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52 Hassan & Majid, Communication excellence

COMMUNICATIVE EXCELLENCE of the traditions of the Holy Prophet

Muhammad Najm-ul-Hassan & 1 Abdul Majid
Department of Arabic Islamic Studies and Research Gomal University, D.I.Khan

The Serah (life and practices) of the Holy Prophet (SAW) is quite comprehensive, complete and
practicable in all aspects and dimensions. It successfully competes all standards set by the developing
human wisdom from time to time; rather provides guidance to them. One of the most important fields
of knowledge and dominance today is communication, which has narrowed down the distances and
turned the world into a global village. So, it is all the more important today to have proper expertise to
communicate successfully with the people of different cultures, languages and civilizations. The Holy
Prophet (SAW) in each capacity i.e. as a leader, legislator, judge, statesman, law giver and a preacher
was primarily to convey to the mankind all what was revealed unto him from Almighty Allah. This
article seeks to examine various techniques and methods used by the Holy Prophet (SAW) in order to
communicate his message effectively. This aspect of Serah of the Holy Prophet (SAW), if studied
properly, can illuminate the way for humanity in this field.

INTRODUCTION if you do not, then you have not

The holy Prophet's Serah is multi- conveyed His Message. (3)
dimensional and ideal for mankind in each
capacity. As a private person, he was a Interpreting this verse, Abdullah ibn-e-
husband, father, friend and businessman; Abbas (RA) says that it means if the
as a public figure, he was a leader, Prophet (SAW) hides even a single verse
legislator, judge, statesman and general; as (which is surely impossible), then he has
a Messenger of Allah, he was a law-giver, not conveyed the message of Allah. (4)
preacher, theologian, saint and mystic. In all the above-mentioned three verses,
Such a combination is unique in history. In the word balaagh and tableegh is used
all the aforementioned capacities, the for conveying the message. Imam Raaghib
Prophet SAW was primarily to Isfahani, the renowned etymologist,
communicate to the mankind all what was explains these words in this way:
revealed unto him from Almighty Allah. Buloogh and balaagh is to take a
thing to its extreme and highest level
The Holy Quran says in Surah Al-Maida: (i.e perfection) whether it is related to
You should know that it is our time, place or some matter. (5)
Messengers duty to convey (the Almighty Allah advises His Prophet
message) in the clearest way. (1) (SAW):
Again, The Quran says in the same Surah: Speak to them an effective word to
The Duty of the Messenger (SAW) reach their innerselves. (6)
is nothing but to convey (the Here the word Balaagh is used. Raaghib
message) (2) Isfahani, while explaining this word, says
The Quran addresses the holy Prophet that it has two kinds.
(SAW) and says:
O Messenger (Muhammad SAW)! 1. The first one is that the word should
Proclaim (the message) which has been be effective and perfect in meaning in
sent down to you from your Lord. And itself. For the purpose, it is necessary
53 Hassan & Majid, Communication excellence

