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Prophet Muhammad Models of Educational Communication

By: Ali Zohery


Prophet Muhammad pattern of educational communication with his family, friends, followers and enemies enabled him to increase his support and to strengthen his position to deliver his message of Islam. Over twenty-three years of delivering the call of Allah (God in Arabic), Prophet Muhammad developed educational communication patterns to educate people to learn about Islam.

This research is to investigate Prophet Muhammad educational patterns of communicating with individuals and masses.

The Prophet Muhammad emphasized the importance of Education. In the annals of human history, we hardly get another man who laid that emphasis on Education as did Muhammad. As the Supreme Head of the first Islamic State, he decreed Education as incumbent on all people, male or female. Talk of compulsory education is not innovation of our modernists. Muhammad had declared it compulsory almost immediately after the establishment of the City State of Madeenah. It was in the very second year of the establishment of the Madeenistic Regime that his Law regarding Compulsory Education began to be implemented with all his vigour and force possible for a nascent state. And like a practical realist he also warns his people to save themselves from ‘knowledge which is of no use’. In other words, he asked you to separate the kernel from the husk and to distinguish the substance from the shadow. And pray, also look at the breath of the vision of this great Revolutionary. He orders to take the good from everywhere one gets it and further counsels that knowledge is the lost of wealth of a believer and commands to acquire it whatever its source. So long as the Muslims kept up this breadth of vision they were the torchbearers of light and learning and were considered the norm to judge the various grades of cultures and civilizations of the world.

The Prophet Muhammad declared equality and brotherhood of man. He was not content with just preaching it, but practised it. One of his closest companions was a former Negro slave, Bilaal; one of his trusted lieutenants was an Iranian called Salmaan; to name a third Suhayb of Rome. Each coming from different directions, of different languages, and of different heritage. But in their Teacher's company they were all companions, equal to each other without distinction. Color and country did not stand in the way of Muhammad's revolutionary and all embracing brotherhood.(The Great Revolutionary Prophet,

Research Question

The scope of this research is to answer the following question:

What methods of education that the Prophet Muhammad used to communicate with his family, relatives, friends, followers and enemies during the twenty-three years of his life as a messenger of God?

Literature Review

How the knowledge was preserved to the following generations?

In Quran Allah says: We have, Without doubt, sent down the message: and we will assuredly guard it (from corruption). (Qur'an 15:9) The promise made by Allah (SWT) in Qur'an 15:9 is obviously fulfilled in the undisputed purity of the Qur'anic text throughout the fourteen centuries since its revelation. However, what is often forgotten by many Muslims is that the divine promise also includes, by necessity, the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH), because the Sunnah is the practical example of the implementation of the

Qur'anic guidance, the wisdom taught to the Prophet (PBUH) along with the scripture, and neither the Qur'an nor the Sunnah can be understood correctly without the other.

Allah (SWT) preserved the Sunnah by enabling the companions and those after them to memorize, write down and pass on the statements of the Prophet (PBUH), and the descriptions of his way, as well as to continue the blessings of practicing the Sunnah.

Later, as the purity of the knowledge of the Sunnah became threatened, Allah (SWT) caused the Muslim Ummah to produce individuals with exceptional memory skills and analytical expertise, who travelled tirelessly to collect thousands of narrations and distinguish the true words of prophetic wisdom from those corrupted by weak memories, from forgeries by unscrupulous liars, and from the statements of the large number of Ulama (scholars), the companions and those who followed their way. All of this was achieved through precise attention to the words narrated, and detailed familiarity with the biographies of the thousands of reporters of hadith.

The methodology of the expert scholars of hadith in assessing the narrations and sorting out the genuine from the mistaken and fabricated, for ms the subject matter of the science of hadith. In this article a brief discussion is given of the terminology and classifications of hadith. (The Science of Hadith,

The prophet Muhammad reported that seeking knowledge has its principles and its stages; so whoever fails to acquire or seek knowledge based on these principles and on this gradation of seeking knowledge such will fail to acquire it. And this is an issue was emphasized hoping to drive this into the hearts of the students of knowledge and those who have knowledge, and that is to acquire knowledge piecemeal, bit by bit, over the passage of time. As was said by the famous scholar Ibn Shihab Az-Zuhri, "Whoever aims to acquire knowledge all at once, it will leave him all at once. Rather knowledge should be acquired over the passage of days and nights"

Just as when a child is taught the basics of writing and the basics of speaking and anunciating, s/he has to be taught this gradually, bit by bit, so if s/he continues to do this, s/he improves till s/he is eventually able to write and speak well. Knowledge, likewise has its young and its old, depending on the amount of understanding and their actions; isn't anything in this knowledge that is simple.

Malik, an Islamic scholar, when it was said to him that this is from the simple part of knowledge replied: There is nothing easy in the knowledge. Allaah has said: "Verily we shall send down to you a weighty word."

