By: Yahiya Emerick
Any form of communication can be employed in presenting Islam, from sign language and Braille to pamphlets and television. Below is outlined the power of effective speaking and how to use in da`wah work:
The power of effective speaking is at the heart of da`wah. For the orator, as no book man has ever written, can instantly influence or change the behavior and thinking of others.
Indeed, the Blessed Messenger of Allah didn’t pass out pamphlets or beam satellite relayshe preached fiery sermons and called to people with his vibrant energy and charisma. He was a master speaker. People were moved to respond with great emotion and fervor. He comforted and eased those whom Allah wished to be guided and he enraged and angered the corrupt and the wicked. He didn’t mince words or need a script.
His words came from the natural talent and inspiration Allah bestowed upon him. And look at his results! Within one hundred years Muslims liberated most of the known world from ignorance. This is why there is such a critical need for trained, experienced, eloquent and fluent speakers in the Muslim Ummah, both here and abroad.
But how does one acquire that devastating mastery over words that would enable him to storm the hearts and minds of others?
So, be conscious of your body language. The French writer, Michel de Montaigne (d. 1592) once observed, “How often do the involuntary movements of our features reveal what we are secretly thinking and betray us to those about us!” Essays.
After being pure in conduct and content of heart, the following two ingredients might be useful to note:
1- Fluency in the tongue of the people (if it is not your native language.) Spanish, French and English are the most widely used languages in North America.
2- Confidence. If you need improvement in your abilities as a speaker, attend a public speaking seminar. Dale Carnegie or Anthony Robbins seminars are widely available.
An Essential Da’wah Strategy
An effective way of reaching a person is when we talk ‘with’ them, and not ‘at’ them. Have you ever come into contact with someone who kept pushing something at you or who didn’t seem to care about what you had to say or how you felt? What sort of reaction did you have? You probably steeled yourself to anything they said and ignored their arguments.
This is the way some Muslims carry out da`wah, so it is important for a Da`iyah to be aware of this pitfall.
One perceptive early Muslim, Hasan Al Basri, said:
“…And I shouldn’t find you approaching a group of people who are busy with something else and then preaching to them. Instead, remain silent and when they ask you to speak, start unraveling your message, for then they will be ready for it.”
The Blessed Prophet was noted for a very respectful, humble style of conversation. He reasoned with people, not at them. He showed concern for their families, business and well-being, and he was always reserved, never unduly harsh or uncouth.
For further example, we read that Allah instructed His servant, the Blessed Musa, to go to Pharaoh and,
…speak a gentle word to him that he might heed or fear. (Ta-Ha 20:44)
We need to emulate this type of approach:
There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejects false deities and believes in Allah has grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower. (Al-Baqarah 2:256)
Keep to forgiveness, and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant. (Al-A`raf 7:199)
In addition, a good rule to follow is to speak 20% of the time and listen the other 80%. Ask questions and evaluate responses. There is no greater pleasure for a person than to talk about him or herself and his or her concerns. It makes them open up and to become receptive to you as a person, as well as a Muslim.
The article is an excerpt from the author’s How to Tell Others About Islam, 1994.
Yahiya Emerick is a former President of the Islamic Foundation of North America, vice-principal at an Islamic school, and a Muslim author. A prolific author, he has written several articles and works of fiction that have been published in North America and abroad.