The Concept of Murabbi. Its Religious Construct and Social Philosophy

Essay, 2013

8 Pages


Table of content



The Definition and Concept of al-Murabbi

The Critical Role of Murabbi in Society




This paper analyzed the concept of al-Murabbi in Islamic religious tradition, as invented in the Qur’an and performed by the Prophet (saw) and his companions (rad). Al-Murabbi denotes a wholesome teacher, comprehensive and balanced, cultured and well-mannered as opposed to al-Mu‘allim in western construct. The task of al-Murabbi includes perfecting moral vision and instilling holistic worldviews and integrating the refined quality of al-Mu’addib. The paper will illustrate the role al-Murabbi from Islamic standpoints describing its significance and intrinsic nature, which concern the multilateral relation of human and its society and environment and analyzing some contemporary development and understanding of the concept in Islamic schools and universities.

Key words: al-Murabbi, Tarbiyyah, Ta‘lim and Ta’dib, spiritual and ethical nurturing, instilling humane values


This paper discusses the significant position and role of al-Murabbi in society. The principle meaning of al-Murabbi in Islamic term was fundamentally important in this exposition that it provides different ideas and understanding from western notion and construct. Since early and medieval times the notion of al-Murabbi has been expounded by Islamic scholars such as Imam Abu Hanifa (d. 150 H), al-Farahidi (d. 175 H), Sahnun (d. 240 H), Muhammad Ibn Sahnun (d. 256 H), Ibn Khallad al-Ramahurmuzi (d. 360 H), al-Qabisi (d. 402 H), al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (d. 463 H), Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr al-Namiri (d. 463 H), Ibn Sina (d. 1037 AD), Ibn Miskawayh, al-Ghazali (d. 505 H), Burhan al-Din al-Zarnuji (d. 620 H) Ibn Jama‘ah al-Kinani (d.733 H), Muhammad al-Dhahabi (d. 748 H), Ibn Khaldun (808/1406) and Haji Khalifah (d. 1067 H) (M.A. Mamat, 2010) who presented and articulated the principle meaning and construction of the concept from Islamic standpoint. In this paper, the basic element and philosophy of Islamic education will be critically analyzed, followed by a brief discussion on the conceptual framework of al-Murabbi, its philosophy and ideals as significantly differed from western ideology. This will be followed by major discussion on the universal role of al-Murabbi in the Muslim ummah, and its modern practiced in Islamic universities.

The Definition and Concept of al-Murabbi

Al-murabbi is generally defined as “one who is not only knowledgeable and wise but also pious, kind and considerate.” This description denotes “a person who combines a life of learning with a life of virtue, and hence a perfect and ideal person to learn from.” (Yedullah Kazmi, 1999) The central ideas embedded in the concept and philosophy of al-murabbi focused on the integrated role and holistic task performed by murabbi in the manner that is refined and creative, wholesome and cultured (adab) “in all aspects including curriculum, co-curricular activities, methods of teaching, relationships between teacher and student and the relationship between the school and society” (Ali Adam, 1997). Chanika (2006) has defined murabbi as “a trainer of the souls and personalities, mentor, and/or role model.” (Samsoo Sa-u, 2011), while explaining the meaning of mu‘allim as “an instructor and trainer of the mind and a giver/transmitter of knowledge.” (Samsoo Sa-u, 2011) The notion of Murabbi was best exemplified in the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as illustrated in the Qur’an, “He is The One who has sent forth among illiterate a Messenger from among them, to recite his ayah to them, and to cleanse them, and to teach them the Book and the wisdom, though they were indeed in evidence error.” (Ali ‘Imran: 62). In this ayah, the Qur’an described the principle task of the Prophet (pbuh) as murabbi, mainly to teach, purify and nurture an ummah and to construct the foundation of universal Islamic community. The Qur’an related the historical formation of the ummah sustained by tarbiyah, tadhkiyah, and ta‘lim and the world view that it projected as “the community of the middle way (Ummat al-Wasat)” (Muhammad Asad, 1980)