So one who considers knowledge to be weighty and difficult will obtain it. But as for one who takes issues up saying: this is clear, and this is straightforward..., such a person will just pass over it rapidly and in doing so will lose out on a lot. Therefore, it is imperative to take things step by step in the acquisition of knowledge with the idea that nothing in it is simple - rather that all of it is weighty, with regards to its understanding, with regards to consolidating what is known, and with regards to persevering in acquiring knowledge; for it is weighty and it requires continuance and following up - for knowledge is forgotten if it is left, but if a knowledge seeker perseveres in it and continues, it will remain. ( Shaikh Saleh ibn Abdul-Azeez Aal-Sheikh, Seeking Knowledge and One's Intentions,

The beneficial knowledge has certain ways and means by which it is obtained and certain paths that are taken in its acquisition and memorisation. Allah says in Quraan: “And say: O Lord, increase me in knowledge [Taa Haa 21:114]

And the Prophet Muhammad used to say: "O Allaah, benefit me with what you have taught me and teach me that which will benefit me and increase me in knowledge."

And for this reason one of the wise people, upon being questioned, "What is the way by which knowledge is obtained?", answered: "With eagerness is it followed, with love is it listened to, with sole concern is it gathered, [teach your knowledge to the one who is ignorant, and learn from the one who teaches, for if you do that, you will come to know what you were ignorant of and you will memorise that which you (yourself)

have learnt." And for this reason, Imaam ash-Shaafi'ee an Islamic scholar said: My brother! You will not acquire knowledge except by six matters: Intelligence, zeal, striving, competence/proficiency, the companionship of a teacher, and a long time! Acting upon the knowledge, the Prophet Muhammad said: "A servants two feet will not move on the Day of Judgement until he is questioned about four (things): His youth, how he spent it, his knowledge, how he acted upon it, his wealth, how he earned it and how he spent it and his body, how he used/wasted it." ( Saeed bin Wahf al-Qahtani, Guidelines For Acquiring Knowledge,

Islam is a religion based upon knowledge. The text of the Quran is replete with verses inviting man to use his intellect, to ponder, to think and to know, for the goal of human life is to discover the Truth which is none other than worshipping God in His Oneness. The Hadith literature is also full of references to the importance of knowledge. Such sayings of the Prophet as "Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave", (Hadith)

and "Verily the men of knowledge are the inheritors of the prophets", (Hadith)

have echoed throughout the history of Islam and incited Muslims to seek knowledge wherever it might be found. During most of its history, Islamic civilization has been witness to a veritable celebration of knowledge. That is why every traditional Islamic city possessed public and private libraries and some cities like Cordoba and Baghdad boasted of libraries with over 400,000 books. Such cities also had bookstores, some of which sold a large number of titles. That is also why the scholar has always been held in the highest esteem in Islamic society. (Islam, Knowledge, and Science,

The Prophet used to teach the Sunnah to his companions in word and deed, and urged them to follow it, as he said in his hadeeth: “Adhere to my Sunnah” and “Whoever neglects my Sunnah does not belong to me.” ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood narrated that the Prophet Muhammad said: “There is no Prophet whom Allaah sent to any nation before me, but he had disciples from among his nation, and companions who followed his Sunnah and obeyed his commands.” (Narrated by Muslim, no. 71).( Adhering to the Sunnah of the Prophet,

The Prophet Muhammad lived according to the Qur'an, he was the true spirit of the Qur'an. This was so that others would follow his example and because it is the way Allah has commanded man to behave. The goal was to make the companions of the Prophet and Believers adopt a way of life that was of a True Muslim.

Jafar son of Abbu Talib acting as the Muslim spokesman to the king of neighbouring Abyssinia summarized the teachings of Muhammad to explain their situation thus:

“O King! We were living in ignorance, idolatory and immorality. We honoured no relative and assisted no neighbour. The strong among us exploited the weak. Then God sent us a prophet, one of our own people whose descent, conduct and good faith and morality we are all well acquainted. He called us to the unity of God, and taught us not to associate any other being with him. He forbade us the worship of idols which we and our fathers used to worship. He commanded us always to speak the truth, to remain true to our trust, to love the relatives and to be good neighbours. He forbade us to slander the virtuous women or consume the property of the orphans. He ordered us to fly from vices and to abstain from the evil, to offer prayers, to give alms and to keep the fast. We believed in him; we followed him. Our people, however, persecuted us and sought to bring us back to idolatory and their other abominations. As they made life intolerable for us in Mecca, we chose your country and came here to live under your protection in peace.”

The king refused to deliver up the refugees and the Quraish returned to Mecca discomforted. (Zahur-ul-Haque, Muhammad the Greatest Leader, pp. 51-53)

The art of writing and penmanship has a glorious record in the history of Islamic education. The word ‘pen’ has a strange fascination for the historian and beautiful legends are related about its origin and the priority of its creation. According to a Tradition, the pen was one of the earliest of creation. In the Quran, there occurs a verse which runs as follows: “Read in the name of the lord who created Man from a drop of congealed blood. Read and thy Lord is highly Benevolent; verily He is thy Lord who taught thee with the pen and taught man what he did not know.” Implying the sanction and approval of the art of the writing by the Divine power and commending its use for Men.

