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Prophet Muhammad (saw) and Education [Importance of Education in Islam]

Prophet Muhammad (saw) and EducationOne of the distinctive features of Islam is its great emphasis on learning and seeking knowledge. Noble Qur'an and the Islamic Tradition (Sunnah) invite Muslims to seek and acquire knowledge and wisdom and to hold men of knowledge in high esteem. Prophet Muhammad (saw) ordered Muslims to be active in their search for learning, crossing oceans and continents if necessary. "Seek knowledge even in China" he said. The first few verses of Noble Qur'an that were revealed to our Prophet Muhammad (saw) mention the importance of reading, pen, and teaching for human beings. Hence, it is a beautiful prayer for every Muslim to ask always: "O my Lord! Increase me in knowledge." (Noble Qur'an, 20:114)

The only limit set to the acquisition of knowledge in Islam is that Muslims should seek useful knowledge. Our great Prophet Muhammad (saw) is reported as having said: "My Lord, save me from the useless knowledge." Any knowledge helping man in performing his God assigned role in this world is useful, other than that is considered useless knowledge. Example of useless knowledge: Abul Hikam (Father of Wisdom) was the title of Amr ibn Hesam, one of the bitterest enemies of Prophet Muhammad (saw). Prophet Muhammad (saw) nicknamed him Abu Jahl (Father of Ignorance) because of his uncompromising attitude towards Islam.

From the above example we can see, how much our Prophet Muhammad (saw) disliked ignorant and at the same time we can learn from the following example, how much our Prophet Muhammad (saw) liked to learn.

The mosque of Medinah (Masjid-E-Nabawi) was not only a place of worship. The believers assembled here to learn. When Prophet Muhammad (saw) was present they heard his words of wisdom, his elucidation on the verses of Noble Qur'an and benefited from his counsel. And when he was not present, other faithful companions taught what they had heard from Prophet Muhammad (saw).

Once our Prophet Muhammad (saw) entered the Mosque before the prayer time. He found two groups in the Mosque. One group was busy with its own act of worship; some were reading Noble Qur'an while the others were supplicating. The other group was in a corner busy learning. They learnt how to read and write and discussed the teachings of Islam and their application to their daily lives. Looking at both, Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "They are both engaged in useful pursuits. But I am a teacher. I shall join the group assembled to learn." So he (saw) sat with the group of students.

Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: The virtue of knowledge is more beloved with Allah (SWT) than the virtue of worship.

Incorrect Piety (Taqwa) or Fearing Allah (SWT) [Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (saw)]

Incorrect Piety (Taqwa) or Fearing Allah (SWT)Special Taqwa is acquired by refraining from prohibited and dubious things, whereas general Taqwa is acquired out of fear of punishment and the fire of Hell.

Taqwa can be compared to walking through a narrow path with thorny bushes on both sides and a person passing through it tries his level best to save his clothes from being torn. The thorns are the sins and the clothes are one's Eeman (Belief and Faith).

One of the human values confirmed by Islam is devotion, which is communion with Allah (SWT). Of course, in Islam every act performed for Allah (SWT) is devotion. Having a job and a trade to support oneself and one's family and to serve society is in itself a form of devotion. But devotion, in its special sense, is private communion with Allah (SWT) in prayer, hymns, remaining awake for vital acts at nights etc., all of which are part of religion and can not be omitted. Sometimes, you see individuals or society being drawn only to one aspect of devotion and performing the recommended acts of prayer, ablution etc, all of which, done in excess, will ruin society.

Sometimes this way of devotion becomes fashionable in an Islamic society, and once one gets used to it, it is difficult to observe moderation. Such a person cannot say to himself that Allah (SWT) has created him a human being, not an angel and as a human being he should develop every aspect of himself harmoniously.

It was once reported to Prophet Muhammad (saw) that a number of his companions had sunk in devotion. Prophet Muhammad (saw) felt uneasy, came to the mosque and shouted it out loud: "O People, what has happened to some groups who have appeared among my people. Even I as your Prophet do not show devotion in this way to keep awake all night. I rest part of the night and attend to my family. I do not observe fast every day. Those who are following their new way have deviated from my tradition." Thus, when Prophet Muhammad (saw) notices that an Islamic value is about to eliminate other Islamic values, he combats this trend severely.

Another version:

Once, during the era of Prophet Muhammad (saw), three ladies approached him to complain about their husbands. The first lady complained: "My husband has stopped eating meat." "My husband has abandoned the use of perfume," the second one protested. The third lady complained that her husband did not have intimate relations with her. (By behaving in this manner, the husbands had desired to practice piety and abstinence).

