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Islam: Teach It, Don't Preach It!

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Islam: Teach It, Don't Preach It!

Sherman Nunn Abdur-Razzaq

 

Anyone who has studied Islam and/or attended an Islamic event can verify that among the best of speakers, there is a Muslim presence. Aside from the Prophet Muhammad (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) himself having been an effective orator, The Muslim world has produced the likes of many noted figures that have spread Islam primarily by way of the spoken word. A plausible source of these speakers’ successes lie in the fact that they were well informed and sought to introduce and detail something new (in this instance, a new faith called Islam) to their audiences. There was not an over emphasis on a fire and brimstone laced doom awaiting anyone who had done unfavorable acts. When the subject did arise, it went well beyond simple finger pointing and condemning based upon written words, and opted for comparison and analysis of situations at hand as solutions to the associated problems were presented. Ultimately, this method distinguishes the merits of teaching over the limitations of preaching.

 

A common technique used by 'preachers' is to play upon the emotions of their audiences with a lone goal of creating mass euphoria. The preached delivery of a message can be done with so much fiery oratory and so many spellbinding theatrics that the fact of nothing actually being learned is lost in the spectacle. As a small child, I would attend Christian services with relatives and watch with amazement as a perspiring, vividly clad preacher told of how “unrighteous folk” would be subject to a Hellish afterlife existence. With his voice rising and falling like the fury of an electrical storm, the congregation assisted him with its choruses of agreement and encouragement. There were select few scriptural quotations, but a lack of true discussion and analyzing of these points made them no more than verbal bricks being laid for the speaker’s platform of emotionalism. Amidst all of the clapping, screaming and dancing, a thinking person would question what if anything at all, was being learned? “Preaching” is basically associated with talking loud without actually saying anything that is significant. It is often found condemning wrong doers without discussing hope for their correction, and whipping the listeners (or perhaps hearers) into spiritual ecstasy just enough to make them “feel good” or in other cases, feel a sense of remorse.

 

As for teaching, a speaker performs this much more resourceful task by speaking from a standpoint of simply informing his audience of facts that surround an idea and including the listeners in the occasion by discussing the issues. For those who would care to listen to a speaker, his pointing out and thriving upon their shortcomings only serve to divert their attention elsewhere. It is a matter of them already being familiar with the situation but wanting to over stand how it came about and what can be done to change it for the better. Assuming the role of a teacher when advocating Islamic information makes the Muslim speaker much more effective in his delivery and its reception. When this is done, the listener is essentially presented with unbiased and useful facts other than repeated opinions and threats of damnation. The message is received much clearer as the listeners are respected enough to make their own evaluations rather than a message of “accept my way, or else!”

 

Being preached to does not accomplish much for those who seek more than a simple barrage of words and phrases. It is generally known among the spiritually aware that wrong doing creates consequences and rewards are the result of wholesomeness. This message can be extended a great deal more by a speaker seeking to teach on a subject rather than preach on it. Even if the speaker’s elaborations are on a subject that his audience is largely informed of, they may still be taught the mataerial based upon the speaker’s point of view or personal experiences rather than being preached to. As an individual is being taught, there is a feeling of of his intelligence being respected as he is able to make his own final decisions. It is evident that where preaching meets its limits at condemning and tunneling, teaching builds on conveyed points and seeks to enlighten others with the knowledge that is being shared. A Muslim speaker must avoid the pitfalls of preaching to an audience to ensure that there is room for growth within each listener as an individual.