how the prophet (pbuh) educated muslim preachers
written by dr. khalid ben hadoub al-mehedib
fulfilling the duties of muslim preachers is based the preparation and education of these preachers to be role models for people. the general public always looks up to scholars as their example in following the teachings of religion. this is why the prophet (peace be upon him) was the best example for the companions and all muslim in word and action. when the prophet (pbuh) talked with them about the noble qur'an, like reciting revealed verses to them, he (pbuh) was the most affected and first follower and applier of those verses. when he (pbuh) taught them their religion, he was the first to apply the teachings of islam. when he trained them on acting according to good manners and having patience against hardships, they saw him as the best example in doing what he preached and taught.
this is what made his companions sacrifice their souls and everything they hold valuable to support islam because they found the true meanings and manners of religion in their role model and teacher, the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him).
mus'ab ibn-umayr1 (ra)2 is one of those companions; he gave up his money, leadership, fame and supremacy to be one of the supporters of this new call. suhayb ibn-sinan3 (ra) set the best example by giving up all his money to commit to his belief. when polytheists caught him on his way to madinah, he offered them his money in return for letting him immigrate and they accepted. this is way, ibn-sinan won the freedom of belief, and he ascended a higher position with his belief over those who preferred the money. when suhayb reached quba, just outside madinah where the prophet (pbuh) himself alighted after his hijrah, the prophet (pbuh) saw him approaching. he was overjoyed and greeted suhayb with beaming smiles. he (pbuh) said: "your transaction has been fruitful, o abu yahya. your transaction has been fruitful."4 he repeated this three times. yes indeed! suhayb's transaction was fruitful. the revelation affirmed the truth of this: "and of mankind (there is) he who barters himself seeking gracious satisfaction from allah; and allah is ever-compassionate with (his) bondmen." (al-baqarah: 2o7) he was one of the early muslims who embraced islam in dar al-arqam.
they both reflect the true belief instilled in them by the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him). they exerted time, money and effort to keep their belief.
otba ibn-rabi'a kept beating abu-bakr (ra) with two shoehorns on the face until abu-bakr fainted when he was calling people to believe in allah and the prophet (pbuh).5 bilal ibn-rabah6 (ra) was tortured by his master omaya ibn-khalaf who ordered his slaves to make him lay on the hot sand and put heavy stones on his body so that he could not move. he was taken to the hot desert around makkah and all he said was "ahdun ahad"(he is one, he is one)7 ammar ibn-yasser8, his parents and his wife were all tortured by the polytheists. when the prophet (peace be upon him) passed by them he would console them by saying, "be patient o family of yasser! for your final destination is paradise."9
"this way, the prophet (pbuh) clarified to his companions and callers to islam that tribulations are natural in this road. it has always been the norm or usual reaction to calls of prophets since the time of prophet noah (peace be upon him) till the time of prophet muhammad (peace be upon him), but some people do not have the patience as they want to rash into results.
the method of the prophet muhammad (pbuh) in educating his companions was to set an example in everything. he ascertained the pillars of belief in them and taught them the correct worshipping and exalted manners."10
if we look through the generations of companions (ra), we will realize that the prophet (pbuh) educated the companions and muslims the best way. they went through tough tribulations and hardships that even firm mountains would have shakes if they go through what the companions went through. yet, they met all this with patience, endurance and persistence to keep their faith. they carried the responsibility of jihad to fight difficulties and tribulations and eventually spread the call to islam. they understood islam very well and they paid attention to all concerns of the call of islam with the prophet (pbuh) and the rulers who followed him in leading the islamic nation. they spread the religion and followed the methodology of the prophet (peace be upon him) in calling for the belief in allah in the best manner and insight.