that the word must have three from lawlessness and anarchy to
characteristics. It must be disciplined living, from utter
(i) Literally correct. bankruptcy to the highest standards of
(ii) Closer to the intended moral excellence. (8)
meaning and
(iii) True and accurate in itself. Communication is not merely the matter
2. The second kind is that the person of sending a message, rather it comprises
who utters the word must be true and various methods to transfer concepts to the
effective and the word should leave receptive ears and establish them firmly in
the intended effect on the one who the peoples minds and hearts. The
listens to it. (7) Prophet (SAW) used different approaches
in dealing with different people in
Moreover, in one of the verses mentioned different circumstances. Some of the
above, Almighty Allah has addressed His techniques found in the sayings and
Prophet (SAW) with the word (Rasool) i.e actions of the holy Prophet (SAW) to
Messenger which throws light on the communicate his message effectively may
major responsibility of the Prophet (SAW) be counted as follows: (Here is given only
as being communicatier of Allahs one or two examples with each technique
message. Though the life of the Prophet otherwise an inquisitive mind may find a
(SAW) had many capacities and aspects, great deal of them in Hadith literature.)
as indicated above, but his expertise to
effectively communicate Allahs message Drawing Lines
is the most dominating and pervasive one. Modern communication demands the
Therefore, it needs much more emphasis communicator to use visual aids like map,
especially in this age of communication. black board, white board etc in order to
Today, only that message receives add eyes with ears to receive the message.
acceptance which is conveyed more The Prophet (SAW) used this technique on
tactfully and in a masterly manner. various occasions.
Abdullah Ibn-e-Masood (RA) narrates
Muhammad (SAW) has been the most that one day the Prophet (SAW) drew
successful of all the Prophets (A.S) of a straight line on the ground and said,
Almighty Allah. His unique teachings this is the straight path of Allah.
brought a revolution in the lives of his Then drew small lines on the right and
followers. He successfully conveyed the left side of the main straight line and
message of Allah to the masses and then said, on each small line, there is
accordingly converted his people into a a Satan calling people towards
strong and disciplined nation. himself. And then the Prophet recited
the aayah (verse) And this is My
The renowned English scholar George straight path, so follow it. Follow not
Bernard Shaw writes: other ways, lest you be parted from
During this short period of 23 years of His way. This has He ordained for you
his prophethood, he changed the that you may ward off (evil). (9)
complete Arabian Peninsula from
Paganism and idolatry to the worship of In this tradition, the Prophet (SAW)
One God, from tribal quarrels and wars made his companions understand a
to national solidarity and cohesion, Quranic verse by drawing lines on the

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54 Hassan & Majid, Communication excellence

ground and thus brought home to them message of Allah. He came up with
an apparently complex idea. examples and similes for the purpose.
The idea of the Muslims brotherhood and
Narrates Abdullah (RA) that the their being an organic whole was
Prophet SAW drew a square and mentioned by the Prophet SAW with the
then drew a line in the middle of it example of a building and its constituents.
and let it extend out side the square
and then drew several small lines Narrates Abu Musa (R.A) that the
attached to that central line, and Prophet SAW said, a believer to
said, this is the human being, and another believer is like a building
this, (the square) is his lease of life, whose different parts enforce each
encircles him from all sides (or has other. The Prophet SAW then clasped
encircled him), and this (line), his hands with the fingers inter
which is outside, (the square) is his laced. (12)
hope, and these small lines are the The idea of mutual unity of the Muslims
calamities and troubles (which may and their readiness to be always there to
befall him), and if one misses him, help and enforce one another could not be
another will snap him, and if the better explained.
other misses him, a third will snap
him. (10) In another tradition the Holy Prophet
Here the situation was a bit more (SAW) likened a Muslim to a date-palm
complicated. A man, his short span of life, tree, the leaves of which do not fall. So, a
his hopes and worries could not be Muslim is always fresh and fruitful and
explained in words as clearly and never undergoes autumnal leaves-
elaborately as in map and drawing. The shedding.
Prophet SAW clarified a complex issue in Narrated Ibn-e-Umar (RA): The
a very simple manner. Propher (SAW) said, Amongst the
trees, there is a tree the leaves of
Giving Examples which do not fall and is like a
Example is a powerful means to explain an Muslim. Tell me the name of that
abstract and invisible fact and make it Tree? Everybody started thinking
familiar to the listeners. The message of about the trees of desert areas. And I
Allah to the world was theoretical and (the narrator) thought of the date palm
Almighty Allah sent his Prophet (SAW) tree but felt shy to answer. The others
with His Book in order to transform His then asked, What is that tree, O
commandments into practice. He also Allahs apostle? he replied, It is the
enjoined his Prophet (SAW) to explain date-palm tree. (13)
whatever is revealed to him.
And We have also sent down unto It is a beautiful and complete example, of
you the Dhikr (reminder and the course. A date palm tree is less demanding
advice) that you explain clearly to more paying, stands steadfast in all
men what is sent down to them, and circumstances, faces autumn and bad
that they may give thought. (11) weather boldly and is fruitful to the last
part. Its trunk, branches, leaves, bunches
The Holy Prophet (SAW), on his part, then and even thorns are used as raw material
left no stone unturned in elucidating the in different cottage industries and

