, the ultimate
model is the Prophet Muhammad sall-Allahu alayhi wa Aalihi wa sallam and after
him the 12 Imams.
"A good example you [men and
women] have in Allah’s Messenger, for all whose hope is in Allah and in the
Final Day and who remember Allah much": (al-Ahzab 33:21). His deeds were local,
but had global implications for social justice, economic equality and harmony
between different cultures, races, genders and religions. We need to translate
these global Islamic values into day-to-day reality for our children if they are
to be worthy future representatives of Allah in the world community.
Lesson No. 8 - Teach
your pupils how to translate Islamic ideals into daily life. The most difficult
and demanding challenge for teachers today is not determining which civic or
religious ideals to pass on to their pupils, but how to translate them
effectively into daily routine. Burdened by social and economic pressure, crime,
violence, stressful family relationships and a confusing political environment,
pupils need guidance to help them translate Islamic ideals into daily life. All
this begins at home and school.
Lesson No. 9 - Family
life and kindness to parents is of paramount necessity. The Qur’an directs
children persuasively, appealing to their emotions. It asks children "to show
kindness to parents; and if one of them or both of them attain old age, then not
even a word of disapprobation or disgust be uttered" (al-Isra’ 17:23), let alone
repulsing them. They should be addressed politely and graciously, "lowering unto
them the wing of submission and kindness" (al-Isra’ 17:24).
As for the importance of family
life and the relation between husband and wife, Quran says: "And He has put Love
and Mercy between your hearts (husband and wife)". (30:21).
Lesson No. 10 - This
world is not for luxuries and "Idle sport". Children must understand that
Allah’s creation is "for just ends" (al-Hijr 15:85), not in "idle sport" (al-Anbiya’
21:16); humanity has been created to serve Allah. Thus material gain should not
be the aim of this life, otherwise repentance will be the result.
Lesson No. 11 - The
criteria for excellence is not wealth, race, physical beauty or power, but Taqwa,
Ilm and Amal. Ponder upon this verse: "The most honoured among you is the most
righteous among you". (49:13).
Lesson No. 12 - Aim of
our creation is worship and service to humanity. "I have not created Jinns and
men but to serve". (51:56). According to Qur’anic teaching, service of Allah
cannot be separated from service to humankind, or – in Islamic terms – believers
in Allah must honour both huqooq-Allah (Allah’s rights) and huqooq al-’ibaad
(His creatures’ rights). Fulfilment of one’s duties to Allah and mankind
constitutes righteousness (al-Baqarah 2:177).
Lesson No. 13 - Children
should understand the importance of volunteering: at home regularly helping
their parents; and in the community helping neighbours, sharing their time with
the elderly, visiting the sick and sharing their resources with others. (2:177)
Lesson No. 14 - Children
should learn to fit in with others. It means resolving conflicts with fair
words, not clenched fists; it also means listening to one another, expressing
oneself, developing self-esteem, being a good team-player, having good manners,
and demonstrating civility to all. "Repel evil with that which is best".
Lesson No. 15 - Children
should learn that God through His mercy has always guided man through Prophets
and Imams and has never left any single period without a guide. Is is possible
then that mankind is left without a divine guide in this turbulent period? He
should know that in this age the guide is Imam Mahdi (atfs) and he should
prepare for his appearance for the establishment of Islam. "And to every
community there is a Guide". (13:7)
Lesson No. 16 - Children
should know that humanity is a single nation, their Creator is the same Allah
and their return is towards the same Allah (swt). "Verily this Ummah of yours is
a single community". (21:92). Thus the worst current enemies of mankind in this
modern age are:
a.. Secularism which divides
the religious and political roles and responsibilities into two separate
b.. Nationalism which divides mankind into small nations antagonistic towards
eachother by drawing false borders.
c.. Man-made religions and ideologies like capitalism and socialism which
declare the role of Allah (swt) as non-existant e.g. Marxists, or partial i.e.
spiritual only, or anti-modern and old.
d.. Materialism which has lowered the importance of spiritulaity and morality in
Lesson No. 17 - Children should be engaged in learning or projects involving
skills not for the purpose of worldly gains but for the main purpose of serving
the humanity. Wealth and worldly gains should be considered as means and not as
Lesson No. 18 - Our
pupils should know that Allah (swt) is the Most Merciful and 70 times more kind
than their own mothers. The meaning of "Ar Rahmanir Rahiim" must be
elaboratively explained. Unfortunately the figure of Allah is demonised in the
Lesson No. 19 - They
must be taught that this world is a test and a passing dream. The real life is
in the Hereafter. "The life of this world is nothing but temporary and the life
in the Hereafter is the one that lasts forever". (40:39)
Lesson No. 20 - Peace,
stability and justice can be only achieved through establishment of Islam and
the rule of divinely appointed Imams or Naibe Imams only and nothing else, and
it is his prime duty to strive for the establishment of Islam on the earth. We
believe that the current corruption, immorality, and injustice is due to corrupt
man-made ruling systems and their crooked rulers. "Kings when they enter the
country, corrupt it". (27:34).
Throughout human history
Teachers have provided civil society with well-adjusted, hardworking and honest
future citizens. Effective civic education based on Islamic concepts begins and
continues at School and home, where the laying of foundations is a daily process
for the development of ethical and moral values, reinforced by interactions with
school and the rest of the community. Because children learn their first lessons
in citizenship at home and school, teachers must take the initiative, and be
fully engaged in this process as the driving engine of society.
The above must form the VISION
and GUIDANCE for Dar-ul-Muslimeen Education Center teachers always, I pray. Amin.
Your humble servant in Islam, Muslim Bhanji.
The above paper is prepared for presentation in a Seminar for the teachers of
Dar-ul-Muslimeen Education Center, Dodoma.
