Status of Teacher in the Eyes of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)



By: Khursheed Alam Dawood Qasmi*


If the educational and literacy rate is evaluated fairly, it will become clear that in any town, city and country, the Muslim community and nation is far behind in comparison to the other communities and nations in the world. If we assess specially the situation of the Muslim and Arab countries in the field of education, we will not find their situations different as well. Amongst so many Muslim and Arab countries, there is no such institute or university found, which has any international reputation and recognition. Any university of a Muslim or Arab country has not yet discovered or invented something remarkable and noteworthy after the research in its own campus. We are followers of Islam, which gave much importance to education. We believe in the Prophet and Messenger (Muhammad SAWS), in whose eyes the learners, teachers and scholars had great status and position. While on the one hand, the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him!) was sent as the last and final Prophet and Messenger for the entire universe, he was sent as a great teacher, outstanding instructor and extraordinary educator for the humanity on the other.


The Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said on an occasion, “Verily I have been sent as a teacher.” The occasion on which the Prophet (SAWS) gave this statement is mentioned as follows. “The Messenger of Allah (SAWS) came out of one of his apartments one day and entered the mosque, where he saw two circles. One was reciting the Qura’an and supplicating to Allah and the other learning and teaching. The Prophet (SAWS) said: ‘Both of them are good. These people are reciting Qur’an and supplicating to Allah, and if He wills, He will give them, and if He wills He will withhold from them. And these people (of the other circle) are learning and teaching. Verily I have been sent as a teacher.’ Then he sat down with them (busy in learning and teaching).” (Sunan Ibn Majah: 229)

From the above Hadith, it is understood that the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him!) not only referred to himself as a teacher to indicate the great status of a teacher; rather, he further highlighted the importance of circle of teachers and learners by sitting in their circle. He (SAWS) made it clear that in his eyes, the rank and status of those who teach and learn Qura’an, Sunnah and Islam is great and superior. In addition to this, the several sayings and teachings of the Prophet (SAWS) are preserved in the books of Hadith, from which the status of the scholars and teachers in the eyes of the Teacher of Humanity, Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) is known well.


According to a narration, the Prophet (SAWS) describing the status and greatness of those who are learning and teaching mentioned them similar to those who fight in the cause of Allah. The Messenger of Allah (SAWS) says: “Whoever comes to this mosque of mine, and only comes for a good purpose, such as to learn or to teach, his status is like that of one who fights in Jihad in the cause of Allah. Whoever comes for any other purpose, his status is that of a man who is keeping an eye on other people’s property.” (Sunan Ibn Majah: 227)


The Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him!) while describing the greatness and excellence of those who learn, said that whoever sets out to seek the knowledge, Allah makes the path to Paradise easy for him. Those who are engaged in learning and teaching, the peace and equanimity will descend on them and so on. This Hadith is long one. Here a part of it is being quoted: “Whoever follows a path seeking knowledge, Allah will make a path to Paradise easy for him. No people gather in one of the houses of Allah, reciting the Book of Allah and studying it together, but tranquillity will descend upon them, mercy will overshadow them, the angels will surround them and Allah will mention them to those who are with Him.” (Sahih Muslim: 2699)


The Messenger of Allah (SAWS), describing the status, significance and virtue of the person equipped with knowledge, said: “Whoever travels a road seeking knowledge thereby, Allah will cause him to travel one of the roads of Paradise. The angels lower their wings in approval of the seeker of knowledge. Those who are in the heavens and on earth, and the fish in the depths of the water, pray for forgiveness for the knowledgeable person. The superiority of the scholar over the worshiper is like the superiority of the moon, on the night when it is full, over all other heavenly bodies. The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets. The Prophets did not leave behind Dinars or Dirhams, rather they left behind a heritage of knowledge, and the one who acquires it acquires an abundant portion.”  (Sunan Abu Dawood: 3641)


Many people used to come to the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him!) to acquire knowledge and learn the rulings of Islam. He (SAWS) welcomed them happily. Sayyiduna Safwan bin Assal (RA) once also attended the service of Allah’s Messenger (SAWS) to gain knowledge. At that time, he (SAWS) was reclining on his cloak in the mosque. When he stated his aim and goal to seek knowledge, Allah’s Messenger (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him!) said: “I welcome the student. The angels shade the student with their wings. Then they spread over one another, until they reach the heavens and the world, due to their love for the seekers of knowledge.” (Al-Mujam Al-Kabeer Lil-Tabarani: 7347)


Whoever came to Sayyiduna Safwan bin Assal (RA) to learn knowledge, he would also welcome them with a smiling face, just like the Prophet (SAWS) welcomed him. Then he would also recite the said Hadith to the student, which has glad tidings for a learner.


The Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him!) also instructed the scholars of his Ummah that in the future when people would come to them to learn knowledge, how should they treat with them? Abu Sa’eed Khudri (RA) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said: “The people will come to you seeking knowledge. When you see them, say to them, ‘Welcome, welcome,’ in obedience to the injunctions of the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) and instruct them in knowledge.” (One of the narrators said) I asked Hakam: “What is ‘Iqnuhum (Arabic phrase mentioned in the Hadith)?” He replied: “Instruct them.” (Sunan Ibn Majah: 247)


Islam has preferred politeness and easiness in comparison to strictness, difficulty. The Prophet (SAWS) has guided the preacher, the teacher and the educator to be gentle and kind. In a Hadith, the Prophet (SAWS) commands to create ease with the teaching of knowledge: “Teach the people knowledge, create ease, do not create hardship, when one of you is angry, let him be silent.” (Musnad Ahmad: 2136)


Imam Bukhari mentioned a Hadith in his book under the “Book of Knowledge” where the Prophet (SAWS) said: “Make things easy for the people, do not make things difficult for them and give them glad tidings and do not repel them. (Sahih Bukhari: 69)


According to the Islamic teaching, the status of a teacher to a student is like of a father. The Prophet (PBUH) used to present himself to his companions (May Allah be pleased with them!) like a father. The Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said: “I am to you like a father to his son and I teach you. So, when you go to relieve yourselves, do not face the Qiblah or turn your backs towards it.” (Sunan Ibn Majah: 313)


One who teaches the people to do good deeds and guides them, even the creature like the ant in its hole makes Duaa of mercy for him. Abu Umamah Bahili (RA) reports: “Two men were mentioned before the Messenger of Allah (SAWS): one of them being a worshipper and the other being a scholar. So the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said: ‘The superiority of the scholar over the worshipper is like my superiority over the least of you.’ Then the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said: ‘Indeed Allah, His Angels, the inhabitants of the heavens and the earths – even the ant in his hole, even the fish make Duaa for the one who teaches the people to do good.” (Sunan Tirmidhi: 2685)


A teacher who educates the people the religious education, this act of teaching has been described as the best of charity by the Prophet (SAWS). The Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said: “The best of charity is that when a Muslim man gains knowledge, then he teaches it to his Muslim brother.” (Sunan Ibn Majah: 243)

If a person learns even one word of religion and teaches it to others, the Prophet (SAWS) has given such person the glad tidings of entering Jannah. The Prophet (SAWS) said: “Whoever learns one thing, two things, three things, four things or five things that Allah the Exalted has made obligatory for him to learn, then he learns them and continues teaching them, he will enter Jannah.” Dhaeef Al-Targheeb Wa Al-Tarheeb: 56) During the time of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), the red camel was of the great importance among the Arabs. It was considered as the best wealth. Allah’s Messenger (SAWS) addressing his son in law, Sayyiduna Ali (RA) said: “By Allah, even if a single man is led on the right path (Islam) by Allah through you, then that will be better for you than the nice red camels.” The actual story is that on the day of the battle of Khaibar, one fort namely “Qamoos” was not being conquered. Then the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said: “Tomorrow I will give this flag to a man through whose hands Allah will give us victory.” Next day, the flag was given to Sayyiduna Ali (RA). The Prophet (SAWS) guided him; while Ali (RA) was going to conquer that fort. “Proceed, and do not hurry. When you enter their territory, call them to embrace Islam and inform them of Allah’s Rights which they should observe, for by Allah, even if a single man is led on the right path (Islam) by Allah through you, then that will be better for you than the nice red camels.” (Sahih Bukhari: 4210)


The Prophetic messages which have been presented here so far, they reveal the excellence and greatness of those who have acquired religious knowledge and teach it. It does not mean that Islam has not given any importance to worldly sciences apart from the religious sciences; rather, any knowledge that can benefit humanity, wherever and by whomever it can be gained, must be gained. The Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said as a principle: “The wise statement is the lost property of the believer, so wherever he finds it, then he is more worthy of it.” (Sunan Tirmidhi: 2687) In the light of this Hadith, it becomes clear that Muslim should learn any knowledge. Yes, it is necessary that the science should be useful for the humanity and the intention of the learner should be correct. In today’s world, those countries who invested in establishing educational institutions and those nations who equipped themselves with education, their situations are not hidden from anyone. They are ahead in every field. They lead the world. Today, several countries have become dependent on those countries and nations. Those countries and nations are ruling the world today. Those people who remained behind in education are the mental slaves of these countries. If we pay attention to education even today, very soon we can control our deteriorating situation, In Shaa Allah. ●●●●


Moon Rays Trust School, Zambia, Africa,

Khursheed Alam Dawood Qasmi is a notable freelancer. He has authored dozens of pieces on diverse topics such as politics, religion, Muslim World and society.