In this day and age, teaching little children in a primary makatb is not amongst the easiest of tasks. Teachers are faced with major challenges in the classroom. Often the Apa goes back home at the end of the day tired and dejected. The question that keeps on ringing in her mind is, “Are we winning?”
Each day brings about new challenges for the maktab Apa. The children in her classroom are so different. Some are from broken homes, others from mixed marriages and yet some from foreign backgrounds who don’t even understand our language. Then, we are faced with the challenge of technology. Children are addicted to the X-Box, smart phone, T.V. games, and the list goes on. Their attention span is so low that it lasts for a maximum of five minutes for the day. At times, whilst taking a child’s sabak, you may find him suddenly taking his kitaab, using it as a steering wheel and speeding off as if he is the driver of a formula 1 taking part in a Kyalami race.
The major intake of junk by children today further stunts their progress and understanding. Every other child is diagnosed with ADD and ADHD whereas this was something never heard of in the past. How does an Apa cope in her classroom? She isn’t getting a fantastic salary to motivate her to carry on. Maktab Apas get paid paltry salaries. If the elephant cried when he heard how much the Moulana was earning, it would probably die when it hears how much the Apas are receiving. Some Apas are teaching for years and haven’t received any increments, yet they continue teaching with the same passion and enthusiasm without any complaint. Then what prompts her to carry on and embrace each day as it comes?
It’s her deep love for Deen and the Sunnah of Rasulullah [sallallahu alayhi wasallam] that prompts her to keep going. As she walks to madarasah daily, she treads carefully on the ground knowing full well that she is walking on the wings of the Malaaikah. She is the representatives of Rasulullah [sallallahu alayhi wasallam] on this earth. Every now and again, as she walks to madrasah, she glances at the skies above and her eyes catch hold of a bird in the distance. The Apa smiles to herself knowing full well that that bird is busy engaging in dua for HER forgiveness. Whilst other professionals may boast of their professions and their degrees, she knows without doubt that she is amongst the best people walking on the face of the earth. She is among the best since she is teaching the Qur-aan and Rasulullah [sallallahu alayhi wasallam] has said, “The best of you is the one who learns the Qur-aan and teaches it.”
She is unconcerned about the meagre salary she earns because she has full conviction in the fact that Allah Ta’ala will reward her far more than what any person can pay her in this temporary world. She knows that Allah Ta’ala will reward her with that which no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard off and no heart can ever imagine. She knows that my Allah will reward me with the highest position of Jannah because I am in the profession of my beloved Nabi [sallallahu alayhi wasallam] who once mentioned to the Sahaabah (radiyallahu anhum), “Allah Ta’ala sent me as a Mua’llim (teacher).”
Below is an incident that occurred in a maktab in (KZN). It was really inspirational to hear this story and the need was felt that it must be shared with all teachers, hoping that it will inspire one and all. May Allah Ta’ala grant us the taufeeq to also act in the same manner. Sometimes we are quick to write off a student. We feel that he is not capable and thus ask him to leave the Madrasah. Think for a moment, how will we answer to Allah Ta’ala if He asks us, “A child came to your door searching for ME and you turned him away. Why?” How will we answer? May Allah Ta’ala forgive us.
NOTE: The names of the children and the madrasah have been changed.
At the beginning of 2018, a new child enrolled at Madrasah Atfaal. He seemed to be very disturbed. What was really surprising about this boy was his violent behaviour. No child could pass him without being punched, slapped or kicked. The other children in his class were terrified of him. By the third day, four children left the madrasah and the Apa was now going crazy in her class. No one could control this boy. He was extremely disturbed and his behavior was beyond anyone’s control. By the fourth day, the Apa was ready to hand in her resignation saying, “Either he remains in the class or I remain. The way things are going, it seems as if all the children in the class will leave. Some drastic action has to be taken immediately.” The poor Apa could not be blamed for this, since most others in a similar situation would have probably done the same.
