Friday, February 4, 2011

Everybody is a ‘cikgu’ (teacher)

In the name of Allah, the Beneficient, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.

Call to the way of Your Lord with wisdom and fair admonition, and argue with them in the kindest way. Your Lord knows best who is misguided from His way. And He knows best who are guided. (Qur'an, 16: 125)

ONE Dr Ahmad Azman Mohd Anuar who is residing in The Hague, Netherlands, e-mailed me this beautiful quotation: “If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.” - Abdul Kalam

And here we have this teacher, Normala Sudirman (or Cikgu Mala as she is fondly called), 38, who resigned from her school job to become PAS-Pakatan Rakyat candidate facing Barisan Nasional’s Mohd Azhar Ibrahim for the up coming Tenang, Johor by-election on the 30th January 2011. Could this ‘cikgu’ (teacher) beat the odds and created history not only for herself, but for her party (PAS-Pakatan), the state of Johor and the country by winning the seat which was solely held by Umno-BN since Independence.

We wish Cikgu Mala all the best in her undertaking; in this article I would like discuss responsibilities, roles and contributions of teachers and to share with readers my experience being a teacher myself in a secondary school some 30 years ago. It was in 1982, I was trusted to teach Bahasa Malaysia to Form Four pupils at Anglo Chinese School (ACS) in Tengkera, Melaka. I was also made a form teacher, if I am not mistaken for Form Four Science Three (picture accomplished).

Some say once you are a teacher, you would always be a teacher! And how true I experienced and felt about it! After leaving the teaching stint to further my studies and then becoming a journalist in a main stream news house for 12 years, once again after quitting my job, I became a self employed teacher at my own tuition centre.

I taught full time for a year before joining this paper but I still continue teaching an hour or two during weekends. Sometime in 2006, a ‘mudir’ (headmaster) of a ‘tahfiz’ (school for memorizing the Qur’an) near my house pleaded me to teach English to his students on Sunday; I took up the offer for the shake of children. Until now, I have this class of about thirty students to attend to; teaching the pupils English and Mathematics for two hours on every Sunday.

After years being a teacher, I could felt the honour being one. Once a while, when I least expected, there bound to be someone greeting me “Cikgu, how are you?” Since the ‘tahfiz’ school is near a mosque which I frequent for the compulsory prayers, whenever I was around, students would trailed me to say ‘salam’ (gretting) and kiss my hands.

I considered myself ‘a not so real’ teacher yet I felt I had gained a lot from it, so readers could imagine the honour attributed to ‘real’ school teachers who have had shaped our children for all those long years. Of course their contributions are great so we must pay homage to all teachers for their pivotal role in shaping children’s lives and for their critical contribution to the social, economic and intellectual development of nations.

Teachers are change agents, providing the impetus for the emergence of educated communities. Regarding this I quote extract from an article on World Teachers Day entitled ‘Recovery Begins with Teachers’ from National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP)’s newsletter ‘Guru Malaysia’ in its October 2010 issue: “Many teachers work in extremely challenging circumstances, serving in communities with high rates of poverty, coping with violence within and outside the classroom, or confronting the demoralizing impact of HIV and AIDS on colleagues, students and families.

“There are those who are seeking to ensure the right to education of 18.5 million refugees children throughout the world. In countries affected by conflict, teachers are instrumental to reconstruction and peace building. We take this opportunity to commend the efforts of teachers, especially female teachers, who accept to serve in high risk, deprived and disadvantaged areas, reaching out to the excluded, and bringing them the prospect of better life through education.

“…Recovery begins with teachers. We can best honour teachers by giving them decent working conditions to fulfill their mission of preparing the younger generation to become responsible citizens, equipped with knowledge and skills to shape a sustainable future.”

Back to the Tenang by-election which Cikgu Normala would contest; in line with the saying, “once a teacher always a teacher”, we hoped that Cikgu Mala would use her experience to the fullest to capture the hearts of voters. Previously Cikgu Mala had pupils as her best assets in her works towards change, now she has the rakyat (people) as her subjects.

Not only a ‘cikgu’ or an ‘ustaz’ (religious teacher) is entrusted to give light to society but it is a duty for all. In Islam, it is an obligation for all to do the da’wah (calling to Islam) work. The Muslim does not think little of whatever knowledge he has if he is calling others to Allah. It is sufficient for him to convey whatever he has learned of the truth, even if it is just one aayah (sentence) from the Book of Allah.