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55 Hassan & Majid, Communication excellence

decoration items. Its fruit can be steadfastness on the right path. This is, of
preserved easily for a long period. A real course, the whole of Islam.
Muslim is definitely like a date palm tree.
Telling Things In Numbers
Different Answers To Similar Questions The communicator can make a message
An effective communication demands that easy to understand and remember for
the choice of words should be very audience by dividing it into portions and
selective i.e. not everything for everyone. then delivering it in numbers like first,
While going through the books of second, third and so on and so forth. In
traditions, we find that the holy Prophet Hadith literature, we find a considerable
(SAW) replied differently to similar portion of such traditions in which things
questions arisen by the companions (RA). are told in numbers. Some of them are
Narrated Abu Musa (RA), some mentioned below.
people asked Allahs apostle (SAW)
Whose Islam is the best? (i.e. who Narrated Anas (RA) that the Prophet
is a very good Muslim?) He replied (SAW) said, Whoever possesses the
One who avoids harming the following three qualities will have the
Muslims with his tongue and hands sweetness (delight) of faith:
On another occasion, in reply to a similar i. The one to whom Allah and His
question, the answer of the holy Prophet Apostle become dearer than anything
(SAW) was different. else.
ii. Who loves a person only for Allahs
Narrated Abdullah bin Amr: A man sake?
asked the Prophet (SAW), What iii. Who hates to revert to Atheism
sort of deeds (or what qualities of) (disbelief) as he hates to be thrown
Islam are good? the Prophet (SAW) into the fire (16)
replied To feed (the poor) and greet
those whom you know and those There are many other traditions of the
whom you do not know. (15) same type. This seems all the more
important to enumerate things and mention
Such examples can be found in abundance them in numbers, when we see the fact
in Hadith litearutre in which the that most of the audience of the holy
questioners raised almost similar Prophet SAW were to depend on their
questions, but the Prophet SAW changed memory. So, he made it easy for them to
his reply, keeping in view position or retain his words.
actual liking of a questioner or may be a
need of the hour. This might go an extra Putting Questions
mile in adding devotion to the belief of a One of the effective techniques to grab full
person or enhancing general good of Islam attention of the listeners is considered to
and believers. If we classify the good be putting questions on them. It awakes
deeds, which the Prophet SAW mentioned even those who might be in slumber or
in reply to various such questions, they sitting less attentive. Such traditions are
may be divine obligations, human rights, also in great numbers which contain
devotion of heart, love for humanity and questions put by the holy Prophet (SAW)
on his audience.

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56 Hassan & Majid, Communication excellence

