The Modesty of a Teacher
modesty is a good favorable manner that adds honor and dignity to those characterized by it. if anyone thinks that modesty is weakness or a negative quality that should be evaded and get rid of, he would be mistaken and should reconsider the way he recognizes modesty. the evidence of the goodness of modesty and humbleness is that our beloved prophet muhammad (pbuh) was characterized by those traits. humility is part of being humble, but it should be towards the almighty allah. if the person is humble and submissive to the almighty allah, then it is the right and best kind of humility. worshipping is not complete without being humble and submissive to allah. as for being modest towards creatures, it should be only with believers. almighty allay says: “humble towards the believers, stern towards the disbelievers” (al-ma’idah: 54). humble towards the believers because of their love, leniency, forbearance, clemency and mercifulness to each other. the believers are easy and lenient with one another.the teacher needs to have the trait of humbleness the most, because it is following the footsteps of the ashraful mursaleenand for the great value that would be gained by the learners due to the humbleness and approachability of their teacher. if the muslim needs humbleness to succeed in his relationship with allah then with the society, the teacher needs such trait more and greater than any other person. his educational and instructive work requires constant contact with his students and learners and closeness to them so that they will not feel embarrassed of asking him any question and open up to him by telling him what concerns them. spirits do not feel comfortable with an arrogant conceited person who is full of himself.
here are some examples of the humbleness of the prophet muhammad (pbuh):
- the prophet (pbuh) said: “allah has revealed to me that youmustbehumble, sothatno one oppresses anotherandboastsoveranother”. (sahih muslim: 2865)
- humayd ibn at-tawil related that anas ibn malik-may allah be pleased with him- said, “if one of the slave girls of the madina took the hand of the prophet, peace and blessings of allah upon him, she could take him wherever she liked.” (sahih bukhari: 5724)
- narrated by abu huraira-may allah be pleased with him- that the prophet muhammad (pbuh) said, “allah did not send any prophet but that he herded sheep.” his companions said, “including you?” he said, “yes, i used to herd them for money (qirats) for the people of makkah.” (sahih bukhari: 2143)
- narrated by abu huraira-may allah be pleased with him -that the prophet (pbuh) said, “if i were invited to eat no matter whether it is a shoulder or merely a trotter, i would accept and if i were given a gift of a shoulder or merely a trotter, i would accept either.”
- narrated by qais ibn masoud that when a man entered to him and, being in awe of him, was trembling, the prophet muhammad (pbuh) said: "be at ease, for i am not a king. rather i am the son of a woman of the quraysh who used to eat dried meat in makkah." (recorded by al-hakim in mustadrak al-sahihain: 3733)
- the utmost humbleness of the prophet (pbuh) was shown on the day of opening makkah. the prophet (pbuh) entered makkah with his head lowered in thanks giving to almighty allah for the victory granted to him, his beard almost touching the saddle of his dromedary. al baihaqi reported that anas narrated that on the day of opening makkah the prophet (pbuh) entered while lowering his chin to the saddle in humbleness. is there more humbleness than this?! a triumphant leader entering the land of the people who drove him out, fought him and abused him. he is victorious over them and he has the upper hand on that day, yet he lowers his head to be humble and thankful to almighty allah for this victory and honor. what a glorious leader and a marvelous educator!!
humbleness contradicts with arrogance which is a dispraised trait that does not lead to any goodness. some of the effects of some teachers’ arrogance in islamic societies are:
- denying righteousness and refusing to accept it.
- feeling conceited for the knowledge he possesses even if it is a limited knowledge.
- abandoning to seek and pursue knowledge, because he thinks that he knows everything and understands everything. the snobbish teacher cannot reach his educational goals. his ego will hinder him from knowing the goals he achieved because he does not socialize with his students, and keeps a distant between himself and them so he does not know their problems or what aims they have achieved. that way he would not know what information he should revise, update and simplify to them. students do not feel comfortable with the snobbish conceited teacher; they would not open up to him to tell him their feelings and what difficulties they face. students would not get the supposed value and knowledge from their teacher due to having such distant relationship with their teacher.
- the effect of humbleness and modesty by the teacher is not only related to the teacher, it is reflected on students too in a positive way.
- humbleness is the reason for removing any barriers between the teacher and his students which makes them connected and close.
- snobbishness and self conceit cause students to be estranged and distant from their teacher, they even would refuse receiving knowledge and information from him.
- the closer the student to the teacher, the greater knowledge he receives from him. humbleness builds such closeness and approachability.
the most honored of all the prophets. one of the titles of the prophet muhammad , peace and blessings of allah be upon him.