نَرْفَعُ دَرَجَاتٍ مَّن نَّشَآءُ وَفَوقَ كُلِّ ذِي عِلْمٍ عَلِيمٌ
We raise in degrees whom We will, but over every possessor of knowledge is one [more] knowing.
[Surat Yoosuf, verse 76]
In this post, we briefly touched on the idea of reciting to multiple teachers and how this was the practice of the Salaf. While we understand that these days, people are busy just looking for at least ONE teacher to teach them Qur’an, there is also the opposite dilemma, where there are multiple people to benefit and take knowledge from, as well.
It is said that the more teachers you have, the more knowledge you gain, and indeed this is true in many aspects. Reciting to multiple teachers has many benefits, including:
- Protection from Mistakes: as mentioned by Sh. Waleed Edrees al-Meneesey in this post, it insures that the student receives knowledge regarding the most authentic recitation. This is because innovations in the Qiraa’ah are only passed down through singular, isolated chains going back to one source, and it’s through the process of recitation that these mistakes can be identified and eliminated. Reciting to multiple teachers guarantees that the student receives what has been most authentically and frequently narrated.
- Getting a feel for the “range” of application of the rules of Tajweed: usually when a student has taken knowledge from one teacher (sometimes even one particular group), they only recognize what they’ve learned from their teacher to be correct. However, when you recite to multiple teachers, you get a good sense of the range of correctness in the application of rules of Tajweed, and as long as one remains within this allowable range, they will be correct, in sha Allah. This allows for greater flexibility, greater understanding about that which is allowed in the recitation and that which is not.
- Greater benefit: it is not possible for one person to hold all the knowledge regarding one subject, and each teacher has different strengths and specialities. Therefore, learning from multiple teachers allows a student to take the best of what they learned from different teachers, receiving different points of benefit. Some teachers may stress the importance of knowing the meaning of the words, the frequency of recitation, the completion of its Harakaat, the timing of its letters, or manners dealing with learning the Qur’an and reciting it. Each teacher has something different to offer, and it would be a loss to confine one’s self to just one.
- It will shape the student into a teacher: it will be beneficial to the student to seek teachers with varying levels of strictness and leniency. The types of teachers a student learns from will greatly influence his/her own teaching style when they move on to that stage. Because teachers themselves have a variety of teaching styles, a student would benefit from this variety when they eventually go on to teach and perhaps even be a greater source of benefit as opposed to confining his/herself to one teacher and knowing only one teaching style.
Having said that, there are two ways a person would go about learning from multiple teachers: either one at a time, or all at the same time. Whichever way is most suitable depends on the ability of the student and the circumstances of the teacher. Situations where it may be better to dedicate one’s time to one teacher only could include the following:
- When the teacher him/herself has some extra time and this allows for the student to complete the recitation of a greater portion of the Qur’an than normal, such as reciting one Juz every day, more or less, completing the Qur’an in one month.
- Related to the point above, when a Shaykh happens to be in town for a short while and this is the ideal opportunity to recite as much of the Qur’an to him as possible.
- When a student is a beginner and does not yet know how to reconcile perceived conflicts between one teacher and the next. It’s better to solidify one’s foundation in the recitation in order to foster greater understanding of more advanced issues.
- When there is the fear that a student will lose their focus and fail to remain consistent if he/she learns from more than one teacher.
Situations where it may be better to recite to more than one teacher at the same time may include the following:
- When a teacher has limited time and because of this, a student moves at a much slower pace in his recitation, he/she could seek out another teacher or teachers in addition to the first one to complete a khatmah, for memorization or review, or even to obtain Ijazah.
- The opposite scenario, where one teacher chooses to move very fast and the student feels they need to go at a slower pace in order to thoroughly grasp the knowledge with proper understanding.
- Learning from one teacher to explain the rules and theory of Tajweed while reciting to another.
- When one teacher is a little too strict whereby this strictness hinders the student from making progress, so reciting to a teacher who has a better understanding of what is allowable and what is not may be beneficial.
- When one teacher is too lenient, and the student would benefit from having a more strict teacher who is more diligent in identifying and correcting mistakes in the recitation.
There are obviously manners to be kept in mind when learning from multiple teachers at the same time, and a number of points the student should keep in mind are the following:
- Be sincere: many students will opt to recite to different teachers in order to obtain different chains of narration for their Ijazah, and while there is nothing wrong with this because the Sanad is the essence of our religion, it’s extremely critical to zero in and focus on the ultimate intention, and that is to draw closer to Allah by seeking knowledge for His pleasure and reward. Reciting to multiple teachers for fame and looking down upon others with arrogance spoils one’s sincerity and pure intention.
- Make sure to give each teacher proper attention and time: teachers of Qur’an are extremely busy, and when they give students a portion of their time, this time should be respected and adhered to. The student would be blameworthy if they sacrificed the time with one teacher for another teacher, and therefore, the student should be careful to give each and every teacher he/she has committed to, proper use of their teacher’s time and attention.
- Recite according to how you are taught: we mentioned briefly above that there is a range of correctness in the application of the rules of Tajweed which vary from teacher to teacher. As long as one remains within this allowable range, one’s Qiraa’ah is correct. Having said that, there is no harm if a student adjusts their recitation slightly according to what each teacher deems as most correct as long as the basic application of the rule is the same. An example of this allowable range could be the amount of تفخيم applied to a letter, or the completion of the Harakaat, timing of the letters, etc.
- Have good manners: it is not befitting for the student to challenge one’s teacher, pitting them against another with regard to allowable matters as described in point 2 above. However, if the matter has to do with a serious innovation and the teacher is in clear error, then there is a way to approach him/her with the issue, as described here in this post. Nevertheless, some teachers take offense when they hear that their student is reciting to someone other than them (this will be addressed in Part 2 of this series), so it is important to maintain the utmost respect for all teachers one is taking knowledge from.
And lastly, teachers will need to understand the importance of letting students pursue other source of knowledge, and this issue will be explained in Part 2, in sha Allah.
And Allah knows best.