This disturbed Prophet Muhammad (saw) so much that as he came out of his house, he did not even put on his cloak properly and thus, it dragged along the ground behind him. Climbing the pulpit before a gathering of the people, he praised Allah (SWT), and said: "Why is it that some of my companions do not eat meat, they do not apply perfume and they do not have intimate relations with their wives? O' Muslims! Do know that I too eat meat, make use of perfume and am intimate with my wives. This is my tradition and one who distances himself from my tradition is not from me."

In this manner, Prophet Muhammad (saw) destroyed the foundations of incorrect piety and condemned its advocates.

Incorrect deduction from Noble Qur'an due to lack of proper knowledge

Incorrect deduction from Noble Qur'an due to lack of proper knowledgeThere exists no creature except that Allah (SWT) has apportioned a livelihood for it, and no soul departs from the world before it has consumed the last morsel that had been ordained for it. One should strive to procure lawful sustenance and, in the event of delay and stoppages in this path, desist from attempting to obtain it by unlawful means - the best approach being that of patience and self-control.

During the time of Prophet Muhammad (saw), when the verse: "And whoever is careful of (his duty to) Allah, He will make for him an outlet, and give him sustenance from whence he thinks not." Noble Qur'an (65:2-3) was revealed, a group from amongst the Muslims abandoned their professions, adopted seclusion and engaged themselves in worship, saying: "Allah (SWT) Himself provides the sustenance and shall never permit the religious ones to become distressed and destitute; hence why do we need to toil in order to procure our sustenance."

When Prophet Muhammad (saw) was informed of this, he (saw) summoned them and objecting at this attitude of theirs, asked: "Why have you abandoned your professions?" They replied: "Allah (SWT) has undertaken to provide us our sustenance." When Prophet Muhammad (saw) heard this, he (saw) explained: "It is not as you think. Allah (saw) does not answer the prayers of a person who, despite possessing the ability to work and exert himself, fails to do so. You must continue to engage yourselves in your respective professions."

A call to Prayers (Adhan): conversation between Teacher, Ibn Sina and Student, Bahman Yar

Teacher, Ibn Sina and Student, Bahman YarThe greatness of our Prophet Muhammad (saw) can be understood still today, with the help of the following story, a conversation between student and teacher:

It was a wintry morning with much snow falling, coupled with the blowing of a strong cold wind. It was not easy to come out in the open air. Yet one could see people rushing to their work and students with books in their hands hastening to their schools.

In one of the Mosques in Hamadan - Iran, religious students were assembling in order to attend a morning class. It was an important school of Islamic Theology and the tutor was also a very great learned one. His discourses were indeed very thought provoking and so were his students quite intelligent. The tutor was none else but the world famous and a great Persian thinker and philosopher 'Ibn Sina', popularly known in Europe as Avicenna. His lectures and writings on various science subjects had become the standard text books for hundreds of years in the universities of Europe. Students admired his deep philosophical thinking. They felt honored to sit in his class and hear his inspiring lectures.

That cold morning, students had already assembled in the Mosque and were still anxiously awaiting the arrival of their learned tutor. They were wondering if the intense cold weather that day had delayed his coming. A few minutes had passed when suddenly the students witnessed the graceful arrival of 'Ibn Sina', their great learned tutor. They felt very happy and stood up as a mark of reverence and respect for him. He sat down at his usual place and exchanged greetings with his students. He commenced his discourse in his usual lucid manner that held his students spellbound. He also gave satisfactory answers to their questions.

Among the students was one very young and enthusiastic by name 'Bahman Yar'. He was much closer and attached to 'Ibn Sina' the learned tutor. He was also the foremost among the clever and advanced students of the class. Every time he listened to the lectures of his tutor, he became more and more fascinated with his deep philosophy and knowledge on every subject.

He would say to his class-mates: "I wonder why our tutor 'Ibn Sina' does not claim to be a prophet despite his supreme intelligence and magic personality".

It is said that one day by chance 'Ibn Sina' was standing at a baker and loaf seller shop. His attention was drawn to a very smart young boy who was displaying signs of much intelligence. The boy was saying to the baker: "My mother is requesting for a little fire." The baker responded: "Have you brought any pot to carry the fire?" "No! But I know how to carry it", replied the boy instantly. So saying he applied some ash over his palm and stretched his hand to the baker who placed a piece of burning firewood over his palm. Without any hesitation, the boy took it and went home.

'Ibn Sina' was rather amazed to see the intelligence and courage of this boy. He thought of having him for special training and education under his personal care. The proposal was communicated to the parents who agreed and entrusted the boy to his full care. Thus 'Bahman Yar' since then was staying at no other place except at the house of his tutor and caretaker, 'Ibn Sina'. They were all the time to be seen together. The boy being highly intelligent derived the best of the knowledge that his tutor could impart.

