The Successful Preacher

The Successful Preacher (Abdul Wahab Adam) Preaching is of paramount importance in the life of every prophet. The first responsibility of a prophet is to communicate to his people the message he received from God. Addressing the Holy Prophet Allah says in the Holy Quran: “O Messenger! convey to the people what has been revealed to thee from thy Lord.” (5:86). All the responsibilities of the prophets can be summarised in the main responsibility of the plain delivery of their message. The Holy Quran says: “Are the Messengers responsible for anything except the plain delivery of the Message?” (16:36). The success of each prophet in his mission depends on the abilities bestowed upon him by God to convey his message. In this regard, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) has far excelled all. God the Exalted bestowed upon him the most charming and excellent qualities. First, he had the love of God in his heart, nay!, the light of God engulfed all his heart till it turned into light as the Holy Quran describes it: “Light upon Light” (24:36). Secondly, the Holy Prophet’s love for God was translated into love for His creation, in particular for the love of mankind. The Holy Prophet reflected in himself the attribute of God “The Most Loving”. It was only him who has been described as “A mercy for the whole of mankind”. These two aspects of love: The love of God and the love of mankind, were the two wings by which the Holy Prophet soared high and reached the highest pinnacles of success in preaching and conveying his message. Since the very early moments of his ministry these two aspects of love were clearly visible in his relationship with others. Those-who were intimately THE SUCCESSFUL PREACHER 11 acquainted with his private life were able to see the glow of love which overwhelmed his heart and exhibited itself in his relationship with God and in his relationship with his fellow-beings. After receiving the early revelations, the Holy Prophet was burdened with fears and worries as to how he could carry out the responsibilities which God intended to put on his shoulders. His loving wife Khadija consoled him affirming: “God is witness, He has not sent you this Word that you should fail and prove/unworthy, that He should then give you up. How can God do such a thing, while you are kind and considerate to your relations, help the poor and forlorn and bear their burdens? You are restoring the virtues which had disappeared from our country. You treat your guests with honour and help those who are in distress.” What a code of ethics the Holy Prophet had followed even before he received any revelation. It was a code of ethics which reflects a genuine love for God and for man. In modern techniques of debate or negotiations, the professionals say that you can win the debate or you can impose your terms in a negotiation if you can get your adversary to agree with you on a certain principal; then if you use that principal as a premise upon which you build an argument which you present as a direct consequence of that principal, then in such a case the opponent has no alternative but to agree with your terms. The Holy Prophet has used exactly the same technique more than fourteen hundred years ago. When he received a revelation instructing him to declare openly his message, he ascended to a height and called every one of the tribes of Quraish by its name. When they had collected together, he addressed them saying: “O Quraish! were I to tell you that a large host has collected together on the other side of this height and is preparing to attack you, would you believe me?” They responded: “Surely, we would believe you as we have always found you truthful.” Here the Holy Prophet, like an expert negotiator using the techniques of the present day professionals, has got his people to agree on a principal, that he was always found to be truthful. He used this principal as a premise upon which he build his argument which was in direct consequence of the principal they had agreed on. He said to his people: “I am the Messenger of God to you. I warn you that God’s chastisement is approaching. B elieve in God so that you may be saved.” Bent on arrogance and wickedness rather than on wisdom and intelligence, they could not meet the strong impressive technique used by the Holy Prophet. When they could not refute his argument logically they took the route taken by the losers. They resorted to mocking and derision. One of them, Abu Lahab, replied: “Ruin seize you. Did you call us only for this?” Having said that, they all went their way mocking and joking. 