Now it’s time to address the teachers (again).
Sometimes the Qur’an can be more of a trial for the teacher than the student, and one of the ways this trial manifests itself is when the teacher has a serious problem with their student reciting to others besides him. They will exert their full authority over the student and hold serious grudges in this situation, causing great harm to not just their students, but themselves in return.
Let’s examine some of the reasons why a teacher would feel this way. Teachers may…
- View themselves as having more knowledge than others.
- Consider their students like their property and feel betrayed when students move on to someone else.
- Feel that it’s an infringement upon their authority or disrespectful for other teachers to correct or teach their students.
- Carry blameworthy pride whereby they equate themselves with major scholars of the Qur’an and demand the same respect given to these scholars.
- Feel a strong sense of jealousy towards those who have excelled above them, those who have a larger number of students, or have become well known amongst the people, and therefore prevent others from benefiting from such people.
Probably the greatest danger of confining students to one’s self is that this paves the way for misunderstandings and innovations in the recitation to spread and provides the optimal situation for baseless opinions and misunderstandings to pollute the sound, oral chain. Without having multiple sources for the oral recitation from different qualified individuals, there isn’t any other way to catch these innovations and eliminate them accurately. The knowledge of the Qur’an belongs to Allah سبحانه وتعالى alone, and He gives what He wills to whoever He wishes. It doesn’t belong to any one particular individual.
al-Imam al-Nawawi رحمه الله mentions in his book, التبيان في آداب حملة القرآن:
وليحذر كل الحذر من أمراض القلوب كالحسد، والعجب، والرياء، واحتقار الناس والارتفاع عليهم، وإن كانوا دونه، وعليه أن لا يرى نفسهُ خيراً من أحد
And he (the reciter) should take extreme caution with regard to the diseases of the heart such as envy, self-conceit, showing off, feeling contempt towards the people, and one’s elevation over them, even if they are lower than him [in knowledge]; and it is incumbent upon him to avoid seeing himself as better than someone.
He رحمه الله also said:
وليحذر من كراهته قراءة أصحابه على غيره ممن ينتفع به وهذه مصيبة يبتلى بها بعض المعلمين الجاهلين وهي دلالة بينة من صاحبها على سوء نيته وفساد طويته بل هي حجة فاطعة على عدم إرادته بتعليمه وجه الله تعالى الكريم فإنه لو أراد الله بتعليمه لما كره ذلك بل قال لنفسه أنا أردت الطاعة بتعليمه وقد حصلت وقد قصد بقراءته على غيري زيادة علم فلا عتب عليه
وقد روينا في مسند الإمام المجمع على حفظه وإمامته أبي محمد الدارمي رحمة الله عليه عن علي بن أبي طالب رضي الله عنه أنه قال يا حملة القرآن أو قال يا حملة العلم اعملوا به فإنما العلم من عمل بما علم ووافق علمه عمله وسيكون أقوام يحملون العلم لا يجاوز تراقيهم يخالف عملهم علمهم وتخالف سريرتهم علانيتهم يجلسون حلقا يباهي بعضهم بعضا حتى أن الرجل ليغضب على جليسه أن يجلس إلى غيره ويدعه أولئك لا تصعد أعمالهم في مجالسهم تلك إلى الله تعالى
وقد صح عن الإمام الشافعي رضي الله عنه أنه قال وددت أن الخلق تعلموا هذا العلم يعني علمه وكتبه أن لا ينسب إلي حرف منه
…And he (the teacher) takes every precaution from being averse to the idea of his companions reciting to other than him from amongst those who can be benefitted from. And this is a problem some ignorant teachers are afflicted with, and it is a clear indication of this person’s poor intention and corruption of his conscience. Actually, it is an unequivocal proof of the negation of his intention to teach seeking the face of Allah, Most High, for if he really sought Allah through his teaching, he would not have disliked that (his students reciting to others). He would instead say to himself, “I sought the obedience of Allah by teaching it (the Qur’an) and I have achieved that, and he (the student) has intended, by reciting to other than me, an increase in knowledge, therefore there is no blame on him [for doing so].
And we relate from the Musnad of Imam Abu Muhammad al-Darimi, may Allah have mercy upon him, about whom there is a consensus on his profound learning and leadership, that ‘Ali bin Abi Talib رضي الله عنه said, “O bearers of knowledge! Act according to [your knowledge], since the scholar is the one who acts according to what he has learned and whose knowledge corresponds to his action. There will be groups who possess knowledge that does not go beyond their collar bones. Their action contradicts their knowledge; their inward state contradicts their outward. They sit in circles vying with one another, until a man becomes angry with the one he sits with, and so he sits with someone else, leaving the other behind. Their actions in these assemblies of theirs do not ascend to Allah, Most High.”
It is been confirmed that Imam al-Shafi’ee, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “I would love that people learn this knowledge,” meaning his knowledge and books, “with the condition that they not attribute a single letter of it to me.”
