Art of speaking

Notwithstanding the importance of the spoken word, very few people are acquainted with the art of conversation. In order to make an impression, people use such words which the listeners find difficult to comprehend thereby defeating the purpose of a conversation. The speaker has to bear in mind that the listeners (at times) may be inferior to him in intellect. He, therefore, has to come down to the level of the listeners if he wants to convey the message clearly and effectively.

The speaker must not shout or scream to make a point. He should not be abusive or vulgar and above all he must speak politely and answer the questions (if any) without losing his nerves.

Aishah (RA) once said, “The most revered Prophet (SAW) words were so clear that everyone could understand them.” (Abu Dawud). Aware of the capacity of the people, Allah the most merciful says in Quran, “We have sent down the Book in simple Arabic so that you understand it.”

The most revered Prophet (SAW) has directed the Muslims to speak pleasantly and cheerfully. A speaker should not unnecessarily strain his cheek muscles. The speaker must receive the listeners cheerfully. This is in accordance with the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAW). The beloved Prophet (SAW) answered the questions of strangers politely even if they were rude. One day a man called on the most revered Prophet (SAW) and sought permission for Zina (fornication). The pious companions (RA) lost their cool but before they could harm the man, the most revered Prophet (SAW) came to his rescue and addressing him politely, said, “How would you react if someone commits adultery with your mother, wife sister or daughter.” The message was conveyed and the embarrassed stranger left. Had the Holy Prophet (SAW) ridiculed and humiliated him, or allowed his pious companions (RA) to harm him, the message could not have be effectively conveyed.

Similarly, an ordinary man stood up in the Prophet’s (SAW) mosque and asked Hazrat Umar (RA) how he had managed such a cloak from a small piece of cloth that were distributed to all the Muslims from the spoils of war.  Umar the great (RA) whose very mention would send a wave of shiver down the spines of Persian kings did not lose his nerve and explained his position politely.  “A good word is an act of kindness.”(Al Bukhari, Al Muslim). This is how the speakers have to behave.

The listeners too have to behave properly. They must be rapt what is said to them. They should not interrupt the speaker or whisper to each other. Questions, if any, can be answered at the end of the conversation. A person who interrupts a speaker has been equalled to a pickpocket.

The speaker has to ensure involvement of the listeners in the conversation. This can be achieved by speaking clearly and pleasantly and by sticking to the topic. The moment a speaker deviates from the topic, the listener’s attention waivers. Similarly, if the speaker sticks to the time schedule (if it has been fixed), his words shall be received warmly and effectively.

The most revered Prophet (SAW) would never interrupt his pious companions (RA). He would speak only when they had stopped. The holy companions (RA) also behaved in a similar fashion.  When the Prophet (SAW) spoke, they would lower their gaze and listen raptly and patiently.

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