To know the characteristics of the person to be served

Human beings, the most respected creation, should be treated with esteem and respect, because his heart is the place of Divine manifestations. That is why it is a central principle for the result of the service to be very sensitive in serving others. Performing a service with harsh and offending manners causes the doer to lose his rewards. On the contrary, it may even be considered a sin. Fixing a broken heart cannot compare to repairing a shoe. Even repairing a shoe is more difficult than breaking it. Hence, when a heart is broken, it would be really hard to fix.

It is stated in a saying of the sages:

Those who know themselves are of three groups:

Those who are fascinated by Divine power and are careful not to hurt anything

Those who are so modest and bashful that they cannot even pronounce the names of Allah

Those who do not look down upon the servants of Allah, in other words, those who have immense humility and look at creation through the eyes of their Creator.

When it comes to serving others, knowing the person who will be served is as important as the service itself, for giving an appropriate service can only be performed by knowing the recipient. For instance, one cannot help someone who is too bashful to express his needs in the same way as one might help someone who does not at all hesitate to express his own needs..

A Muslim should behave wisely. A brother or a sister should know how to act, what to say, to whom to say certain things to, when, where and how to speak eloquently. Ja’far al-Tayyar’s gentle manner (may Allah be pleased with him) in explaining Islam to the Abyssinian ruler is an exemplary one. When the Christian ruler of Abyssinia asked Ja’far al-Tayyar to recite parts from Qur’an, he chose parts about praising Jesus and Mary instead of reciting parts about challenging the unbelievers. The Abyssinian ruler, who was impressed by these verses, drew a line on the ground and said:

“The difference between your religion and mine is this much.” A while later he converted Islam.

Knowing and understanding the persons needing to be served is also important in appointing the best person to serve. In fact the Prophet (pbuh) did not send a Companion who was qualified to be an army commander as an ambassador. He also (pbuh) did not appoint Companions of suffah who were men of knowledge, mission and heart as army commanders. When he (pbuh) was entrusting affairs of the Muslim state to his Companions, he was taking their personal qualities and even their physical characteristics into consideration.

For their significance we would like to underscore some principles in human training and education.

The most difficult service is the education of human beings, because an uneducated self always directs the person to evil. Allah the Almighty placed the inclination of both sin and piety in human nature. From early childhood, manifestations of these two inclinations can be seen in human life. Happiness can be achieved by preventing the inclination towards sins and strengthening piety. The way to achieve this is through training. Even the most ferocious animals can be trained easier than human beings can be trained.

Giving education is the occupation of the prophets. In order to be an educator, feelings and emotions must be strong. Because when establishing connection with the students, their feelings must be understood, evaluated and then action must be based on the findings. This is similar to diagnosing an illness before undergoing the proper treatment. It should not be forgotten that human beings can be won over only if their problems are solved.

Just as the capabilities of Human beings vary, their weaknesses differ, too. That is why an educator must approach his students with the meticulousness of a psychologist. A word or certain behavior which is beneficial for someone can be harmful for others. Hence, it is vital that we know very well the people for whom we are responsible.

On the other hand, time and dosage of oral communication must be very well arranged. Just like we are careful when we bend a hard object, so not to break it, we should be careful of those who have strong selfish inclinations and capabilities, and therefore should not rush in saving them. The dosage has to be of the right amount. If you hastily pour water from a full pot into another pot that is the same size, some of that water will spill over. However if you follow the principle of gradualism and pour it little by little, you can transfer the water into the other without wasting any of it. The importance of the same principle of physics cannot be ignored in human training. In other words human training depends on patience and knowing the student’s abilities very well.

An educator should know his students like the back of his hand and train them according to their capabilities.  For instance, a student with a poetic capability must be directed into the depths of the human soul; a student with management capability, on the other hand, must be trained about human conduct, mercy, justice and how people can be directed. Other occupational abilities are like the abovementioned, each one of them needs to be treated differently.

Educational services must be carefully planned by taking into consideration the body-soul and reason-heart balance. If only human reason is addressed, love for benefit, office and other worldly gains increase and spiritual training gets neglected. A person who is trained with this method becomes a servant of wealth, fame and desires. However if his soul is educated together with his reason, only then his natural inclinations can be channeled into the right path. It should be known that knowledge  that does not penetrate the heart cannot transform into spiritual insight. Knowledge without spiritual insight might lead his owner astray. Those who are not adorned with spiritual sentiments and virtues will be left to the mercy of the brutal force of evil-commanding selves.