"we need to deduce the characteristics and qualities that made the generation of the companions the best among muslims. these teachings made them the standard of achievement for all following generations because they had the best of qualities and manners. these teachings should be incorporated into our method of upbringing, education and media. they should be reflected on all methods of cultural formation, this way we will transfer from the stage of pride and glory to achievement and application of these teachings. this will change the current situation we are experiencing. we need to enlist and categorize these good qualities. narrated abdullah: the prophet said, "the people of my generation are the best, then those who follow them, and then who follow the latter. after that there will come some people whose witness will go ahead of their oaths, and their oaths will go ahead of their witness." ibrahim (a sub-narrator) said, "we used to be beaten for taking oaths by saying, 'i bear witness by the name of allah or by the covenant of allah."11
we have to inquire about the characteristics that define this goodness and how to follow and apply it. we have to get as near as possible to the manners of this refined generation. this will improve the manners of current and next generations to carry the message of islam as the followers of the prophet (peace be upon him) did. we have to apply these manners of the prophet and his companions, what will help us more is reading the qur'an because it mentions some of the qualities characterizing the generation of the companions, with which this generation was classified as the best of all times. this is why studying the life stories and battles is important from a practical perspective, as it is considered a continuation of studying the chapters of the qur'an. it is basically acquiring knowledge and application. the companions assume a distinctive position on the path of humanity, especially on the path of supporting the prophet and the muslim nation. they were distinguished people; they were great miracles of islam and criteria to every generation at each place and time."12
if we want to prepare a generation of muslim preachers who call to allah, undertake the missions of dawah13 and overcome obstacles on their way, then we have to revive the qualities and spirit of the companions' generation and instill them in the callers to allah (swt)14 to achieve success in dawah.
calling to believe in allah is an exalted mission requiring all possible efforts to get people, by the will of allah, out of darkness to light. this is why allah chose the most perfect humans in manners and creation to take this mission, namely the prophets and messengers (peace be upon them) who called people to believe in allah and the last day. allah (awj)15 honors the ummah of muhammad (peace be upon him) with the duty to call to islam following the footsteps of the messenger of allah muhammad (pbuh) as allah states in the qur'an: "say, 'this is my way. i call to allah with demonstration, i and whoever closely follows me; and all extolment be to allah; and in no way am i one of the associators.' (those who associate other with allah)" (yusuf: 108)
the education of the companions by the prophet (peace be upon him)
the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) educated his companions to carry the responsibility of dawah to accomplish this mission the best they can do. his methods of upbringing and education were based on certain unchangeable foundations over the passage of days and generations, because they are the heart and essence of islam and the reason for islam to survive on earth.
allah says in the qur'an (what means): "allah has indeed already been bounteous to the believers as he sent forth among them a messenger from (among) themselves (who) recites to them his ayat (i.e., signs, verses) and cleanses them, and teaches them the book and (the) wisdom; and decidedly they were earlier indeed in evident error." (al imran: 164)
almighty allah also says (what can be translated as): "he is the one who has sent forth among the illiterate (i.e., unlettered arabs; the common folk) a messenger from among them, to recite his ayat (verses, signs) to them, and to cleanse them, and to teach them the book and (the) wisdom, though they were earlier indeed in evident error." (al-jumuaah: 2)
preparing and educating muslim preachers (callers to allah) on a very high level by teaching them a great deal of branches of knowledge because building a generation of callers to islam is one of the most important foundations of the islamic nation. the first and foremost basis of knowledge is religious sciences which depend profoundly on the qur'an and the sunnah (teachings of the prophet muhammad peace be upon him).
many imams and scholars were raised to learn these religious sciences. they excelled in learning them on the course of history and they left a lot of knowledge for muslims after them. their works and books have a great effect in helping to understand islam and follow the teachings of the religion."16
"the spiritual education is indispensable necessity in building and in any work of dawah in general. spiritual education means strengthening the relation with allah, softening hearts to worship him and reminding humans of the last day.
this was a foundational part of the prophet's efforts in raising his companions (ra), especially in makkah. he (peace be upon him) directed them to perform qiyam al-layl (the voluntary night prayer) to establish this connection between them and allah. it is to raise them spiritually to be connected to allah. this was all to prepare them for another matter, it was not just an aim, it was a mean to a bigger purpose.
if we reflect over the verses of surat al-muzzammil, it will be clearer to us that with the command to pray a voluntarily prayer at night there was a strong indication of future obligations. so, qiyam al-layl is a preparation and initiation of these duties. allah (swt) says (what means): "o you enwrapped (in your raiment). rise up (to pray during) the night, except a little, a half of it, or diminish a little thereof, or increase thereto; and recite the qur'an (in a distinct) recitation. surely we will soon cast upon you a weighty saying." (surat al-muzzammil 'enwrapped': 1-5)
then looking further in the verses of the same sura, we will understand the reason why allah (awj) chooses qiyam al-layal to be the method to prepare souls to endure current and future obligations. almighty allah says (what can be translated as): "surely (prayer) by night is more intense in performance and more upright in (devotional) oration.” (surat al-muzzammil: 6) it is because qiyam al-layl is the most powerful preparation for the souls to undertake duties.