When many eager and enthusiastic brothers and sisters volunteer to be
teachers at their local weekend Islamic school (Madressa),
most do not realize that they are essentially the main source of religious
knowledge and guidance for the majority of children and youth in our
communities. Unfortunately, teaching at Madressa for many of us is learned
through trial and error. While many Islamic schools are cognizant about
providing a teacher's guide or manual, these booklets often address
technical issues and do not delve into the qualities and characteristics
necessary to ensure that the teacher fulfills his/her lofty role as a
religious guide and authority for his/her pupils. The following are some of
the most important qualities an Islamic school teacher should possess when (s)he
walks into a classroom filled with young brains thirsty for knowledge.
Knowledge of Subject Matter
If you have been allocated the 8th grade Fiqh class and have not thoroughly
read and understood the rulings of the Marja
Authority) whom most students follow, it would be advisable for you to
either teach a subject that you are knowledgeable about, such as history or
Qur'an, or teach younger children who are not likely to ask questions that
leave you scratching your head. The worst thing a teacher can do is come
unprepared to class, ignore students' questions, and when not knowing the
answer, make them up! Within the realms of the Madressa institutions across
the world, we have somehow labeled the more difficult and higher classes as
prestigious, with teachers desperately trying to climb the imaginary
Although we all love being humble, if there is one group of people who
should be well known for their piety besides religious scholars – that's
Madressa teachers. The bare minimum requirement of every Madressa teacher is
that we ensure we fulfill all our obligations (Wajibaat)
and refrain from intentionally committing any sins. Why? Because the young
children look up to us, and if we only practice the areas of Islam that we
teach and are careless towards other obligations (e.g. a Qur'an teacher who
does not observe Hijab properly or backbites about others), students will
perceive this behavior as acceptable and won't take long to emulate it. As
Imam Ali (peace be upon him) said, "Verily, the heart of a youngster is like
an empty plot of land – it accepts whatever is planted therein." (Tuhaf
Practice What You Preach
Once the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) was approached by
a mother who was concerned for her son's health as he constantly ate too
much honey. When asked to kindly persuade the child to stop consuming honey,
our Prophet asked the mother to return with her son in three days. The
Prophet then discussed the honey-eating business with the child and said
that it should not be consumed in excess. When the mother asked the Prophet
why it took him three days to speak to her son, it was explained that our
Prophet also ate honey and had to stop eating it for three days before he
held any authority to advise others to stop eating honey too! Moral of the
story is: practice what you preach! If you are explaining the ill effects of
listening to music and you are the type of person who won't turn off the
radio, TV or a movie when music comes on, or are discussing song lyrics with
friends in public, not only is this behavior hypocritical, it is extremely
detrimental to your students' spiritual development. All it takes is a few
seconds for one of the poor little students to catch you out, and that's it.
Everything you have taught them, alongside your worth in their eyes, will go
completely down the drain.
Build a Close Relationship with the Kids
Age difference is no barrier. Just because we may be significantly older
than our students is not a reason for us to maintain that strict and scary
teacher-student relationship. Teachers should try to build our relationships
with the students in such a way that they are able to approach us with their
personal problems or cute questions that they are too embarrassed to ask
anyone else. Madressa-aged kids sometimes desperately need just a tip or two
about how to combat peer pressure, low self-esteem or bullying. All it takes
is speaking to students out of class for a few minutes, perhaps keeping
touch via Facebook, inviting them out for a sports game, or joking with them
during Madressa breaks in order to gain their trust and have them open up to
you. However, you must keep in mind to not become overly informal with your
students, because then you risk losing your authority over them in the
Don't Be Too Lenient or Too Strict
On one hand we have the teachers who never give out homework, don't enforce
any rules, and aren't too fussed about completing the course, and on the
other end of the spectrum are the super strict teachers who call up parents
and issue detention for students who don't complete their homework or who
make mistakes and mess around a bit in class. Keeping in mind that most kids
sleep in on the weekends and Madressa kids wake up early to attend Islamic
class, it is best to maintain a balance with the way we treat the students
in order for them to feel as though they want to come to Madressa and aren't
being forced to. Convincing the students to be good and attend class by way
of incentives such as promising end of semester treats (e.g. taking them out
for ice cream, going on an excursion, having a food party, etc.) and
frequently rewarding students who pay attention with stickers, small prizes,
and candy without being overly harsh on the not-so-great students will
automatically encourage all students to be the best. Try it, it really
The typical Madressa course consists of overly-wordy textbooks with minimal
interactive activities. Rather than making it more boring by reading out of
the book, try present the content by way of discussion or a PowerPoint
presentation, followed by fun worksheets and crosswords. Incorporate movies,
Islamic comedy clips with a good moral, and plays into the classroom, and
ask them to submit homework in different forms, such as posters, 3D models,
paintings, and poems. (Please keep in mind that any creative ideas and
activities should be pre-approved by an Islamic scholar.)
It isn't the students' faults that their families are not so religious and
don't care too much about their religious well-being. If you are sure that
your students' Islamic learning is limited to the weekend Madressa class,
then you should go out of your way to ensure your students are constantly
learning and applying practical aspects of Madressa to their everyday lives.
Make them prayer and fasting timetables, colorful Du'a books, Hadith flash
cards, online quizzes, and have competitions which will ensure they are
constantly improving themselves between Madressa classes too.
It's a common sight that parents and the Madressa administration have more
than enough on their plates, so as Madressa teachers, many of us have been
entrusted with the honorable position of instilling religious knowledge and
piety in our students as their teachers. All it takes to be a good Madressa
teacher and role model of our communities' youngest of Muslims is a passion
to teach, knowledge, patience, good temper, and a splash of fun!