In the previous post, we discussed some general points a student should keep in mind when dealing with a situation where the teacher is teaching something which is clearly wrong in the recitation. Today, we discuss some practical steps the student can follow in order to resolve the conflict, by the leave of Allah.
First of all, we begin with initiating the discussion. For this, a student must:
- Have a sincere intention: this pure intention will naturally guide the discussion towards the truth. This is because Allah guides whoever seeks His guidance and this is a guarantee.
- Establish common ground: when bringing the issue into discussion with your teacher, begin with points where you two are in agreement. This involves the fact that Allah has preserved His book, it has reached us through sound, oral chains, the three pillars of a sound Qiraa’ah (Tawatur, Arabic, and the conformity of the script with the ‘Uthmanic Masahif), and make note that logic and knowledge from books used exclusively is not included here.
- Bring up the specific issue with proper evidences by seeking advice: after establishing points of agreement, mention the issue you’re having a problem with, bring forth the evidences you’ve come across and then seek the advice of your teacher by saying, “I’ve come across this, I’m confused, what should I do?” In this manner, you will avoid any direct confrontation with the teacher and put the onus on him/her to present the evidences or justification for the specific way(s) they are teaching. It will cause the teacher to contemplate and re-think what they’ve been teaching, and hopefully (at the very least) they will take the matter into consideration.
- Focus on the issue without getting personal or disrespectful: this is critical because if the student displays behavior which is inappropriate, then this will distract from the issue itself and the conflict will not get resolved. The student must speak with words of respect, be to the point, and focus on the issue in the best possible fashion. They must advise in a way that a person wants to accept this advice. Allah سبحانه وتعالى advises us in this regard:
Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided. [Surat al-Nahl, verse 125]
Once the issue is brought up in this fashion, one of two things would happen:
- The teacher is upright and will correct their opinion or deal with it in a good way.
- The teacher will react negatively either because they lack sound knowledge or there are problems with their Akhlaaq (manners and character).
It’s this second scenario which is the crux of the conflict and can be a source of great distress for all parties involved. It’s interesting to note, that this was not something that was very common in the past and therefore, not many scholars addressed it. This is because in the past, the focus was always on the knowledge, on doing things sincerely and seeking the truth for the pleasure of Allah, and if anyone showed up without these qualities, then they were abandoned immediately and blotted from history. Today however, we find that many teachers attach the knowledge to themselves, interpret every correction as a personal attack, and lack the proper manners and character their position requires. Unfortunately, this sort of behavior gets passed on to loyal students. This lack of manners and integrity spreads and then we find students facing this conflict in greater numbers.
If the conflict reaches a level where basic manners are not being upheld, the student must separate himself from the situation, maintaining the utmost integrity, keeping personal feelings at bay, and remain focused on the specific issue. Do not allow yourself, under any circumstance, to be distracted by personal feelings, emotions, or anything that is unrelated to the issue at hand. Usually, when people get defensive, they will become emotional and throw person attacks on the student to reduce their credibility, but if the student remembers that the Speech of Allah is more important than someone’s reputation, then they will not fall into the trap, in sha Allah.
In fact, if a teacher is teaching things which are clearly innovations, then it is an obligation of the student to steer clear of such gatherings because otherwise, the student would allow for misunderstandings and grave mistakes to enter his mind and mislead him.
Having said that, if the situation reaches the point where the student must now consider seeking another teacher, then this problem is easily remedied by Allah if the student is sincere. There are a number of things the student can do to further their studies and proficiency in the recitation of the Qur’an (refer to this series for more details):
- Listen to the Qur’an: this has always been the most reliable and sure-fire way to perfect one’s recitation. Every student of the Qur’an who went on to become a teacher always begins here. There is an abundance of CDs and audio/video recordings of the famous Qurra’ available and the student should make a habit of actively listening to the recitation and trying one’s best to imitate the pronunciation as much as possible. This daily training will support the student immensely; simply listen and copy.
- Learn the rules: there is no problem learning the theory and rules yourself as long as you can find someone who can help you accurately apply them, and/or you are able to identify them within the recitation you are listening to. There are a number of reliable resources for this such as Abouttajweed.com and these translated lessons by Sh. Ayman Swayd.
- Recite to different teachers: by the infinite mercy of Allah, there is no shortage of teachers of the Qur’an around the world, and even if they are not available locally, Allah has provided a solution within modern technology whereby a student can learn the Qur’an online from reputable and trustworthy individuals and institutions. A student just needs to find a teacher and then make sure they are reliable and qualified. And remember that the best way to really root out mistakes that one teacher has taught is through the process of the recitation itself by reciting to multiple teachers, for this was the way of the Salaf who were not satisfied with learning from one teacher only. We will be addressing this idea of learning from different teachers either one at a time, or at the same time, in a future post, in sha Allah.
- Have patience: learning the Qur’an, like taking any kind of knowledge proficiently, takes time. Rushing through something in order to finish will never yield the results desired. If a teacher and student can eliminate the time factor and focus on mastering the knowledge, then this is a more desired result rather than rushing through the information where mistakes can occur, information can be misunderstood, and weak students are produced. For this reason, we advise teachers to make the intention to fulfill their trust in the best manner by giving themselves sufficient time to teach and proper, undivided attention to each student. Likewise, we advise students to make the goal to recite the Qur’an in the way Allah intended seeking His face جل جلاله, and not to merely finish or obtain Ijazah.
What we’ve provided on this website is a resource and method of learning the Qur’an accurately in a way that can be achieved by anyone in the world; all that is needed is dedication and sincerity as the saying goes:
مَنْ جَدَّ وَجَدَ
Whoever is serious, will find (what he’s looking for).
The following resources should help the student also:
- How to properly vet teachers: we’ve outlined what a student should and should not look for in this series, this series and this one.
- Essential manners and characteristics of the Student of Qur’an (and we’re all students, even if we teach!)
- How to establish a reliable schedule for memorization
- A full course in Tajweed by Sh. Ayman himself
- Explanation of common errors and misconceptions related to the preservation and recitation of the Qur’an
Anyone who has the proper intention and follows these steps will never be turned away by Allah and will surely reach his goal, in sha Allah. And with that, we leave you with the words of Imam al-Shafi’ee رحمه الله:
أخي لن تنال العلم الا بستتة سأنبيك عن تفصيلها ببيان
ذكاء وحرص واجتهاد وبلغة وصحبة أستاذ وطول زمان
My brother, you will never gain knowledge except with 6 qualities…I will inform you of its details with clarity:
Intelligence, desire, hard work, seriousness/focus, the company of a teacher, and plenty of time.