The concept of tarbiyat in Islam has various meanings and dimensions, which comprise the essence of adab, and ta‘lim, and embodied the principle of Murshid, Mudarris, Mu‘allim, and Mu’addib. Imam Abu Fadl Shihab al-Din al-Sayyid Alusi al-Baghdadi, has given broad meaning to tarbiyat as “the process of transforming something into its perfect state, gradually according to his power” This assumption was based on the Qur’anic ayah (al-Nahl, 78) which implies that the task of murabbi was the transformation of culture to students so that they can understood, internalize and spread it to the folllowing generation.” (Fitriyatul Hanifiyah, 2008)

The Critical Role of Murabbi in Society

As teacher and educator, al-Murabbi plays significance role in inculcating and exemplifying Islamic manners and adab. The renowned philosopher and pioneer of Islamic ethics, Ibn Miskawayh in his famous work, Tahdhib al-Akhlaq (Refinement of Character) had clearly outlined the role of Murabbi, and according to him, “teachers as trainer must make an impact on the young educator in terms of desirable knowledge, moral, customs and behavior, in molding them into becoming role models within Muslim community which makes the acceptable human model within the Muslim community” (Mohd Shahril Ahmad, 2013) (Nadia 1994)

Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick (2004:59) prescribed Islamic teacher as “the living example of Islamic culture and the murshid (guide) to the thirsty young minds.” (Samsoo Sa-u, 2011). Chanika (2006), in her thesis pointed out that the mu‘allim assume twofold task, as instructor and trainer (mu‘allim and murabbi).

Al-Ghazali and Ibn Jama‘ah in their profound work on Islamic ethics and education, had significantly expounded the major role and critical task of murabbi in society, ie., (1) should be sympathetic to students and treat them as his own children (2) follow the example of the Prophet (pbuh): he should seek no remunerations for his services (3) should not withhold from the student any advice or allow him to attempt work unless he is qualified for it (4) in dissuading his students from evil ways, he/she should do so by suggestion rather than openly and with sympathy rather than with odious upbraiding (5) should not belittle or degrade the value of other sciences before his students (6) should do what he teaches and not allow his deeds to give the lie to his words, while according to Ibn Jama‘ah, the murabbi ’s task was to (1) place knowledge and instruction above selfish interest (2) conforming to the ethics and manners of teaching (3) mastering comprehension of the specialized subject area (4) understanding his contemporary times and his social environment (5) ensure justice and equality for all students (6) attention to his dress and general appearance. (Samsoo Sa-u, 2011) (summarized from Hashim, 2008).

As projected in the above, the important and critical aspect was the influence of teacher in shaping the character of students, and this was strengthened by Fathiyah and Asmawati (2011), in their study, arguing that “educators convey both the direct and the indirect influence to the students’ development in character and personality that are parallel to the demand of the Qur’an.”

The effort to realize this ideal notion, has been effectively geared in many schools, madrasah, pesantren and universities in the Muslim world particularly in International Islamic University Malaysia. The University embodied the aspiration to realize the ideal of Islamic philosophy of education. It emphasize on moral excellence and integrative approach, as practiced by murabbi, in preaching Islam and articulating its vision, as pointed by Ragab (1999), “teachers of Islamic studies should be knowledgeable in Islam and the modern world as well as being able to present Islam as a religion which can satisfy both material and spiritual needs of human being.” The Institute of Education of IIUM was responsible in projecting the ideal, by offering courses on Islamic adab based on religious framework of ta’dib and ta‘lim, as the platform in producing insan ta’dibi.


From the discussion above, we have expounded some ideas on the dynamic role of al-Murabbi in society, which includes (1) imparting knowledge, moral, customs and right behavior to students, (2) preparing the young to assume leadership and become role model in society - (qudwah, virtuous attributes that appeal to one’s heart and mind), (3) infusing Islamic manners, and inculcate religious norms and values as implied in the Qur’an (4) integrating ideas, concept and skill (4) sustain and maintain an encouraging and conducive atmosphere in class (5) observing the teacher’s etiquette that involve giving and receiving knowledge in the process of education.


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The Concept of Murabbi. Its Religious Construct and Social Philosophy
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al-Murabbi, Tarbiyyah, Ta‘lim and Ta’dib, spiritual and ethical nurturing, instilling humane values
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Dr. Ahmad Nabil Amir (Author), 2013, The Concept of Murabbi. Its Religious Construct and Social Philosophy, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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