Assalam Alaikoum (peace be upon you) is the opening of any communication.
In a perfect world, there’s perfect communication. Its characteristics are respect, listening, and positive outcome.
Muhammad (ﷺ) was a great communicator. But being proud of our Prophet is not enough.
He certainly put the bar too high. But it doesn’t mean we can’t emulate his skills.
At our own level, we need to strive in making his skills a part of our daily life.
Communication as a way of spreading love & peace
Spreading love & peace? It sounds like a hippie title.
But it’s a phrase that it is suitable for Muslims as well.
Here what the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“By Him in Whose Hand is my life! You will not enter Jannah until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I inform you of something which, if you do, you will love one another? Promote greetings amongst yourselves.”[Riyad as-Salihin 848]
Muhammad (ﷺ) never swears unless it’s extremely important.
Our belief is uncompleted until we love others. And the first step to do that is greetings; it’s saying Assalam Alaikoum.
In another hadith, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“O people, exchange greetings of peace, feed people, strengthen the ties of kinship, and be in prayer when others are asleep, you will enter Jannah in peace.”[Riyad as-Salihin 849]
We understand from these two hadiths that the starting point of any communication is love & peace. This is what we need to keep in mind.
We can’t possibly love someone and wish him/her good if we use words to harm, manipulate, and misguide.
How the Prophet (ﷺ) used to communicate?
Muhammad’s talk was clear and can’t be mistaken. The words were distinct and separated.
He’s talk was so clear at the right pace that the audience could memorize it.
Aisha radiyallahu anha relates that the speech of Rasoolullah (ﷺ) was not quick and continuous as that of yours. He spoke clearly, word for word. A person sitting in his company remembered what he said. [Ash-Shama’il Al-Muhammadiyah 222]
The Prophet (ﷺ) repeated words thrice when it’s necessary.
Anas ibn Maalik radiyallahu anhu says, Rasoolullah (ﷺ) (sometimes) repeated a word (as was necessary) thrice, so that his listeners understood well what he was saying. [Ash-Shama’il Al-Muhammadiyah 223]
This is called the Rule of Three in public speaking. The general principle is to make your ideas memorable for your audience.
The Prophet (ﷺ) was brief. Brevity forces you to be clear and precise in your communication.
Imam Hasan radiyallahu anhu asked his uncle Hind ibn Abi Haalah to describe him how Rasoolullah (ﷺ) spoke. The answer was:
“… He always spoke clearly from beginning to end. He spoke concisely, where the words are less and meaning more. Every word was clearer than the previous one. There was no nonsensical talk, nor was there half-talks where the meaning was not complete and could not be grasped…”[Ash-Shama’il Al-Muhammadiyah 224]
From all what we said about the Prophet (ﷺ), we can retain one thing: his communication had a purpose.
He had the best interest of his audience in mind. And we are part of his audience.
He spoke in a way that we can understand his teachings and remember them.
This is how we communicate usefully and effectively.
Muslims have a double reward for communicating lovingly, usefully, and effectively. Rewards in this life and the other.
And yet, this type of communication is not present in our cultures.
We can see it in the way we communicate with each other or in the way we communicate with non-Muslims.
I’m making generalities here, but you’re getting my point, right?
Muslims are not known for being good communicators.
Westerns make a great deal about communication. They want to be better leaders, have good relationships with family and friends, or simply be able to inspire others.
On the other hand, Muslims communication either emphasizes on halal vs haram (lawful vs forbidden), or on proving we are right and everyone else is wrong.
This is a big problem! Because while others are advancing, we are getting weaker.
Without effective communication, we can’t express ourselves that others understand us. We can’t listen to others and try to understand their point of view. And finally, we are not able to seek a positive outcome.
This is what I believe the root of the problem in the Muslim community: we stop learning!
No one is born effective communicator, nor will be as perfect as the Prophet (ﷺ) was. But at least we can try getting better throughout our life.
Gandhi once said:
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
I have great hope in the readers of this blog to initiate the change and spread the message.
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