7.9 Exquisite Way of Teaching

Hazrat Thanwi’s style of teaching was so fine, exquisite and simple that students who took a few lessons from him would thereafter not find contentment in any other Ustaad. The reason for this is clear from the following explanation of Hazrat:

“When I used to teach, I would endure much hardship, in that I would firstly preserve the lesson in my mind, then I would teach. For this reason my whole lecture would be very straightforward and orderly. On account of this, students would find the most difficult of topics to be simple as ABC. It would easily be grasped by them. Although I would undergo hardship in simplifying the lecture, however, the students would have no problem in understanding any portion.

Accordingly, there is a famous piece in Sadra known as Muthannaat bit takreer. It is regarded to be a very difficult portion. When the lesson came in the kitaab, then without warning the students beforehand, on the day of the lesson I imparted a straightforward explanation. I did not, however, alert them to this being the difficult portion. In a casual way I lectured. Since I simplified the explanation quite a bit, the students readily understood the lesson. Once they admitted to having understood then I told them that this is the same place which is known as Muthannaat bit takreer. When they heard this they became startled. I said to them: ‘No need to fear now. It’s all over’. I then posed them the question: ‘Tell me. Is this something difficult?’ They replied: ‘Other students made us scared of this portion, but it is not at all difficult.’

The portion was in fact difficult. However, I lectured it in such a casual and simple way that they understood it with ease. I had to put up with a lot of difficulty in simplifying it however, as I placed their load on my shoulders. I always aim for this in teaching.

Nowadays Ustaads do not wish to bear any difficulty. As a matter of fact they do not have sympathy. A ritual undertaking of the work is all that remains [among Asaatizah nowadays].

When I taught, I never lectured anything unnecessary. I sufficed with unravelling of the kitaab. I never wasted students’ time with superfluous details and I would emphasise this to the Mudarriseen under me. In fact, at times I would go and inspect their teaching.

Asaatizah mainly lecture on subtleties and intricacies to show their greatness. The actual purport of the kitaab is clouded thereby. Some offer the excuse that until this is not included in the lecture, students are not contented with the ability of the Ustaad. Be that as it may, should we see to this contentment of the students or what is of benefit to them? The benefit is in solving the kitaab well, because isti’daad [aptitude in understanding the texts] is only produced through that. And when isti’daad is produced then subtleties and intricacies will be understood naturally. The focus of the Ustaad’s gaze should therefore be on this.

These new-fangled programmes of weekly practice of speaking and debating that have been concocted are unnecessary. In fact, they are harmful because the entire week is spent in preparation for it instead of attending to lessons. In the first place there is no need at all for this type of training because when kitaabs are learnt with understanding, then ability to speak, write and debate will automatically follow.

If the inclination [to have weekly anjumans/student programmes] is too strong however, then the student should be told to speak on the kitaab he is studying. In this way practice of speaking will be done and there won’t be any harm. In fact, their kitaabs will be consolidated further.”