Muaz Ibn Jabal (RA) reported that mode, which enhanced curiosity of the
Allahs Messenger (SAW) asked, Do audience. Accordingly, they requested for
you realize what right Allah has over clarification.
his slaves? Muaz said, Allah and His In other words, the holy Prophet (SAW)
Messenger know best. He said, His said something which increased thirst
rights over them are that they should more than it appeased. Some traditions
worship Him and not associate contain words which need to be explained,
anything with Him. He then asked, while others serve as teasers (a popular
Do you realize what is their right over term of todays communication meaning
Him if they perform that? Muaz said that to give incomplete information which
Allah and His Messenger know best. enforces the audience / viewers to sit
The Prophet (SAW) said, That He patiently in order to listen / view the whole
should not punish them. (17) of it). Therefore, the companions curiously
Most of the questions put by the holy asked for more detail and only then the
Prophet SAW in the above traditions Prophet (SAW) completed his message.
could, obviously, not be answered by the Thus the words heard by the curious ears
companions. Neither does it seem the had a lasting effect, just as a line on the
intention of the Prophet SAW. So, the only stone.
reason behind them could be to heighten
the frequency of attention of the listeners. Answering Questions
One of the effective tools of
Arising Questions in the Minds of the communication is to speak only when it is
Audience requested and to tell only what is asked.
Man has instinctive attraction for change. Today we see that after extensive lectures
Flat and monotonous state of affairs soon and seminars, there are held question-
makes him bored and frustrated. answer sessions which help a lot in
Therefore, he demands continuous change clarifying the concepts of the participants
to remain fresh and attentive. One of the and enable them to play an active role in
tools of change in communication is to the ongoing activity. Some traditions of
adopt such style which, on one hand the holy Prophet (SAW) indicate that such
answers questions while on the other, sessions were held in which the questions
induces new questions in the minds of the were invited and properly answered. Some
listeners. Such traditions are also in great of them are as under.
number in which the holy Prophet (SAW)
raised questions and then gave their Narrated Abdullah Ibn-e-Amr (RA),
answers. Some of them are as under:- that it was said to the Messenger of
Narrated Abu Shuraih that the holy Allah, which of the people is best?
Prophet (SAW) said, By Allah, he He said, Everyone who is pure of
does not believe! By Allah, he does heart and sincere of speech. They
not believe! By Allah, he doest not said, Sincere of speech, we know
believe! It was asked, who is that what this is, but what is pure of
O Allahs Apostle? He said, That heart? He said It is (the heart) that
person whose neighbour does not is pious and pure, with no sin
feel safe from his mischief. (18) injustice, rancor or envy in it. (19)
Here, the Prophet SAW instead of giving
instructions in narrative style adopted such

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57 Hassan & Majid, Communication excellence

Such traditions contain a great variety of Abdullah Bin Umar (RA) said that
questions, which range from personal life Allahs Apostle took hold of his
to collective life, from this world to world shoulder and said, Be in this world
hereafter and from generation present at as if you were a stranger or a traveler
that time to those likely to come in future. (20)
It shows that questions were encouraged To detach from one thing needs strong
and properly answered. This played a vital attachment with some thing else. The
role in clarifying different aspects of Prophets SAW hand on shoulder was a
Islam. symbol of making this relation stronger
than all others and pinning all interest on
One to One Contact with the the coming life, which is eternal.
Individuals There are many other such traditions
One of the common problems faced by which start with the words that the holy
those who have to communicate to larger Prophet (SAW) was holding hand of the
groups of people, is that the message is not companion (the narrator of that tradition)
properly conveyed to each and every into his hand. These are, in fact, gestures
individual. The participants have different of love and affection which go a long way
backgrounds, different mental calibers and in capturing complete attention of the
even different levels of understanding and target individual.
potentials of reception. Therefore, the
speaker needs to adopt techniques to focus Addressing an individual by his name
special attention on each and every The holy Prophet (SAW), sometimes,
individual and establish one to one contact singled out anyone of his companions and
with them. The holy Prophet (SAW) had addressed him by his name. It was a matter
to convey his message to every individual of great proud for the companion that the
present before him and then, through him, Prophet (SAW) said these words after
to the whole humanity. Thus everyone was addressing him by his name. Such feelings
not only to understand himself properly, could not let him think of forgetting those
rather convey the same to the coming words. Some of the examples are as under.
generations. The holy Prophet (SAW) Narrated Abu Zar Ghiffari (RA) that
used various techniques to give special the holy Prophet (SAW) said to him,
attention to every individual. Some of O Abu Zar! There is no wisdom like
them are as follows: reflection, no caution like restraint and
no honour like good manners. (21)
Aisha (RA the wife of Allahs
Apostle (SAW) reported that
Allahs Messenger (SAW) said, O
Holding hand or shoulder of an Aisha, verily Allah is Kind and He
individual loves kindness and confers upon
If a person converses with the other and at kindness which he does not confer
the same time holds his hand or shoulder upon severity and does not confer
with his own hand it proves a very upon anything else besides it
effective tool to catch full attention of an (kindness). (22)
individual . Some of the traditions are One, who is addressed by name, pays full
tinged in this colour. attention to the speaker and definitely

