The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would occasionally show an object that was impermissible (Haram) to use as an exhibit to emphasize its impermissibility. An example of this is the Hadeeth of gold and silk for men. The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, raised up actual pieces of gold and silk and said: “These are Haram for the men of my Ummah (nation) and Halaal for the women of my Ummah.” [Reported by Abu Dawood]
Modern educational methods lay great stress on the use of exhibits in order to explain concepts to students in a better way and have a more profound effect on them than mere lecturing.
In another Hadeeth, the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was speaking about the act of Ghulool (taking from the war booty before it has been distributed by the commander of the army).
Allah The Almighty Says (what means):
“It is not for any Prophet to take illegally a part of booty (Ghulool), and whosoever deceives his companions as regards the booty, he shall bring forth on the Day of Resurrection that which he took (illegally). Then every person shall be paid in full what he has earned and they shall not be dealt with unjustly.” [Quran, Surah Al-‘Imran, 3: 161]
When a battle is underway, the commander of the army needs people to do different things: he needs these people to stand and guard certain areas; he needs other people to work in communications. If the soldiers or even the townspeople become preoccupied with the war booty, there is the fear of greed and human jealousy creeping in. Therefore, it is impermissible to take from the war spoils before the commander divides.
When talking about the impermissibility of Ghulool, the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, physically picked up the war spoils and he began explaining to the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, about the magnitude of the impermissibility of stealing from the war spoils. He, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, did this while he was holding and standing beside the war spoils after battle. Thus, he did not just make a vague reference to the war spoils; he actually held them up, making a deep impression on all the people gathered there. [Reported by Al-Bukhari]
The Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, taught people using the stories and the accounts of people who came before. This is a common technique used throughout the Quran and Sunnah – using stories from past nations and people to teach lessons through these stories. There are numerous narrations which may be statements that are not well known amongst our communities. On the other hand, there are other narrations that have stories in them and so they are well known even to the lay people. This shows you the power of those stories and why they are so easily passed on from generation to generation.
One such story is the story of Abu Zara' and Umm Zara', narrated by 'Aa'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, to the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
'Aa'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, reported that (one day) there sat together eleven women making an explicit promise amongst themselves that they would conceal nothing about their spouses.
The first one said: My husband is the sort of meat like the meat of a lean camel placed at the top of a hill, which it is difficult to climb up, nor (the meat) is good enough that one finds in oneself the urge to take it away (from the top of that mountain).
The second one said: My husband (is so bad) that I am afraid I would not be able to describe his faults – both visible and invisible completely.
The third one said: My husband is a long-statured fellow (i. e. he lacks intelligence). If I give vent to my feelings about him, he would divorce me, and if I keep quiet I would be made to live in a state of suspense (neither completely abandoned by him nor entertained as wife).
The fourth one said: My husband is like the night of Tihamah (the night of Hijaaz and Makkah), neither too cold nor hot, neither there is any fear of him nor grief.
The fifth one said: My husband is (like) a leopard as he enters the house, and behaves like a lion when he gets out, and he does not ask about that which he leaves in the house.
The sixth one said: As far as my husband is concerned, he eats so much that nothing is left back and when he drinks he drinks that no drop is left behind. And when he lies down he wraps his body and does not touch me so that he may know my grief.
The seventh one said: My husband is heavy in spirit, having no brightness in him, impotent, suffering from all kinds of conceivable diseases, heaving such rough manners that he may break my head or wound my body, or may do both.
The eighth one said: My husband is as sweet as the sweet-smelling plant, and as soft as the softness of the hare.
The ninth one said: My husband is the master of a lofty building, long-statured, having heaps of ashes (at his door) and his house is near the meeting place and the inn.
The tenth one said: My husband is Malik, and how fine Malik is, much above appreciation and praise (of mine)! He has many folds of his camels, more in number than the pastures for them. When they (the camels) hear the sound of music they become sure that they are going to be slaughtered.
The eleventh one said: My husband is Abu Zara'. How fine Abu Zara' is! He has suspended in my ears heavy ornaments and (fed me liberally) that my sinews and bones are covered with fat. So he made me happy. He found me among the shepherds living in the side of the mountain, and he made me the owner of the horses, camels and lands and heaps of grain and he finds no fault with me. I sleep and get up in the morning (at my own sweet will) and drink to my heart's content.
The mother of Abu Zara', how fine is the mother of Abu Zara'! Her bundles are heavily packed (or receptacles in her house are filled to the brim) and the house quite spacious. So far as the son of Abu Zara' is concerned, his bed is as soft as a green palm-stick drawn forth from its bark, or like a sword drawn forth from its scabbard, and whom just an arm of a lamb is enough to satiate. So far as the daughter of Abu Zara' is concerned, how fine is the daughter of Abu Zara', obedient to her father, obedient to her mother, wearing sufficient flesh and a source of jealousy for her co-wife. As for the slave-girl of Abu Zara', how fine is she; she does not disclose our affairs to others (outside the four walls of the house). She does not remove our wheat, or provision, or take it forth, or squander it, but she preserves it faithfully (as a sacred trust). And she does not let the house fill with rubbish.
One day Abu Zara' went out (of his house) when the milk was churned in the vessels, that he met a woman, having two children like leopards. He divorced me (Umm Zara') and married that woman (whom Abu Zara') met on the way. I (Umm Zara') later on married another person, a chief, who was an expert rider, and a fine archer: he bestowed upon me many gifts and gave me one pair of every kind of animal and said: Umm Zara', make use of everything (you need) and send forth to your parents (but the fact) is that even if I combine all the gifts that he bestowed upon me, they stand no comparison to the least gift of Abu Zara.'
'Aa'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, reported that Allah's Messenger, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said to me: “I am for you as Abu Zara' was for Umm Zara”".
The advantage of teaching with stories is that you have the attention of the person from the beginning to the end of the story.
However, some people take this to the extreme and they only use stories and nothing else, which is not as effective as a mix of the techniques because if you only use one technique you could bore the people.
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