Training methods of Lady Zahra (PBUH)- Part 2

Training methods of Lady Zahra (PBUH)- Part 2

Training methods of Lady Zahra (PBUH)- Part 2

part 1

A comparative review of the training methods of Lady Zahra (PBUH) and the training methods of the Modern Age

As Mr. Morteza Motahhari asserted, from the Islamic view point, education is the actualization of the capabilities within each object (Motahhari, 1997, p. 33). Islam has an outstanding aspect regarding the topic of education; since unlike the common educational systems that lack the transcendental aspects and divine purposes, it has a spiritual foundation and a divine worldview, and takes the world beyond the narrow borders of Materialism and Naturalism, and the life beyond the vain and pointless cycle of birth and death, and introduces the Monotheism as the philosophy of the worldview, and the resurrection and the philosophy of life (Shariati, 1389 {2010}, p. 98).

Therefore, we can say: Education is the provision of factors and contexts for the actualization of the potential talents of humans in a desirable direction. At birth, humans are actual animals and potential humans; the animal dimension that guaranties its survival potentially exists and the human dimension is like seeds inside them that if cultivated, will turn into elevated human values. Thus, in the Islamic education, all humans are physically humans, but from the spiritual and internal personality point of view, will reach the dignity of humanity in case of developing and internalizing the human values and actualizing the humanity inside them.

Among the terms related to the Islamic education, education as the name suggests means “teaching something to somebody” and “edifying”, which means to purify the immoral features of one’s personality. From the Western thinkers’ viewpoint, the purpose of education is “to adjust humans to their environment” (Meier, 1995, p 13), which is clearly different from the Islamic concept and purpose of education. From the Islamic viewpoint, conformity with the communities and customs that are inconsistent with the teachings of the messengers and the text of the divine revelations is not approved; as in the first years of the appointment of the Last Messenger (PBUH), fighting with the customs of the ignorant Arabs was one of the most important missions of him. For instance, Islam enjoins all the members of the society to avoid making any connections or friendship or any social links with the wine drinkers (the quarantine method)(Baqeri, 1374 {1995}, p 15). The aim of education in Islam is the actualization of humanity on the basis of the Monotheism and the worship of God; but from the psychological viewpoint, education is meaningful merely by considering the mundane purposes and the social achievements, as a result of the dominance of the Anthropocentrism and the Naturalism on the opinions of the Western psychologists.

  1. The training method

“Method” generally means the techniques, procedures, and behaviors that realize the principles of teaching and education (Rafi’ei, 1391 {2012}, V. 3, p. 267).

Based on a definition, the training methods are the ways through which individuals can materialize and consolidate the teachings of God and the good manners in themselves or others, and to eliminate the impropriety from other people’s hearts and souls as well as theirs (Musavi Kashmari, 1386 {2007}, p. 15). Hence, we can simply say: The training methods are the procedures and behaviors that the instructors employ to materialize the training goals, and if enough attention is paid to those procedures, their strengths and the weaknesses will be evaluated by error and trial. In fact, the training methods are the evident manifestations of training and a great part of the success of a training system depends on the procedures adopted and implemented to achieve the training goals. Encouragement, punishment, kindness, and blaming are among the training methods, but the quality and the quantity of their implementation and considering the conditions of the learners are very important.

In adopting the training methods, variation of the methods is very important due to the individual differences between the children; since a method brings about good training for one child and futile for another. Therefore, agreement between the individual features and capabilities and features, and the method is influential in the degree of the efficacy of the educational method.

From the Islamic teachings, it is clear that generally two methodological groups, namely “corrective” and “creative” methods could be employed in the training. The corrective methods are those that their aim is the elimination or reduction of an undesirable behavior including the apparent or the internal affairs such as the improper and indecent thoughts, and the creative methods are those that create a new behavior or stabilize the good and correct behaviors.

A review of the training methods of The modern age and the methods of Lady Zahra (PBUH) in child rearing:

  1. The training methods of the modern age

The first empirical studies about children under the title of “developmental psychology” started in the seventeenth century and have continued up to now. The training methods propounded so far are so vast; the theories that sometimes contradict each other or complete each other or are parallel to each other.

In the seventeenth century, John Locke believed that an infant’s mind is like a blank slate that develops through a favorable environment, and can acquire the necessary experiences for life only through the interference of the environmental factors. On the contrary, in the eighteenth century Jean-Jacques Rousseau defined the infant as a noble and undaunted creature that is gifted with internal blessings of recognition of good and evil and also sense of justice and morality, and in case of the absence of the undue interference of the environment, it is trained normally (a group of authors, 1388 (2010), pp. 7&8).

In the nineteenth century, some psychologists like Friedrich Froeble, by making comparisons between children and animals, extended the child rearing theories and pinpionted some aspects of the growth of the children in different stages. The information for this study was gathered mainly through observations, questionnaires, and interviews with children’s parents and teachers (ibid, p. 8). The beginning of the educational psychology was also in this century between 1880 and 1900. In these two decades, the empirical research about the human features and his mental powers started. The research is divided into 3 categories, namely measuring, child psychology, and learning (Mc Donald, 1366 (1987), p. 10). But the main part of the empirical research about the physical and mental development of children was conducted in the twentieth century. The invention of IQ tests for children, Freud’s theoretical propositions, and the establishment of the school of Behaviorism that considered all the children responses as dependent on the environmental stimuli, and many of the other famous theories in the domain of child psychology were propounded in this century.

