Begins Fajar 5:14 am Zuhr 11:50 am Asr 2:49 pm Maghrib 4:42 pm Isha 6:05 pm
Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

PROPHET MUHAMMAD صلى الله عليه وسلم AS A PERFECT TEACHER

Introduction:

One day, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) entered the
mosque and saw two groups of Companions seated. The first group were reciting the
Qur’ān praying to Allāh. The second group were teaching and learning one another.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) chose to sit with the second group,
the ones that were learning and teaching. As he sat with them, he remarked:
و انما بعثت معلما
‘I have been sent [to humanity] only as a teacher’
We remember and describe him (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as the Prophet,
the Messenger, the Nur, the Mercy for all mankind and much more. He (peace and
blessings of Allāh be upon him) remembered himself as a teacher.
His brilliant teaching methods
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) had all the traits of a
perfect teacher:
1. Clarity: When he was teaching he spoke very clearly so the Companions could
understand. Sayyida A’isha (may Allāh be pleased with her) reports:
The Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would not hasten his speech,
rather he would speak very clearly with each word spaced out. Whoever sat with him immediately
understood his speech.
The Companions preserved each and every aspect of the Prophet’s life, such as how he ate,
how he prayed, and most importantly, what he said. This was easy for the Companions to
do because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was a brilliant teacher
and was unbelievably clear in his speech.
2. Avoid Information overload: Today experts stress that students should not be
overburdened with information. It will not help. Relentless lessons every day of the same
subject does not help, because students get bored. Long lessons are sometimes
counterproductive because a person’s concentration span is only about 45 minutes.
In all of these, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was the
perfect teacher.
*There are several ahādith in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) started with the
words ‘there are three…’
ثلث من كن فيه وجد حلوة اليمان
There are three that have tasted the sweetness of Imaan…
ثلثة ل يكلمهم ال يوم القيامة
There are three that Allāh will not speak to on Judgement Day…
ثلث دعوات مستجابات
There are three answered Duas…
ثلثة يؤتون أجرهم مرتي
There are three who will get double the reward…
Page 1 of 3 Mawlid al-Nabi صلى الله عليه وسلم Papers VI Rabi al-Awwal 1441 AH
This avoids information overload. Three things are easy for everyone to remember.
*The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) did not teach every day. He had
breaks and gaps. The reason for this was so that his Companions would not be overloaded
with information, which is never helpful. Moreover it was time for them to act upon and
implement the knowledge he had passed on.
3. Repetition equals retention. In other words, teachers today ensure that the important
parts of the lesson are repeated. A plenary in a lesson serves this function. This is a
prophetic quality. He would repeat his words thrice on many occasions, so that no one
would forget. On one occasion, he kept saying:
و ال ل يؤمن و ال ل يؤمن و ال ل يؤمن
‘By Allāh, he is not a believer!’ By Allāh, he is not a believer!’By Allāh, he is not a believer!’
The Companions asked ‘Who is not a believer? He replied ‘The one whose neighbour does
not feel safe from him.’
4. Practicals: Experts warn against teachers talking too much and relying on the text book
alone. It makes the lesson boring. It makes it harder to remember. Many subject lessons are
now very practical, with demonstrations that will stay in the head of the pupil.
a. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was a great advocate of
this. He would often give practical lessons so the people around him would understand
him.
Once he placed a mark in three places on the bare ground. One was placed next to him, one
far away and one a few feet in front of him. He asked his Companions if they knew what he
had done. They replied that they did not. The Prophet explained that the mark nearest to
him represented man. The mark furthest away from him represented the desires, wishes
and dreams of man. In between these two pieces of mark was another piece of mark and
this represented death. The point that the Prophet made was that man always has a long
list of desires, hopes and expectations, but death always come in between him and these
desires.
b. As much as possible, our Messenger taught through practical means. Once, in the season
of winter, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) shook a branch and as a
result, the leaves began to fall with ease to the ground. He then remarked that when a
believer performs Salāh for the sake of Allāh, then his sins fall off his body as easy as the
leaves of a tree.
5. The use of good examples and analogies. In order to make the lesson easier to
remember and understand, teachers must use examples.
*Jabir reports that on one occasion, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)
was with his Companions in a bazaar. He passed by a dead lamb that had short ears, and
was defective. He asked his Companions, ‘who wants to buy this for one Dirham? They all
said no. He then asked, ‘will anyone want it for free?’ They replied, ‘even if it was alive, then
we would not want it because it has defective ears. Now that it is dead it is no good. The
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: ‘This world is more insignificant
in the eyes of Allāh than this dead lamb.’ In other words, it is worthless.
6. The good use of stories was also a favourite method of teaching for Prophet
Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). The story of the three men stuck
Page 2 of 3 Mawlid al-Nabi صلى الله عليه وسلم Papers VI Rabi al-Awwal 1441 AH
in the cave is an excellent example of that. Importantly, all of his stories were true and
actually happened. He did not need to resort to lies, fairytales and fables.
7. Make it memorable. Teachers are always finding ways to make a lesson memorable. If
they can do that, then the teachings of the lesson will long stay in the mind of the student.
Hadith Jibril is a perfect example of a lesson that will never be forgotten, purely because it
was so memorable.
These are just a handful of points that all indicate that Prophet Muhammad (peace and
blessings of Allāh be upon him) was indeed the perfect teacher. It is now up to us to be the
perfect pupils of his.

This is the paper from a speech delivered at Faize-Raza Academy (10.11.18), as part of the Mawlid
celebrations in Leicester.

Dr. Hafiz Ather Hussain al-Azhari
@hafiz_ather
BA Principles of Theology, al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt.
MA Arabic and Islamic Studies, Dar al-Ulum Muhammadia Ghawsia, Bhera, Pakistan.
BA Political Science, MPhil Theology & PhD Theology, University of Birmingham.
Page 3 of 3 Mawlid al-Nabi صلى الله عليه وسلم Papers VI Rabi al-Awwal 1441 AH

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *