Ummah's Role as a Teacher

“Teach others, make things easy, not difficult. When any of you is in a state of anger, let him keep silent.”

(Related by Al-Bukhari in Al Adab Al Mufrad and by Ahmad)

Commentary by Adil Salahi

Islam urges Muslims to make things easy for others and shun rigidity

The most important task of the Muslim nation is to make the last divine message known to all mankind. This places the Muslim community in the role of a teacher to the rest of the mankind. Since no one can assume the position of a teacher without having first obtained the necessary qualifications, the Muslim community must be qualified for that role. This it can do through having a thorough understanding of the faith of Islam. Unless the Muslim community understands its message fully, it cannot convey it to other people. This is stating the obvious. A person who does not have something cannot impart it to others. Without such a profound understanding of the message of Islam, the Muslim community remains unqualified to fulfill its role. In practice, there have been periods in the history of Muslims when they could not fulfil any task given to them by Allah due to the fact that they became ignorant of the message of Islam and its role in human life. The most recent period of this type was during and immediately before the colonial rule of much of the land of Islam. Only recently has the Muslim community in different areas of the Muslim world, begun to show certain indications of regaining its interest in Islam and trying to develop a proper understanding of its message as it relates to modern life. When this trend has been well established, it will help the Muslim community regain its position as teacher of mankind. This is by no means an arbitrarily assumed role. The Muslim community is entrusted with divine guidance which must be implemented in human life. It has only to give a practical effect to its beliefs so that it can become a model to be followed by others.

The Prophet (Pbuh) took every opportunity to emphasize the importance of the teaching role of the Muslim community and to stress some important fine touches which every good teacher has to acquire.

Consider the following Hadith which is stated in no more than seven words of Arabic: “Teach others, make things easy, not difficult. When any of you is in a state of anger, let him keep silent.” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al Adab Al Mufrad and by Ahmad).

It is against the teachings of the Prophet (Pbuh) to make things appear difficult. Allah wants to make them easy for us and we, or at least some of us, try best to make them difficult

The first instruction in this Hadith is that Muslims should teach others. Of course, they have only one thing to teach them, namely, Islam. It is Allah’s final message to mankind which provides guidance for them on how to conduct their lives in a way which brings them peace and happiness in this world and eternal bliss in the world to come. They have to teach them that divine guidance is provided for their own sake. Allah does not benefit by people’s adherence to His guidance. It is they who benefit. They learn the method which spares them the need to go through the process of trial and error in running their affairs. They have to teach them how to submit themselves to Allah and associate no partners with Him. It is this submission which brings their lives in harmony with the life of everything in the universe. All creatures submit to Allah’s will. Man only has been given the ability to rebel. It is to counter that element of rebellion in the nature of man that divine guidance has been provided. When the Muslim community teaches people how to follow divine guidance, it has only one purpose in mind. To bring happiness within reach of mankind.

It is important through this process of teaching that the Muslim community adopts the attitude of showing things as easy for people to follow. This involves no deception. Islam is made easy to practice. People need only to understand the wisdom behind its legislation in order to implement it with a keenness to excel. Past generations have benefited by the implementation of Islam. Future generations may reap the same benefit and even more, if they try to implement Islam with a proper understanding of its message which confirms that Allah has made this religion easy for people to follow.

Certain people have the habit of portraying everything that is relevant to faith in a very rigid light. That is bound to make people feel that the implementation of Islam is very difficult. Yet if we study carefully the life of the Prophet and the life of the first Muslim generation which is the model for us, we find that their approach to the implementation of Islam was an easy one. Why should we portray in any other light? It is needed against the teachings of the Prophet to make things appear difficult. Allah wants to make them easy for us and we, or at least some of us, try their best to make them difficult. For this reason, the Prophet instructs us not to follow such an approach.

The final part of the Hadith speaks of the need to exercise self-control in case of anger. A teacher must never allow his anger to get the better of him. If he does, he is bound to regret whatever he does in a flight of anger. The most important characteristics of man is to exercise choice between alternatives whenever he has to make an important decision. If he allows his anger to impair his judgement, then he actually forgoes the privilege of free choice. Moreover, allowing anger to get the better of oneself is highly unbecoming of a teacher. If it does not suit a teacher of mankind, whose subject is divine guidance.

The Holy Prophet (Pbuh) asked his followers to keep silent when possessed with anger. This is the best way to control the self

Here the Prophet teaches us one way of exercising self-control and allowing our anger no chance of impairing our judgement. He tells us to remain silent when we are angry. If we do so, we are certain not to say a word which we later regret. People may say all things when they are possessed by anger. In order not to allow ourselves to be in that position, the safest approach is not to say anything.

The Prophet has stressed the importance of self-control in case of anger on numerous occasions. He once described strength in terms of self-control. He asked his companions to define who is a man of strength. They answered that such a man is the one who can beat others while they cannot beat him. Showing that this is merely a superficial view, the Prophet gave the following definition of strength: “ A strong man is not the one who beats others; he is the one who exercises self-control when he is possessed by anger.” When we reflect on this Hadith, we are bound to agree with the Prophet. Self-control requires far greater strength than what it takes to beat an opponent in a physical enagagement.


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