Standing up for a just cause when it is weak

11-September is a landmark in Muslim-non-Muslims relations. Never was the Muslim community under the focus as it was then. Staying in Mumbai, thousands of Miles from the twin towers was not enough to avoid the heat. Suddenly Islam, Jihad and Terrorism became a domestic name. In bus, trains, workplaces, schools, TV shows, it was Islam and Islam. I myself had to encounter many questions related to my faith, my scriptures as well my Prophet. It seemed dangerous to be a Muslim. It was then that I was invited to speak in Bangalore, the IT capital of India to give a talk on Jihad and Terrorism.

Moreover it was to be followed by an open question and answer session for the eager audience and of course the media. The challenge was to provide logical and convincing answers to Non Muslims clarifying Islamic stances, well as cool down the temper of angry Muslims

I looked in to my Holy Qur’an to find answers and ways how to deal with the situation.. The Qur’an promises solutions to every hardship. I gathered as many Qur’anic verses supporting peace and good relations between fellow human beings. The Qur’an addresses with honorable terms like “ Ahle Kitab” ‘The people of the scriptures’ for the Jews and the Christians. This term is mentioned no less than 25 times in the Qur’an. It advises the Muslim to be open to dialogues with them. The method is simple, I discovered. Invitation to dialogue is what Qur’an commands its believers:

O people of the book come to the common terms as between you, and us that We worship none but God Almighty—–

(The Holy Qur’an ,Trans Yusuf Ali , Ch 2 verse 64)

And argue not with the people of the book except in a gracious way.

(The Holy Qur’an, Trans Yusuf Ali Ch. 29, verse 64).

The audience was shocked to know that the Qur’an declared:

And closest to you in love to the Believers will you find those who say “We are Christians” because among them are learned people and the men who have renounced the world and they are not arrogant.

(The Holy Qur’an,Trans Yusuf Ali, Ch 5, verse 82).

It was most strenuous to defend Islam specially if you are not professionals. Gradually I learnt to go ahead with dialogues and sharpened my skills in delivering public talks, panel discussions, debating and of course effective presentations.

I spend hundreds of hours to train my self in public speaking. It began with story telling to children . I gathered a few children as my audience and narrated simple stories ..Children are a good audience for people who suffer from stage fright. I used my voice to express various emotions like anger, authority, arrogance, humility, like, dislike, joy sorrow etc.

Next, I invited a few friends and formed a debating club where we debated on issues, which are familiar. On every weekend, we debated on issues like Co- education, global warming etc. and sharpened our skills. In order to develop argumentative thinking we started having essay writings on debatable subjects. While going through these sessions I discovered the potential of communication skills that can solve a lots of problems on individual level as well as collective level. By now I have delivered more than 100 talks on various issues related to family, religion and education .

Since then I have been advising my community members to acquire the skills of marketing and presentations besides learning your scriptures properly, as this is the age of marketing and Islam has become a popular product that sells TV shows, books, websites, magazines and news stories. This is a must for the Muslims if they want a build a positive opinion about Islam and stay peace fully with the rest of the world.

Author : Nisaar Yusuf is a trainer in communication skills and also an orator on Islam, education, social issues. He offers training in communication skills, public speaking and debates. He can be contacted at nisaar_yusuf@yahoo.com

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