The da’ee (caller) is intelligent and eloquent in his preaching, wise in the way he calls people to the truth, and gentle in the way he teaches them the rules of Islam. In all of this, he is following the words of Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala):
Invite [all] to the Way of your Rabb (Lord) with wisdom and beautiful preaching … (Qur’an 16:125)
One of the most important qualities of those who call others to Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala) is that they should know how to reach people’s hearts and endear faith to them, without saying anything that may turn them away, hurt them or offend them. So the da`ee (caller) does not impart all his knowledge in one go; rather, he presents his knowledge in stages, and avoids overwhelming his audience or boring them. This is what the Prophet (pbuh) used to do in his own preaching, as the great Sahabi `Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiallahu `anhu) tells us. He used to preach a little at a time to the people, every Thursday. A man said to him, “I wish that you would teach us everyday.” He said, “What prevents me from doing so is the fact that I would hate to bore you. I show consideration towards you by choosing a suitable time to teach you, just as the Prophet (pbuh) used to do with us, for fear of making us bored.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
One of the Prophet’s effective methods in dawah was not to make his khutbah too long, especially when he was addressing a large crowd which included elderly and sick people. Keeping the khutbah short is an indication of the khatib’s (caller) understanding both of his message and of the psychology of his audience. This is the teaching of the Prophet (pbuh) which ‘Ammar ibn Yasir (radhiallahu `anhu) told us about:
I heard the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) say: “A man’s making the prayer long and keeping his khutbah short is a sign of his understanding, so make your prayers long and your khutbah short.” (Muslim)
One of the methods of wise, intelligent dawah is to be gentle with the people one is calling, and to show patience towards their ignorance, mistakes and many tedious questions, and their slowness in understanding. This is the way of the supreme da`ee (caller), the Seal of the Prophets, who used to open his heart to those who asked questions, and was always gentle in his answers to them. He approached them with an attitude of love and an earnest desire to guide them, correct them and teach them, so he would keep explaining a matter to them until they understood it and dispersed content with the lesson they had learned.
An example of this gentle approach is the account of the Sahabi Mu`awiyah ibn al-Hakam al-Salami who said: “Whilst I was praying with the Prophet (pbuh), one of the men in the congregation sneezed, so I said, ‘Yarhamuk Allah (may Allah have mercy on you).’ The people glared at me, so I said, ‘May my mother be bereft of me! What are you staring at me like that for?’ They began to strike their thighs with their hands, and when I realized that they were telling me to be quiet, I fell silent. The Prophet may my father and mother be sacrificed for him, finished the prayer, and I have never seen a better teacher than he, before or since. By Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala), he did not rebuke me or strike me or insult me. He merely said, ‘This prayer should contain nothing of the everyday speech of men; it is just tasbih, takbir and the recitation of Qur’an,’ or words to that effect. I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah (pbuh), I am still very close to the time of Jahliyyah (i.e., I am very new in Islam). Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala) has brought us Islam, yet there are some among us who still go to soothsayers.’ He said, ‘Never go to them.’ I said, ‘And there are some who are superstitious.’ He said, ‘That is just something that they imagine; it should not stop them from going ahead with their plans.”‘ (Muslim)
The Prophet’s (pbuh) gentle approach in his calling people to the truth reached such an extent that he did not directly confront a wrong-doer with his deeds, so that he would not hurt his feelings or cause him to lose face. Instead, he would denounce the wrong deed indirectly, and gently draw the person’s attention to it. This method is more successful in reaching people’s hearts and dealing with errors and faults.
“When the Prophet (pbuh) heard that someone had done something wrong, he did not say, ‘What is wrong with so-and-so that he says (such-and-such)?’ Rather, he would say, ‘What is wrong with some people that they say such-and-such?’…” [Hayat al-Sahabah 3/129]
Another feature of the successful da`ee (caller) is that he speaks clearly to his audience and repeats his words, as Anas (radhiallahu `anhu) said:
“The Prophet (pbuh) used to repeat things three times when he spoke, so that they would be understood. When he came to a people, he would greet them with salam three times.” (Bukhari)
“The speech of the Prophet (pbuh) was very clear. Everyone who heard it understood it.” [Reported by Abu Dawud and al-Tirmidhi with a sahih isnad]