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The history of Maktab – Part 2

Jan 25, 2022

Origins of Maktabs –
So we concluded yesterday`s discussion with the personal and discrete manner in which the teaching of the Holy Qur’an began. Gradually, as more people embraced Islam the following verse was revealed,

فَٱصْدَعْ بِمَا تُؤْمَرُ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ ٱلْمُشْرِكِينَ
“Therefore, proclaim openly that which Allah has commanded, and turn away from the Mushrikoon.” [Al Hijr 15: 94]

The first concern of the Holy Prophet ﷺ thereafter was to arrange teaching facilities for the new reverts. How could they be taught the Holy Qur’an? The circumstances at the time did not permit the dozen or so Muslims to gather in one place in order to perform Salaah and be taught the Holy Qur’an. For this reason the Holy Prophet ﷺ, organised their taleem in various homes where they could secretly assemble and study the Holy Qur’an.

First Maktab in Makkah Mukarramah
Most of you are aware of the incident that led to Hadhrat Umar RA`s conversion to Islam. The story in brief is that Hadhrat Umar RA set off with the intention of assassinating the Holy Prophet ﷺ. On his way he met Hadhrat Sa’ad RA, who tried to obstruct him from executing his vicious intention. During their conversation a quarrel broke out, and both of them unsheathed their swords. Just as the swords were about to meet, Hadhrat Sa’ad RA proclaimed, “First, see to your own household, your own sister has embraced Islam.” Umar RA was shocked and diverted his attention immediately. He turned towards his sister’s house and knocked on the door. At the time the occupants were busy studying verses of the Holy Qur’aan from their teacher Khabbab Ibn Aratt RA. Upon hearing the voice of Umar RA, Hadhrat Khabbab RA hid himself. Sayyidina Umar RA, in his rage, launched himself upon his sister and brother-in-law (Saeed Ibn Zayd RA) until they began to bleed. In this condition the sister called out, “You can do whatever you like, we have already accepted the new faith.”

When Umar RA’s anger abated, and he saw the state his sister was in as a result of the attack, he asked to be shown the parchments they were studying. Upon hearing this request, Hadhrat Khabbab RA re-appeared and made Umar RA perform Ghusl (bath). Umar RA then read from the parchments, on which were written some verses of Surah Tahaa. Thereafter, he went to the HoIy Prophet ﷺ, and embraced Islam.

This was the very first Maktab established in Makkah Mukarramah. It was in the house of Saeed Ibn Zayd RA, the brother-in-law of Umar RA. The teachers there were Khabbab RA and another Sahabi (may Allah be pleased with all of them).

The second Maktab of Makkah Mukarramah
A second Maktab came to be established when the Muslims increased and the former premises became insufficient. It was set up at Darul Arqam, which was near Mount Safa. Here, approximately forty Sahabah RA, would reside on a permanent basis. The Holy Prophet ﷺ would also stay there for many days. According to some traditions, once the Holy Prophet ﷺ spent an entire month here. During the whole month he would teach the Holy Qur’aan and other religious instructions.

The third Maktab of Makkah Mukarramah
A third Maktab was set up in the Sha’ab (valley) of Abu Taalib where the Holy Prophet ﷺ and his family were exiled for three and a half years. During this period, the Prophet ﷺ would teach the Holy Qur’aan to his family and to those who secretly came to visit him.

From the traditions of Makkah Mukarramah, it is clear that these three locations were the main Maktabs in the early days of Islam. There may have been more.

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