The Teacher

The Prophet (pbuh) was exceptional as a teacher and a pedagogue. All of the members of this ummah, from the unmatched individuals of the Era of Bliss to the individuals of this era, have all been witnesses of his teaching and pedagogy. Yes, it is Allah who does it; He did it through Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh), who was like a jeweler. Therefore, it can be said that it is Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa (pbuh) who elevated humanity to the real humanity and perfection or who brought a unique religion in order to elevate humanity.

His teaching was not a system of education that took only the human soul into consideration. He dealt with his ummah in terms of soul, mind, heart and all feelings; he brought about a very civilized society out of a wild tribe that buried young girls alive. What Jafar Ibn Abi Talib, the distinguished Companion, said to the Negus summarizes the situation at that time:

"O Negus! We used to drink blood, eat carcass, fornicate, steal, kill people and plunder. The strong used to oppress the weak; we used to commit many more disgraceful things..."[1]

When Jafar Ibn Abi Talib spoke like that, he attracted attention to the dark periods that followed one another before the advent of Hazrat Muhammad.

Now, we will give some information and examples about the education system of the Prophet (pbuh). However, it should be noted that what we will mention here should be regarded as a drop in the ocean.


The Importance He Gave to Literacy

Some of the captives of the Battle of Badr could not afford to pay ransom to be freed but they could read and write. The Prophet (pbuh) told them that they would be freed if they each taught ten children of Ansar to read and write. This idea was something that was beneficial for both the captives and Ansar. Those captives taught the Companions to read and write in a very short time. Thanks to this application, the number of those who could read and write increased in Madinah.[2] Among them was Zayd bin Thabit, who later became one of the revelation scribes and worked in the committee of compiling the pages of the Quran. He was a child then but the wonderful education of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) made him a revelation scribe and fulfill the duty of the compilation of the Quran, enabling the Quran to reach today in the form of a book.


Suffa School

Suffa School was an exceptional school that enabled the education of many scholars among the Companions.This school consisted of about 400-500 students that had no houses, families, goods, that is, nothing that could keep them busy with worldly affairs and they spent all of their time learning from the Messenger of Allah. Their education was so important for the Messenger of Allah that he preferred meeting their needs to his family’s needs.[3] The Companions that were educated there were sent to other tribes to teach Islam. Abu Hurayra, a genius Companion that devoted his life to knowledge, was a student of that school.

Ashab as-Suffa were the people that were the nearest to the source of the religion and that attended assembly of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) the most regularly. Therefore, they were educated faster. Their teachers were the Prophet (pbuh) and scholars of the Companions like  Ubay bin Ka’b, Ibn Mas’ud, Muadh bin Jabal and Ubada bin Samit.

The people of Suffa took a high-level education very quickly. As a matter of fact, the Companions that narrated the most hadiths were generally among them. When Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) was asked,“Why do you report so many hadiths?”, he said,

 “Do not find it strange why I report so many hadiths because when the muhajirs were busy with trade in the market and the Ansar were busy with agriculture in their fields and gardens, I was memorizing the advice of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh)." [4]


Women Students

The educative aspect of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is an issue that can be evaluated in various aspects. While educating people spiritually, he also equipped them materially in a way to defeat most civilized nations. While educating the male Companions, he did not neglect the female Companions; he allocated a separate day for them to give them special education. However, there is something very important to take into consideration here: The importance that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) gave women took place in a period when women were not regarded as human beings and were bought and sold like goods and when girls were buried alive because their fathers were ashamed of them.

There were women teachers during the time of the Prophet (pbuh). As a matter of fact, Shifa (Umm Sulayman b. b. Haysama) taught Hazrat Hafsa (may Allah be pleased with her), one of the wives of Hazrat Prophet (pbuh), to write. The wives of Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) took care of the education of the girls of the Companions. They taught the young girls that came to their houses. And those girls taught what they had learnt to other girls. The wives of Hazrat Prophet (pbuh), especially Hazrat Aisha and Umm Salama (may Allah be pleased with them), and some other women contributed a lot to the education of women. The education system that consisted of the wives of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was called “Azwaj at-Tahirat School”, that is, “the School of the Clean Wives of the Prophet”.

Hazrat Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) praised the women of Ansar who did not feel embarrassed to ask questions.[5] Acting upon this point, it is possible to deduce that women showed great interest in learning. The Companions took care of the education of their children. For instance, Sa'd b. Abu Waqqas taught her daughter to write. It is known that Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) did not discriminate between free people and slaves in terms of education. His following statement is mentioned a lot in hadith resources:

"There are two rewards for a person who educates a female slave, trains her, frees her and marries her off."[6]

Now, we want to report some examples from his system of education:


From Being a Shepherd to Being a Scholar...