12 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS It is sometimes said that the shortest way to a man’s heart is the one which passes through his stomach. The wife who cooks delicious dishes for her husband usually enjoys his love. This technique is also valid in preaching. Many of those who are actively engaged in preaching would invite their friends for a cup of tea or to the dinner table in order to communicate the message of the True Islam. The Holy Prophet used the same technique. In the early days after proclaiming publicly his mission, he directed Ali to have a meal prepared and invited the descendents of Abdul Muttalib to partake of it so that the occasion might be utilised for conveying the divine message to them. About forty persons responded to the invitation. The Holy Prophet wanted to say something after the meal but again Abu Lahab made some observation which caused the guests to disperse. A little later, the Holy Prophet directed Ali to prepare another meal to which he invited his relatives. On this occasion, he addressed them as follows: “Descendants of Abdul Muttalib, I have brought you something, better than which no one has brought for his people. I call you to God. If you respond to my call, you will become the recipients of the best bounties of this life and the next. Which of you will be my helper in this enterprise?” There was a dead silence, when suddenly Ali stood up and said: “Though I am the weakest and the youngest of all these who are present here, I shall support you.” Thereupon, the Holy Prophet, addressing his guests said: “If you will hear and follow what this young one has said, you would do well.” On this there was general laughter and Abu Lahab said to his elder brother, Abu Talib: “Now Muhammad directs you to follow your son.” The guests departed deriding and laughing at the Holy Prophet. Patience and forebearance are qualities no successful preacher can do without. The Holy Prophet had to go through many situations which demanded the exercise of extreme patience and forebearance. In many situations he was subjected to severe persecution and in others he was subjected to temptation; but in every situation he demonstrated the highest degree of steadfastness. Once the arch enemies of Islam and the chiefs of Mecca gathered together after sunset to discuss what they should do to persuade Muhammad (peace be on him) away from his new religion which posed a serious threat to their own personal prestige. They decided to send for him and persuade him to change his ways. A messenger was immediately dispatched to inform the Holy Prophet that the chiefs of his people were anxious to speak to him. He hurried to the Kaaba anticipating that the Meccan chiefs may have at last come to their senses and were ready to listen to him. When he took his seat among them they said: “Muhammad, we have not known any man among the Arabs who has created such troubles and problems for his people as you have done by your claims. If your purpose is to gather wealth we are willing to bestow upon you so much that you may be the wealthiest of us all. If you are seeking THE SUCCESSFUL PREACHER 13 honour and status we are willing to make you our chief. If you hanker after ruling power, we are even prepared to acknowledge you as our king. If you can be made happy by marriage with a young woman, we can provide you with the best maiden among the Arabs. If your agitation is due to some disease or disorder, we are prepared to provide for your proper treatment at our expense. All that we ask you in return is to desist from denouncing our idols.” It is said by those who believe in the divinity of Jesus that no human-being could have resisted the temptation which Jesus was subjected to by Satan. A study of both incidents of temptation reveals that the Holy Prophet was subjected to a temptation different to that of Jesus. The Holy Prophet was tempted by his people whom he knew to have the power to make good their promise. Jesus was tempted by Satan whom Jesus knew could not fulfil his promise. The Holy Prophet knew that when a noble Arab chief makes a public promise he stands by his word at any cost. Jesus knew, even as a small child knows, that Satan does not stand by his word. The price which the Holy Prophet was asked to pay was only to desist from denouncing the idols of Mecca while the price Jesus was demanded to pay was to prostrate and worship Satan. Finally, when both incidents of temptation took place, the Holy Prophet and his small band of helpless followers were suffering from severe persecution which usually makes one succumb and yield to temptation while Jesus had suffered no persecution whatsoever before this incident which took place right after he was baptised by John in the River Jordan (Matt. 4). Any false claimant in the Holy Prophet’s place would have been inclined to compromise with such an offer: Kingdom and honour instead of persecution and humiliation, wealth and riches instead of poverty and need, the most beautiful girl among the Arabs instead of his old wife who was in her sixties. But not Muhammad. His love for God transcended all such temptations. He replied to the chiefs of Quraish and said: “I suffer from no disease or disorder and I desire none of these things you want to offer me. I am a messenger of God and have brought you His message. My heart is full of sympathy for you. If you listen to me and follow what I say, it will be entirely for your benefit, both here and in the hereafter. If you reject my message, I shall wait the judgement of God with patience and forebearance.” The enemies of Islam realised that no temptation would turn the Holy Prophet from his mission and no persecution would make him change his mind. The only solution was to get rid of him once and for all. How could they get rid of him while he was under the protection of one of their chiefs, Abu Talib? They decided to send a deputation to address Abu Talib and demand that he should give up Muhammad (peace be on him). This incident provided an occasion to reveal some of the many qualities which the Holy Prophet possessed, namely his perseverance and determination to propagate his message. Without perseverance and 14 