(1)”كما اَرسلنا فيكم رَسُولا مِنْكُم يَتْلُوا عليكم آياتِنا ويُزَكِيكُم ويُعَلِمَكُم الكتابَ
والحِكمَةَ ويُعَلمَكُم ما لم تَكُونُوا تَعْلَمُون”
“Even as we have sent among you an Apostle from among you who recites to you Our communications and purifies you and teaches you the Book and the wisdom and teaches you that which you did not know”.38
(2)”لقد مَنَّ الله على المؤمنين اِذ بَعَثَ فِيهِم رَسُولاً مِنْ انفُسِهِم يَتْلوا عَلَيهِم آياتِه
ويُزَكِّيهم ويُعَلِّمهُم الكِتابَ والحِكمَةَ واِن كانوا مِن قَبْلُ لَفِي ضَلالٍ مُبِين”
“Certainly Allah conferred a benefit upon the believers when He raised among them an Apostle from among themselves, reciting to them His communications and purifying them, and teaching them the Book and the wisdom, although before that they were surely in manifest error.”39
(3)”هُو الَّذي بَعَثَ في الأمِّيينَ رَسُولاً مِنهُم يَتْلُوا عَلَيهِم آياتِه ويُزَكِيهِم ويُعَلِّمَهُمُ
الكِتابَ والحِكْمَةَ واِن كانُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ لَفِي ضَلالٍ مُبِين”
“He it is who raised among the illiterate an Apostle from among themselves who recites to them His communications and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and the wisdom, a though they were before certainly in clear error”.40
(4) One verse mentions Ibrahim’s prayers in which he asks God:
“رَبَّنا وابعَثْ فِيهِم رَسُولاً مِنهُم يَتْلُوا عَلَيهِم آياتِكَ ويُعَلِّمَهُمُ الكِتابَ والحِكمِةِ ويُزَكِيهِم اِنَّكَ اَنتَ العَزيز الحَكِيم
“Our Lord! And raise up in them an Apostle from among them who shall recite to them Thy communications and teach them the Book and the wisdom, and purify them; surely Thou art the Mighty, the Wise”.41
As you notice, in the first three verses purifying precedes educating, but in the last verse the order has changed. As we see purifying precedes educating and this is shown in the first three verses. But naturally education precedes purification and this is shown in the last verse.42
But some have assumed that since the fourth verse is among Ibrahim’s prayers and the Qur’an is just narrating it, therefore, it is man’s talk and for this reason may not be a criterion. They continue to assume that because the other three verses are truly God’s speech and since purification has preceded education, therefore, it is true. Thus, training and purification should precede education.
But this statement is improper in that a Messenger like Ibrahim would not perform a prayer without considering the right method used by other Messengers. He would not act immaturely. He is one of the prominent Messengers whose statements are verified by God. Leveling such accusations against them would be an insult to them. This is especially true when we observe that the narrated words are in the Qur’an. Therefore, what is said does not include any contradiction.
The arrangement of words therefore, is definitely based on some philosophical considerations.
Thus, in answer to the question: which one should precede: training (purification) or education? We should answer “education” naturally precedes training, but education is higher than training in rank. That is why the above-mentioned verses have used one prior to the other.
38. Qur’an 2:151.
40. Qur’an 62:2.
41. Qur’an 2:128.
42. Tafsir Namunah, vol.1, p.334.
Adapted from: “Imam ‘Ali’s First Treatise on The Islamic Ethics and Education” by: “Zainol Aabideen Qorbani Lahiji”