Teaching 47 years refusing salary.
Once there was a boy of twenty years old from this town (Tareem) who when he was studying in Mecca for four years, he would cook rice on the stove and revised his lessons. He didn’t have to check if the rice was done. Once he had read a set number of pages that would be his mark. Rice was done.
He also made a prayer at the (Multazam of) Ka’abah asking God to enable him to spread the word of Islam to all four corners of the world. Mind you, a hundred years ago, this was quite an unthinkable idea, potentially ridiculous. No less, the supplication was made with dear hope and sincerity.
He became the headmaster of a well known prestigious school, Ribat Tareem, where for forty seven years rejected salary for wanting to be in true service and fear that it may corrupt his sincerity in teaching to whoever that came seeking. Such was his vigour.
Photo is of a beautiful door attached to the said school.
As a student, he’d only allow two hours of sleep for every twenty four and attend thirteen lessons per day. As a teacher, he’d conduct lessons at his home if he was too ill to go to school. In his old age, he taught children the knowledge of basic prayer. As a deceased he was buried at the feet of his mother’s grave, as requested, following the narration of ‘Paradise is at the feet of a mother.’
He never did travel the world. However records show that over 13,000 students graduated under his tutelage, that left Tareem to the east and the west as teachers and preachers in their locale. With that I’ll suppose his prayer more than fifty years ago were answered.
His name is Habib Abdullah bin Omar bin Ahmad al-Shatiri.
The grandfather of Professor Naquib al-Attas, Habib Abdullah bin Muhsin al-Attas, said of his teacher Abdullah al-Shatiri, that he (al-Shatiri) will be resurrected on the Day of Judgment along with his students as a nation (Ummah)* by himself and be met by his grandfather (37 generations apart), Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
*As per Hadith narrated by al-Bayhaqi and Abu Ya’la.
Perhaps if we understand knowledge like he did (if we could), our approach in discussing an education system, and philosophy of education, would shift immensely. Have a thought about it. And whatever else you may derive from this fragrance of history.
*This post is based on the talk I did in Malaysia and Singapore, as with all other posts in this specific photo album. The talk was called Seeking Islam: Why I’m Still in Yemen. See album description for more info.
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