So, there’s this classroom, okay. It’s a pretty humble and sizable one.
Now, this class, is a fully condensed female class, right. They’re busy trying to get some knowledge from their teacher (who’s male, actually) who’s been kind enough to spend some time teaching women who are eager to seek knowledge.
Trust me, this ain’t your average dull and “military barracks” kinda class (hehe).
Its this interesting teacher and student relationship; the women are feeling happy around this teacher of theirs.
Now, in one of their lessons with their teacher, they’re learning something; probably about the mother and child relationship. In the midst of their discussion, he teaches that a woman who loses three children in death will have a special treatment in the life to come (hereafter), most probably because of the pain she faces from the death of the kids.
(So automatically, we get the hint that this class is kind of an errrmmnn…Religious Studies 101 sort of class .…hehe)
Suddenly, the class is quiet…moved to silence. There’s this brief “Aha” moment they experience.
Really? This is brand new! They haven’t of such before. All they know is how the environment perceives them as an inferior class and discriminates against the female gender right from birth.
A woman is moved so much so that she asks; “What if they are two?”
The teacher answers with a smile; “Yep, even if two”.
The women are overjoyed and relieved with the new information they just learn, and the teacher is happy to see his students beaming with elation…and they all live happily ever after…The End.
(Curtains are drawn).
Ooookay (Yep, you’re wondering)…Am I lost or something? Like, is this the Public Speaking page?
Yep…sure is (Stay with me buddy).
The story…is real…ooo yeah, it is.
The class did exist. So did the teacher. And so did the only-female class.
And just guess who the teacher was…?
Yours truly, my husband (Hahaha…)
Muhammed Ibn Abdullah (Blessings of Allah be Upon him)
Now, the note on which I started today’s lesson was actually to give you a friendly look of how the class was. Where we get this info from is an authentic (Sahih Bukhari), which reads:
“Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri reported: Some women asked the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, to set aside a day for them, as the men were taking up all of his time. So he promised them a day for religious lessons and commandments. During one such lesson, the Prophet said, “A woman whose three children die will be shielded by them from the Hellfire.” A woman asked, “What if only two?” The Prophet said, “Even two.”
(Sahih Bukhari, 102. Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Bukhari.)
Right. So let’s do some “gold nugget” searching (wink).
Notice that, prior to his teaching the women, he was handling an all-male class. The females were like “We wanna learn something too”. So they approached him asking for a day to be taught too (hmmnn…those were some ladies, yeah). And as kind- hearted as he was, he agreed.
Now, it is very possible that he would have decided to teach the women the same thing he taught the men. But look at what he tells them; he tells them stuff about the Deen that will make them feel they have a part in it too; a part that brings relief to their hearts present in an already hostile environment.
He comforts them with the blessing they get after all that pain; the pain of losing a child.
A mother suffering the pangs of childbirth and losing the baby on top of it; it’s a pain no amount of words can explain.
And there he comes…bringing hope to the women who may have lost their children.
The beauty of it is seen, when we come to understand the environment in which the women found themselves. The female child was seen as a burden to the family and hence, some tribes in Makkah would bury their children alive.
Why do you think there was a follow-up question during the lesson? When do you ask a follow up to an answer given you?
Exactment!. When what’s being said concerns you. If you’re a student offering Psychology and you hear the date for your psychology test has been changed, will you blurt out a “Yeah, so what?” or “Erh! To when?”
That phenomenon was “slapping them in the face” almost every single day of their lives.
Can you imagine how that message from the Prophet may have soothed their hearts?
“During one of such lessons” gives us the impression that they had a lot of lessons with the Prophet. I couldn’t agree more because, if one lesson was packed with such spirit-lifting content, I’d never miss such a class. And besides, nobody attends a class they feel dis-empowered or burdened in more than twice (not unless your GPA depends on it…hehe).
Let’s analyse what may have influenced his delivery structure within the borders of the Hadith given.
His way of addressing the lessons was to look at:
His Audience (They were Women)
Their environment (A hostile and discriminatory one towards women)
A kind of message the women needed to make them better Muslim women in their private and public life and to restore hope to them, in an environment hostile towards them.
As a Public Speaker, that’s your job; “To bring hope to hearts with your message”. And if you’re going to do that with excellence, then you’re going to need to know everything about your target audience; their status, age, gender, geographical location, marriage status…everything.
Check out any Public Speaking tips online; this point is almost always one of the first two/three main requirements of preparing a Public Speech; “Know your Target Audience.” When you know your target audience, everything else follows.
Its because your target audience determines the direction in which your message should go. It tells you what kind of chords you can strike to get your message to them. It goes as deep as telling you, the choice of your diction that will make a maximum impact…yes, it does.
I’m going ask you to do something…then you can share with me your observations in the comments box.
Let me start by saying that I by no means intend to portray an Islamic Scholar better than the other. I am only trying to draw inferences from what I have observed in the style taken by some of them.
Try checking out Sheikh Khalid Yasin’s “The Purpose of Life”. Watch a variety of his lectures…and just observe his way of addressing his audience.
If you observe very carefully, when he has a mix of Muslim and majority Non-Muslim audience, he hardly uses “Allah”. He says “God”. And when he’s in a fully Muslim audience, he uses “Allah”. Is it not interesting that after almost every talk, he gets someone who reverts to Islam? (By Allah’s will, by the way)
It does not surprise me one bit. It’s locked in Communication skills (All things being equal).
Non-Muslims do not “click” with the word “Allah”. They think he’s just that; “Allah”. They can’t relate with that word because for them, “Allah”= “Islam”. So you start your message and say “Allah’…and its like you just put a big earplug in their ears. When you say God, which is actually the English translation of “Allah” from Arabic, their ears are wide open. They can relate with that word. Even the content he uses with a Christian audience is very different from one he uses with the non-Muslim audience. He’s just following the style the Prophet used; Know your audience “inside out” and let it influence the content and style of your message and its delivery.
So what cue can we take from today’s lesson?
Next time you’re invited to give a talk on a particular topic at a program, let your first question be “Who’s the audience?”. Don’t assume because you’re going to be talking at a Madrasa, all the people there will be students or Muslim. Don’t take a vague answer like “Oh, its just our brothers and sisters from the Zongo community”. What do they do? Are they all Muslim? What’s their educational status? Are they married or still searching? Are they young parents? What’s their current state in their environment like? What are their pressing needs? Find out every detail you can about them. “Sheikh Google” also comes in handy.
What other cues can you personally pick from today’s lesson? Sharing is Sunnah you know (wink).
Hope to meet you at the stream of Kauthar next Wednesday, in shaa Allah…Smiles.
Allah’s peace and blessings be with you all.
(P.S: Do share with me your observations on Sheikh Khalid Yasin’s lectures as well as any other cues you may have learnt from today and last week’s lesson. Your feedback means gold to me and makes do a better job on my write-ups, so kindly keep ‘em coming (hehe). May Allah accept our humble efforts to inspire the world with His message [Ameen]…).