Abdullah b. Masud (may Allah be pleased with him) was a person who herded the sheep of Uqba b. Abi Muayt.[7] He was educated by the Messenger of Allah and that shepherd became such a great scholar that it can be said that the Kufa School was the work of that famous Companion.  Alqama, Nahai, Hammad, Thawri, Abu Hanifa, and many other scholars were students of that school. Those scholars, each of whom was at the peak in their field, learned their branches mostly from Ibn Masud. In fact, Ibn Masud used to herd camels. The Messenger of Allah brought about a genius out of that person who herded camels.


Umar Before Islam and Umar After Islam

Before Islam, Umar was a person who was harsh, reckless, who would not mince his words and who would be a great person. The fact that he competed with everyone, fought people and bent the necks of the camels when he was a child showed what kind of abilities he had.

After Islam, Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) became a very subtle and sensitive person who did not trod on ants and did not kill locusts. His compassion and sensitivity was so wide and comprehensive that he said,

"Allah will question Umar if a sheep falls and drowns while crossing the Euphrates."[8]

The education of Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) was like that... Badiuzzaman Said Nursi expresses the change in Hazrat Umar as follows concisely:

“A single glance of God's Messenger in an instant transformed an ignorant nomad into an enlightened man of knowledge.

If you want an example, 'Umar before Islam, and 'Umar after Islam.

Compare the two: a seed, a tree. It instantaneously produced fruit, that look of Muhammad, the Prophetic effulgence.

Of a sudden he changed the coal-like natures of the Arabian people into diamonds, with their morals as black as gunpowder, they all became luminous lights.”[9]


His Attitude toward the Person who Urinated in the Mosque

Bukhari and Muslim report the following incident:

 "Once, the Messenger of Allah was sitting in the mosque. A Bedouin entered the mosque; he would probably ask the Prophet something but he stood in a corner of the mosque and urinated there. The people who were present there wanted to intervene and they shouted, ‘Stop, Don’t do it!’ However, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Leave him alone. Do not stop him from urinating!” He was a Bedouin. They could have beaten him. However, such an attitude toward a Bedouin would have been a Bedouin-like attitude. The Companions of the Prophet were not Bedouins. Then, the Prophet said, "Bring a bucket of water and pour over the urine; water will eliminate the dirt and that place will be clean again."[10]

Yes, he brought about that ideal congregation out of the people most of whom were so uncivilized and wild as to urinate in the mosque. That attitude of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) caused that Bedouin to become a Muslim. Maybe that Bedouin was Tariq b. Ziyad, Shurahbil b. Hasana or Uqba’s father.


The Companion that Learned not to Ask Anything from Anyone

Imam Bukhari narrates the following in his Sahih:

"Hakim bin Hizam went to the Messenger of Allah and asked for something. The Messenger of Allah gave him what he wanted. However, Hakim asked again and again and the Messenger of Allah gave him what he wanted. Then, he said,    

'This world is green and sweet. Most of you can be attracted by it. However, if you are given something without asking for it, it will be blessed for you. If you ask and you are given something, it will be a burden for you; you will be under obligation. Never ask anything from anybody!'

Then, Hakim became very poor but neither Hazrat Abu Bakr nor Hazrat Umar could make him accept any sadaqa, zakah or even the one-fifth that was obtained from the war booty. He said, “No” and refused to accept anything."[11]

If the Prophet (pbuh) had taught him not to ask anything before giving him what he wanted, he might have had some negative thoughts and might not have learnt it. However, the Prophet taught him after eliminating the negative aspects; thus, he learned it through his spirit and heart. 


[1]Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, 1/201-202.
[2]Tabaqat, 2/22; Musnad, 1/246.
[3]Tabaqat, 8/25.
[4]Tajrid Translation, 7/47.
[5]Bukhari, I/41.
[6] Bukhari, I/33; Ibn Hanbal, IV/395, 402, 414.
[7]Ahmed b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, 1/379; Ibn Sa'd, at-Tabaqatu'l-Kubra, 3/150.
[8]Abu Nuaym, Hilyatu'l-Awliya, 1/53.
[9]Risale-i Nur Külliyatı, Sözler, Lemeat
[10] Bukhari, Wudu 57; Muslim, Tahara 98-100.
[11] Bukhari, Wasaya 9.