وَآتُواْ الْيَتَامَى أَمْوَالَهُمْ وَلاَ تَتَبَدَّلُواْ الْخَبِيثَ بِالطَّيِّبِ وَلاَ تَأْكُلُواْ أَمْوَالَهُمْ إِلَى أَمْوَالِكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ حُوبًا كَبِيرًاسورۃ النساء, آيۃ 2
To orphans restore their property (When they reach their age), nor substitute (your) worthless things for (their) good ones; and devour not their substance (by mixing it up) with your own. For this is indeed a great sinSurah 4, Verse 2
Ranin, who is in the seventh grade, is an orphan and lives with her aunt. She is a quiet, shy girl who never talks unless someone addresses her. Recently she has not been attending school regularly, and when she does come, she asks the teacher to let her out after one or two lessons. The teacher has asked her several times what is going on but she is silent. The last time the teacher asked her, Ranin burst into tears, trembled and then fell silent. Then she told her in a hoarse voice that the girls in her class mock her and hide her belongings, sometimes the book-bag and sometimes the textbooks. Last week they threw one of her books out of the window and when she ran down to pick it up, it had vanished. Ranin told this story to the teacher, choked with tears, and then she stopped, took a deep breath and added: “They steal from me because I’m an orphan and I have nobody to protect me…”
The teacher decided to deal with the matter. She started the next education hour with a Quran verse: “To orphans restore their property (When they reach their age), nor substitute (your) worthless things for (their) good ones; and devour not their substance (by mixing it up) with your own. For this is indeed a great sin”. She asked the pupils what the verse meant and then went on to describe Ranin’s suffering. She knew that there was no need to conceal the facts because the entire class had taken part. She was not looking for culprits but wanted to bring about a transformation in the class so that Ranin could feel better. She reassured the pupils and promised not to investigate who had done what but made it clear that she was ashamed of all of them. After the lesson, several of the girls went over to Ranin and said that they wanted to be her friends.
Children can be very cruel and their conduct often calls for the intervention of an adult. The teacher did well in not seeking culprits. A number of children had taken part in tormenting Ranin and punishment would be ineffective at this stage. Forgiveness and a new start are much more effective. In many classrooms certain children are made scapegoats and are tormented by the rest. The emotional damage can be very great. Often these children are abused at home as well and seem to be inviting their classmates to torment them because this is the treatment they are familiar with. The tormentors are also unloading their frustrations on their classmate, and they need to have clear borderlines set for them and to be guided. They too are still only children. The important task of the teacher is to prevent such a situation and the Quran verses which call for mutual respect can help in this task.