Talim and Tarbiyyah

Durre Najaf

Talim and Tarbiyyah

“Talim” – “Education” in the broadest sense is any act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character or physical ability of an individual. In its technical sense, education is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another. The term Tarbiyyah refers to the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills. Training differs from exercise; in that, people may dabble in exercise as an occasional activity for fun. Training however have specific goals of improving one’s capability, capacity, and performance. A child is a valuable asset for all generations. For training, learning and educating a student, the role of a teacher is incredibly important. It is disappointing then that the majority of Muslim parents are unaware of the method of Talim and Tarbiyyah of children, which is incumbent after Walayyah. They train and groom their children according to their way of understanding and are unaware of the rightful course. To satisfy their conscience, parents convince themselves that their Talim and Tarbiyyah are in the right direction. When their children grow up, they are unaware of their own religion, civilization and cultural values. Their understanding of their faith is not strong enough to help them in their lives. Children tend to act in self-interest upon facing troubles instead of relying on religious values. Western culture is a significant contributor towards this liberal and self-centered attitude. Improper upbringing is a cause for alarm for parents leading to self-abasement. How can one expect a mango after sowing the seed of an onion?

However, parents are not solely responsible since this subject is not widely discussed. It is a great challenge for parents living in western societies especially where cultural disparities and alien religious practices are rampant as compared to eastern countries. To consider the importance of this issue, a discussion in the light of Shariah is imperative. Devotion, affection and love for parents is considered voluntary Ibadah. This reward and status has been bestowed to parents due to their onerous responsibilities of rearing their children. It is their duty to understand the sublime position of upbringing and grooming their child. Fostering and training is part of human nature. The following two Ahadith draw our attention in this regard:

“May Allah bless those parents who facilitate their children with Talim and serve them with kindness”.
“May Allah send L’anah upon those parents who declared their children A’aq”

Every effort and action requires “Tadreeb” and “Tamreen”– practice and training. If you follow the Fitrah – natural process of training – you will achieve success and proficiency in all your endeavors so much so that what initially challenged you would become second-nature. Parents raise their children, train them, and practice with them to inculcate the teachings that transform into lifelong habits. When our children are very young, we teach them the basic Talim, names of Nabi and His Ahl al Bait (a.s) – Al Khamsatil Ath’ar (as) – Ya Mohammed, Ya Ali, Ya Fatimah, Ya Hasan, Ya Husain. We teach them how to pray and memorize Qur’an in Arabic language. Once the children have mastered these fundamental skills through training and practice, we teach them why we pray “Ya” before each name and why we pray Salaw’at with particular diacritics. We follow a natural progression that not only makes it easier for our children to process the concepts they learn, but strengthens and cements their faith in Islam. Children learn best through observing their parents. If they see us pray Salaat, they will be motivated to learn to do the same out of adoration for their parents. In their youth, children are nimble like water hence they require more firmness and discipline at a young age, unlike a pool of water enclosed by cement on all sides. Upon maturity the child hardens in nature and a softer approach to learning needs to be taken, akin to the way water slowly and naturally erodes a mountain.

Surah al Alaq in the Qur’an also highlights the natural process of learning. When Allah sent down the first Ayah of the Qur’an, He instructed Rasulallah(S):

“Recite in the name of your Rabb, who created man…”

In this Surah, Allah instructed His Rasul (S) to pray and then showed him how to do so. These Ay’ah demonstrate that beginning with Allah’s name both eases and solidifies one’s ability to recite. The Qur’an was bestowed upon Rasulallah (S) in the Arabic language, which amongst languages, is like man amongst other creations of Allah. In the dark ages of the Umayyads and Abbasids, the Imams of Ahl al Bait (as) had only two options to choose from: To either get involved in political activities and bring down the oppressive regime, or seek reform through the process of Talim. The Imams chose the latter by Hikmah ‘ilahiyyah (divine wisdom) which was the best option. We can appreciate Al Imam al Baqir (as) and Al Imam al Sadiq (as) for their Hikmah – wisdom and deep foresight in choosing the option to impart teachings of Islam through Talim, bringing about a renaissance in the Muslim world. The cruel Umayyad and Abbasid rulers were carefree and completely incapable of Talim and Tarbiyyah of the public. They did not care for Islam or the Muslims. Driven by greed, the tyrants over burdened their subjects with taxation and squandered resources that culminated into an uprising and ascension by their successors.

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