Many of the theories related to the child psychology presented only a kind of pathology and the stages of the child development, but failed to present a method that leads to a comprehensive and correct education and actualization of the potential talents of children. Some other theories presented the educational methods on the basis of the comparison of children and animals, and were tested by different theorists in different decades; methods like classical conditioning and operant conditioning, reward and incentive motivations, model setting, imitation, game show, etc (a group of authors, 1384 {2006}, V. 1, pp. 435,458,460).

One of the most important features of the modern educational methods is that these methods are based on natural data and numerous tests, so they can be helpful in controlling some human features like fear, anger, hatred, etc. But these methods are seriously weak in some respects:

Firstly, each method is born from human mind and actions and has some defects and errors due the human limitations. Just as in practice, any new method is quickly challenged by other theorists. This can cause a generation who get educated by defective methods to face serious damages.

Secondly, the methods of the psychology theorists are mainly resulted from doing experiments on animals especially monkeys and for this reason are incompatible with the natural and exclusive features of humans and cannot provide the mental and spiritual developments of humans.

Thirdly, each training method is designed based on the purposes and mentalities of its inventor and cannot be suitable for different cultures.

Fourth, the main purpose of the modern age training methods is the adaptation of the child to the environment and the society, and the concepts of rightfulness and justice are rarely paid attention.

Finally, the serious problem of the western theories in the domain of child psychology is the ignorance of the role of “mother” and considering it replaceable with anybody who does some instructions toward the child. However, some contemporary theories after centuries of trial and error verify the irreplaceable and unmatched role of mother in the emotional, mental, and physical development of the infant. (A group of authors, 1388 {2010}, p. 192).

  1. The training methods of Lady Zahra (PBUH)

From an Islamic point of view, Lady Zahra, who was educated by the messenger of God (PBUH), is a role model for mothers and has completely displayed the teachings of Islam in her behavior and speech. On this basis, beside the most important training methods of Islam, Lady Zahra’s manners in child rearing will be expressed as practical examples of each method.

According to the Islamic verses and narratives, we can state that Islamic training is a title for displaying the comprehensive and purposeful Islamic plan for flourishing a human; a plan by which humans understand their reality and their superiority over the other creatures of God. To express the high importance of education in Islam, it is enough to point to the saying of Imam Ali (PBUH) that said: “The best heritage that parents can leave to their children is a correct training” (Tabarsi, 1412 A.H, p. 233).

In the comprehensive Islamic plan regarding training, training of children starts from the time of selecting a wife. The Messenger of God (PBUH) has said: “Avoid marrying a woman grown up in a corrupt environment” (Sadouq, 1377 {1999}, v. 2, p. 251).

After that, sometime before the formation of the fetus, its training plan continues. Like the fetus of Lady Zahra (PBUH) that was formed after forty days of worship and prayer for God by the Messenger of God (PBUH) and Lady Khadijah (PBUH) (Ansari, 1372 {1994}, p. 31).

Also the period of pregnancy and breast feeding is a very important stage of education. Imam Ali (PBUH) has said: “Don’t feed your children by the harlot or crazy woman’s milk, because some features pass down through lactating” (Ibn Shobe Horani, 1376 {1998) p. 105). When at the beginning of life, Azan (call to prayer) is whispered near the ear of an infant, the message of beginning of life in this mundane world is transferred to the infant by the sentence ” لا اله الا الله” (There is no God except Allah). All these stages are done with the purpose of a religious training and are very important.

Also, lots of effective and beautiful teachings have been presented in the verses and narratives for the correct training of children. For example, one of the most important and delicate teachings on this matter that is pointed out in Chapter Noor of the Holy Quran (verses 57&58), is about the necessity of asking permission by children when they want to enter the room of their parents. These teachings, unlike the psychological ideas held by Freud and his followers that emphasize on the sexual clarity during the growth of children, insist on the modesty and chastity of children. The main message of the whole Chapter is the provision of solutions for reduction and elimination of the sexual deviations of the individuals and the society. In fact, the emphasis of the divine revelation on teaching the children about asking permission before entering the room of their parents is a kind of prevention from their sexual deviations in their adulthood. These teachings are connected with the aim of purity and chastity of the individuals and the society and for the same reason, they are not found in the ideas of the western psychologists, and also on the contrary, teaching and practicing the sexual relations to the individuals from their childhood to adulthood is emphasized.


