Many of us want to learn the Quran, to be able to read it with understanding, and to be able to experience that deeper connection with the words of Allah (ta’ala) that people who understand the Quran have.
One of the major problems that we encounter however, is finding a suitable Quranic teacher to guide on us this journey. Because as we know, one cannot learn the Quran, and more broadly, Islam, except from someone who possesses the proper knowledge.
So, when you are searching for that teacher for you, your child(ren), or for anyone else, how do you know what to look for?
Here are some qualities to watch out for in your prospective Quranic teacher.
Knowledge of the Quran
The most important quality that a Quranic teacher must possess is knowledge. Not a surface knowledge of the Quran, but a deep, well-rounded knowledge that is rooted in the teachings of the messenger of Allah (ﷺ).
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: “The knowledge of hadith (in the same manner all other religious subjects) are included in the Deen. Therefore before acquiring knowledge, be aware from whom knowledge is acquired”. (Shama’il Muhammadiyah)
You sometimes find that many people fall prey to people who claim to have knowledge, but have probably memorized only a few surahs of the Quran, know some Arabic words and some Ahadith.
While that may be all that you need in some cases, if you really want to study the Quran deeply and as it should be studied, then you need a teacher who is very knowledgeable. A teacher who is considered a scholar.
How Do You Know Someone is Knowledgeable?
Before you sign up to be taught the Quran by someone, it is encouraged to do some background search on them. Ask people who have been taught by them about their honest and unbiased opinion. Visit the school or madrasah if possible, and speak with the teacher to get a feel of who they are and what their knowledge is based on.
If you are going to learn online, it is advisable to pick reputable Islamic learning centers that are verified, and you can even look for current students of the school to ask them about the school.
Because in this age where unverified Islamic opinions are a dime a dozen on the internet, it is our duty to ensure that whoever we have selected to teach us the Quran is someone with a sound knowledge according to the Quran and Sunnah.
School of Thought
An innocent mistake that many of us make when searching for a Quranic teacher is not considering the school of thought that the teacher follows.
There are four major schools of thought in Islam- Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi and Sha’fi, and while all of them follow the Quran and the Sunnah of the messenger of Allah (ﷺ), there are slight differences in how they approach certain issues of dispute. Apart from the schools of thought, there are also different sects of Muslims, with different ideologies.
Without going deeply into the various schools of thought or sects, as a knowledge seeker, it is in your best interest to select a teacher with similar ideologies as yourself.
This will protect you from being misled in matters of the Deen.
Apart from knowledge, one of the most endearing characteristics of any Quranic teacher is manners.
Manners beautify a person, and it attracts other people towards them. Imagine that you had to pick between an easy going, friendly person and a person with a foul mouth. It’s a no-brainer who you would choose.
“It was through God’s mercy that you dealt with them gently; for had you been stern and hard of heart they would surely have broken away from you.” (Quran 3:159)
This verse is about the messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and his gentle nature with his Companions. As expected, he is the epitome of a teacher who teaches with the best of manners.
Even before the start of his Prophethood, the messenger of Allah (ﷺ) had a reputation for being a person of excellent manners. This is what endeared his Companions to Him, and this is the attitude that he used to win over even the staunchest of opposition.
As a student of knowledge, you want to watch out for a teacher who is well-mannered, because this also shows that they are practicing what they will preach to you, as Islam encourages the best behavior from us always.
A Quranic teacher’s method of teaching will have a lifetime impact on your learning, so it should be an important consideration when picking a teacher.
For many of us, from personal experience, our teacher’s method of teaching has made a difference between knowing a few surahs of the Quran, and being able to recite and memorize at an earlier unbelievable speed.
You want to look for a teacher who brings the Quran to life. A teacher who teaches you Arabic with class exercises and simulates an Arabic-speaking environment is more effective than a teacher who reads Arabic words and translates into your language, for example.
With the latter, the student’s journey to speaking and understanding Arabic will be slower because they are not ‘living’ the Arabic.
If you are an adult student, you are most likely someone with many other commitments, and who is just striving to include Quranic classes in their schedule. A good Quranic teacher will understand your unique situation and help you make the most of it. He/she will teach in a way that is suitable for adults, as well as at a pace that is suitable for your situation.
When the Prophet (ﷺ) taught his Companions, he demonstrated this skill of knowing his students’ needs and abilities. In a Hadith narrated by Ibn Mas’ud, he said: “The Prophet (ﷺ) used to take care of us in preaching by selecting a suitable time, so that we might not get bored. (He abstained from pestering us with sermons and knowledge all the time).” (Bukhari)
Picking a knowledgeable Quranic teacher is one of the most important steps for anyone who is committed to improving upon their relationship with the words of Allah (ta’ala), and we must carry out this task of selection with utmost care and rely on Allah (ta’ala) for guidance.
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