The characteristics listed above are all blameworthy and the teacher must instead focus on rectifying the intention with which they are teaching the Book of Allah by keeping in mind the following:
- There is always someone who knows more: there isn’t one person who has amassed all that there is to know about the recitation of the Qur’an, for Allah says clearly in the Qur’an: وَفَوقَ كُلِّ ذِي عِلْمٍ عَلِيمٌ We raise in degrees whom We will, but over every possessor of knowledge is one [more] knowing [Surat Yoosuf, verse 76]. Teachers should not let themselves be deceived by Shaytan by believing that they hold the keys to all the knowledge related to the Qur’anic recitation, or understanding of the texts.
- Look out for your student: one of the roles of the teacher is to look out for the best interest of the student, not their own interest. Many teachers teach, and teach with poor quality, only to increase the number of their students, the number of Ijazaat issued, raising their fame amongst the people. Often times, they rush through the recitation with the student and the student ends up benefitting very little. These are all signs of someone who teaches for their own interest.
- Direct the student to additional sources of benefit: the teacher in fact should encourage the student to recite to as many individuals as possible when they see a student is qualified for this, and facilitate this for them by putting them in touch with the shyookh and introducing them. They should encourage the student to seek beneficial knowledge wherever it comes from. The teacher should remember how much they appreciated being given the resources needed to excel and be grateful for these blessings by providing the same for the student.
- You are a Servant of the Qur’an: when a person says this, they should try to understand the gravity of this role because being in the service of the Qur’an is to teach it, sacrifice for it without expecting anything in return from the creation. With this mindset, it’s very easy to let go of any unnecessary emotions or attachments in this regard, letting go of the worldly aspects of teaching the Qur’an and focus on the more everlasting benefits, such has earning the reward, pleasure and mercy of Allah سبحانه وتعالى.
- Remember Allah’s blessing upon you: this is the best way to get rid of pride in the heart; teachers need to remember that Allah is the One Who chose them and provided the opportunities to learn His book and then teach it. Therefore, you cannot own what was not yours to begin with, for it is Allah who choose whom He wills for carrying His book. By focusing on your duty to convey the knowledge, you will be more concerned about maintaining its accuracy rather than increasing your number of followers. With that in mind, students will naturally flock to you because they will see you as a person of integrity and dedication to the knowledge, which is what they are seeking anyway.
- Maybe you need the knowledge more than your student: this is because when the teacher makes a mistake, it is more serious than if a student makes one! A student is there to be corrected and refined in his knowledge, but this is not always the case with regard to the teacher, and therefore, there are more opportunities for misunderstandings and innovations to creep in. Therefore, one way to achieve humility is to keep learning just like the student, admitting that there are other sources of knowledge other than one’s self.
- You are calling to the Book of Allah, not yourself: sometimes teachers will emphasize their due rights more than giving the due right to the Qur’an. They will call their students to certain opinions they hold which are clear innovations and in clear contradiction with the pillars of the Qur’an, and authentic, oral chains. Rather than calling to one’s self and one’s opinions, emphasizing the rights of the teacher, the teacher should emphasize the rights of the Qur’an, the importance of loyalty towards Allah’s book along with the gravity of this Amanah and train them in this regard.
Of course, if one finds a teacher who wants only the best for his student and encourages them upon the good, this is a blessing worth being eternally grateful for, and indeed, by the mercy and blessing of Allah, we have witnessed this first hand from our dear teacher and shaykh, Sh. Waleed Edrees al-Meneesey حفظه الله. It should always be this way, and not the other way around where the student has to be in the position to remind the teacher to be conscious of Allah, عز وجل. A famous Qari’ who studied and works at al-Azhar gave the following account:
…in reality, the soul shudders with happiness when it finds that your own shaykh has requested from you to go to a specific scholar and continues to show his gratitude regarding him. So when I went to this scholar, he continued to thank me with regard the one who brought me to him. And in this manner, there should be this exchange of love between the scholars. My shaykh and the coolness of my eyes, Dr. ‘Abbas al-Masri, may Allah have mercy upon him, taught me the recitation of ‘Aasim and during the recitation, he said to me, “O so and so, a shaykh recently arrived in Egypt, and I hope you will stop reciting to me and go to him until you’ve finished reciting the entire Qur’an in the recitation of al-Kisa’ee because he’s not going to spend a long time in Egypt!” And that shaykh was Dr. Ihab Fikri. My shaykh accompanied me as I went to this shaykh, gave me to him himself, and he, may Allah have mercy upon him, would inquire about how I was doing now and then. When I reached Surat al-Zalzalah with my shaykh, Dr. Ihab, he went with me to the house of Dr. ‘Abbas where I could complete the recitation of the Qur’an in his presence. After that, I completed the recitation in ‘Aasim [with Dr. ‘Abbas]. So look at the loving exchange that was between these two Shaykhs, and there are many examples of this I wish I could recall…
The relationship described above between the righteous scholars is a clear reflection of their pure intention, seeking the pleasure of Allah alone with regard to teaching His book. In this case, both the student and the teacher benefit and take part in the immense reward involved. We hope and pray that teachers who have fallen short in this regard take heed and rectify their intentions so that they are not deceived by Shaytan by missing on this valuable opportunity to gain immense reward, in sha Allah, and Allah knows best.