The principal phoned his mother and asked her if she could come in immediately. When she arrived half an hour later, her son’s behaviour at the madrasah was spelt out to her. She burst into tears saying, “I don’t know what to do with him anymore. The school principal expelled him last week. His father has a terrible temper and beats me up at home. He sees his dad behaving in this manner. What you are seeing him doing is an imitation of what he sees his father doing.”
“I’m sorry, we won’t be able to keep him in the madrasah,” said the principal. “He’s going to chase all the students away from here.” A senior Apa at the Madrasah happened to overhear this conversation. She came forward and said softly, “How can we send a child away from our madrasah when he came here to learn the knowledge of Deen? How will we answer to Allah Ta’ala for this? Let me take him in my class and I will try my best to work with him.”
The next day she took the little boy into her class and made dua to Allah Ta’ala to help her with this child. The first thing the Apa did was contact the mother. She said to her, “We are going to fight this battle together, and we are going to win Insha Allah. But we have to do this together. Are you prepared?” The mother assured her co-operation. The Apa then gave her the following guidelines;
“Firstly,” said the Apa, “I want you to wake up every night at the time of Tahajjud and make dua for your son. Remember, the duas of a mother are readily accepted. I will also wake up at the time of Tahajjud and make dua for him.”
“Secondly, I’m going to give you a book. It’s written by a great Aalim, Hadhrat Moulana Muhammad Zakariyya (RA). The name of the book is Fazaail-e-Aamaal. Every night sit with your son and read to him the Ahaadith contained in this book. This book contains valuable advice. Reading the Hadith of Rasulullah [sallallahu alayhi wasallam] in your home will bring about great peace and barkat in your home and in your life. Try to practice on whatever you read.”
“Thirdly, I’m going to give you a CD of Hadhrat Moulana Yunus Patel (rahmatullahi alayh). The CD contains Hadhrat Moulana’s zikr. Play the CD at home every night and sit with your son on the musalla. With full concentration make the zikr of Allah Ta’ala in your home.”
“Fourthly, I want you to take him to an educational psychologist for an assessment. Because of his unsteady childhood, he may need some medical help as well.”
With the above four advices from the Apa, the little boy’s mother undertook the arduous journey with her son to try and rectify the situation. Every night after the Esha Salaah, they sat together reading the advices from Fazaail-e-Amaal and making zikr of Allah Ta’ala. At the time of Tahajjud she would awake from her bed and make special dua for her son. Can we imagine the effect of this dua. The dua of a mother and that too, at the time of Tahajjud.
Its six months since that day and the young boy is a completely different child. He sits quietly in his class and learns his sabak every day. He adores his Apa and has all the time in the world for her. His mother says that when he comes home, the only thing he speaks about is “My Apa told me this and my Apa told me that.” He doesn’t speak anything about school or the sports he plays at school. The thing he really enjoys in life is his time at the Madrasah.
On the last day of the madrasah term before the children could leave for the holidays, his Apa bought burgers for all the children in her class as a treat for them. One child commented, “Apa you only bought us a burger. Where is the coke?” The little boy was very upset with this statement. He immediately retorted, “That’s being ungrateful. You should at least say JazakAllah to Apa for buying us a burger.”
This is the power of a maktab Apa. Outwardly it may seem that she has only 15 children in front of her whom she can make an effort on, but in reality, she has 15 families before her. She can make that difference in the homes of all these children. That is why our elders tell us that when we sit in the classroom, make niyyat (intention) for the hidaayat (guidance) of the entire mankind. Who knows that through one child Allah Ta’ala will cause the winds of hidaayat to blow on the entire mankind.
In this instance, the Apa managed to introduce ta’leem and zikr in the home of that child and also got the mother to wake up for Tahajjud daily.
No child is a Write-off. We cannot chase any child away. As a teacher, YOU can make that difference in the life of that child.
May Allah Ta’ala inspire us all to be an inspiration for our students in the classroom and guide us to be a true reflection of our beloved Rasul [sallallahu alayhi wasallam].