By Seyed Abdolmajid Shakoori

A great teacher

January 8, 2022 - 9:58

“Teacher” is a holy term taken from the features of God, the Almighty, who said in the Holy Quran Surah Al-Alaq verse 5 that “… taught man what he did not know”. 

The most important feature of the prophets, according to the Holy Quran, is that they educate people and they are introduced as the teachers of people. Surah Al Imran verse 164 says “Certainly Allah conferred a benefit upon the believers when He raised among them a Messenger from among themselves, reciting to them His communications and purifying them, and teaching them the Book and the wisdom, although before that they were surely in manifest error.”

About the greatness of the position of teachers, it is enough to say that the greatest teacher of all times is the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who felt honored for this position. But not every teacher is worth this position because: There are two kinds of teachers in the universe; one group includes the Almighty God, the divine prophets, their guardians, and the divine scholars whose claims are real and rational and invite humans to real and rational matters leading them to true happiness. Quran in Surah Al-Anfal verse 24 has recommended mankind to accept Their advices “Believers! Respond to Allah, and respond to the Messenger when he calls upon you to that which gives you life. Know well that Allah stands between a man and his heart, and it is to Him that all of you shall be mustered.”

The other group of teachers are the devil and his tormentors who invite mankind to unrealistic and irrational things, corrupt and mislead people and society.  As it is stated in Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 205 “And when he turns away [from You], he creates turmoil in the earth and destroys crops and lives; and Allah is not pleased with turmoil.” 

There are also two kinds of students; those who accept Satan’s invitation and choose him as guardian. Satan educates these people and instructs them what to do and what to say. This is Satan who misleads them and makes them his devout servant. With the help of his students, Satan deprives people of having a healthy society. Satan takes away any opportunity for right thinking and interferes in prophets’ teachings and guidance. Hence, Satan becomes a teacher through his students to cheat the world and lead humans to irrational and unrealistic goals. 

Satan has admitted in Sura Sad verse 82 “I swear by your Might, that I will seduce all of them.” Satan’s agents and trustees become scientists and scholars and mislead people and make them hypocrites and arrogant. Imam Sadeq (AS) has advised people to avoid choosing such people as their teacher saying " The only knowledge of value is that from the divine learned (Al-Kafi – Vol. 1, Ch. 1, H 12).

The second group are wise people who accept God and Prophets’ invitation and become their spiritual children, prophets and guardian and their new status form their identity “And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you - when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided,” Surah Al Imran verse 103. By this invitation, God save Human from earthly temptations and move him toward beauty and truth and guides him through highroad [to salvation] which has been  asserted in Surah Fussilat, verse 30: “Indeed those who say, ‘Our Lord is Allah!’ and then remain steadfast.” These people will never change their direction and sacrifice everything on their way. These are people who God has said about them “Of the believers are men who are true to the covenant which they made with Allah: so, of them is he who accomplished his vow, and of them is he who yet waits, and they have not changed in the least,” Al-Ahzab verse 23. This resistance will lead to their victory as God has promised “Believers, if you aid Allah, He will come to your aid,” Surah Muhammad, verse 7. Hence God helps them to benefit from their knowledge and moral deeds and God opens the doors of knowledge to them and by following the prophets’ teachings, they acquire wisdom and dignity.

Given that only these people are worth to be teachers, the Quran has commanded people to choose only them for their teacher “Is He then Who guides to the truth more worthy to be followed”, Surah Yunus verse 35. Imam Kazem (PBUH) also has been quoted as saying “Knowledge depends on teaching, and teaching depends on wisdom, and there is no knowledge except the divine learned because the Quran has said they are the ones who carry the message.” God in Surah Fussilat verse 33 indicates “And who is fairer in speech than he who calls to Allah and acts righteously and says: “I am a Muslim.”

To sum up, it can be said that God is the first teacher of mankind and He has taken responsibility over the educating of His people by sending his prophets. Repeating the word “Lord” two thousand times in the Quran, God has made it clear that He is the mentor. He has bestowed to His people the ability of learning and has sent His prophets to help them to embrace the truth. Those who achieve the position of a teacher under the divine Lordship and training of the Holy Prophet Mouhamed and the Infallibles undertake to transfer their knowledge to others because their knowledge is a gift from God and they must share it with others. These teachers are tasked with realizing the innate talents of human beings, which are like seeds sown in the human body. These teachers have characteristics which are mentioned in the Quran and the words of Infallibles. These Quranic characteristics, as admitted by everybody, are manifested in the character of Allameh Mesbah Yazdi. For this reason, the Supreme Leader, in his message of condolence on the occasion of the demise of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, mentions him as a great teacher.

Some of these characteristics are: 
1) A teacher must know what he wants to teach. When Prophet Moses (PBUH) was commissioned to be trained by a teacher, God guided him to a more knowledgeable person. “And found one of Our worshipers to whom We had given from Our Mercy, and to whom We had taught knowledge of Ours. Moses said to him: 'May I follow you so that you can teach me of that you have learned of righteousness?? (Surah Al Kahf verses 65-66) 

2) Teachers must be honest in their work. Holy Prophet (PBUH) says whoever seeks knowledge for the God’s sake, he will not get it except that he becomes selfless, humble, fears God, and works hard for religion; such a person will benefit from knowledge. He has also said whoever learns some knowledge and for the sake of God share it with people, may God give him a reward equal to rewards for seventy prophets.

3) A teacher must believe in what he says and teaches. A teacher without passion, love and faith in what he wants to teach cannot educate others.

4) A teacher must think deeply about what he learns and consolidate his knowledge. 

5) A teacher must stand up for right. As it was mentioned earlier “So, give the good news to My servants. Who listen to speech and follow the best of it. Those are the ones Allah has guided, and those are people of understanding, (Surah Az-Zumar  verses 17-18.)  Imam Sadiq also has said “The word of wisdom is the lost property of the believer. Wherever he finds it, he is most deserving of it.”

6) A teacher should know that his actions are more fundamental than his speech. Teachers’ actions show that their teachings are worthwhile. 

7) A teacher must love to see his student's progress. If a teacher’s motives for education are earning a living or showing off and boasting, he will fail to bring up mature students.

8) A teacher should be patient and never give up in the face of disruptive students nor take an aggressive stance against them.

There are many other characteristics for a great teacher such as taking no action when ignorant, seeking help from God for ignorance, boasting of knowledge, not making business from religious knowledge, not associating with tyrants and oppressors, not having ambition, observing justice among students, giving knowledge to the deserving and keeping it away from incompetent etc. Teachers who have such characteristics are the friends of God and the closest people and heirs of the prophets, they are the ones whose pen is superior to the blood of the martyrs.  To look up to at these people is like worship and their death is a rift in religion.

All of Ayatollah Mesbah’s students and his visitors recognize the above-said characteristics in him, and as it has been mentioned in the message of condolence of the Supreme Leader, he is truly a great teacher.  

Conclusion: Ayatollah Mesbah was a great teacher who had all characteristics of a divine teacher; he had both a high level of knowledge and a sincere belief in what he taught. He patiently educated his students with great love and interest. 


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