[There are general etiquettes and then there are etiquettes particular to teachers. The following are some classroom rules stated by Mufti Muzaffar Husayn who was the hadith teacher and former principal of Mazahirul Uloom in India. Wait for the lesson to start inside the class; do not loiter outside. Attend class and consistently so. Do not leave the classroom unnecessarily. Focus! Do not doodle, text or distract others during the lesson. Do not do anything which is unrelated to the current lesson during lesson time such as grooming or reading a novel. Come prepared; do not leave your books at home.]
[Mufti Muzaffar Husayn Mazahiri (may Allah Almighty have mercy upon him) states1,]
It is a story through the year and I do not like fighting over and over either. In a lesson and especially so in a lesson of hadith, there are a few matters which must be given consideration […] The first is the general etiquettes of a lesson and the second is [specific] with each teacher who have particular approaches and some principles which want the students to fulfil.
The very first thing I want from you is that at the very least you are not standing here and there at lesson time. If you stand here and stand there, this is your first fight with me. When you stand here and there, I consider that in other words you have made a complaint about the teacher even if you have not made the complaint verbally […] Meaning complaint can be done with ‘قال’ (statement) as well as through ‘حال’ (conduct). This conduct of yours entails complaint. When the lesson time has started and the teacher has not arrived or came ten minutes late due to which you are standing here and there, you have announced that the teacher is not there yet. Is that not a complaint? When you complain about a teacher, it is apparent you cannot benefit from them. Even if there is not a clear fight, however, it is the ruling of Allah almighty that when bitterness forms inside and the heart becomes constricted then one cannot benefit. Even if there are lots of lectures and everything else but the circumstance will be as I have mentioned that it is difficult to benefit. You should save yourself from this habit. At the very least let me tell you about myself that do not stand around in my lesson time. I should not see you standing. Rather sit for ten minutes and wait. I will send a message that there will be no lesson. It is my habit that if I am unable to teach the lesson, I inform but six or seven minutes late and not before.
Let me mention to you another thing. In a few days something else starts which not being present in class. There are some who do not even bother to come here and sit in lesson. They are relaxing at lesson time even though it is mandatory upon them to be present and remain in lesson. If you start adopting this approach that you come sometimes and don’t come sometimes, I will start feeling dim and withdrawn, my lectures will become shallow and I would assume what is the point of in-depth speeches.
Let me mention another point. There are those who attend class (Masha-Allah). But the extent of their care is that if there is registration they will be present and if there is no registration they will be absent. Remember! In two or three days I will see your face (I will know who is what). After that, I will be able to tell if you are not coming to lesson. Do not assume that if there was no register it is not known as to who did not come. […] This is a form of cheating with the lesson and the teacher […] Many are under the assumption that we have put one over [the teacher]; the teacher did not ask and so did not know. This is an error. This error should be removed as it is nothing and everything is known.
However, let me say that after the first, second or third occurrence, I may say that you are not consistent. Subsequently, after the third time I will assume that come or do not come, if after telling you, still you did not come, I will not ask why you did not come. The reason being, you are not children. Masha-Allah, you have intellect, are mature, have understanding, are able to lead the people, manage an organisation and all other thing. Even then if you are careless about what benefits and harms you, who can inform you. After the third time, as you would have read, even the Quran states, ‘This is a separation between me and you’. So up to three time the apology will be heard but after the third time it is not necessary. This is my personal stance or else the rule of the madrasah is different. Whether they expel you or keep you that is the madrasah’s matter, however, the special relationship that we have will definitely be different. Even if you do not call it a literal separation consider it is a figurative one. A figurative separation is when there is no connection between the teacher and student. So this separation is born. The point being, be consistent in you attendance.
Some of our friends (viz. students) have adopted another form. Listen regarding it also. They arrive and are present, however, studying is not their objective. Their main purpose is to register their attendance. As soon as they have been marked in, they need to go toilet, they need to urinate, they have an extreme need, they have an illness and so they leave the class. Some will try to adopt this corner or that corner and thereafter when they feel like it, they leave, and when they feel like it, they return. They think we have fooled them and the teacher does not have a clue who left […] To inform or not to inform is a separate issue, however, to assume that it was not known, is not correct. It is definitely known but it is not my habit to say over and over; it is not appropriate either.
There are some of our friends whose mindset is that let us go to lesson and these poor souls come to lesson also as well as remain in lesson. However, whilst remaining some start doodling, sometimes sending a note here and sometimes sending a note there2, or thereafter they start to sign towards each other.
Some fellows have gone to the limit, and this is my experience that someone is doing their moustache3 or reading a novel4. The lesson of hadith is going on and the novel is open. It is a sad case! Think, the novel is open and hadith is being taught. Similarly, a scissor is in front or a pen and with these their exercise is done upon the book. These are experiences which I am telling. I am not merely saying but it is my experience. Now you let me how can such students gain anything.
Similarly, some do not even bring their books such as today where some have come without their books. Meaning they are so well researched that they do not consider it necessary to lift so many books, and even if they pick, it is one or two important books which they will bring from their residence.
Listen! Those who find it burdensome to even carry books, it is clear what burden they will take to carry knowledge. I ask that if it is difficult to bring books for four lessons at once from the room, what would they be able to preserve of the lectures of four lessons? I want to ask to those whose state in regards to the respect of knowledge that they cannot even bring books and sit without books. This is my long experience and you will also see, this is their regular habit that they come without books and they impose on those who have brought their books. Think! What are they studying who cannot even bring books?
All these things are causes of deprivation, loss and deficiency in knowledge. Hence, if you want to study and teach properly, it should be learned in the right manner with full consideration of the etiquette of knowledge. The teacher should consider their station and student should realise their obligation. Thereafter, Allah Almighty will very easily grant knowledge.
Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami (Translator)
19 Shawwal 1436
5 August 2015
1. In Taqrir Tirmidhi (also known as Durus Muzaffari)
2. The modern day equivalent of that is reading or sending texts or emails.
3. In the case of girls makeup and clothing.
4. Alternatively, some may be browsing a website or doing work other than that which is being covered in class