Sunday, June 24, 2012

Imam al-Ghazali views on the guide and the teacher

As in the case of money, so in the case of knowledge, man is faced with one of four situations. The one situation is that where the person shows his eagerness to procure money, in which case he would be seeking: another is that of being in possession of money, which then free him of the neccessity of seeking financial help; another is that of spending his money on himself, in which case he would be benefitting from it; and lastly the situation where he spends money on others. This last situation is the expression of generosity; and is the NOBLEST.

In regard to knowledge, the first situation is that where man shows his eagerness to seek and acquire; the second situation is that where he is in possesion of knowledge and therefore need not inquire of others; the third situation is that where he ponders and reflects; and enjoys the fruits of his intellectual achievements; and lastly the situation where he imparts his knowledge to others. The last situation (as in the last situation in relation to money) is also the NOBLEST.

So he who has knowledge ans shall apply and teach his knowledge to others, shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. Surely the teacher is like the sun which itself being luminous, sheds light to others; or like the musk itself being fragrant, passes on its fragrance to all objects coming in  touch with it. But he who posseses knowledge and does not make use of it is like a notebook, which itself being unintelligent, still serves as a transmission agency for the knowledge found within its pages; or like the grindstone, which itself cannot cut; or like the needle, which itself remains naked, but serves in making clothing for others to cover their bodies; or like the wick of a lamp which burns itself out in giving light to others.

A poet once sang: "A glowing wick is he who dies, as a guide, And left his light, with others to abide."

He who has taken up any branch of teaching or guidance, has taken upon himself a noble mission and a serious responsibility. So as a guide and teacher he should always observe the principles of such a mission; and fulfil the obligations towards teaching the ultimate goal. One of these obligations is to accept those under his teachings and guidance, as if they were his offspring. The Prophet Mughammad (peace be upon him) said: "I am but unto you as a father unto his son." Know that the father teaches and prepares his child to face this life; wheras the teacher prepares the child through moral and spiritual guidance to benefit the eternal joy of the afterlife. The father's teaching can therefore be of temporary value wheras the teacher's teaching and guidance can imprint on the soul, eternal values.

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