Nabeela Vadi – Cii Radio | 17 Rabi ul Akhir 1437/28 January 2016
We live in what is called –‘The Information Age’. And to relay this awful amount of information, we communicate. Our methods of communication are now mostly over our smartphones, using email and all sorts of technology that enable one person to send another person a message. This is what we define ‘Communication’ as in the modern age.
BUT ARE WE REALLY COMMUNICATING?
Let’s take a look at how we address our friends and families; from that we can examine how much communication we convey and how much is actually being communicated.
A simple scenario? When you get home from work, you are tired. So you eat your supper and then retire with a hot cup of tea and the newspaper or the tv remote. Most of what you needed to tell your wife and kids was already sent to them during the course of the day over whatsapp and besides they are already in their bedrooms on their tablets and ipads. You are ready for bed. You wake up the following morning, you have breakfast as your kids are scrambling to get their homework and backpacks. You drive them to school because it is on your way to work and the most you get to talk about is what time their mother will fetch them in the afternoon. Is this how a random day in your household goes? This is called communication by convenience. Because we are simply conversing rather than actually communicating.
Often, conversing using technology proves quick and easy but it has its downs. Mostly because we can be easily misunderstood or the wrong impression is given-off whereas there was none to begin with. Technology has given us the ability to converse without expression. Sending a smiley with warm wishes doesn’t compare to an actual hug and smile.
Is this really how we hope to achieve a content life?
Why don’t we want to speak to one another face to face anymore? Well, whatever the reason may be, we had better find ways to start speaking directly and in person to each other.
Speaking directly to people elicits chemical reactions, that sometimes allow us to feel happy, sad and all sorts of emotions. We need to become people again. We need to actually feel again. And direct contact with people, enable us to feel emotion and helps the body to relieve stress. Stressors that you take on at work, can be relieved by simply spending quality time with your family at home. Actual contact with family and direct conversing with family is the type of communication that can be felt and understood by the receiver in the exact way that the sender intended.
THE BEST WAY TO COMMUNICATE
There are various ways in which a Muslim will find an effective way to communicate using direct contact. But there proves to be etiquette in doing so.
Here are 12 tips from the Sunnah for effective communication [Extracted from Productive Muslim]
1. Smile: The Prophet (SAW) said:
“Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity.” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi] Before you start talking, smile! This is an instant ingredient to start any conversation positively and to remove any past ill feelings that could be present.
Smiling brings joy to the giver and the receiver (imagine being both!).
2. Pay attention to the tone and volume: Beware of your tone and the volume of your voice. Your tone determines whether you will make your relationship or break it. Any undesirable loudness in your voice could put people off and make any further attempts to communicate futile.
“And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys.” [Qur’an: Chapter 31, Verse 19]
3. Start with the Islamic greeting of peace: Whether you know this Muslim or not, the greeting of peace or saying ‘Assalaamu alaykum’ (peace be upon you) is recommended. It will repel hatred and create love between you.
“A man came to the Prophet (SAW) and said: Peace be upon you! He responded to his salutation. He then sat down. The Prophet (SAW) said: Ten [rewards]. Another man came and said: Peace and Allah’s mercy be upon you! He responded to his salutation when he sat down. He said: Twenty. Another man came and said: Peace and Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon you! He responded to him and said when he sat down: and blessings be upon you! He responded to him and said when he sat down: Thirty.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]
Habituate yourself with saying the full and complete greeting and earn 30 rewards every single time you greet someone!
4. Shake hands: Accompany your greeting with shaking hands (if you are greeting your mahram or a person of your gender).
“There are no two Muslims who meet and shake hands, but they will be forgiven before they part.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
5. Inquire about people: Ask them how they are doing and inquire about their health and well-being and that of their family and friends. They will feel loved and cared for.
6. Remember not all are the same: Consider people’s different characteristics and differences while communicating. Keep in mind their age, status, temperament and other factors.
7. Teach at every opportunity: The Prophet (SAW) used every chance to enjoin the good and forbid the evil. If there is ever a need for you to say something corrective in nature, do so gently.
8. Refrain from the common evils of the tongue: People getting together and communicating with each other often leads to falling into various sins related to the tongue such as talking about Allah without knowledge, slandering, lying, insulting and cursing. These habits are grievous sins that eat away at our rewards and the barakah in our lives: make it a habit to ensure whether anything you are about to say may constitute any of these sins. And, if you were to indulge in joking, let the jokes be true. The Prophet (SAW) said:
“A slave (of Allah) may utter a word which pleases Allah without giving it much importance, and because of that Allah will raise him to degrees (of reward): a slave (of Allah) may utter a word (carelessly) which displeases Allah without thinking of its gravity and because of that he will be thrown into the Hell-Fire.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
9. Choose simple, concise words: Avoid complex language and sophisticated terminologies. Instead, try to stick to concise words and phrases that are of eloquence and seek to be understood. The Prophet (SAW) said:
“I have been given superiority over the other prophets in six respects: I have been given words which are concise but comprehensive in meaning” […] [Sahih Muslim].
He (SAW) spoke with clarity and made people comprehend easily, sometimes by even repeating his words thrice.
10. Stay away from argumentation: Being nice is easy when you’re dealing with nice people. But, practically speaking, this world has more to it than such people. Despite your best efforts, you are bound to walk into not-so-nice people. Try not to fall into disputes and argumentation.
“And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength depart, and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).” [Qur’an: Chapter 8, Verse 46]
If you realize you are already in a dispute, be wise and argue with that which is better. Allah says:
“And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.” [Qur’an: Chapter 41, Verse 34]
If you find the argument going nowhere positive, stop before you get angry, smile and retreat after trying your best to reconcile for when a man said to the Prophet (SAW) “Advise me,” he said: “Do not get angry.” He repeated his question several times and again the Prophet (SAW) said: “Do not get angry.” [Bukhari]
11. End with the greeting: Before departing, smile, shake hands and greet people warmly with the salam.
12. In writing, start with Allah’s Name: If you were to communicate in writing, in addition to the points above that are relevant, it is desirable to start your written communication with ‘Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem’ [In the name of Allah, the Continuously Merciful, the Especially Merciful]. This was done by the Prophet (SAW) numerous times when he dispatched letters to kings and heads of peoples and tribes.
If we follow these above sunnah’s in sha Allah, we will be able to communicate effectively. The importance of effective communication is one that should be taken very seriously so as to ensure that the message you wish to convey can be received as it was intended. Words are not lost in the process and miscommunications which are root of trouble are dispelled.