This article continues an interview I conducted with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan for “Closing The Gap, Part Two” on May 30, 2000.
Brother Jabril: We’ve all heard the old expression that to be a good leader you must first become a good follower. But some have stated this expression this way, that to be a good teacher you must first become a good student.
So, how important is the relationship between being a good student first and an effective teacher later?
Minister Farrakhan: A good student learns from the good teacher, the method and psychology of how to deal with the mind of the person in whom you hope to place a certain type of knowledge. You may not understand motive. You may not understand method. But as you mature in the practice of what your teacher is giving you and you become one in spirit with the teacher, you then grow into the understanding of the method and motivation. Then, you are of the same mind, spirit and accord of the teacher. Now the student can become a teacher.
Brother Jabril: Prominent in our conversation last night over dinner was the factor of love in the learning process.Sister Ayke Agus shared her views and experience with us in her relation to her teacher, Jascha Heifetz. You commented on that.
We know that there are some subjects or areas of knowledge where the love factor does not seem to be a major factor in the learning of those subjects, even though it must be there to some degree for a successful learning experience to occur.
One may be in a computer school and your learning may be of a technical knowledge or nature. One’s study may be in some other field, again, where that love factor does not seem to be as key as in other areas of learning. However, in the higher fields of learning, especially in the highest area of knowledge, where the subject matter involves the study of God, the love factor becomes more obvious and predominant.
How important is the quality of love in the study of any subject, but especially in the higher areas of learning? What position does love occupy in a student learning from a teacher these higher aspects of knowledge and, in your case, your learning from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad?
Minister Farrakhan: Love is never absent from a student who desires greatness in his or her chosen field of endeavor. First of all, we study ourselves. All of us have been given a gift from our Creator. The greatest joy and peace of mind is when a person finds the purpose for their being, existence and life on this planet. The peace of mind comes not just when you dream about the purpose, but when you actually are working toward the fulfillment of your purpose.
Once you discover your gift, you must love the gift and love the Giver of the gift, in order to become great with that gift. If it’s basketball, baseball, boxing, computer science, medicine, law or whatever field of endeavor you chose to become great in, you have chosen that field. The worst motivation is to choose to be something for the sake of money or vanity, rather than for the sake of service and the glorification of God, Who is the Giver of the gift.
In loving the gift, you will automatically fall in love with the one who teaches you how to become proficient in your gift. I don’t know of any basketball player that has become greatÑor baseball player, tennis, boxing, musician, whatever your endeavor isÑthat does not remember with great fondness the teacher who made them excel in their chosen field of endeavor. So love is all the way through.
The degree of love that is required to become great in anything must be a high degree, but the greatest degree of love is required when one is to interpret the word of God. One has to be so in love with God that he or she knows God in a hint or sign, and is so in tune with GodÑbecause of the profound love of the student for God, the Master TeacherÑthat the student can look at the word and know God’s intention in revealing such a truth.
That’s the highest level of love. Prophets and messengers don’t reach that highest level. They reach, or I would say, they come close to that level. But the Messiah reaches that level because his love for God is so, so magnificent and so great, until he subordinates himself so totally to God that he becomes one with God. So, God lives in him and dwells in him and manifests Himself through him. That cannot happen except with the profoundest and superlative degree of love; if you put it in the cheap vernacular, when you love a person to the “mostest and the bestest.” I say this with a smile behind it.
Brother Jabril: This reminds me of the scripture where the Jesus says, “I’m in my father and my father is in me.”
Minister Farrakhan: Yes. Only love allows the person who is traveling to travel in you. Love is the vehicle that allows the teacher to ride inside the student. Even when the teacher is absent, the teacher is present because love has allowed the student to drink the teacher in to the degree that the student and the teacher become one.
Brother Jabril: The presence of your present violin teacher, Ayke Agus, over the last few days during the course of your conversations has given rise to expressions of great truths. One of them involves a vital aspect of the teacher-student relationship. We looked at those things about teachers, or certain kinds of teachers, that many students find difficult to grasp.
She [Ayke Agus] is an example of a student of a master who saw through certain difficulties of her teacher. Because of her love for her teacher, she was by him as others were not, who later walked away from him, but who later on regretted their behavior towards him. She was of those who stuck by him despite the difficulties involved.
In part of your comments yesterday on what she said on this subject, in your own personal case, regardless to what the Honorable Elijah Muhammad laid on youÑand he laid some heavy trials and tests on youÑyou would not let him go. Of course, there were a few others like this. But I am not referring to them here. None of them were being prepared to sit in his seat but you.
What he put on you of tests and trials only brought you closer to him rather than drove you away from him. Others might have considered your reaction to him silly or ridiculous, as they would not have gone through what you experienced because they didn’t look at such experiences as you (and a few others) did. Please comment.
Minister Farrakhan’s answer and more next issue, Allah willing.