In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Calling for Allah is a kind of intellectual leadershipCalling for Allah, either through speech or teaching, is a kind of intellectual leadership. The first element of leadership is having an ability to affect sh3er, make them change their notions and ideas and then change their behavior and way of life voluntarily and not by force…Allah says:
“Let there be no compulsion in religion.”Calling for Allah is a kind of education, which is, in essence, directing individuals correctly in all fields: in creed and ideology, in worships, and in treatment. According to the modern idioms, it means directing individuals in scientifically, psychologically and socially ways so as they achieve the goal for which Allah has created them an attain both individual and collective happiness and prosperity in the present world and the Hereafter. In this context, Allah says:
“I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve Me.”
Definitions of worship
One of the definitions of worship is: “Voluntary obedience, mixed with sincere love, preceded by definitive knowledge, and leads to eternal happiness.” Therefore, it is necessary for a Caller for Allah to have an ability to affect sh3er, in order to be able to achieve his noble mission, for which he has devoted himself, in a perfect way. A caller for Allah can acquire a lot of the skills of “The Art of affecting sh3er”, because such an art is not an innate but rather an acquired ability.
In addition to the essential prerequisites that each and every preacher is supposed to possess - most important of which are good comprehensive knowledge of Islamic doctrine and ideology, adherence to the Holy Koran and Prophetic Sunna and Tradition, sincerity, truthfulness, perseverance and bravery in communicating Divine Revelation - the following are some of the techniques of affecting sh3er:
Drawing people’s attention by constant movements and gestures. This is because movement of a speaker in a moderate and meaningful way, moving his hands and head in a clever expressive way, moving his eyes towards every listener, raising and lowering his voice softly and eloquently according to intended meaning, and changing his style between reporting and composition, bidding and forbidding, bringing good tidings and threatening, describing and analyzing, narrating and criticizing, giving stories and parables, reporting and portraying, arousing desire and threatening, dialogues and conversations…etc. Such techniques draw the readers’ or listeners’ attention, which is a condition for affecting them.
The story is the most important, wide-spread and impressive style of narration. Because of its capacity to permeate into the depth of man’s feelings and emotions, because of the human realities it includes, its exauthorment and stimulation, and the intellectual and moral impact which it makes in the listeners’ or readers’ hearts. Therefore, the story is considered as one of the most impressive styles of expressing and instructing. In the story, characters move through incidents and dialogues in an unpredictable way, which is the essence of the element of suspense in the story, for man is curious. He follows every moving thing which he does not know how will settle; and he will be attracted by such a thing until he knows its end. This explains why we do not leave an exciting story. Hence, a story is one of the most effective styles of instructing, because of its persistent exauthorment which makes man attached to it. If its substance is related to an essential religious fact, it will make a great impact on producing new notions and attitudes. In this context, Allah says:
“There is, in their stories, instruction for men endued with understanding.”One of the ways for affecting sh3er is stirring desires and needs. If one wants to impress sh3er, it is necessary for him to make use of their legal desires and needs. Confining oneself to delivering information is not fruitful unless such information be related to real interests of listeners or readers. Man is rarely impressed by abstract mental things or lifeless facts which are not related to his life. Therefore, mere direct preaching by means of scolding or blaming is a waste of time and boring; whereas speaking about the good life which Allah has promised believers to have is closer to a listener’s heart than speaking about juristic rules of inheritance or emancipation of slaves.
Other factors for affecting sh3er is novelty, innovation and creativity. A certain scope of novelty, innovation and creativity is essential for drawing attention of sh3er and impressing them, provided that novelty is not too unfamiliar, for people are somewhat afraid of strange and alien things, and at the same time they do not listen to an ancient and much repeated conventional story. Therefore, preachers are in need of a balanced mixture of the old and new. In this context, Allah says:
“And He (has created) horses, mules, and donkeys, for you to ride and use for show; and he has created (other) things of which you have no knowledge.”
In this verse, there is a mention of modern means of transportations along with those common at that time.
Knowing defense lines of readers or listeners and permeating them is necessary for bringing about the desired impact. This is because man does not only stick to his notions, attitudes, types of behavior, customs and traditions but also he defends them and refuses innovation or novelty in defense of his personality and confirmation of himself. Therefore, affecting such a person is difficult, unless the caller is able to permeate his defense lines in order to reach his essential needs and his deep intrinsic traits and utilize them to bring about new convictions and proper attitudes, addressing both mind and emotion.