  1. The features of Islamic Training

Features of Islamic training can be summed up into the following items:

  1. Islamic training: Islamic training is comprehensive since it includes both the body and soul, individuals and groups, this world and the Hereafter, and all these dimensions are examinable referring to the Holy Quran and the Hadiths (Ahmadi, 1364 {1985}, p. 40)
  2. Islamic training as worship: According to Islam whatever one does for oneself or others’ elevation, perfection and upbringing, and is done for God’s sake is considered as worship. According to Quranic verses, the aim of human’s creation is devotion and worshipping of God (51: 56) and this devotion is achievable through every individual and social deeds and behavior. Imam Sadiq (PBUH) said: “Do not count on one’s long prayer since one is accustomed to and afraid to quit it but trust one’s honesty and his repaying of his debts (Koleini, 1407 A.H., vol. 2 p.105). This hadith indicates that one’s devotion must appear in every individual’s social deeds and behaviors.
  3. The reliance of Islamic training on refinement and edification: Islam emphasizes on the primacy of edification over teaching (62: 2).
  4. Moderation and justice in as the focal point in Islamic training: In Islamic approach toward education, the term “justice” is considered in its general meaning. It enjoins to avoid any excessive behavior toward children and also in a broader aspect, it emphasizes on a balanced and fair behavior and the love to one’s children and to spend equal attention to their children. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your children equally as you like to be treated justly by others” (Namazi, 1385 (2006), vol.2 p.684). It is quoted from Imam Sadiq (PBUH) that the worst of fathers is one who goes to excess concerning affection to their children (Yaaghoubi, Bita, vol.2 p.320).

There are some examples in Lady Zahra’s (PBUH) lifestyle that show her attention and consideration for treating her children justly. It is said that one day Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) asked Imam Hassan and Imam Hussein (Peace be upon them) to wrestle. Lady Zahra (PBUH) said: “I noticed that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used some words to encourage Hassan so to give confidence to him” so she told her father: “I wonder how you prefer one of them to the other especially the older to the younger?” and Prophet told her because my friend Gabriel is cheering Hussain and so I am encouraging Hassan. Thus she tried not to treat her children with partiality.

Moreover, in another example, her fair judgment between his two sons (Imam Hassan and Imam Hussein {May Peace be upon them}) in an orthography competition is noteworthy. Bearing in mind the children’s sensitive soul, she let them judge themselves truly by scattering her beads of necklace on the floor and ask the children to gather them (Majlesi, 1403 A.H., vol. 43, p. 309).

  1. The emphasis on the maternal role as being valuable in Islamic training: One of the most important training features in Islam that is also seen in the life style of Lady Zahra (PBUH), is the emphasis on the role of mother and her affections for the child in all aspects of the child’s growth and developing. In various narrations which cannot be mentioned in this article, the value and importance of maternal role from the Islamic point of view is emphasized. It is quoted from Lady Zahra’s (PBUH) life style that she showed a lot of affections and kindness to her children and behaved in accordance to her children’s needs. It is said that one day Bilal was late for prayer in the mosque. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) asked for the reason and he said “I was passing by Lady Zahra’s house and I saw she was grinding wheat by hand and her little son Hussain was crying, I asked her to let me grind and she calm down the baby or the other way around”. She said “I am kinder to the baby than you”. So I grinded for her. The Prophet said: “May God bestow his merci on you for you were merciful to Fatimah” (Majlesi, 1403 A.H, vol. 43 p. 280).

It is also quoted that Lady Zahra (PBUH) motivated her children to play and compete and even sometimes played with them and used sweet words and games and filled them with her pure maternal feelings (Nilipour, 1387 (2008), p.187). Showing affections for children and the strong bound between mother and child, is an essential need for a child’s growth. As the history admits, in thirteenth century, Frederick II- the roman emperor, commanded the parents of some children and their lactating mothers to just feed and cleanse the children under their care, and forbade them not to speak a word or show any affections to them or play with them. He wanted the children not to learn any languages so that when they grow, each group of them would be trained with a different language. Due to the lack of any social and tender contacts with the mothers and as a result along the lack of mental growth, they all perished one by one (a group of authors, 1388 {2009} p.6).

The most important training methods of Lady Zahra (PBUH) regarding child rearing

Referring to the teachings of Islam and the style of Lady Zahra’s life, her most important methods of training, considering child upbringing, are as the following:

  1. The method of modeling: A model means an exemplar, a leader. In this method the instructor tries to show the tutor a practical model of the desirable manner and behavior in order to modify the tutor’s social position in a way that the tutor may follow and make an ideal mood according to the model. This method is understandable according to the verses of Holy Quran (33: 21 and 60: 4 and 6) in which Prophet Abraham (PBUH) and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are presented as two great models. The most important aspects of an ideal model based on Islam’s view are the accordance of word and act (Salehi, 1384 {2005} p.41), affection and mercy (9: 128), patience and perseverance (32: 24) and faith and piety.

This method is very obvious in Lady Zahra’s style of life. As stated in many quotations by the Imams of Shia Lady Zahra (PBUH) was very precise and careful to behave according to the teachings of Islam. Each of her deeds is a proper model for her children. Form trustworthiness and honesty that are considered to be important aspects of man, to patience, perseverance and courage. From among the most known examples told of her style of life is her primacy to pray for her neighbors at her night prayers (Majlesi, 1403 A.H. vol. 43 p. 82 and 90). Both the very act of praying at nights and speaking to God and the way of her praying are the proper practical models for her children.

to be continued…

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