The prophet did not like to lose any opportunity for the propagation of this art of writing and when seventy Meccans were made captives in the battle of Battle of Badar. They were asked to teach the skill to ten children or adults as a compensation for their ransom money which was forty Awqiyah for each captive. Those who had no ransom money to pay readily agreed to the arrangement.(Abdul Ghafur Chaudhri, Muhammad the Educator of Mankind, pp. 290-292)

Theoritcal Framework:

How Do People Learn? Observational Learning

Observational learning, also called social learning theory, occurs when an observer's behavior changes after viewing the behavior of a model. An observer's behavior can be affected by the positive or negative consequences--called vicarious reinforcement or vicarious punishment-- of a model's behavior.

The social learning theory of Bandura emphasizes the importance of observing and modeling the behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others. Bandura (1977) states: "Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action." (p22). Social learning theory explains human behavior in terms of continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioral, an environmental influences. The component processes underlying observational learning are: (1) Attention, including modeled events (distinctiveness, affective valence, complexity, prevalence, functional value) and observer characteristics (sensory capacities, arousal level, perceptual set, past reinforcement), (2) Retention, including symbolic coding, cognitive organization, symbolic rehearsal, motor rehearsal), (3) Motor Reproduction, including physical capabilities, self-observation of reproduction, accuracy of feedback, and (4) Motivation, including external, vicarious and self reinforcement.

Because it encompasses attention, memory and motivation, social learning theory spans both cognitive and behavioral frameworks. Bandura's theory improves upon the strictly behavioral interpretation of modeling provided by Miller & Dollard (1941).


Social learning theory has been applied extensively to the understanding of aggression (Bandura, 1973) and psychological disorders, particularly in the context of behavior modification (Bandura, 1969). It is also the theoretical foundation for the technique of behavior modeling which is widely used in training programs. In recent years, Bandura has focused his work on the concept of self-efficacy in a variety of contexts (e.g., Bandura, 1993).


1. The highest level of observational learning is achieved by first organizing and rehearsing the modeled behavior symbolically and then enacting it overtly. Coding modeled behavior into words, labels or images results in better retention than simply observing.

2. Individuals are more likely to adopt a modeled behavior if it results in outcomes they value.

3. Individuals are more likely to adopt a modeled behavior if the model is similar to the observer and has admired status and the behavior has functional value.

There are several guiding principles behind observational learning, or social learning theory:

The observer will imitate the model's behavior if the model possesses characteristics-- things such as talent, intelligence, power, good looks, or popularity--that the observer finds attractive or desirable.

The observer will react to the way the model is treated and mimic the model's behavior. When the model's behavior is rewarded, the observer is more likely to reproduce the rewarded behavior. When the model is punished, an example of vicarious punishment, the observer is less likely to reproduce the same behavior.

A distinction exists between an observer's "acquiring" a behavior and "performing" a behavior. Through observation, the observer can acquire the behavior without performing it. The observer may then later, in situations where there is an incentive to do so, display the behavior.

Learning by observation involves four separate processes: attention, retention, production and motivation.

· Attention: Observers cannot learn unless they pay attention to what's happening around them. This process is influenced by characteristics of the model, such as how much one likes or identifies with the model, and by characteristics of the observer, such as the observer's expectations or level of emotional arousal.

· Retention: Observers must not only recognize the observed behavior but also remember it at some later time. This process depends on the observer's ability to code or structure the information in an easily remembered form or to mentally or physically rehearse the model's actions.

· Production: Observers must be physically and/intellectually capable of producing the act. In many cases the observer possesses the necessary responses. But sometimes, reproducing the model's actions may involve skills the observer has not yet acquired. It is one thing to carefully watch a circus juggler, but it is quite another to go home and repeat those acts.

· Motivation: In general, observers will perform the act only if they have some motivation or reason to do so. The presence of reinforcement or punishment, either to the model or directly to the observer, becomes most important in this process.

Attention and retention account for acquisition or learning of a model's behavior; production and motivation control the performance.

Human development reflects the complex interaction of the person, the person's behavior, and the environment. The relationship between these elements is called reciprocal determinism. A person's cognitive abilities, physical characteristics, personality, beliefs, attitudes, and so on influence both his or her behavior and environment. These influences are reciprocal, however. A person's behavior can affect his feelings about himself and his attitudes and beliefs about others. Likewise, much of what a person knows comes from environmental resources such as television, parents, and books. Environment also affects behavior: what a person observes can powerfully influence what he does. But a person's behavior also contributes to his environment. (

He, Allah, the Exalted, told His Messenger to invite other members of his tribe, Bani Hashim, so as to widen the circle of the Message:

"And warn your tribe of near kindred. And lower your wing (in

kindness) unto those believers who follow you. And if they disobey

you, say: Lo! I am innocent of what you do. Holy Qur'an (26:214.216)

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