thus, we have to strengthen our connection with allah (swt) to be able to carry out the obligations of islam the best way especially jihad and patience over tribulations.
this religion is so important because it is the divine methodology to reform life and raise the virtuous human who undertakes the righteous succession 'khilafa' on earth."17
"allah chooses the best of humans to take the responsibility of dawah. he (swt) surrounds them with care, preparation and comprehensive development ever since a young age to fit the responsibility to reform humanity. the most foundations of a muslim preachers' character are having the strength, will and perseverance. he has to be a leading character which is actually the cornerstone of his success. the muslim preacher has to have the quality of leadership as much as he can, this can be also acquired by practice and training."
the most powerful method to intensify the character, promote pride and determination is destroying the psychological barrier imposed by the enemy to break the morale of the preacher and weaken his character. it is like the psychological warfare at the times of war, or the propaganda against the enemy especially at this modern time that can also be called as the media time because the media has became a powerful tool in changing people's lives.
the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) directed the companions, when he saw a weak point or fragility; he would strengthen and support it until the ummah became strong. this is why they carried the call to the east and west, north and south to every destination of the earth. when the prophet (pbuh) authorized osama ibn-zaid (ra)18 to lead the muslim army, some people got annoyed because he was young so for them he is less efficient as a leader in fighting one of the main powers back then19." narrated abdullah ibn-omar: the prophet sent an army under the command of osama ibn-zaid. when some people criticized his leadership, the prophet said, "if you are criticizing osamas's leadership, you used to criticize his father's leadership before. by allah! he was worthy of leadership and was one of the dearest persons to me, and (now) this (i.e. osama) is one of the dearest to me after him (i.e. zaid)."20
"the prophet (pbuh) did that in front of osama to strengthen his character and enforce his confidence to feel proud of being a muslim; also he wanted to teach others that the islamic character is not measured by age or body, but rather by efficiency, talent, hard work and pride of being faithful and muslim. this was reflected in the situation when rabie ibn-amer (ra) said to the commander of the romans with confidence and belief: "allah sends us to take his servants from worshipping servants to worshipping allah, from the narrowness of this life to the broadness and from oppression of religions to the justice of islam."21, 22
the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) prepared and educated his companions to be proud of their religion and belief in the creator. he directed them to surrender to none but allah (awj). hardships and experiences strengthened them; they used to get out of each difficult situation stronger than before. no doubt, the dawah benefited from these experiences and great characters that history never witnessed people like them.
(1) mus'ab ibn-umayr ibn-hisham ibn-abd manaf ibn-abddarayn kusai ibn-kilab. al-barr' ibn-azib said: the first to emigrate from the muhajereen (early muslim immigrants from makkah to madinah) is mus'ab ibn-umayr so we said to him, 'what did allah's apostle do'. he said: he is there with his companions and they will come. the prophet fraternized between al-barr' ibn-azib and saad ibn-abi waqas and he fraternized between mus'ab ibn-umayr and abi-ayoub al-ansari. it is said that he died a martyr in the battle of uhd in the third year of hijrah (immigration from makkah to madinah). refer to sayar alam al-nobla' by imam al-dhahabi, part 1, page 145. refer to al-tabaqat al-kobra by ibn-saad, part 3, page 119.
(2) ra: radya allah anhu/anha/anhum [may allah be pleased with him/her/them]
(3) suhayb ibn-sinan, aka abu-yahya al-rumay. he descends from al-namer. it is said that his name was abdul malik and suhayb was his title. he is a famous companion that died in madinah in 38 hijri during the caliphate of ali (ra), it is said that he died before that too. refer to al-tahdheeb by ibn-hajar, part 278, (no. 2954)
(4) narrated by al-hakim in al-mustadrak 3/389. he classified the hadith as sahih according to the condition of imam muslim. both of them did not compile the hadith and al-dhahabi did not mention it. al-albani agreed with al-hakim as mentioned in fiqh al-sirah by al-ghazali, page 166. he said: he has a witness of hadith suhayb (ra). it is narrated in fada'el al-sahabah by imam ahmed 2/828, hadith no 1509. it is incompletely transmitted by trustworthy narrators.
(5) al-bedaya wa al-nehaya by ibn-kathir 3/33.