Years passed and 'Bahman Yar' grew up not only in age but also in knowledge and understanding under the patronage of his tutor. The learned tutor was also very proud of this most capable student. It was one of the coldest nights of the wintry season. Midnight had passed and the snow-falling was very heavy. Both 'Ibn Sina' and 'Bahman Yar' were sleeping in one room under warm thick blankets. The light in the room was already extinguished but the student was still asking intricate questions on some deep subjects. The tutor was replying in his usual impressive manner. Fascinated by the supreme knowledge and deep philosophy of his tutor, he again made the suggestion which he had made before: "Oh my learned tutor!" he pleaded, "with all this high status of knowledge that you enjoy and being master of all the sciences, why not declare yourself a prophet? Sir! Don't you think that you even excel some of the previous prophets in knowledge and your status today is unparalleled in the world! Should you decide to claim prophethood, no one would dare challenge you. Let me assure you that I shall be the first to offer my allegiance and would serve you with full faith."

Since 'Bahman Yar' was still young and immature, his above proposal to his tutor was rather emotional than logical. 'Ibn Sina' smiled but did not give any reply. That night the cold weather had become extreme and there was heavy snow falling. Both were already fast asleep. It was past midnight and suddenly 'Ibn Sina' woke up and raised his head out of the warm blanket. Incidentally he was very thirsty and the water mug in the room was empty. So he decided to wake up his student to go out and bring him some water.

A call to Prayers (Adhan)"Oh 'Bahman Yar'! My son 'Bahman Yar'! Please wake up and bring me some drinking water from outside", he said repeatedly.

"Is there no water in the water mug near your good self, Sir?" asked 'Bahman Yar'.

"No!" replied 'Ibn Sina'.

'Bahman Yar' raised his head and saw heavy snowfall outside. The thrilling sound of the strong cold wind also made him nervous to go out. Again 'Ibn Sina' grumbled: "Oh 'Bahman Yar'! Why the delay? Bring me some water, I am too thirsty."

'Bahman Yar' dared not come out of the warm blankets to face the cold weather outside the room. He was, therefore, putting forward lame excuses to his tutor.

"Oh my respected tutor! It is harmful for you to drink water now that you have just come out of the warmth of thick blankets. It is better you go to sleep again till the early morning which is not far off", said 'Bahman Yar'.

"My son! Bring me water, I am too thirsty. I myself am a medical expert and know better what is harmful than you do. I am unable to sleep, please bring me some water from outside", again appealed 'Ibn Sina'.

In response 'Bahman Yar' again put forward excuses and argued that he would catch cold and fall sick if he were to go out in that extreme cold weather. So saying he went back to sleep. There was dead silence everywhere and no sound of anything was to be heard. Outside it was still pitch dark except the first light of Subhe Sadiq (true dawn) in the eastern horizon had commenced to appear. Suddenly the silence broke with a melodious voice of a Muezzin - caller to prayer from the top of a Minaret at the nearby Mosque. After reciting some verses of Noble Qur'an, the Muezzin in a loud voice said (Adhan), "Allaho Akbar" - Allah is the Greatest. "Ash-Hadu An La Ilaha Illallah" - I bear witness that there is no god except Allah.

Both the tutor and his student quietly listened to the melodious voice of the Muezzin. The call to prayers then followed to the words "Ash-Hadu Anna Muhammadan Rasulallah" - I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. On hearing this, 'Ibn Sina' thought of taking the opportunity of responding to the repeated proposal made to him by 'Bahman Yar'. He said: "Listen to me, oh my son 'Bahman Yar'. Now I wish to reply to your repeated suggestion". The student sat up to hear attentively of what his learned tutor abruptly wanted to say. 'Ibn Sina' then proceeded: "You have been suggesting to me several times to claim prophethood, that people would put full faith in me and that you would be the first one to do so. Now look, you have been my close student for several years and benefited from me a great deal, yet you did not think it prudent to obey me by coming out of your warm bed for a moment and bring me water that I badly needed to quench my thirst. Instead you chose to put forward lame excuses."

But think of this man who is now calling to prayers at the top of the Minaret after coming out in the coldest weather and making ablution with cold water in the early hour of this morning. It is for no other purpose but in obedience to and respect for the command of Almighty Allah (SWT) as conveyed by His apostle, Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (saw) some four hundred years ago. "What a great difference there is between me and that Prophet sent by Almighty Allah (SWT)!"

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Islamic Moral Stories is designed by Akramulla Syed Last Updated: Thursday, November 17, 2016