Traits of a Successful Educator

traits of the successful educator

a successful educator has to be characterized by positive traits and qualities. the more positive traits he has, the more he succeeds in raising his child with allah’s will and help. the educator might be a father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, grandparent or any other relative. this means that upbringing and education do not have to be from one person, all the people who surround the child take part in his upbringing even if they did not intend or mean to be part of his education process.

the positive traits of an educator are many, the most important ones are: knowledge, honesty, strength, fairness, carefulness, firmness, goodness, truthfulness and wisdom.

  • knowledge

knowledge is the supply the educator turns to while raising the child. the educator has to have a degree of islamic knowledge, in addition to contemporary fiqh (islamic jurisprudence).

islamic knowledge: is the sciences based on the qur’an and sunnah (prophetic teachings). each educator is required to possess the amount of knowledge that each accountable mature muslim has to know. scientists defined this amount of knowledge as: “the degree of knowledge he should know to perform ibadat and mu'amalt (acts of worship and transactions). in this regard, he should know how to worship allah to practice acts of worship or how to perform transactions.” ([1])

if the educator is ignorant concerning islamic knowledge and jurisprudence, his children will be raised on bid'ah (heresy) and superstition. ignorance might lead them to the major shirk (polytheism), god forbid.

if the person reflects on the actions and practices of people, he will find that most of their doctrinal and worshipping errors are inherited from their parents. they practice those errors till allah dedicates for them someone who teaches and directs them to goodness like scientists, people of knowledge, du'ah (callers to islam) and righteous brothers or they die in a state of ignorance.

the ignorant educator of sharia and islamic teachings will hinder his children from knowing righteousness due to his ignorance. he might oppose his children if they disobey him by doing good deeds, such as the parent, who hates it when his son performs nawafil (optional prayers or acts of worship), abandons sins, propagates virtues and prevents sins, seeks knowledge or any praised act of worship.

the educator needs to learn methods of islamic upbringing and education and to gain knowledge into childhood studies, as each development stage of the child has certain capacities and psychological and physical potentials. according to these capacities and potentials, the educator may choose methods of cultivating islamic faith and values and protects and nurtures the sound fitra (natural disposition) in the child ([2]). this is why there are different educating and teaching methods for every different age, even if the children belong to the same age, it does not mean we will follow the same educating methods. these methods differ according to the variant natures, backgrounds and characters of children.

the educator has to know the destructive ideologies and devious intellectual doctrines that exist at his time. he has to be familiar with the spreading transgressions among youth and adolescents in terms of violating the teachings of islam to be able to face these violations that break into our society and discipline the children on obeying and following the good manners and teachings of islam.

  • honesty

it involves all the commands and prohibitions of islam in terms of acts of worship and transaction (ibadat and mu’amalat) ([3]). the manifestations of honesty are: the educator is careful to perform acts of worship, direct his children to perform them, adhere to teachings of islam in the inside and the outside, meaning the appearance and essence. the educator should be a role model inside his home and community, to be characterized with honesty. to follow the straight path and deal with good manners whether with relatives or unrelated people in every situation, place and walks of life. good manners stem from being careful to be honest and accountable for every deed or action in the broad sense.

  • strength

it is a comprehensive notion of physical, mental and moral superiority. it is easy for a lot of parents to raise their children in the first years of their children’s lives, because their characters are stronger than the characters of their children ([4]). but a small number of those parents stay bigger and stronger than children when they grow up.

this quality is required in the parents and any one that takes their place or fulfills their fostering duties. yet, the father should be characterized with strength because it is part of trusteeship. there are abnormal situations in which the father’s trusteeship and guardianship is unstable and broken and his position is weak in his family due to some reasons such as:

  • the wife grew up in a house in which the woman leads and the man is weak and submissive. so, when she marries she takes the position of trusteeship from her husband through seduction, domineering bossy attitude and bad manners, or using a sharp tongue ([5]).
  • the wife shows, in front of her children, disobedience and complaining, or she accuses her husband of being strict and severe. this would affect the minds of children negatively leading them to believe in the weakness of their father, and disdain his mentality and position in the family ([6]).
  • the wife asks her husband a certain matter but he refuses, so she does it against his will in secret with the children, so the children get used to disobeying their father and lying to him.