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58 Hassan & Majid, Communication excellence

reciprocates this gesture of love and listens in their history verily there is a lesson for
with the core of his heart. men of understanding. (25)
There are a number of sayings in which
iii) Advices the holy Prophet (SAW) conveyed his
Exhortation and advice play a pivotal role message through stories.
in removing communication barriers. A Narrates Abu Masood (RA) that the
large number of sayings of the Prophet Prophet (SAW) said that before you
SAW contain exhortations for his (the Muslims), a man was reckoned
companions in order to make their hearts (by Allah) but no good deed was found
tender and their minds ready to endure (in his account) except that he was an
hardships in this world for the best affluent and used to give loans to the
rewards in the world hereafter. Such people and then would say to his
narrations have been compiled under the collectors to relieve those (debtors)
title of Al-Riqaq in the books of the who were in straitened position. Thus
sayings of the holy Prophet SAW. almighty Allah said that we deserve
Narrates Ibn Abbas (RA) that the more than others to relieve, so (He
Prophet SAW said There are two ordered His angels to) release him
blessings which may people lose: (too). (26)
(They are) health and free time for This, perhaps, the shortest story of the
doing well. (23) world is highly griping one and contains
Narrated Abu Huraira (RA) that the all required essentials of a good story. It is
Prophet (SAW) said, Richness does full of suspense and keeps along the
not mean having a great amount of listeners to the climax (of achieving good
property, but richness is self- reward). It doesnt have superfluous
contentment (24) details or super natural elements. It is a
story of a common man who has just a
These are the Prophets SAW advices single good deed in his credit. But only
which he made to some of his companions that much is enough as it belongs to the
from time to time. Each and every word is general good of humanity. So, it wins for
full of love and sympathy. The message is him the complete love of a listener who
direct, brief, to the point and simple. Such prays for his better end. The same
an accurate placing can never miss the happens. The story ends on a great hope
target. that even a single act of goodness for
human beings can assure Allahs
Telling Stories forgiveness. What a beautiful style to
Human love for stories is as old as the man convey an idea of love for humanity!
himself. Since then, story has been
adopting different shapes in different times Conclusion
and areas. Currently Drama, Novel, Short The holy Prophet SAW utilized various
Story etc, all are, in fact, forms of a story. techniques to communicate his message
Anything told in a story lasts longer in impressively. He developed personal
memory as compared to simple narration. contact with his audience, gave them
The holy Quran has also confirmed the examples from day to day life,
importance of story by telling incidents of demonstrated complex ideas with the use
good and bad nations of the past; but not of helping aids, put, encouraged and
for mere enjoyment rather, inspired questions, spoke simple and made

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59 Hassan & Majid, Communication excellence

his message interesting by folding it in Ibid 1:122

stories. All this indicates that the Prophet Bukhari, Muhammad bin Ismail, Sahih
SAW went on changing his style and Bukhari, tr. Urdu: A bdul Hakeem Khan
mode of expression and always maintained Akhtar, Haamid and Company, Lahore,
interest of his audience. This made him 1982, 1:103
the only man in history who was Bukhari, Muhammad bin Ismail, Sahih
supremely successful on both the religious Bukhari, tr. Urdu: Abdul Hakeem Khan
and secular levels. (27) Michael H. Hart, Akhtar, Haamid and Company, Lahore,
in his book The 100: A Ranking of the 1982, 1:104
Most Influential Persons in History, listed Tirmizi, Muhammad bin Esa, Jame
the Prophet SAW on number one and said, Tirmuzi, tr. Urdu: Muhammad Siddique
He may well rank as the most influential Hazarvi, Farid Book Stall, Lahore, 1988,
political leader of all time. (28) 2:227
(i) Haakim, Muhammad bin Abdullah,
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