Bismillahir rahmanir raheem
As a revert to Islam, I get a lot of questions about Ramadan. From questions about how do we know when it starts, aren’t’ you starving and why do you even do it, it seems impossible. I must admit, sometimes I do struggle to answer these questions without over-complicating the issue. I sometimes feel that after being Muslim for a while, you take for granted how alien Islam was to you in the beginning. And right on time, by the will of Allah, Imam Suhaib Webb did another chat on Periscope last night addressing this very issue, may Allah swt reward him and his family with jannatul firdous, Ameen.
So here are 5 tips on how to knock that Ramadan speech out of the park!
1. Tie Islam to something that’s relevant to your audience
We’ve all done it at some time, let our minds drift during the khutbah or some just flat out fall asleep. Ever wonder why this happens to you? Most of the time, it’s because you feel like what’s being said is not relevant to you. It’s not all about theology, you’ve got to throw in some sociology as well.
You have to make things culturally relevant and use the current issues as your canvas. One of the reasons I like listening to Sheikhs and Imams like Suhaib Webb, Omar Suleiman, Abdul Nasr Jangha and Nouman Ali Khan is because they get the social context of the time we live and and the Qur’an. To them, they’re not two different issues. I often feel like we lose people along the way in Islam because we fail to realise the cultural settings we live in today, subhanAllah.
Every prophet came from among his own people so they could speak to them in a language they understood and to be familiar with the customs of the people. This is the example we should be following.
2. Don’t think you’re speaking to a Muslim and a non-Muslim audience – it shouldn’t matter
Finding shared values has always and will always be one of the best approaches to telling people about Ramadan. If you let your speech resonate beyond the moment and use a variety of different sources you can really affect people in a way that you wouldn’t have imagined. For example, Suhaib Webb has a number of khutbahs that I don’t know anyone else would have the confidence to give such as, the Breaking Bad khutbah or the I Can’t Breathe khutbah. None of these contained anything particularly controversial, but the title’s were relevant and spoke to people. I know I could send either of these to a Muslim or a non-Muslim and they’d get it. Using a range of different sources is key and you don’t have to limit yourself to Islamic scholars. Find sources that share Islamic principles such as community, kindness and charity are all shared community values, even fasting could be used as an example. Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists do it too. Finding parallels between Ramadan and everyday situations is just one way of adding that relevancy. Tie the infinite knowledge of the heavens to the Earth.
Another point on addressing your audience was to always translate the Arabic you’re using. I try and do this with my blogs and that’s the main motivation for them, to make Islam accessible to everyone.
3. You don’t need loads of hadith or Quran to make a point
If you think about this point logically it makes sense. If you’re a Muslim you know the meaning behind Ramadan and if you’re a non- Muslim, hadith and Qur’an don’t really mean anything to you. Before I became Muslim, I had a number of people telling me about hijab or salah (prayer) using the examples from the Qur’an and hadith but they didn’t mean anything to me. They weren’t a standard I lived my life by so using them as concrete evidence meant nothing. For illustrative purposes you can used them but don’t make your whole speech a show reel of the best hadith and Qur’an verses about fasting.
4. Make sure you can recap what you say – Have a summary – Speak clearly
This bit is kind of self- explanatory. Even when we’re writing essays we have a conclusion or summary. It’s also a really good tip for those that give speeches regularly. Nine times out of ten, people will forget your first point, and if you’ve ever seen a good orator (person who gives a speech) you’ll notice that they always repeat themselves. The Prophet (saw) used to repeat things three times to make sure people understood what he was saying. So speaking clearly and summarising is from the Prophetic Tradition.
5. Make no more than 4 points no matter how long or short the talk
Now I know this is point 5 but bear with me. Adding too many points to a speech is like adding too much salt to a dish, you can add but you can’t take away. You don’t want to bore people but you want to give them enough information that it leaves them thinking. This is also part of simplifying the meaning and premise of Ramadan for people so much so that they can absorb what you’ve told them, leaving room for discussion.
Having the confidence to give a short, punchy meaningful talk is a skill everyone should have. Why take an hour to say something you can say in 20 minutes or less? Allah swt has put you in that position for a reason, trust and put your confidence in Him.
So there are Imam Suhaib’s tips on how to give a banging Ramadan speech. Like, comment and share the post to help others inshaAllah!
Wasalaam – Peace Be With You