the woman has to accept the fact that the man is the leader of the family, whether this man is the husband, father, big brother or uncle. she has to obey him so that the children grew up obeying the father. if he bans her from something, she has to obey ([7]). if some of the children disobey the father, the mother should tell the father and not to connive at their noncompliance as many transgressions occur due to the conniving and secret consent of the mother.

in some cases, the mother is really confused when her children ask for something that is permissible and lawful according to the teaching of islam and society, yet the father is against it for some reason he might reveal or keep to himself. the children try to convince the father, but he insists. in this case, the mother has to obey, comfort her children and point out the goodness, prudence and heedfulness of their father. she should educate them about the positive intuition and perception of the parents in life, this perception might be the reason of the father to refuse to let his son travels with his friends, then the friends travel and they have an accident. so the perception of the father is a blessing because he protected his son by his refusal.

  • fairness

the forefathers and ancestors set a good example of being fair towards their children. they were even fair when they kiss their children; this shows how they did not favor one child over the other ([8]). the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) admonished a man when he saw him embrace his boy and put him on his lap, and when his daughter came he let her sit beside him. the prophet (pbuh) said to the man: “will you be fair?” and in another narration of the hadith the prophet (pbuh) said: “you did not equalize between them.” ([9])

fairness with children is required in treatment, punishment, expenditure, gift, playing and kissing. favoring one child over the rest is not permissible in islam; this is based on the famous hadith narrated by nu'man ibn bashir who reported that his mother bint rawaha asked nu’man’s father about donating some gifts from his property to his son. he delayed the matter one year, and then set forth to do that. she (nu’man’s mother) said: i shall not be pleased unless you call allah’s messenger (may peace be upon him) as witness to what you confer as a gift on your son. nu’man said: so my father took hold of my hand and i was at that time a boy, and came to allah’s messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: “allah’s messenger, the mother of this son (of mine), daughter of rawaha wishes that i should call you witness to what i confer as gift to her son.” allah’s messenger (may peace be upon him) said: “bashir, have you any other son besides this (son of yours)?” he said: “yes.” he (the holy prophet) said: “have you given gifts to all of them like this?” he said: “no.” thereupon he (the holy prophet) said: “then call me not as witness, for i cannot be witness to an injustice.” ([10]) ([11]) yet, there are some reasons that permit favoring some children like denying a certain child something as a punishment, rewarding another for being good and righteous, or giving one of them more money for being poor and having many children to support ([12]).

fairness does not mean applying the same method of treatment. special care should be given to the young, handicapped or ill ([13]) because they need more attention and care. the same applies to the child who stays away from the parents for some time whether to study, work or receive treatment. parents have to explain to the rest of the children the reason why they give special treatment to the child in a nice convincing way. this favoring should not be exaggerated; it should be to a certain degree that would not make other children feel oppressed or deprived of care. the special attention or care should not be too much; it should be understandable and accepted by other children.

what cultivates hatred in the bosoms of siblings is the comparison that parents do between their children. they might praise a child and dispraise another, and they might even tell in the presence of friends or neighbors, this would sadden the dispraised child and he might start to hate his praised sibling.

fairness should not be only in public, as some parents give some of their children in private without telling the rest. this secrecy would teach the granted child selfishness and conspiracy ([14]).

  • carefulness

it is an educational notion that many families are not familiar with. they think that carefulness is pampering and excessive fear, constant follow up, fulfilling all the needs of the child without giving him some responsibility and accomplishing all his wishes.

the mother who stops her child from playing because of her fear over him or feeds him with her hands even though he is able to depend on himself and serve his needs, and the father who does not assign his child to do certain duties or chores because he sees him as young, even though he is capable, both kinds of parents spoil the child and shape him into a weak dependent human who does not think or plan ahead. we can see this clearly in the great difference between the children in the villages and deserts and the children of the cities ([15]). the true productive carefulness is a keen feeling inside the parent that prompts him to raise and discipline his child even if he goes through difficulties or feels pain for the child. there are manifestations of this feeling such as:

  1. supplication: the supplication of parents is answered and accepted by almighty allah because their hearts are merciful towards their children, so their supplication is sincere and repeated ([16]). this is why our beloved prophet (pbuh) warned the parents against praying to almighty allah to punish their children as their prayers might be answered and then they feel sorry and regretful because of their supplications.
  2. follow up and dedication: becauseupbringing and education is a long term process, temporary discipline is not enough no matter how sincere it is, it should be a constant process ([17]). the prophet (pbuh) pointed at the importance of following up on the children when he (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “adhere to your children...and improve their manners.” ([18])

adherence, devotion and presence in the house are conditions to achieve successful upbringing. if the conditions of work, seeking knowledge or dawah (calling to islam) keep the father away, then the responsibility of the mother becomes heavy. if this is the nature of someone’s work, then he should be careful to choose a chaste strong wife who can do more than her required duty.

