The Prophet's Methods of Education
By IOL Islamic Researchers
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was a perfect teacher and instructor. As wonderful people like Abu Bakr and `Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) were all his students, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) enjoyed brilliant teaching methods. No wonder, Allah, Glory be to Him, has decreed the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to be an ideal example for all Muslims to follow. In this context, Allah Almighty says, "Verily in the Messenger of Allah ye have a good example for him who looketh unto Allah and the last Day, and remembereth Allah much."
In bringing up his Companions, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) adopted various educational methods. Following are some of them-
1. Using illustrative parables:
Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) saying, 'Behold! Can anything of his dirt remain on the body of any one of you if there were a river at his door in which he washes himself five times daily?'
They said, 'Nothing of his dirt will remain (on his body).' He said, 'That is like the Five Prayers by which Allah obliterates sins.'" (Reported by Muslim)
2. Drawing the addressee's attention by means of making oaths:
Abu Shurayh (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "By Allah, he does not believe! By Allah, he does not believe! By Allah, he does not believe!"
It was said, "Who is that person, O Allah's Messenger?" He said, "That person is he whose neighbor does not feel safe from his evil." (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
3. Being joyful in advice so that his Companions would not get bored:
In this context, we recall the incident when a man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and said, "O Messenger of Allah! Give me a mount." The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "We shall give you a she-camel's child to ride on."
He said, "What shall I do with a she-camel's child?" The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, "Do any others than she-camels give birth to camels?" (Reported by Abu Dawud)
4- Considering the state of the addressee:
Abu Wa'il reported that `Abdur-Rahman used to give a religious talk to the people on every Thursday. Once a man said, "O Abu `Abdur-Rahman! (By Allah) I wish if you could preach us daily." He replied, "The only thing which prevents me from doing so, is that I hate to bore you. No doubt, I consider your state in preaching by selecting a suitable time just as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to do with us, for fear of making us bored." (Reported by al-Bukhari)
5- Narrating stories:
An-Nu`man ibn Bashir reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His believing slave-servant than that of a person who set out on a journey with a provision of food and drink on the back of his camel. He went on until he came to a waterless desert and he felt like sleeping. So he got down under the shade of a tree and was overcome by sleep, and his camel ran away. As he got up he tried to see it (the camel) standing upon a mound, but did not find it. He then got upon the other mound, but could not see anything. He then climbed upon the third mound, but did not see anything until he came back to the place where he had been sleeping previously. And as he was sitting (in utter disappointment) there came to him his camel, till that (camel) placed its nose string in his hand. Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His slave-servant than the person who found (his lost camel) in this very state."
(Reported by Muslim)
Bearing the above in mind, teachers and instructors should study the Prophet’s methods of education and make use of them in bringing up the Muslim generations so that they would benefit themselves, their societies and the all humanity.