This is what the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to tell his Companions to do: “Convey (knowledge) from me even if it is just one aayah…” (Bukhari). This is because whether or not a person is guided may depend on just one word of this aayah which will touch his heart and ignite the spark of faith, so that his heart and life will be illuminated with the light of guidance, and he will be a new man. – The Ideal Muslim by Muhammad Ali Al-Hashmi (IIPH)

Even though a teacher is look upon as the best resource for a child it during his or her growing years, a parent is really the child's first teacher and critical to his or her achievement in life. In fact teaching the family is an obligation which the head of the household (the father) must undertake in obedience to the command of Allah SWT, “O’ you who believe, protect yourself and your families from a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is people and stones…” (Qur’an 66:6)

‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him said: “Teach them (our children) and discipline them” while At-Tabari said: “We must teach our children and wives the religion and goodness, and whatever they need of good manners. If the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used to urge teaching the female servants, who were slaves, what do you think about your children and wives, who are free?” – The Muslim Home (Muhammad Salih al-Munajjid, IIPH)

In conclusion, in true sense everybody is a ‘cikgu’ (teacher); a father is a teacher to his wife and children, a boss is a guidance in his or her office; a ‘wakil rakyat’ (people’s representative) is entrusted for the well being of his or her constituents while top leaders are unanswerable to all matters regarding the country and its people. Regarding this, the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Each of you is a shepherd, and each of you is responsible for his flock (i.e. those over whom you have authority.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

As for me as a journalist (writer), I acknowledged I too is teacher, my inputs reached the masses through out the country and with today’s invention such as the internet, messages and pictures could be sent around the globe in just a second, so to all be careful with what you posted in the net. You are responsible to your own work and you will be rewarded or punished accordingly by Allah the Almighty.

Before I end this piece, let us acknowledge that the greatest teacher of all time was Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. Sami Yusuf has this song, Al-Mu’alim to describe the Prophet.

We once had a Teacher
The Teacher of teachers,
He changed the world for the better
And made us better creatures,
O Allah we've shamed ourselves
We’ve strayed from Al-Mu'allim,
Surely we’ve wronged ourselves
What will we say in front of him?
O Mu'allim...

He was Muhammad salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam,
Muhammad, mercy upon Mankind,
He was Muhammad salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam,
Muhammad, mercy upon Mankind,
Teacher of all Mankind.
Abal Qasim [one of the names of the Prophet]
Ya Habibi ya Muhammad
(My beloved O Muhammad)
Ya Shafi'i ya Muhammad
(My intercessor O Muhammad)
Khayru khalqillahi Muhammad
(The best of Allah’s creation is Muhammad)
Ya Mustafa ya Imamal Mursalina
(O Chosen One, O Imam of the Messengers)
Ya Mustafa ya Shafi'al 'Alamina
(O Chosen One, O intercessor of the worlds)

He prayed while others slept
While others ate he'd fast,
While they would laugh he wept
Until he breathed his last,
His only wish was for us to be
Among the ones who prosper,
Ya Mu'allim peace be upon you,
Truly you are our Teacher,
O Mu'allim..

Ya Habibi ya Muhammad
(My beloved O Muhammad)
Ya Shafi'i ya Muhammad
(My intercessor O Muhammad)
Ya Rasuli ya Muhammad
(O My Messenger O Muhammad)
Ya Bashiri ya Muhammad
(O bearer of good news O Muhammad)
Ya Nadhiri ya Muhammad
(O warner O Muhammad)
'Ishqu Qalbi ya Muhammad
(The love of my heart O Muhammad)
Nuru 'Ayni ya Muhammad
(Light of my eye O Muhammad)
He taught us to be just and kind
And to feed the poor and hungry,
Help the wayfarer and the orphan child
And to not be cruel and miserly,
His speech was soft and gentle,
Like a mother stroking her child,
His mercy and compassion,
Were most radiant when he smiled

Abal Qasim [one of the names of the Prophet]
Ya Habibi ya Muhammad
(My beloved O Muhammad)
Ya Shafi'i ya Muhammad
(My intercessor O Muhammad)
Khayru khalqillahi Muhammad
(The best of Allah's creation is Muhammad)
Ya Mustafa Ya Imamal Mursalina
(O Chosen One O Imam of the Messengers)
Ya Mustafa ya Shafi'al 'Alamina
(O Chosen One O intercessor of the worlds)

Lyrics and Composition: Sami Yusuf
Producer: Sami Yusuf
2003 Awakening

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