  • firmness

firmness represents the basis of education. the firm parent is the one who puts things in their place, without causing imbalance by too much strictness or leniency. he should not be lenient in a situation that requires strictness or strict in a situation that requires leniency and tolerance ([19]).

the measure of firmness is: to direct his child to preserve his belief, mind, body and money, and to prevent him from losing his faith or harming his life. the firm parent should direct his child to adhere to the traditions of his country or society unless they are not in conformity with islam. ibn qayyim al-jawziyya (may allah have mercy on him) said: “if you yield to his crying, you will not be able to wean him, or discipline him so he will grow up to be a poor ignorant.” ([20])

if the parent or educator is not firm, he will be captive to his love for his child. he will spoil his child and fulfill all his wishes and needs, he will not punish him when he makes mistakes so the child will eventually turn into a weak person driven by his desires and passions. this person will abandon his obligations and duties ([21]).

firmness does not mean to monitor every move, whisper and word. it does not mean to punish for each and every mistake or fault, it rather means to be benevolent and tolerant at times ([22]).

one of the signs of being firm is not to fulfill all the requests of the child, as some of these requests are excessive spoiling luxuries. the parent should not yield to his child’s wishes whenever he cries or gets angry, so that the child understands that anger and shouting is not the means to achieve his demands ([23]). this way, he will learn that his requests will be answered if he asks while he is calm, respectful and in a good attitude.

the system of the house is the most important thing that parents should be firm about. they should keep certain times for eating, sleeping and going out. this way, the children will be easily disciplined and their manners will be proper. some children eat whenever they want and sleep whenever they want; they stay awake the whole night and waste the time and energy on trivialities. some of them over eat and mess up the daily routine. this chaotic behaviors lead to dispersion, wastage of effort and time and looseness.

the head of the house should be firm in setting certain times for coming back home and asking for permission when going out in regard to young children – whose ages are young or their minds are immature – ([24]).

  • goodness

the goodness of parents has a very strong effect on the upbringing of children to be righteous and guided muslims – with allah’s will- which is evident in the quran when allah says: “and as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the town; and there was under it a treasure belonging to them; and their father was a righteous man, and your lord intended that they should attain their age of full strength and take out their treasure as a mercy from your lord” ([25]).this is a proof that the offspring of the righteous people will be protected. the blessing and reward of worshipping his lord will reach them in the present life and in the hereafter. the righteous parent will intercede for his children; allah will raise their rank to his rank to accompany him in paradise ([26]). this is evident in the qur’an and sunnah (prophetic teachings). allah says: “and those who believe and whose offspring follow them in faith, to them shall we join their offspring, and we shall not decrease the reward of their deeds in anything. every person is a pledge for that which he has earned.” (at-tur: 21) it is worth mentioning that some families are characterized by being righteous since the early ancestors and if one of them go astray or deviate, he soon returns to the right path because of the righteousness and goodness of his parents and their supplications to almighty allah that their child reverts to the true religion once again and be obedient. this rule is not fixed but it is common. it happens to most people, but some might think that this is not real and they mention some situations that prove the opposite to justify their negligence, failure and delusion.

  • truthfulness

it is adherence to the truth in speech and action. the truthful person is not hypocrite or insincere in acts of worship, he is honest in doing transactions with others, he stands by his word and keeps his promises, he does not commit perjury or false testimony and he does not commit treachery or betrayal. he is faithful and loyal when he is appointed as a trustee ([27]).

the prophet (pbuh) warned the woman who called her son to give him something. he asked her: “what did you want to give him?” she said: “i wanted to give him dates.” he said: “if you did not give him something, it would be written as a lie.” ([28])

the characteristic of truthfulness is when the educator is truthful to his child and never lies to him no matter what. if the educator is truthful, his children would take him as a role model and follow his positive example. if he is a liar even for one time, his work, advices and efforts with his children would be in vain and pointless. the parent should keep his promise to the child, if he cannot he should apologize to the child ([30]).

some children learn hypocrisy because of their parent or guardian, who pretends in front of people to be righteous, behaved or even rich, while it is quite the opposite when he is with his family ([31]).

