Among the key elements of harmonious living and healthy relationships is effective communication. Prophet Muhammad SAW was a perfect example of an eloquent articulate and effective communicator. His mannerisms in conversations include presenting his views and responding to complex or difficult questions in a calm, respectful, positive, concise, and courteous manner.
Effective communication is beyond responding but also exercises our art of listening. By listening to others without pre-judgment notions, and with full respect, you are already on the way to building a good relationship with people around you. Always remember to communicate with mannerisms (adab) regardless of their age including children and status including the less privileged and your seniors, leaders, and teachers.
Here are some mannerisms in the communication of Prophet Muhammad SAW that he displayed throughout His life that we can emulate as his followers.
Offer a smile
Every Muslim will know that the act of smiling is a Sunnah and it brings many rewards. Smiling is an open invitation to others that you are open to exchanging a conversation and a sign of goodwill. Prophet Muhammad SAW was always cheerful and smiling in the face of his Companions to the extent that Abdullah ibn Al-Harith ibn Hazm said, “I have never seen anyone who smiles more than the Prophet does.” (At-Tirmidhi). In addition, Prophet said, “Smiling in your brother’s face is an act of charity” (At-Tirmidhi).
A smile is a wonderful gesture to start any conversation positively and remove any lingering negative thoughts. Make it a practice to go into a conversation with a calm heart, seek Allah SWT to provide goodness and guidance, and have a smile, to begin with. You will be surprised at how much good vibes it can bring to the table even if one party is feeling sad, worried, or upset.
Manage your volume and tone
While engaging in a conversation, bear in mind that you are responsible for the words you express and the feelings you invoke in the other party. Good conversations infused with good, respectful words not only will bring in effective results but also be rewarded by Allah SWT.
Take note of the volume and tone of your voice when communicating. Avoid raising your voice to make your point. Instead, choose words that will describe your feelings and thoughts in a more civilized and respectful manner. If you are speaking to a vulnerable group in the community, empathy plays a big role in creating a productive conversation. When speaking to the elders or your teachers, respect their position and status. “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]. When speaking with others, one should use clear expressions and words so that the other person understands and the conversation is relevant. It had always been the habit of Prophet SAW to always be eloquent in his speech.
Start and End with Salam
Exchanging greetings in Islam is the best expression of our faith. By saying, say “اسلام عليكم ”, you are already making a dua to the person that translates, "May the peace of Allah be upon you." Subhanallah. Abu Hurairah RA reported the Messenger as saying, “By Him in Whose Hand my soul is! You will not enter Jannah until you believe, and you shall not believe until you love one another. May I inform you of something, if you do, you love each other. Promote salam amongst you”.
Starting a conversation by saying the Salam has a deeper meaning as we are praying and wishing the best for other Muslims. Similarly, ending the conversation with Salam also encourages a positive closure to any discussion or conversation. More importantly, giving the salam is beyond uttering it but it should be made in full faith and sincerity.
Refrain from Slander and Unproductive Speech
It is common for people to come together and share news, information, and stories about each other. In the spirit of protecting our dignity and our brothers and sisters avoid unproductive conversations and refrain from gossiping, lying, and backbiting.
The Prophet’s Companion Abu Hurayrah RA, quoted Prophet Muhammad SAW, "Do you know what backbiting is?" They said, "Allah and His Messenger know best." He then said, "It is to say something about your brother that he would dislike." Someone asked him, "But what if what I say is true?" Allah’s Messenger said, "If what you say about him is true, you are backbiting him, but if it is not true then you have slandered him."
While we may make up stories only to make jokes and or make fun of others, it is considered a sin to do it. If we are unable to verify certain information, avoid speculating on them. Always best to seek answers and clarification from the source. In a digital society, avoid sharing or implicating others or name-calling on social media as well.
Avoid Arguing and Getting Angry
When engaging in a conversation, being pleasant should always come first. However, as humans, we are easily driven by emotions. Despite our best attempts, we may undoubtedly encounter unpleasant individuals. Try to avoid confrontations, avoid getting into arguments, and lose your cool.
Reciting a story during Rasullullah's time, a man came to meet him to ask how to control his anger. Prophet SAW responded by saying “Do not get angry.” He repeated his question several times and again the Prophet SAW said “Do not get angry.” (Bukhari) . During disagreements, Prophet Muhammad SAW always remained calm and wise. Arguing pointlessly leads to confrontations and quarrels, during which a person loses consciousness and becomes irritated. Thus, it is best to stay cheerful during the conversation, be patient, and calmly walk away if others speak negatively.
These are some of the Sunnah ways of communicating with others. By emulating the communication way of Prophet Muhammad SAW, we are not only earning the blessings of Allah SWT but also resulting in building productive relationships among the Ummah. May the Almighty Allah give us the will and desire to act upon the best ever way of life just like our Prophet SAW did. Insya Allah and Aamiin.
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