Teach like Hassan and Hussain

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“Teach others your knowledge and learn knowledge of others so you will bring your knowledge to perfection and learn something which you do not know.”
-Imam Hassan ibn Ali (as) Bihar al Anwar vol: 78, p:111

There are teachers striving to make the world a better place. Great teachers who instill confidence, integrity, and wisdom into their students’ lives. When it comes to education, it doesn’t have an age limit. Whether the teacher is older or younger than student, it is irrelevant because we keep learning from the time we are born, until the time of our death. If knowledge is planted in a child’s brain like a seed, you would find that their enthusiasm for education grows with them into adulthood.

There are multiple ways to make a difference in someone’s life, and teaching them betterment is one of the best ways.

It is important that we encourage our youth’s ability to express themselves and share their knowledge. A child who has devotion for education has very likely had an excellent teacher who encouraged the love of learning within them. The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but not what to see. Those who shine the light on a path and explain to you why it should be taken.There are different ways of teaching one who is willing to learn. Simply being a person who inspires and encourages people to strive for greatness and live to their fullest potential is itself a way to be a teacher and true role model. We learn through them, through their commitment to excellence and their complete devotion to God. The Ahlulbayt are perfect exemplars, we look to them for advice and guidance. When Hassan ibn Ali and Hussain ibn Ali were young children, they exhibited characteristics of profound teachers.

Hussain and his older brother Hassan had witnessed an old man performing ablution incorrectly at their grandfather’s mosque. Hussain, careful not to hurt the pride of the old man, approached him and asked if he could watch him and Hassan perform ablution and judge who was more correct, as they couldn’t decide for themselves. Hassan began first, washing his face and hands carefully. Hussain performed ablution next, doing it exactly the way Hassan did. It was clear that the both of them did it the right way and the old man smiled. He thanked them, knowing that they were too polite to correct their elder, so they showed him the correct way in a manner that would not embarrass him. He asked Hassan and Hussain for their names, and when he found out who their parents and grandparents were, blessed them and declared that he had never met a pair of youths with greater manners than they.

This story illustrates how to teach by example in a humble way. There are multiple ways to make a difference in someone’s life, and teaching them betterment is one of the best ways. Through their actions, Hassan and Hussain showed us that no one is too young to share their knowledge for another’s benefit. They gave us an example of how to teach someone the right way without causing any offense or embarrassment.

There are so many problems in our communities due to the fact that people do not speak up in fear of getting dragged into a vacillation of judgements and accusations. The usual action one makes when witnessing a mistake being done in front of them is turning away and trying not to get involved. In today’s society it’s pivotal to speak up against a mistake and correct it in a peaceful way. Teaching pretentiously, however, or adopting a holier-than-thou attitude can make people defensive and angry, as it hurts the pride to be talked down to in such a way, especially in front of others. There is a time and place for everything, and a certain manner to adopt when you wish to give others advice or correct a wrong. Imam Ali ibn Hussain said:

“Indeed if you are good in teaching the people and do not show pride towards them, Allah will increase you from His favor.”
– Makarim al-Akhlaq p. 143


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