In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all creation. May Allah extol the mention of the Prophet in the highest company of Angels and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his family, his Companions and all those who follow him exactly till the Day of Judgement.
Dear brothers and sisters, despite them being on the front line of rearing, educating and nurturing the hearts and minds of the young, day in; day out, the sad reality is that Muslim teachers are still hugely undervalued by us Muslims as a community. And yet it is undeniable that young people are more positively influenced by teachers than they are likely to be, at their ages, by any scholar, sheikh or da’i. They are far more likely to air their problems or their concerns to a trusted teacher than to a distant, albeit qualified scholar. Young people are convinced, and rightly so, that if any adult is going to get what they are going through, it’s likely to be their teachers than it is the unapproachable Imam in a Mosque, or some Muslim celebrity scholar on the internet. If it is to be an adult, then it is to a trusted teacher that a young person is likely to air their life problems. So how can this front line of Muslim teachers not be given the respect, or given their due, when it is they who most engage, or who are most instrumental in nurturing and caring for the wellbeing of the young today? Their role and influence upon young people; in general, and on young Muslims; in particular, is surely second to none?!
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) once said of the act of earning a lawful income and of being responsible for one’s dependants:
“If one leaves [home] striving for his young child, he is in the path of Allah. If one leaves [home] striving for his two elderly parents, he is in the path of Allah. If one leaves [home] striving to be self-sufficient, then he is in the path of Allah. If one leaves [home] striving to be boastful or to show-off, he is in the path of shaitan (satan).” [Al-Tabarani, in Mu’jam al-Saghir]
So Islam elevates a worldly job, conferring on it honour, by placing it in the distinguished category of FISABILILLAH – “in the Path of Allah”; provided it is a lawful job, done with the overall intention to earn Allah’s pleasure and approval.
If this is the case with the job of a farmer, trader or candlestick maker, then more so is the case for those whose professions it is to educate and nurture young minds and hearts in Muslim schools; or Muslim teacher who work in state schools with the godly intention of imparting whatever moral, ethical or religious instruction possible in such environments. Given this reality, the role or status of Muslim teachers cannot be underestimated.
It’s about time that we gave proper recognition to these unsung heroes of our community. It’s time we gave credit where credit is long overdue. We must invest in those individuals and institutions which will help to nurture future generations of young Muslims who are religiously and ethically grounded and, who are at one and the same time, conscientious believers and responsible citizens.
While we Muslims do seem to value the building of Muslim schools, we must value even more so the teachers that work there, as well as those Muslim teachers employed in state schools hoping to attain like minded outcomes. We continue to do both ourselves, our younger generation and our religion, a great disservice if we do not appropriately value Muslim teachers, or realise their paramount role in the community. The Qur’an says:
“Give just measure and weight, nor withhold from people the things that are their due.” [Qur’an, 11:85]
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org or +2348038289761.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivered on Friday, Rabi’ul Thani 2, 1441 A. H. (November 29, 2019).