Friday Thoughts
Nurturing Mind, Body, Soul - Developing Islam, Iman, ihsan
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No Substitute for a Human Teacher

the teacher and the student

As-salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah. Praise and Glory be to Allah Most High and peace and blessings upon the Chosen One, Muhammad al-Mustafa, sallalahu alaihi wa sallam, whom God sent as a Mercy to the Worlds.

Children and adults thoroughly enjoyed the storytelling session last week with sister Mehded Sinclair—author of When Wings Expand—and other award winning books. Her powerful telling of the story of Musa (alaihisalaam) and the drowning of Pharaoh fired the imagination and brought aspects of his story to life in a very special way. There is no computer, iphone, ipad or tablet on the face of the earth that can replicate the same experience with the same effect. When a human soul, with utter sincerity, love and compassion, sits with a child and shares stories from the Book of Allah, and the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him); the heart of the child comes alive, and the spiritual realities of the meanings of those events from the past connect with the innermost being of the child, bringing a unique joy and happiness to its life.

In other words, there is no substitute for the human teacher—whether that teacher is a Prophet, man or woman of Allah (Most High), a parent or a school teacher or even an older relative or sibling. Not even written books can take the place of human interaction. This is why Islamic sciences are learnt by sitting with teachers—not by reading alone but by keeping the company of righteous people.


The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) advised people to choose a wet-nurse for their children carefully, because she gives more than just milk! In the same way, we must be careful to choose the company of our children with utmost care. Leave them with ipads, computer screens and televisions, and before long you will have dimmed the light of their inner awareness so much so, that they will no longer be able to benefit from any human interaction and will always be living for their devices, no longer aware of the moment.

The truth of this is plainly evident in the two sacred Mosques. People stand next to the Ka’ba and have their photos taken on iphones. People walk past the House of our Beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) with their ipads in their hands filming the scene. No longer aware of where they are or who they stand in front of, they are busy making films and taking photos to show people when they return home. What guarantee do they have that they will live long enough to see their families again anyway? If this is what we, as adults, have become; how can we expect to interact with children in a meaningful way? And how will our children interact with us when we are older?

Wa Salaam.

Ustadh Munawar Karim

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