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The Virtues and Rights of Teachers in the Narrations

Faithful teachers who enjoy good traits occupy a high position in society because of the appreciative efforts they exert for educating and supplying individuals with knowledge and moralities.

Besides, they are the pioneers of the culture and guides of the coming generation.[1]

In this paper, referring to narrations, the importance of teaching, the value and the rights of teachers are discussed through 20 points:

  • A knowledgeable person should not deprive others of his/her knowledge:

The Prophet (S) said, ‘Any man who has been granted knowledge by Allah but who suppresses it, despite knowing it, will meet Allah, Mighty and Exalted, on the Day of Resurrection bridled with a rein of fire.’[Amali al-Tusi, p. 377, no. 808]

Imam Zayn al-Abidin (AS) said, ‘The right of your subjects through the knowledge you possess is to know that Allah has made you a custodian over them on account of the knowledge He has bestowed on you and the storehouses [of wisdom] which He has opened up for you. If you teach people well and do not mistreat them, nor treat them harshly, then Allah will increase His grace upon you. But if you withhold your knowledge from people or treat them harshly when they seek knowledge from you, then it will be Allah’s right to deprive you of knowledge and its magnificence, and to make you fall from your place in the people’s hearts.’[‘Aawali al-La’ali, v. 4, p. 74, no. 54]

  • Both learning and teaching are obligatory:

Imam Ali (AS) said, ‘Allah does not obligate the ignorant to learn until He has obligated the knowledgeable to teach.’[Nahjul Balaghah, Saying 478]

  • To learn and teach is the best form of charity:

The Prophet (S) said, ‘The best form of charity is for a man to gain knowledge and then teach it to his fellow brother.’[Munyat al-Murid, p. 105]

  • The teachers share the reward of the good deeds done by their students:

Imam al-Baqir (AS) said, ‘He who teaches someone a matter of guidance receives the same reward as he who practices it, without any decrease in the latter’s reward thereof.’[Tuhaf al-‘Uqul, no. 297]

  • The grave is not a place of terror for good teachers:

Allah, the Most High, revealed to Prophet Moses (AS) saying, ‘O Moses, learn good and teach it to people, for verily I enlighten the graves of the teachers and the learners of good, so that they never feel afraid in their resting place.’[Tanbih al-Khawatir, v. 2, p. 212]

  • The teacher is the most generous person after the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

The Prophet (S) said, ‘I am the most generous of Adam’s offspring, and the most generous from amongst you all after me is the man who has been taught knowledge and subsequently spreads his knowledge to others. He will be raised on the Day of Resurrection as a community in himself.’[al-Targhib wa al-Tarhiib, v. 1, p. 119, no. 5]

  • If you are a teacher of good issues, everything asks God to forgive you:

Imam al-Baqir (AS) said, ‘For the teacher of good, all the animals on the land and the fish in the sea seek forgiveness on his behalf, as do all creatures great and small in Allah’s earth and sky.’[Thawab al-A‘mal, p. 159, no. 1]

  • Paradise is forbidden for a teacher who misguides the people:

The Prophet (S) said, ‘He who desires knowledge in order that he may beguile people will never even smell the fragrance of Paradise.’[Makarim al-Akhlaq, v. 2, p. 364, no. 2661]

  • How to choose a proper teacher:

Prophet Jesus (AS) said, ‘Take the truth even if it be from wrongdoers, but do not take falsehood even if it be from the righteous – be critics of speech.’[al-Mahasin, v. 1, p. 359, no. 769]

  • The importance of choosing a good teacher is tantamount to the importance of salat (prayer):

The Prophet (S) said, ‘Knowledge is a part of religion [just as] prayer is a part of religion, so be careful fromwhom you take this knowledge.’[Kan z al-‘Ummal, no. 28666]

  • Being gentle is a duty shared by both teachers and students:

The Prophet (S) said, ‘Be gentle towards those whom you teach as well to those whom you learn from.’[Munyat al-Murid, p. 193]

  • A teacher should not discriminate in sharing his/her knowledge:

