I’ve been teaching for a while now Alhamdulillah. Through experience and with the inspiration from my own teachers I have come to learn that it is important to have mercy on students.
Every teacher will have different expectations. Make this clear from the beginning to ensure you and the students are on the same page. Just like the way Khidr (ra) set the scene for Musa (as). Notify your students about your temperament.
“Invite to the way of Your Lord with wisdom and fair preaching.” (Quran 16:125)
Here are a few supporting reasons from Islamic Scripture exemplifying why one should be merciful towards others, including their students.
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (ra), who said that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: When Allah decreed the Creation He pledged Himself by writing in His book which is laid down with Him: My mercy prevails over My wrath. [Hadith Qudsi – Muslim].
How amazing is that. Our Lord who is Just, Fair, Majestic and All things Mighty – has stated Himself that HIS MERCY will always be greater than His wrath. Should we not as teachers be more merciful than continuously disciplining our students, worse yet, overwhelming or burdening them? This does not mean we shouldn’t set coursework, be strict with deadlines, advise them to manage time, etc. But we should also be amongst those who are considerate. This hadith also gives me hope and encourages me to move forward and do better, after a slip.
The following is just beautiful and so true. The Hadith speaks for itself.
‘A’isha (ra) reported that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: Kindness is not to be found in anything but that it adds to its beauty and it is not withdrawn from anything but it makes it defective. [Sahih Muslim]
Musa (as) was advised to approach Firaun who was a tyrant with gentleness and kindness. Further to this, if the Prophet (saw) was not gentle whilst giving dawah or just as, in his daily interactions, people would not have wanted to listen to him (saw). The Prophet (saw) was a mercy to mankind. If as Muslims we try to follow in his (saw) footsteps shall we not also adopt his character/traits.
“So by mercy from Allah, [O Muḥammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah….” [3:159] – Sahih International. Taken from Quran.com
“So, it is through mercy from Allah that you are gentle to them. Had you been rough and hard-hearted, they would have dispersed from around you. So, pardon them and seek Forgiveness for them. And consult them in the matter, and once you have taken a decision, place your trust in Allah…” [3:159] – Ma’riful Quran
“And indeed, you (Muhammad) are of a great moral character.” [68:4]
Jarir bin ‘Abdullah (ra) reported: Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “He who is deprived of forbearance and gentleness is deprived of all good.” [Muslim]
Overlook the mistakes of students where possible. They are here to learn after all. Explain to them where appropriate and needed why a particular course of action was taken. This may enable them to understand and it avoids resentment. Children are curious little creatures, they will bound to have questions and teens may challenge you, which isn’t necessarily disrespectful given they approach you in a respectful and polite manner. Khidr eventually explained his actions to Musa (as) at the end, after all. Nevertheless, it should not be to the extent where an explanation is expected to be given for everything. Consider asking the students to reflect or leave the matter alone.
If you and a student have had a misunderstanding and it seems as though it will be best to part ways – part ways on amicable terms. The religion is sincere advice [Muslim]. In other words, The religion is wishing well for others.
Teachers have a good status around the world. Show to the students why it’s the case. If the profession is not respected, show to them why it ought to be.
Many students aren’t just students, especially as they grow older. They are parents, carers, workers, volunteers, have hobbies, health concerns, financial worries, going through personal issues, may be studying another discipline. They may also have other commitments.
We are in need of Allah’s mercy. What better way to seek His Mercy by being merciful to our students. Remember once when you were a student. It wasn’t always easy. If you are still a student, would you/do you not appreciate a teacher who has mercy towards you?