A few months back, I was addressing an audience, with majority of them being non Muslims. In my content, I touched upon the status of parents in Islam and drew the attention of the audience as to why we should talk to our parents and listen to them attentively, especially when they grow old.
“It is not a generation gap but a communication gap that digs a deep valley between the two generations. We hurry to put Whatsapp and Facebook updates but our parents remain unaware about our whereabouts and achievements”, I insisted.
In the question and answer sessions, a young man got up and argued, “My father is a rich man and I need an iPhone, he doesn’t buy one for me because he does not know the benefits of iPhones, and this ignorance is due to generation gap and not a communication gap”.
I replied, “How did you know the usefulness and the importance of an iPhone? Naturally, you must have visited the shop and the salesman must have explained in detail and in a polite manner the way they are trained to do”. The young man agreed. I continued, “Did you use the same approach towards your father in convincing your need or did you just demand?” The man smiled and sat down. Later on after the program was over, an old man came to me and pressed my hands and said, “Good said! He was my son”.
We are in the age of communication and information where a lot of people are communicating their useless thoughts, corrupted-ideas, cheap-fashions and weird-life styles to the world through their mesmerizing, marketing, advertising and presentation. Mesmerizing speeches have always been used by many demagogues to win the favor of the masses, many of which have resulted in bloody revolutions. That is what the Qur’an draws our attention towards :
“And of the people is he whose speech pleases you in worldly life” (Al Baqarah, 2:204).
In the 112th verse of Surah al An’am, Allah terms “Zukhraful qauli gooror”, which means decorated, deceptive narrations.
Even our beloved Prophet said : Some speeches are magic. 1
In order to beat the destructive mesmerizing speeches, we have to present “Ihsaan speeches”. Ihsaan means excellent.
“Indeed Allah commands equality and excellence”. (An Nahl, 16: 99)
Allah addresses the good Muslims :
“Tell my worshipers that they should speak that which is Excellent”. (al Isra, 17:53)
This holds true to debates too. Allah makes it very clear in Surah Nahl :
“And argue with them in an excellent manner…” (An Nahl, 16:125)
How do you beautify your speech? Let us take the help of Qur’an again. It arises in the form of a question when you read Surah Yusuf where Allah says, “And We narrate unto you beautiful stories.”
You might wonder what is the beauty in stories of people who have been killed in large numbers, or stories where entire cities are swallowed during earth quakes or floods; narrations where Prophet Yaqub loses his son and then loses his eyes after mourning for years for his lost son; narrations where Prophet Ibrahim is commanded to desert his own son in the empty valley with no shades or water and then is ordered to slaughter the very same son a a few years later! Well, what is the beauty in this, you might ask. There aren’t any Cinderella and Snow White like characters to tickle you. There are no Draculas to give you thrilling excitements.
The answer is simple: There are morals and values in these stories. These stories strengthen our values and give qualities like patience and courage during crises. They transform our personalities.
In order to produce a powerful speech, the speaker must stuff morals and lessons into it. The subconscious mind of your audience will ask: “What am I getting from giving a couple of hours to you?”. Every one sitting in your audience is looking to benefit from your speech. Each one wants a solution to his problem. That is why an Islamic public speech is actually a Mass counseling session. Even though you are talking to a big audience, everyone is identifying themselves with things that are being spoken about as if it is being addressed to them personally.
That leads us to an important conclusion: It is essential to study the Qur’an. Study of the Qur’an includes the study of seerah too, i.e. the Biography of the Prophet (pbuh) in order to improve your speech and communications skills.
One of the primary reasons why many marriages fail or many couples just drag their lives staying together is because of a pause in communication between the two spouses, most of the time due to ego. It even happens with our families. When two brothers fight, they refuse to talk for months or even years together.
However, our Prophet has taught us to patch up and greet each other by joining ties.
There are two common types of breaking ties. One is to quarrel and to severe ties while the other is to ignore the people around you (either out of arrogance or because you take people for granted). Most of us fall into the second category. Even though we love each other, we don’t talk and communicate enough. A newly married husband will make regular calls from his office and surprise his wife with small tokens of affections through gifts but after a couple of kids, he will stop expressing his love towards her even though he loves her dearly.
Consider This: When you were young, you refused to leave your mother even for a moment and you had hundreds of questions to ask your parents, and most of them were silly. But when you grew up, you became busy with your own job, wife and kids that your didn’t even find time to visit your mother for weeks together, even though she stays close by.
Or perhaps, you are a mother in law and your newlywed daughter in law finds it difficult to adjust in your house. She is shy to talk or doesn’t know the rules of your house so she errs or breaks your age old family rules of making breakfasts and steps out of the protocol while visiting relatives. She needs to be communicated.
As a salesman, teacher, or any profession you are into, you have to talk to your customers till they agree. As a teacher, you have to tolerate other people’s children for hours every day and talk to them, but at home, you are nowhere near to talking with your own child!
This communication gap has widened due to media. We are busy with our Whattsapp and Facebooks while our parents are busy with their favorite TV programs. The Qur’an declares: “Ar Rahman, Allah the Most Merciful, has taught man to communicate…”, yet, we remain dumb with our near and dear ones.
Think about it..and share your thoughts in the comments section below!
- Sahih Hadith ↩