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Studying and Learning.Part5

Studying and Learning.Part5


Ali ibn Abu Talib said,

“I would be the slave of anyone who teaches me one letter.” 

This saying expresses the great respect that is due to teachers. Throughout Islamic history, educational institutions have always remained free of association with governmental or political institutions, avoiding partiality in political debates, and thereby protecting the dignity of knowledge, even when scholars were threatened with the worst kind of persecution. Teachers did not discriminate between students according to race, class, or socioeconomic background, and tried their best to help all develop into good citizens. The Ottoman rulers did not deviate from this tradition and maintained respect for teachers. There is a famous story about Sultan Selim I, the ninth Ottoman sultan, and his teacher Ibn Kemal. When they were returning from victory at the Battle of Mercidabik in 1516 the teacher was traveling in front of the Sultan, and his horse splashed mud on the Sultan’s robes. The Sultan smiled and, saying that the mud was an ornament to his robes, ordered that they be saved—unwashed—and used to cover his coffin.


Traditionally, out of respect, we avoid calling our parents by their first names; this kind of respect is also due to scholars as well.

Adab demands such respect to scholars, because it is they who are the heirs to the Prophets. Children should learn from our example to honor and esteem scholars, never to act in an improper or unseemly manner in their presence, and to speak softly when they are in the room. At all times, scholars should be treated with courtesy and politeness.

Yahya ibn Muadh spoke of the value of scholars thus:

“Scholars are more merciful to the family of believers than mothers and fathers are to their children.” 

When he was asked why he said this, he answered,

“Mothers and fathers save their children from the physical fire in this world, but scholars save them from the eternal fire in the Hereafter.”

This is one of the reasons why scholars deserve respect from us.

A Prophetic saying, related by Ubada ibn al-Samit, states,

 “One who does not respect their elders, one who does not show sympa- thy and compassion for children, and one who does not know the value of scholars is not of us.”

In another hadith the Prophet said,

“A person who acquires knowledge merely so that they will be praised in front of scholars, or to argue with the ignorant, or to win the admiration of people is bound for Hell.”

As for the proper behavior for children toward scholars, Ibn Abbas related an experience he had as a child with one of the Companions:

“When God’s Messenger passed away, I  asked  a man from the Ansar, ‘Come, I want to go and learn from the Companions of the Prophet because there are many here now.’ The man replied, ‘I am surprised at you, Ibn Abbas! Do you imagine that anyone will be in need of you (i.e. your knowledge) while the Companions of God’s Messenger are still among us?’ Then he left. I went to the Companions alone and asked them some questions. When I learned that a particular hadith had been related by someone, I would go to that person’s house. If he were sleeping, I would use my cloak as a pillow and lie down in front of his  door  to  wait; the  wind  would  blow dust  over  me  (while waiting  there  in  patience).  The  man  would  come  out  and  he would see me, usually addressing me, ‘O cousin of the Prophet! What is wrong, why are you lying here? If you had sent word to me, I would have come to you!’ (And in return) I would answer, ‘No, it is more appropriate that I come to you.’ I would then ask this Companion about the hadith. Later, one day when I was surrounded by people (and teaching them what I had learned), that same man from the Ansar came and saw that I was being asked questions. He said, ‘This youth is more intelligent than I.’”

The following example is another good example of the proper behavior of the children of the Companions towards the scholars: Said ibn al-Musayyab used to pray two rakats of prayer and then sit down. The children of the Companions would gather around him, but no one would say anything or ask any questions until after he had recited a hadith for them. Then they would ask him questions.

Hasan al-Basri likewise warned his son to practice adab with scholars, reminding him,

“My child! When you sit with scholars, listen more than you speak. Just as you have learned to speak well, now learn to listen well. Until the scholar stops speaking—no matter how long he may speak—do not interrupt him!”

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