(6) bilal ibn-rabah al-habashi (ra) is the mu'adhen (caller to prayer) of the prophet (peace be upon him). he is the first to call to prayer in islam. he is one of the early men to embrace islam. abu-bakr bought him from the polytheists when they were torturing him to save him from their abuse and set him free. he stayed near the prophet (pbuh) and witnessed all the battles and important events with him. the prophet (pbuh) fraternized him with abi obaida ibn-al jarah. the prophet (pbuh) said about him: "i saw myself (in a dream) entering paradise, and behold! i saw ar-rumaisa', abu talha's wife. i heard footsteps. i asked, who is it? somebody said, 'it is bilal..'' (al-bukhari 3679) bilal went to fight in the path of allah till he died in the levant region in 20 hijri, he was in his 60s. it was said that he died in 17 or 18 hijri. (refer to sayar alam al-nobla' by imam al-dhahabi 347/1, al-isabah by ibn-hajar 1/170, tahdheeb al-tahdheeb by ibn-hajar 1/502), published by majlis dairat al-maarif al-nizamia, hyderabad, india, 1325 hijri.
(7) al-sira al-nabawiyya (the life of the prophet) by ibn hisham.
(8) ammar ibn-yasser ibn-amer from bani makhzum, he is one of the early muslims and a main fighter in the battle of badr. his mother is sumaya, one of the early muslims and the first martyr in islam. he narrated a number of prophetic sayings from the prophet (pbuh). he was one of the first seven who announced embracing islam. he lived for ninety three years and died in the battle of safeen in 37 hijri. refer to: sayar alam al-nobla' by imam al-dhahabi (1/406-426), usd al-ghabah by ezz al-deen ibn al-atheer (4/139-145), dar ihya' al-turath al-arabi, beirut, lebanon, first edition – 1412 - 1991.
(9) refer to al-mustadrak by al-hakim 3/388 from hadith jaber. he said: it is sahih according to the condition of imam muslim and they did not compile it. it is agreed upon by al-dhahabid. al-albani said it is a good and sahih as it was mentioned in fiqh al-sirah by imam al-ghazali page 107-108.
(10) al-islub al-tarbawi lil dawah ila allah fi al-asr al-hadith by khalid ibn abdul karim al-khayat, page 124-128, first edition, 1412 – 1991, published by dar al-mujtama lil nashr wal tawzie, jeddah, saudi arabia.
(11) sahih al-bukhari, kitab al-shahadat, bab la yashhad ala shadat jur, hadith no. 3651, 2652, page 502. sahih muslim, kitab fada'el al-sahaba, bab fadl al-sahaba thum allazin yalonahom thum allazin yalonahom, hadith no. 2533, page 1023.
(12) refer to: fi manhajayat al-iqteda' by oma obaid hasana, page 41-25, first edition, 1417-1997, published by islamic office, beirut, lebanon.
(13) dawah: literally means "call", and in this sense it refers to calling to the truth through preaching and propagation.
(14) swt = suhanahu wa ta'ala [glorified and exalted be he]
(15) awj: aza-wa-jal [glorified and sublime be he].
(16) al-dawah ila allah tala by dr. abdul rabb nawab al-deen al nawab, page 483-496, first edition, 1410 – 1990, published by dar al-qalam, damascus, syria.
(17) refer to: kaifa nadou al-nas by mohamed qutb, page 163-164, first edition, 1420-2000, published by dar al-shorouq, cairo, egypt.
(18) osama ibn-zaid ibn-haritha ibn-sharaheel al-kalbi, abu muhammad and abu zaid, he was the son of zaid, the servant of the prophet (pbuh). he died in 54 hijri when he was 75 years old in madinah. refer to al-isabah fi tamyeez al-sahabah by ibn-hajar 1/29.
(19) elm nafs al-dawah by dr. mohamed zain al-hadi, page 146, first edition, 1415-1995 – al-dar al-masryah al-libnanya, cairo.
(20) sahih al-bukhari, kitab fada'el al-sahaba, bab 17 manaqib zaid ibn-haritha, hadith no. (3730), shaih muslim, kitab fada'el al-sahaba, fada'el zaid ibn-haritha wa osama ibn-zaid, hadith no. 2426, page 986.
(21) al-bedaya wa al-nehaya by ibn-kathir 7/39, published by maktabit al-maarif, beirut, lebanon.
(22) elm nafs al-dawah by dr. mohamed zain al-hadi, page 146-149.