بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The Importance of Modelling
One of the ways in which human beings learn new things is through modelling. There are certain individuals whom we admire, and so naturally we start imitating their characteristics because of a strong desire to be like them. This process starts in early childhood, when we begin imitating our parents.
A friend once related an incident about his little cousin. The little boy took his father’s razor while no one was looking, tried to shave his ‘moustache’, and obviously cut himself in the process.
This habit of ours doesn’t vanish with childhood. Rather it keeps growing stronger. No wonder Hollywood invests billions of dollars to satiate our cravings— to their advantage. They make movies about superheroes possessing incredible powers and a habit of saving the world.
Choose Your Models Carefully
Great figures in history reach their prominent timeless positions because of this learning process. Bestselling books featuring admirable people like Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, and Bill Gates abound in bookshops.
Pathetically, nowadays we use this phenomenon to achieve pitiful consequences. We seem to have lost some of our interest in admirable figures in history, people noted for their great achievements. That position is now replaced by fashion celebrities.
There is a great likelihood that you have seen a Karina Kapoor dress, a Justin Bieber t-shirt, or even a Barbie school bag. But have you seen a Florence Nightingale school bag, or a Charles Dickens t-shirt?
We little care what these celebrated people are actually like on the inside. We seldom look at what inner qualities of mind, intellect, or soul they possess. We even admire cartoon celebrities more than real people, so long as they have glamour. It is enough that they look stunning!
Forget the Phony Glitter
Needless to say, there is an immense need for us to divert our minds from useless fake glitters, and bestow our admiration and love on more worthy candidates. This is especially necessary for our younger generations.
But how do we achieve this? There are in fact many books available about the life of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, the best of examples as Allah Azza wa Jall said (translated): There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often. [33:21]
There are also books about prophets and about the rightly guided caliphs and the other companions. But somehow these seldom reach the hands of our children and adolescents.
Maybe there’s a need to make this information more presentable and attractive to them, and adopt the language and style to be more suitable for their level and 21st Century minds and tastes.
There are other figures in Muslim history that we in all probability know nothing about, except perhaps their names. We are taught in schools about Akbar, Alexander, Napoleon, Katherine, all bearing the title of “the Great.”
But we don’t know about those heroes whose greatness is so obvious and self-evident in their lives and works that there’s no need for a title: Salahuddin al-Ayyoobi, who snatched back Baitul Muqaddas from the Crusaders, ibn Taymiyyah whose intellect and wisdom was unparalleled in his time, Uthman Gazi, the first to fulfill the promise of the prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam of conquering Constantinople, Ahmad ibn Hanbal who fearlessly spoke the truth in the face of death, and countless others. May Allah bestow His mercy on them all.
Since it is not readily available to us, we need to put some effort into acquiring this knowledge, and conveying it to our children. Then perhaps we’ll see the day when, instead of having tantrums over wanting a Spiderman outfit, our children will fearlessly oppose wrongdoing in the face of punishment.
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