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS unyielding determination, no preacher can be successful in conveying his message. The deputation came to Abu Talib and said: “You are one of our chiefs and for your sake we have so far spared your nephew, Muhammad. The time has come, however, when we should put an end to this conflict in our midst. We ask and demand that he should desist from saying anything against our idols. If he agrees to this, our conflict and controversy with him will be over. We urge you to persuade him. But if you are unable to do so, then one of two things must happen. Either you have to give up your nephew, or we, your people, will give you up.” Abu Talib was very much upset. He sent for the Holy Prophet and explained to him the demand made by the elders of Mecca. “If you do not agree,” he said with tears in his eyes, “then either I have to give you up or my people will give me up.” The Holy Prophet was in evident sympathy with his uncle. Tears came to his eyes and he said: “I ask you not to give up your people, I ask you not to stand by me. Instead, you may give me up and stand by your people. But the One and Only God is my witness when I say that even if they were to place the sun on my right and the moon on my left, I would not desist from preaching the truth of the One God. I shall persist in it till God enables me to discharge it fully or till I perish in the attempt.” Khidmatul-Khalq or the rendering a service to those who need a helping hand, is one of the most effective tools in preaching. The Holy Prophet utilised this tool to the full. A woman once came to Mecca to settle down when she heard the propaganda widely spread by the Holy Prophet’s enemies accusing him of influencing people by his magic and leading them astray. She was very much perturbed and decided to leave Mecca and go back to where she used to live a few miles outside Mecca. She collected her luggage and startedher journey back. The Holy Prophet met her on her way. Seeing an old woman loaded with luggage he offered a helping hand. The woman welcomed his offer thinking she would pay him when she arrived at her home. The Holy Prophet carried the woman’s luggage over his head and followed her. On the way he asked her why she was leaving Mecca. She told him what she heard about someone called Muhammad who influenced people by his magic and led them astray. She explained that, she was leaving Mecca to save herself from his evil magic. The Holy Prophet did not say anything but kept chatting with her while carrying all her load until they reached her home. She wanted to pay him but he declined. She was very much impressed by his attitude and by his conversation. She asked him about his name and he replied “Muhammad”. Realising that the charming, kind and helping person was the same one whom she had been led by the Meccans to fear, she smiled and said, “Now I understand what kind of magic you use upon people. It is the only kind of magic which God bestows upon the truthful ones”. THE SUCCESSFUL PREACHER 15 A successful preacher may possess so many good qualities but when intimidated or provoked, he loses his temper and vents his anger. This was not the case with the Holy Prophet. He was subjected to all kinds of intimidations but always maintained self-control of himself. Once a Jew wanted to test the Holy Prophet’s quality of self-control. Knowing that a true prophet would exercise extreme self-control, he planned to intimidate him and observe his reaction. He lent him some money and on the day when the payment was due, he came to the Holy Prophet while he was sitting among his companions and demanded the payment of the loan in a very provoking and intimidating manner. Hazrat Omar who was present could not restrain himself, he drew out his sword, took hold of the man and addressing the Holy Prophet said: “Messenger of Allah, permit me to cut off the head of this enemy of God”. The Holy Prophet objected saying that he should not have resorted to violence. Instead he should have advised the man to demand his loan in a proper manner. The Holy Prophet then directed that the man should be paid the full amount of the loan and also be paid an extra amount as a compensation for Omar’s attitude towards him which had frightened him. The man admitted that he had planned the scene in order to test the Holy Prophet’s quality of self-control. As he was completely satisfied with the noble qualities of the Holy Prophet, he had no choice but to declare his acceptance of Islam. I cannot close without mentioning a couple of incidents in which most of his noble qualities were manifested with such excellence that they can never be matched. His qualities of forebearance, of determination, of patience, of steadfastness, of love for mankind, even for those who were not yet born, and above all his love for God, his complete trust in Him and his utter reliance upon Him; all these qualities were manifested like a glowing sun. The tribe of Quraish had compelled the Holy Prophet and his helpless followers to be confined in a quarter belonging to Abu Talib situated in a narrow valley. They were denied all necessities of life. The Quraish would sell them nothing nor would they allow any provision to reach them. They were exposed to extreme misery and distress. The wailing of the famished children within the valley used to be audible outside. When the period of confinement which had lasted for about three