Repetition in Education

Using repetition in education has many great values such as: confirming an important subject or an important ruling. It also helps awaken the drowsy and make students memorize faster. Repetition should be thrice, it is something obvious in the hadiths (Sayings) of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be upon him). Ibn al-Teen said: “Repetition for three times clarifies the meaning the best way.” If we look through his statement, we will find that it is true. Repetition might be needed more than three times, as it will be seen later in a saying by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The words, sentences or names might be repeated by the Prophet (PBUH), it might be other parts of speech. It depends on the important part that needs to be ascertained.

First: Repetition of Words:

1- Anas Ibn Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) said: “Whenever the Prophet spoke a sentence (said a thing), he used to repeat it thrice so that the people could understand it properly from him and whenever he asked permission to enter, (he knocked the door) thrice with greeting.” Anas Ibn Malik also narrated: “Allah’s Apostle (Peace Be upon him) used to repeat the word thrice to be understood properly from him.”

Safi ar-Rahman al-Mubarakfuri said: It means that the Prophet (Peace Be upon him) repeated words thrice if needed because of the difficulty or oddity of the meaning, or because of the many number of listeners present. Repeating the words without an aim does not reflect eloquence. Al-Bijoury said in al-Shamel al-mohamadia: Ibn Malik’s saying “to be understood properly from him” is stated in the passive voice. It means to be comprehended by his listeners.

2- Narrated Abdur-Rahman Ibn Abi-Bakr from his father that the Prophet (Peace Be upon him) said: “Shall I not tell you the three greatest sins?” (repeating the question three times) They said. “Indeed O Messenger of Allah.” He said, “Associating partners with Allah (shirk) and ill-treatment of parents.” He was leaning [when he mentioned that], and then sat up straight (as if he was alarmed) and said, “And bearing false witness.” [The narrator] said, “He continued to repeat this until we said [to ourselves], “If only he would stop.” [Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 2511 & Muslim, Hadith No. 87] Al-Hafiz said: He repeated it thrice to attract the attention of listeners to understand the important of what he was going to say. As for the part about bearing false witness, it may be repeated more than three for the greatness of punishment involved in committing such a sin.

3- Osama Ibn-Zayd Ibn-Haritha killed an idolater in battle after the latter had said: “There is no god but Allah” (la ilaha illallah).” When news of this reached Allah’s Apostle (Peace Be upon him) he condemned Osama in the strongest terms and he said to him: “How can you kill him after he said La ilaha illallah?” He replied: “But he said it with the sword hanging over his head” The Prophet (Peace Be upon him) said again: “How can you kill him after he said La ilaha illallah?” He replied: “O Messenger of Allah, he said it in dissimulation (taqiyyatan).” The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Did you split his heart open (to see)?” and he did not cease to reprove him until Osama wished that he had not entered Islam until after he had killed that man so that he might have been forgiven all his past sins through belief. [Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim] Al-Qurtubi said: Repetition and refusal of accepting the excuse shows condemnation and inhibition of doing such an act.

First: Repetition of Names:

1 – Anas said, “The Prophet, Peace Be upon him, was riding with Mu’adh behind him. He said, ‘Mu’adh!’ He replied, ‘At your service, Messenger of Allah.’ He said, ‘Mu’adh!’ He replied, ‘At your service, Messenger of Allah’ (three times). Then the Prophet said, ‘There is no one who testifies that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, sincerely from his heart, without Allah making it unlawful for the Fire to touch him.’ Mu’adh said, ‘Messenger of Allah, shall I tell the people that so that they can rejoice?’ He said, ‘Then they will rely on it.’ Mu’adh related it when he was dying, fearing to commit a wrong action [by concealing the knowledge].” [Agreed upon] In the hadith, the Prophet (Peace Be upon him) called Mu’adh Ibn-Jabal three times. The reason for this is to prepare Ibn-Jabal for the great news that he will hear from the Prophet (Peace Be upon him). The importance of this statement is reflected in Mu’adh’s questions, ‘Messenger of Allah, shall I tell the people that so that they can rejoice?’ This shows the importance of this matter and the criticalness of such news because they carry great tidings and rejoice to Muslims. We can infer from the hadith that if the teacher wants to deliver some great news to one of his students, he should call him by the name thrice. Then, he should deliver the news to him. The same applies to a group of students or people, the teacher can call their shared name such as saying “O Students” three times, then to tell them the news.


1) Repetition for three times achieves the aim of attracting the attention of listeners. It may increase more than three times if needed.

2) Repetition is a successful method of memorizing information and stressing important points.

3) Repetition of the listener’s name helps him prepare for receiving the news.

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