  • wisdom

wisdom is putting everything in its exact place. in other words, wisdom is to use the brain and control the temper. it is not enough to control the temper and follow successful educational methods, the educational methodology applied in the house should be stable, it should be steady and coherent between the members of the household such as the father, mother, grandparents and siblings and between the house, school, street, mosque and other places that the children go to. contradiction in the methods of these places might subject the child to some psychological problems ([32]).

based on all what was mentioned above, we now see the importance of cooperation and unity of parents in the educational methods they use to raise their children. if the father gives a certain order that the mother does not agree with, she should not object or belittle his opinion. she should obey and agree with him, and then they can have a private conversation to correct the mistake of any of them so that the child does not see or feel any disagreement between the two.


([1]) kitab al-ilm by muhammad ibn uthaymeen: page 21.

([2]) usul al-tarbiyah al-islamiyah by abdel rahman al-nahlawy: page 175.

([3]) tayseer al-alay al-qadeer by muhammad al refae: 3/521.

([4]) manhaj al-tarbiyah al-islamiyah bymohamed qutb: page 280.

([5]) manhaj al-tarbiyah al-islamiyahby mohamed qutb: page 68-69.

([6]) kaifa nurabi atfalana by mahmoud al-istanbouly: page 70.

([7]) tarbiayt al-banat by khalid al-shatnout: page 69.

([8]) al moghany by ibn qudamah: 5/666.

([9]) recorded by ibn 'aday in kamil fi du'afa al-rijal: 4/239, hadith no 1067.

([10]) sahih al-bukhari, gifts (al hiba wafadlaha wa al tareedh alayha) (2447), sahih muslim, gifts (kitab al-hibat) (1623), al-tirmidhi judgements (kitab al-ahkam) (1367), sunnan al-nasa'ee, kitab al nahl (3681), sunnan abu dawood kitab al beyou (3542), sunnan ibn majah, kitabl al-ahkam (2375), musnad ahmad (4/276), muwatta malik, kitab al aqdayah (1473).

([11]) sahih muslim, gifts (kitabl al –hibat) page: 1241, sunnan al-nasa'ee kitab al nahl: 6/260, musnad ahmed: 4/268.

([12]) al moghany by ibn qudamah: 5/604.

([13]) kaifa nurabi atfalana by mahmoud al-istanbouly: page 76.

([14]) tarbeyat al-abnat tape by ahmad al qattan.

([15]) kaifa nurabi atfalana by mahmoud al-istanbouly: page 62-63.

([16]) manhaj al-tarbiyah al-tabawyah by muhammad nour swayed: page 322.

([17]) manhaj al-tarbiyah al-islamiyah bymohamed qutb: page 285.

([18]) sunan ibn majab, manners (kitabl al adab), goodness to parents and kindness to gils (bir al waledayn wa al ihssan ila al banat): 2/1211 hadith no 3671, the text of the hadith is “be generous to your children and correct their manners.” it is a doubtful hadith (muda’af) according to al jaza’ry in manhaj al muslim: page 91.

([19]) usul al-tarbiyah al-islamiyah by abdel rahman al-nahlawy: page 174.

([20]) said al-khater by ibn qayyim al-jawziyya: page 540.

([21]) kaifa nurabi atfalana by mahmoud al-istanbouly: page 63.

([22]) usul al-tarbiyah al-islamiyah by abdel rahman al-nahlawy: page 175.

([23]) kaifa nurabi atfalana by mahmoud al-istanbouly: page 144.

([24]) arba'oun naseha li'slah al beyout by muhammad al munjid: page 44.

([25]) surat al-kahf: 82

([26]) tayseer al-alay al-qadeer by muhammad al refae: 3/88-89.

([27]) akhlaq al-muslim by muhammad mobaydh: page 61.

([28]) sunnan abu dawood, kitabl al-adab (4991), musnad ahmad (3/447)

([29]) recorded in sunnan abu dawood, kitab al-adab, hadith no. (4991) 2/716, recorded by imam ahmad in his musnad 3/447

([30]) akhlaq al-muslim by muhammad mobaydh: page 72.

([31]) usul al-tarbiyah al-islamiyah by abdel rahman al-nahlawy: page 173.

([32]) al-mushkilat al-nafesyah anda al-atfal by zakariyah al-sherbiny: page 14.

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