PROPHET MUHAMMAD ﷺ AND HIS TEACHING METHODS
Teaching methods, whether old or new, have strong effect in clarifying the meaning and establishing it in the minds of learners. they excite the leaner to listen, encourage him to interact with the information so that to benefit from them, link it with life’s facts and enhance the senses’ perception. these methods increase the understanding, help to think and remember, organize the content, develop positive tendencies of the learner and arrange thoughts and consolidate them. they also persuade learners of the information in addition to other educational and pedagogical aims.
Marvelous are the techniques and methods that were adopted by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). These methods are to be emulated by those who take the responsibility of following his honorable steps and task themselves with that great burden. Among the methods that were adopted by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) are given below.
Allah said: O you who have believed, why do you say what you do not do. Greatly hateful in the sight of Allah is that you say what you do not do. Quran Suarh As-Saff 61: 2-3
The Prophet never preached anything that he himself does not perform and he taught all Muslims to do the same in obedience to the above Qur’anic ayah (i.e. verse) and many others as well. To recognize the importance of this method, we can cite one example from the Hudaibiyah Treaty: When the writing of the peace treaty was concluded, Allah’s Apostle said to his companions, ‘Get up and slaughter your sacrifices and get your head shaved.’ None of them got up, and the Prophet repeated his order thrice.
When none of them got up, he left them and went to Um Salamah and told her of the people’s attitudes towards him. Um Salamah said, ‘O the Prophet of Allah! Do you want your order to be carried out? Go out and don't say a word to anybody till you have slaughtered your sacrifice and call your barber to shave your head.’ So, the Prophet went out and did not talk to anyone of them till he did that, i.e. slaughtered the sacrifice and called his barber who shaved his head. Seeing that, the companions of the Prophet got up, slaughtered their sacrifices, and started shaving the heads of one another, and there was so much rush that there was a danger of killing each other.” (Al-Bukhari)
This can be attested to by recalling the famous hadith in which the Archangel Jibril came to the Prophet asking him about faith, Islam, ihsan (i.e., perfection), and the Hour; the Prophet answered him in full detail and further commented that the questioner was Jibril who came to teach the Companions – using this method in cooperation with the Prophet – the matters of their religion. Sahih Al bukhari Vol1:8 and Sahih Muslim Vol 1:8
The Prophet used to constantly and regularly offer the Friday Sermon (khutbat al-Jumu`ah) in which he admonished the Companions and taught them about their religion. He earnestly addressed the needs of the then emerging Muslim community and the issues that would appear to them in their daily lives. He also paid great attention to the purification of their souls and getting their hearts attached to the hereafter.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to give short talks every now and then in a way to draw the attention of Muslims to something important, or ward off something heinous. He did not do that regularly as he did not like to bore them by stuffing their minds with sermons and talks. The Companions themselves used to emulate this method of da`wah with their invitees as reported by Shaqiq who said:
We were sitting at the door of `Abdullah (ibn Mas`ud) waiting for him (to come out and deliver a sermon to us). It was at this time that there happened to pass by us Yazid ibn Mu`awiyah an-Nakha`i. We said: Inform him (`Abdullah ib. Mas`ud) of our presence here. He went in and `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud lost no time in coming out to us and said: I was informed of your presence here but nothing hindered me to come out to you but the fact that I did not like to bore you as Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) did not deliver us sermon on certain days fearing that it might prove to be boring for us. Sahih Muslim 2821
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to give short talks immediately after Salah (i.e., prayer) in a way to clarify something to Muslims or comment on another. This can be attested to by various hadiths from the Prophetic Sunnah that go beyond the scope of this article.