Imam al-Sadiq (AS) with regards to Allah’s verse in the Qur’an “Do not turn your cheek disdainfully from the people,” said, ‘That people should be equal in your eyes when it comes to [sharing] knowledge.’[Munyat al-Murid, p. 185]

  • The rights of teachers upon their students:

Imam Ali (AS) said, ‘It is a scholar’s right upon you that you greet people in general as a whole but single him out with your greeting, that you sit in front of him, that you do not point to him with your hand, nor make hints against him with your eyes, nor say, ‘but x said’ in opposition to his statements, nor backbite anyone in his presence, nor whisper secrets to others in his gathering, nor pull on his robe, nor insist for him to continue if he is tired, nor show disinclination at the length of his speech, for verily it [i.e. his speech] is as a palm tree from which you [should] anxiously wait for something to fall from it for you.’[Kanz al-‘Ummal, no. 29363]

Imam Zayn al-Abidin (AS) said, ‘The right of the one who trains you in knowledge is to magnify him, to frequent his sessions, to listen to him attentively, and to attend to him with devotion. You should not raise your voice to him, nor answer a question that someone has asked him about something, so that he may be the one to answer. You should not address anyone else in his session, nor backbite anyone in his presence. You must defend him if anyone ever speaks ill of him in your presence, conceal his faults and publicise his virtues. You should not sit in the company of his enemy, nor be hostile towards his friend. If you fulfil this right, Allah’s angels bear witness that you frequented him and learned from his knowledge for the sake of Allah, exalted be His Name, and not for the sake of people.’[al-Khisal, p. 567, no. 1]

  • Welcome, visit, and keep company with the scholars:

The Prophet (S) said, ‘He who goes forth to meet the scholars has indeed come forth to meet me, and he who visits the scholars has indeed visited me, and he who sits in the company of the scholars has indeed sat in my company, and whoever sits in my company is as if he has sat in the company of my Lord.’[Kanz al-‘Ummal, no. 28883]

  • Act as if you are a servant to your teacher:

78– Imam Ali (AS) said, ‘When you see a scholar, be a servant to him.’[Ghurar al-Hikam, no. 4044]

  • No one is omniscient:

The Prophet (S) said, ‘Whoever says ‘I am a knowledgeable man’ is indeed ignorant.’[Munyat al-Murid, no. 137]

  • The virtue of Shia scholars:

Imam al-Sadiq (AS) said, ‘The scholars from among our Shia are stationed at the opening next to where Satan and his demons are, preventing them from coming out to the weak Shiaand from letting Satan and his followers gain mastery over them.’[al-Ihtijaj, v. 1, p. 13, no. 7]

  • As a teacher, do not be harsh on your students:

Imam al-Sadiq (AS) said, ‘The knowledgeable man must not be harsh when he teaches, and must not be disdainful when he learns.’ [Tanbih al-Khawatir, v. 1, p. 85]

  • To be a teacher who forgets the Hereafter is of no avail:

Prophet Jesus (AS) said, ‘How can one whose worldly life is dearer to him than his Hereafter be considered among the people of knowledge, whilst he pursues his worldly life and considers that which harms him more beloved than that which benefits him!’ [Munyat al-Murid, p. 141]

  • Some reminders for the teachers:

The Prophet (S) said, ‘He who acts contrary to what he knows, his immoral acts supersede his righteous acts.’ [al-Mahasin, v. 1, p. 314, no. 621]

Imam Ali (AS) said, ‘He who appoints himself a leader of people must begin by teaching himself before teaching others. And his discipline of them must be through his own example rather than through his words. The one who teaches and disciplines himself is more worthy of esteem than the one who teaches and disciplines people.’[Bihar al-Anwar, v. 2, p. 56, no. 33].

The article was written by Hujjat al-Islam Sayyid Mostafa Daryabari and Dr. Morteza Karimi.



[1]See. Sayyid Mahdi al-Sadr, Ahl al-Bayt; Ethical Role Models.

About Ali Teymoori

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