English Column: The best teacher there is
Photo credit – Umar Mita of Langitilahi
The month of May this year surely is colourful. We started with Labour Day to appreciate the hard work of workers and then proceeded with Teacher’s Day to commemorate the good deeds of teachers. Then we had Mother’s Day (love you, Mom!) followed by Hari Katak Sedunia (seriously I saw the poster somewhere) and last but not least, we shall end with the Himpunan Jutaan Belia thingy in Putrajaya. What a blast.
Perhaps I would rather reserve my comments on HJB as mine is much less the same with others here. I bet Afdholur Rahman of LangitIlahi would prefer Himpunan Jutaan Belia for Subuh Prayer or Hilal Asyraf and the lot would go for Himpunan Jutaan Belia, Mari Menjadi Hamba (Hehe). The thing is, though I am waaay overdue, I want to write something about teachers…or maybe one teacher in particular, the best teacher of all, the Creator of all teachers, Allah swt.
You see Allah teaches us in ways sometimes we don’t comprehend but in the end, with His grace of course, we get the message. And the message struck us so hard we lay flat on the ground, with ego trampled to zero, thanking Him for all we know. I’m not talking about petty school or college exams here. I’m talking about lessons in life, with real trials and tribulations that some of us see as punishment, or red lights in life, while some other see as a lesson learnt run on live-streaming.
Let me share with you a story, or rather an experience I had with an uncle whom I call my murabbi. I knew this uncle back from my student days, when my friends and I would see him once or twice a year and had our hearts filled with his wisdom in our special meetings. Lucky me, when I got my first job, I got to work with him, though not in the same department. This time I got to meet him every day and have our special meeting once a week with my other office mates.
Perhaps one of his most memorable quotes that stayed, unflinching in my memory is how he told us that he was afraid to ask Allah for granting him more patience, so that he would be more resilient in life.
“Pakcik rasa takut nak minta pada Allah untuk tingkatkan kesabaran pakcik”, he said.
And so I was puzzled.
[In my mind : Logic mode activated] Why fear of asking something good from Allah? I thought Allah loves it when we pray and ask from Him, and Him alone? Isn’t it fit to ask for Allah to grant more patience, so that we can do da’wah and tarbiah to greater heights, and not get affected by puny challenges?
And so he said (adapted for your ease of reading),
“Kesabaran tidak datang bergolek bagai bulan jatuh ke riba, atau bagai makanan yang terhidang. Ia adalah hasil daripada ujian demi ujian yang dilalui oleh hati. Allah mengurniakan kesabaran kepada hati yang telah melalui ujian yang sepatutnya. Lebih tinggi kesabaran yang dihajatkan, lebih tinggi ujian yang akan Allah sediakan. Lalui ujian itu, dan kesabaran akan lahir”
And I was puzzled (again), but this time not for being naïve and clueless of what to digest, but for having all my ego crushed to dust in front of the beauty of Allah’s method of teaching His servants who wish to learn. That day, I learned something so valuable that I don’t think I would trade with anything. I learned that Allah al-Wahhab, the Ultimate Giver, shall forever give, and He gives precisely what you need, not exactly what you want. And most importantly, in the process of giving, He teaches, and there shall you get what you should understand.
You understand, that there is a price for everything, hence you learn that He is Just and Fair. You understand, that in fear and hardship you must seek for none but Him, hence you learn that He is The One and Only. You understand, that in the piles of mistakes and errors you commit, there awaits a God who longs for your return. You understand, that in your loneliness and solitude, there is a God who is closer to you than your jugular vein. You understand, that when you feel that all hope is lost, there is Allah, the Compassionate, whose love fills the universe like nothing you can imagine. All of this shall come when you ask for patience. And when you start to worry about the tests that await, you remind yourself that you will get more than you ask for.
“And Remember! your Lord caused to be declared (publicly): “If ye are grateful, I will add more (favours) unto you; but if ye Show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed.” (Ibrahim : 7)
Allah teaches us something in every second of our lives. In each heartbeat, He reminds us to be grateful. In every meal we have, He reminds us to treat the poor. In everything we don’t know, He sends us a teacher, one who teaches and reminds. A teacher can be anybody. A husband can learn from his wife. A teacher can learn from his student (remember Imam Malik who approves of his student, Imam As-Syafie?). Even the son of Adam a.s, Qabil, learns from a bird.
Praise the Almighty Teacher, creator of all teachers. Praise the Almighty Teacher who grants us the best teacher of mankind, Muhammad pbuh. And Praise the Almighty Teacher who moves the hearts of noble human beings to spread knowledge and wisdom with sincere intentions with no approbation.
O Allah, the Almighty Teacher, bless our teachers, whoever they are. Amen.