The calamity Western culture brought to teachers


Before some aspects of the Western culture had influenced our country, going back to almost 1,200 years after Islam, there were, more or less, opportunities for education in our country based on the requirements of the time. Those days, teachers were highly respected. The method of education, at that time, was based on Islamic principles in a way that required students to behave politely and respectfully towards their teachers.

We also behaved using the same types of mannerisms [of politeness] towards our students. Our students also had the same attitude towards us when we used to teach. Students thought very highly of their teachers. Of course, there are traces of such traditions in the Islamic seminaries, and this is because Islamic seminaries have been under less influence of Western culture. Therefore, some aspects of that tradition are still followed in Islamic seminaries, and teachers are valued highly by their students. Students stand in awe of their teachers, which is, of course, not because of their fear.

Students sometimes challenge ideas in the classroom. In Islamic seminaries, students challenge ideas in the classroom more than they do at universities. They do not even have to ask for the teacher's permission to do so. Sometimes, they ask questions or challenge ideas when the teacher is busy talking. When this is the case, teachers listen very patiently, yet they might get cross with them at times.

This means that students sometimes adopt a bold attitude towards their teachers when it comes to scientific issues, but the same learner is very modest and humble towards his teacher outside the scope of those cases. They never address or behave towards their teachers in an informal manner. For almost 1,200 to 1,300 years, this was the dominant culture in our country. Later on, Western culture penetrated our country. Just look at how many times teachers have been beaten, offended, or humiliated by their students in class, or just take a look at the number of teachers who have been killed by their students because of a low grade. Such cases have, of course, been very rare in our country due to our great historical background. These cases are much more severe in other places where western culture is dominant.

I want the value of judgments on teachers to be based on Islamic principles. Our society needs to respect teachers. If a student's parents shows respect to his or her teachers, in the true sense of the word, the students will also have the same feeling towards the teacher both in and outside the classroom. We are in need of this: this is superior for you over all other material privileges.

Our magnanimous Imam was a sage in the Quranic sense of the word. A sage is a person who has the insight to see something that is hidden from the eyes of others. The words of a sage may seem simple, but the more you think about them, the more layers of meaning you might peel and discover. —The Imam was like that. Just take a look at the Holy Quran and try to understand the depth of the sections wherein the word "wisdom" has been used: "This is of the wisdom which thy Lord has revealed to thee.” [Quran 17:39] A superficial look may give you the impression that they are ordinary pieces of advice. That is what we normally keep telling each other. However, when you delve into them, you see that their depth increases as you go deeper. Take 'respect for one's parents' as one of the instances of this wisdom: it is not possible to find materialistic justification for this type of respect in terms of benefits that it brings about. The more one reflects upon this issue, the more one realizes the depth of the issue: that is what wisdom means. Being a sage himself, Imam Khomeini said: "Teaching is a prophetic vocation." What a great statement!

Imam Khamenei, May 1, 2008


  • Islam
  • TeacherAppreciationDay
  • Teachers
  • Western culture