Teaching by Narrating Stories
the story has an amazing ability to attract the attention and senses of listeners to the storyteller, because it is pleasant and likable to the human spirit. it tells listeners about the events, life stories and funny incidents of the past. also, the story stays in people’s minds for a long time; in fact humans hardly forget any stories they hear. this is why, almighty allah mentions stories and events in the qur’an because they inspire, empower and teach people by making them familiar with the incidents of the past, they also keep a record of history.
the noble qur’an does not relate these stories only for entertainment, contemplating over these stories leads to understanding a lot of monotheism rules and guidance to the oneness of allah. they also reveal allah’s decrees upon his servants. some of the verses that tell a story like surat yusuf establishes jurisdiction rulings such as the verse: “we are missing the king’s tumbler; and whoever comes up with it shall have a camel’s burden; and for that i am a (sure) guarantor.” (yusuf: 72) from the verse, we can conclude two jurisdiction rulings: jua’lah (a reward for the accomplishment of a specific task) from “whoever comes up with it shall have a camel’s burden” and kafala (sponsorship) from “and for that i am a (sure) guarantor”.
through this we learn that stories have an important role in teaching and educating people. the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) used to tell stories to his companions (ra) and muslims in general to teach, educate and illuminate them. these are some examples of situations in which prophet muhammad (pbuh) used stories:
1- khabab ibn al art narrated: “we complained to allah’s apostle (peace be upon him) about our state when he was leaning against his sheet cloak in the shade of kaaba. we said, “will you ask allah to help us? will you invoke allah for us?” he said: “among those who were before you, a believer used to be seized and a pit used to be dug for him and then he used to be placed in it. then a saw used to be brought and put on his head, which would be cut into two. his flesh might be combed with iron combs and removed from his bones, yet all this did not cause him to revert from his religion. by allah this religion (islam) will be completed (and triumph) until a rider (traveler) goes from san’a (the capital of yemen) to hadramout fearing nobody except allah and the wolf which could trouble his sheep, but you are impatient.” (sahih bukhari, volume 9, book 85, number 76)
in the story that the prophet (peace be upon him) told, there are some teachings and moralities that can only be understood by thinkers and those who work their brains. we can learn that torturing believers at the beginning of any religion was the norm. it also teaches us that believers from old nations were firm and determined about their faith in the oneness of allah. nothing stopped them from hanging to their faith, even if it means torture and sacrificing their lives. the prophet’s story also teaches believers about the future, when the prophet (peace be upon him) told them about the spreading of islam and that muslims will be secure and safe. it also teaches us the advantage of patience and disadvantage of hastiness and impatience when he (pbuh) said: “but you are impatient”.
using stories in the sunnah (prophetic teachings) are many, we cannot mention them all to avoid prolongation but we will give some hints to the most famous of them. some of these stories are (the blind, the leper, and the bald), whom the king came to meet them, also the story of the three who entered a cave and a big rock blocked their way out, and the story of the prophet moses (peace be upon him) with al-khidr, in addition to many other narrations in the sunnah and the glorious qur’an.
the priority of the teacher is not to narrate the story; rather he should focus on the knowledge and moral lessons implied in the story. he also has to clarify the benefits of the story to the listeners and state the religious rulings included in case there are any etc.
1) human souls prefer to listen to stories because they have an exceptional effect in attracting listeners’ attention and this is why they can memorize the story quickly.
2) stories have a great effect on the behaviors of students, especially if they are real, relevant to our daily life and related to important issues.
3) stories are an important method of teaching. we should pay more attention to this method and incorporate it in our educational system.