A caller can not affect sh3er unless he shares them their sufferings and problems. If a caller approaches people’s reality and feels their problems, he will be closer to their hearts, more capable of solving their problems and affecting them. A true caller communicates with people in order to understand their problems and guides them to their solution. Prophets used to mingle with people, walked in market-places and shared with people all life matters, except sins and faults. They shared people everything except their intellectual and moral deficiency. They were with people in order to understand them, to have mercy upon them, to guide them, and to be good exemplars for them.
The speech of a caller is not effective unless the following prerequisites are fulfilled:Good and scientific preparation: a preacher should know what he wants to say; he should know the goal of his speech, its basic subject, its main ideas, the detailed meanings which deepen the main ideas, the textual and mental evidence which supports his ideas, the realistic examples, the effective stories which illustrate what he wants to convey to people, and he should know what to say first, whether he should explain the ideas first then to bring the evidence, or he should bring the evidence then to explain it…It is necessary that he organizes his ideas and divides them up according to a perfect and clear plan which is known by listeners. There must be a historical, thematic or personal pivot round which ideas move. There must be a clarification upon moving from one idea to another. Also it is necessary to summarize the main ideas, for readers or listeners are easily distracted from a poorly organized or disordered speech or text.
A successful caller should always keep his listeners or readers in mind and take into consideration their likes, interests and concerns. This is because people are easily distracted from topics which are far from people’s life and not related to their problems, which do not answer their questions and which do not end their confusion.
At university, students are obliged to attend lectures, and maybe their success is dependent on their attendance. Whereas a caller or a religious preacher can not oblige sh3er to attend his lessons. But seriousness of content, splendor of presenting, magnificence of style, precision of examples, truthfulness and sincerity in guiding people…all such elements make sh3er obliged to attend and care.
A successful caller cannot attract attention unless he supposes that listeners or readers are clever and intelligent. He should not suppose that they know nothing or can not think. He should not present trivial facts or make naïve discussions, for then, he would lose intelligent people among his listeners or readers; he would lose their attention, respect and attendance altogether. He should make his listeners or readers think with him and fill some intellectual gaps,. He should also help them get to infer certain facts by themselves. The Holy Quran teaches us to observe intelligence of listeners or readers. In the story of the holy Prophet, Joseph (PBUH), the Quranic verses go:
“I will tell you the truth of its interpretation; send you me (therefore). ‘O Joseph!’ (He said) ‘O man of truth’.”There are many details which the Quran does not mention, considering the listener’s or reader’s intelligence. Had such details been mentioned, they would have been a burden upon the story. This is the essence of eloquence and rhetoric. It is rightly said: “Eloquence is between perverting briefness and boring redundancy.”
A successful caller does not make listeners feel deficient or ignorant as if they do not know anything, while he knows every thing! He should not address them in an incomprehensible way or present his ideas in an unusual style. He should simplify complicated facts and facilitate ways of understanding by using common and clear phrases. He should give examples and narrate clarifying parables.
A successful caller is someone who uses sober and intelligent jokes that do not hurt the feelings of the audience but emerge from the topic itself and illustrate its facts. Such jokes reactivate the audience, draw their attention to the focal points of the topic and establish a relationship of intimacy between his audience and himself.
It is preferable that the caller moves his eyes over all his audience, for this makes a spiritual connection between them and himself and attracts the audience’s attention and makes them follow the subject and react to it. Absence of eye-contact between the speaker and listener weakens communication and breaks spiritual contact between them. Therefore, mosques which allow preachers to see all audience and establish eye contact with them are more effective in fulfilling the mosque’s mission.
One of the most important factors of affecting an audience is that the caller should know that everything has a limit at which it has to end, otherwise the whole topic would be spoiled. There is a limit for things which should be done in a certain time; there is a limit for the attention of audience; and there is a limit for the amount of impact which can be made on a certain occasion…Therefore, the preacher should know when he has to stop…You should stop when you finish; stop when your topic is over; stop when you feel that listeners have got bored; and stop while they wish you continued your speech and not when they wish you stopped.
It is worth mentioning that one of the factors of the caller’s success and attracting attention of the audience is that they should know when the speech is going to end. When they know the time and period of the speech, they feel comfortable and attentive.
The things which make a speech boring and uninteresting are numerous, most important of which are: being inert and away from the audience’s interests, failure to combine between the old and new, improvisation without preparing or organizing, boring redundancy, inappropriate briefing, inexplicitness, absence of suspense, one-leveled speech tone, needless repetition, absence of vivid images, difference of educational and cultural backgrounds, prevaricating around the subject, generalization, jumping to hasty judgments and conclusions, exaggeration and overstatement, needless verbosity and particularization.