How the Reward for Teaching depends on Intention alone

The Importance of having the Right Intention

Purity of intention is one of the most important ingredients a teacher requires. He must be honest with himself and sincere with Allah Almighty about the true purpose of his acquiring knowledge.

The moment a teacher takes a step in the circle of knowledge, he is looked upon as a person of knowledge and praised for his abilities. There is nothing wrong in being recognised for what Allah Almighty has given him. But the moment he likes the attention, the respect and the superiority from his congregation or the people in his community at large, this is a sign of pride. He is not teaching for the sake of Allah Almighty but to be recognised and famous. The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) was reported to have said:

‘Whoever seeks knowledge in order to compete with the scholars or to prove himself superior to the ignorant or to make the people look up to him, Allah will cause him to enter Hell.’ [At-Tirmidhi]

The teacher must make his intention purely for the sake of Allah when teaching. He should not use his knowledge to seek an honourable position in society, or becoming honoured among people, or so that people may say that so and so is a scholar, a Shaykh, a doctor. The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said:

Then there will be brought forward a man who acquired knowledge and imparted it (to others) and recited the Qur’an. He will be brought, Allah will make him recount His blessings and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime).

Then Allah will ask: ‘What did you do (to attain these blessings)?

He will say: ‘I acquired knowledge and disseminated it and recited the Qur’an, seeking Your pleasure.

Allah will say: ‘You have told a lie. You acquired knowledge so that you might be called ‘a scholar’, and you recited the Qur’an so that it might be said: ‘He is a Qari’ and such has been said.’

Then orders will be passed against him and he shall be dragged with his face downward and cast into the Fire. [Muslim]

Some people will seek the knowledge to make money from their position. A common trend that needs to be addressed in our communities today is that many people from our ‘homelands’ have realised that there are not many scholars amongst the people of this country. They will seek knowledge and become scholars, in order that they may gain a sponsorship or a passport to come and live in here. Others will seek knowledge for power, status, titles and any other worldly desires. People should not seek knowledge other than pleasing Allah. In another narration the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said as to the end state of a person who sought knowledge other than pleasing Allah Almighty, he said:

‘Whomsoever sought knowledge without the intention of pleasing Allah , he will not smell the fragrance of Paradise.’ [Abu Dawood]

It is obligatory upon the teacher to have ikhlaas (sincerity and purity of intentions and actions) for Allah – the All Mighty. He is neither desiring to show-off, nor desiring reputation, nor desiring the praises and the accolades of the people. Rather he is only calling to Allah Almighty and fulfilling his duties that he owes towards his Muslim community and towards those who receive knowledge from him. The teacher is only seeking the pleasure of his Lord for his efforts and seeks His help to accomplish his mission.

This is a series compiled following lectures on ‘The Manners and Etiquette of the Teacher and the Students’. The course was based on a book written by Shaykh al-Islam, Badr al-Din Ibn Jama’ah and conveyed to us by our Shaykh Haytham Tamim.

Qadi al-Qudat, Shaykh al-Islam, Badr al-Din Ibn Jama’ah was born in 639 AH (1241 AD). Originally from Syria and later moved to Egypt. He was educated at Hama, achieved excellence in religious studies and jurisprudence, and became a leading promoter of the Shafi’i Fiqh. Eventually, he attained the high status of Shaykh al-Islam and held the high position of Chief Justice. Imam al-Dhahabi has observed that Qadi Ibn Jama’ah was well versed both in prose and poetry, and had left abundant notes on Fiqh, Hadith, Usul al-Fiqh, and Tarikh(History). He commanded respect and influence, and had a large number of students and followers. He died at Cairo in the year 733 A.H. (1332 A.D.), aged 94, and was buried by the side of the great Imam Shafi’i.

 His book on the subject of Adab al-Alim wal-Mutaalim

It was in the year 672 AH (1273 AD) that Ibn Jama’ah completed this book as a guide for both students and teachers to help improve quality of their academic life and work.

Suggested Books:

Ibn Jama’ah – Etitquettes of Seeking Knowledge

Abd Al Barr – Jami’ Bayan Al Ilm

Al Khateeb Al Baghdadi – Al Jami’ li Akhlaq Al Rawi

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Abu Ibrahim has a background in engineering, IT and management consultancy, and reinvented himself as a life coach, writer and secondary school teacher. In addition to his special interest in spirituality, he shares his son’s love of dinosaurs and Lamborghinis.

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