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Madrasa 4: The Student

22 Jun 2012
Madrasa 4: The Student

Syed Jawed Anwar

THE student is the central component of the Islamic education system. It is the students’ responsibility to acquire education that is obligatory. As a vicegerent of Allah, the life of humans can be seen as very significant roles needed to be played in order to establish and maintain peace, justice among other things. Muslims have an additional role to play; “Ye are the best party (Ummah), evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong” (Al-Qura’n 3:110).

Education that provides knowledge and wisdom of “what is right” and “what is wrong” and gives the power to establish the “good’ and demolish the ‘wrong” is compulsory for Muslims. On their journey to education, students must face difficulties with perseverance and resolve. In Islam, there is no age limits in the process of gaining knowledge, it is a life long process, from birth to death.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) often prayed “O! my Lord! Enhance me in knowledge”

Acquiring education was never an easy task. In both old and modern times, it was a bed of thorns. There are a lot of hindrances: internal, external, psychological and other worldly. Satan constantly works to divert the attention of a student who works in the way of a “good purpose” to a “bad purpose.”

Only the attachment and love of Allah, a strong will power, and an iron commitment, can help the student to overcome the Satanic designs. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “If a person acquires knowledge in which Allah pleased, but he acquired the knowledge only for selfish worldly needs, that person will not even smell the heaven.”

To acquire the pure and required education, one must be obedient to Allah. Imam Shaafei (the great scholar of Islam and founder of one of the five main schools of law of Islam) said that “I complained Imam Wakee about my short memory; he advised me to abstain from sins and said the knowledge is the light of Allah and disobedient can’t get the divine light.” Most of the scholars of Islam advised students to purify their purpose of education, make commitment to Allah, and pray to succeed in acquiring knowledge. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said “a person who came out from the home to seek knowledge, he is a soldier (Mujahid) in the way of Allah until he returned home”-Tirimidhi

Another Hadith explains: “In respect, angels spread their wings in the path of student”-Abu Daud.

According to a Hadith of Muslim; “Those who travel to seek knowledge, Allah will ease the way of heaven for him.”

These concepts of great rewards left no excuse for anybody says that since they do not have a teacher or Madrasah in their city or town, they cannot learn Qura’n and Hadith. No! There is no excuse. You must take this particular hardship and overcome it in order to learn the knowledge that is mandatory, Farde Ain.

If you learn the history of Muhaddesin (collector and compiler of Hadith, sayings of Prophet Muhammad — PBUH), these people traveled hundreds and thousands of miles to meet and study person who remembers Hadith. In general, twenty years of their life spent in journey only to seek knowledge.

I can give several examples of the dedicated students from the history of Islam who faced extreme hardships in the way of seeking knowledge.

Few examples from the history of Muslim India.(References: the late Professor Syed Muhammad Saleem)

1. Maulana Shibli Noamani (1856-1914), a great scholar of Islam of India of his time, and author of a very famous book on the biography of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) “Seerat Un Nabi,” when completed his formal education, he wanted to learn Arabic literature. Maulana Faiz ul Hasan Saharanpuri, a teacher of Oriental Collage, Lahore was the famous Arabic poet and man of literature of that time. Shibli Nomani requested him to teach. Maulana excused that he had no time other than the time he spends on walking from and to his college every day. His collage was at the distance of two miles from his home. Enthusiastic student accepted this offer (time). Every day Shibli would reach the home of Maulana Faiz, and walk with him to his college. During these walking periods, he was taking Arabic language lessons. No matter sizzling summar or chilly winter or stormy rain, Shibli remained steadfast and punctual in attend his “walking class” for several years and completed his Arabic language.

2. Maulana Syed Abul Aaala Mawdudi (1903-1979), a great and world renowned scholar of Islam asked Maulana Abdus Salam Khan Niazi, a prominent scholar of Maaqoolat (Philosophy & Physical Sciences) to teach the subject. Maulana Niazi who had no time but couldn’t refuse Mawdudi due to his respectable family background asked Mawdudi to come at dawn and finish the lesson before Fajr prayer (the prayer before sun rise), if he could. It was an extremely hard condition and synonymous to refusal. But the zealous student accepted this challenge. Syed Mawdudi attended his class for a very long time and finished his lessons before the Fajr prayer.

3. Munshi Tek Chand, a Hindu, non-Muslim student, a product of Madrasah, presented a unique example in the history of learning. He was writing and compiling a Farsi dictionary “Bahar e Ajam.” Nadir Shah of Iran with his force attacked Delhi in 1739. It was a “golden opportunity” for Munshi Jee to learn Farsi from Iranian soldiers. Daily from the early morning, he would go to the camps of Iranian military and do research on Farsi words, phrases, idioms, jargons, and vocabularies. Even at the day when Nadir Shah ordered the massacre and bloodshed in the city (on March 11, 1739, from 9 am to 3 pm), Munshi Tek was as usual doing “research of words” in the middle of a massacre.

The importance of learning for students gave them a sense of high respect of their teachers. After the Creator (Allah) and parents, teachers received the highest respect for every one. Students did their best and put in a lot of effort to please their teachers. To make teachers angry meant the invitation of anger of Allah; and a student who was seeking the mercy of Allah couldn’t afford it. A teacher, Maulana Abdul Haq Khairabadi (1898), once became angry with Hakim Barakat Ahmed Tonaki (1928). It took Hakim Barakat two years to please the royal temperamental teacher. He pleased the teacher and returned back as a student.

(This is a series of columns for the understanding of the history of centuries old Madrasa and Islamic Education System in South Asian perspective published in the Muslims Weekly, New York, USA, in series of the weekly column “Personal Notes.” Syed Jawed Anwar can be reached at jawed@seerahwest.com)

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