years came to an end, the Holy Prophet suffered two grievous bereavements by the deaths of his wife Khadij a and his uncle Abu Talib. The death of his faithful and devoted wife deprived him of his counsellor and support. The death of his uncle left him exposed to the violence and attacks of his foes without a strong hand to protect him. The Quraish were adamant in opposing him. He met with disappointment and frustration in every direction. None of the people of Mecca or its visitors was willing to listen to him. Yet, he did not give up. His enthusiasm to propagate his message did not change. He decided to go to Al-Taif, a town about forty miles from Mecca. He called on the leading men of the city but all of them 16 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS rejected him and abused him. He called on the most prominent chief of the city but he put him off and incited the rabble of the city to chase him out of town. They pelted him and his servant Zaid with stones and went on reviling them for a distance of three miles. Though the blood was flowing from both legs of the Holy Prophet and was streaming down from Zaid’s head who was trying to shield the Holy Prophet, yet the mob did not desist until they chased them across the sandy plains. Taking refuge in a vineyard, completely exhausted and utterly helpless, the Holy Prophet was asked by an angel whether he would like his persectuers to be destroyed. “No”, said the Holy Prophet, “I hope that from one of them would be born one who would worship the One True God”. Then, in complete humility and in utter reliance on God he supplicated: “Lord, I submit my complaint to Thee. I am weak and without means. My people look down upon me. Thou art Lord of the poor and the weak and Thou art my Lord. To whom wilt Thou abandon me •—to strangers who push me about or to the enemy who oppresses me in my own town? If Thou art not angered with me, I care not for my enemy”. May Allah shower His countless mercies and blessings upon the Holy Prophet, who has sustained all sorts of unimaginable hardships so that those who come after him may see the light which he saw and worship the Living God whom he has worshipped. But alas for his followers! They have reverted to the same old ways of tyranny and corruption. They have gone astray and have become divided among themselves. They fight each other and take pride in shedding each other’s blood. They have occupied themselves in exploiting and oppressing their own people. While rendering a lip-service to Islam they have presented to the world the most ugly and detestable image of Islam. And now, when God has sent The Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, to carry high the banner of the Holy Prophet and to lead the world to the way of the Holy Prophet and to propogate the true religion of Islam throughout the whole world, they have denounced him and his followers as kafirs (disbelievers) outside the pale of Islam. He and his followers have and are being persecuted in the same way as the Holy Prophet and his followers were persecuted in their time. However, we have seen the excellent ex- ample of the Holy Prophet and his determination in preaching and propagating the True Religion. We shall follow that excellent example. Let the enemies of Islam devise what evil plans they please. Their evil will fall upon themselves. Let them enflame the fire of hatred and division but that fire will consume only themselves. Let them cowardly assassinate our helpless old men in the dark, let them slaughter our defenceless young men and shoot down our weak women; let them confine our people to prison for no crime other than reciting the kalima (declaration of faith), let them confiscate and destroy our mosques, let them blacken their books and newspapers with their lies and forgeries against us; let them spread their wicked fabrications through THE SUCCESSFUL PREACHER 17 their conferences and crooked propaganda; they will never be able to prevent us from raising high the banner of Islam. Weak as we may be, oppressed by our own people, forced to leave our homes and our countries, alone as we are with no earthly power or material might; we have no complaint. We supphcate to Allah alone as did the Holy Prophet: “Our Lord, To Thee we submit our complaint. We are weak and without means. Our people look down upon us. Thou art Lord of the weak and the oppressed and Thou art our Lord. To whom wilt Thou abandon us •— to strangers who push us about or to the enemy who oppresses us in our own countries? If Thou art not angered with us, we care not for our enemy. Thy mercy be with us. We seek refuge in the light of Thy face. It is Thou who canst drive away the darkness from the world and give peace to all, here and hereafter. Let not Thy anger and Thy wrath descend on us. And there is no power and no refuge except with Thee. Teachings of Confucius The true scholar and the man of virtue will never seek to save themselves at the cost of their moral integrity. In its defence they will be ready to sacrifice life itself. Among the truly educated there is no distinction of classes. Even when contact is made with uncivilised peoples, kindly sympathy must not be withheld. Tzu-kmg asked if the Master could give him one word to serve as a rule of life. The Master said: “Would not’reel pro city’ be such a word? What you do not wish others to do to you do not unto them.” (Analects of Confucius.)