Sometimes, the Prophet used to raise questions in a way to raise the people’s interest in the matter at hand or to draw their attention to the importance of something he intended to handle. In addition, he often used this way to revisit the terminology adopted by people and to incorporate new meanings in old terms. Abu Hurairah reported Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying,
"Do you know who is the bankrupt ?’They (the Companions) said, ‘A bankrupt man amongst us is one who has neither dirham with him nor wealth.’ He said, ‘The bankrupt of my Ummah would be he who would come on the Day of Resurrection with prayers and fasts and Zakah but (he would find himself bankrupt on that day as he would have exhausted his funds of virtues) since he hurled abuses upon others, brought calumny against others and unlawfully consumed the wealth of others and shed the blood of others and beat others, and his virtues would be credited to the account of one (who suffered at his hand). And if his good deeds fall short to clear the account, then sins would be transfered (from the abused accounts') and entered in (his account) and he would be thrown in the Hell-Fire.” Sahih Muslim 2581
The Prophet used to tell stories of the past Prophets and their nations and sometimes of some individuals of such nations in certain contexts in a way to teach Muslims through using interesting stories from which they can derive lessons and admonition. This can be clarified by referring the reader to the story of the People of the trench, the Magician, the Monk and the slave (boy) as mentioned in Sahih Muslim 3005.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to set parables for the Companions to teach them and draw abstract concepts nearer to their minds on his way of getting them from the darkness of ignorance into the light of faith and belief. The following famous hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah can be cited here as a good example on this. Allah’s Apostle said,
“My similitude in comparison with the other prophets before me, is that of a man who has built a house nicely and beautifully, except for a place of one brick in a corner. The people go about it and wonder at its beauty, but say, ‘Would that this brick be put in its place!’ So I am that brick, and I am the last of the Prophets.”Sahih Al-Bukhari 3535
This can be shown in the story of the Bedouin who came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asking about the time of Salah and the following hadith shows how the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) responded. Sulaiman b. Buraidah narrated on the authority of his father that a person asked the Apostle of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) about the time of prayer. Upon this he said, “Pray with us these two, meaning two days." When the sun passed the meridian, he gave command to Bilal who uttered the call to prayer.
Then he commanded him and pronounced Iqama for noon prayer (Then at the time of the afternoon prayer) he again commanded and Iqama for the afternoon prayer was pronounced when the sun was high, white and clear. He then commanded and Iqama for the evening prayer was pronounced, when the sun had set. He then commanded him and the Iqama for the night prayer was pronounced when the twilight had disappeared. He then commanded him and the Iqama for the morning prayer was pronounced, when the dawn had appeared.
When it was the next day, he commanded him to delay the noon prayer till the extreme heat had passed and he did so, and he allowed it to be delayed till the extreme heat had passed. He observed the afternoon prayer when the sun was high, delaying it beyond the time he had previously observed it. He observed the evening prayer before the twilight had vanished; he observed the night prayer when a third of the night had passed; and he observed the dawn prayer when there was clear daylight. He (the Prophet) then said, ‘Where is the man who inquired about the time of prayer?’ He (the inquirer) said, ‘Messenger of Allah! Here I am.’ He (the Prophet) said, "The time for your prayer is within the limits of what you have seen.” Sahih Muslim 613 a
This can be seen in the following hadith that is narrated by Abu Hurairah. “Allah’s Apostle entered the mosque and a person followed him. The man prayed and went to the Prophet and greeted him. The Prophet returned the greeting and said to him, ‘Go back and pray, for you have not prayed.’ The man went back and prayed in the same way as before, returned and greeted the Prophet who said, ‘Go back and pray, for you have not prayed.’
This happened thrice. The man said, ‘By Him Who sent you with the Truth, I cannot offer the prayer in a better way than this. Please, teach me how to pray.’ The Prophet said, ‘When you stand for Prayer say Takbirand then recite from the Qur'an (of what you know by heart) and then bow till you feel at ease. Then raise your head and stand up straight, then prostrate till you feel at ease during your prostration, then sit with calmness till you feel at ease (do not hurry) and do the same in all your prayers.’” Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol.1:757
It was the habit of the Prophet that when he marched for battle all Muslims capable of fighting would accompany him and no one was ever allowed to be left behind except with the Prophet’s permission. Moreover, when he dispatched military expeditions, he would command a group of Muslims to remain with him to witness the revelation of the Qur’an in order for them to convey these revealed parts and teach them to those who set out for jihad upon their return. So they learn from them what Allah revealed to His Prophet in their absence, while the Prophet sent some other men into military expeditions. This is understood from Allah’s saying,
And it is not for the believers to go forth [to battle] all at once. For there should separate from every division of them a group [remaining] to obtain understanding in the religion and warn their people when they return to them that they might be cautious.Quran Surah Al-Tawbah 9: 122
The Prophet used to say in his public addresses, “What has happened to people that they do so?” Naturally, the person who was supposed to hear it did hear it, was ashamed in his heart and went about getting rid of that shortcoming. Certainly, da`wah (Islamic preaching) means to call someone to come closer to the da`iyah and, definitely, not to enumerate the person’s shortcomings or drawbacks!
Finally, these were some of the techniques and methods of da`wah adopted and applied by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) by which he earned the hearts of almost all those he invited to Islam. Unfortunately, in our present time, we suffer from lack of da`iyahs who take care of their addressees in such a noble manner and thus draw them nearer to Allah and His straight path. Rather, some of those who are deemed as da`iyahs and who see themselves as doing a great service to Islam, they do nothing but making people scared of the religion of monotheism, mercy and peace.