By Farkhanda Qaiser
As the fasting month progressively moves to hotter weather over the years, one’s patience is tested to the maximum. Reigning in your anger at the traffic jam especially when your car AC is out of order; cursing the university authorities for not giving you vacations in Ramzan and further deteriorating matters by keeping half a dozen tests in just two weeks and last but not the least fasting in this intense heat with cruel load shedding hours proves to be the last nail in the coffin for any sane person.
In such a scenario, it becomes pretty easy to get into arguments even with the tamest of people you come across. After having had my share of arguments in this month, I decided to find a remedy. Luckily my father happens to be reading a self-help type of book these days called, ‘The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking’ by Dale Carnegie. So I just flipped through its pages until I found what I was looking for.
In a chapter titled ‘Get a Yes-Response,’ Mr. Carnegie explains how to win an argument. He says ‘It is much more advantageous to begin by stressing something that you and all of your hearers believe, and then to raise some pertinent question that everyone would like to have answered. Then take your audience with you in an earnest search for the answer. While on that search, present the facts as you see them so clearly that they be led to accept your conclusions as their own. They will have much more faith in some truth that they have discovered for themselves. The best argument is that which seems merely an explanation.’
Even though the context of this paragraph is different because the author is illustrating how an orator can mesmerize his audience into believing what he wants but the essence remains the same. This essence is that of finding a common ground of agreement with those who differ with you. Mr. Carnegie further goes on to demonstrate with an example:
On February 3, 1960, the prime minister of Great Britain, Harold Macmillan, addressed both houses of Parliament of the Union of South Africa. He had to present the United Kingdom’s non-racial viewpoint before the legislature body at a time when apartheid was the prevailing policy. Did he begin his talk with this essential difference in outlook? No. He began by stressing the great economic progress made by South Africa, the significant contributions made by South Africa to the world. Then, with skill and tact he brought up the questions of differing viewpoints. Even here, he indicated he was well aware that these differences were based on sincere conviction. His whole talk was a masterly statement reminding one of Lincoln’s gentle but firm utterances in the years before Fort Sunter. “As a fellow member of the Commonwealth,” said the Prime Minister, “it is our earnest desire to give South Africa our support and encouragement, but I hope you won’t mind my saying frankly that there are some aspects of your policies which make it impossible for us to do this without being false to our deep convictions about the political destinies of free men to which in our own territories we are trying to give effect. I think we ought as friends to face together, without seeking to apportion credit or blame, the fact that in the world of today this difference of outlook lies between us”
No matter how determined one was to differ with a speaker, a statement like that would tend to convince you of the speaker’s fair mindedness.
So you see how you can put across your conflicting perspective in such a way that it doesn’t seem conflicting anymore. Let’s see an example closer to home to understand this concept better. These days we see many people who either don’t fast or fast but don’t offer prayers regularly due to a multitude of reasons. Topping the list is the simmering heat. How would you reason with these people? One common way is by reminding them of the burning heat of the Hellfire – manifold in intensity to this worldly heat. While this tactic may achieve the desired result in some cases but could worsen matters in others. So what manner of speaking should you adopt then?
Well how about beginning with the blessings of the Holy month of Ramzan? The fact that all prayers and good deeds are rewarded much more than in any other time of the year. Compounded with this the huge bonus that Satan has been chained behind bars so cannot mislead us to do wrong. Thus we have been facilitated to proceed in the right direction. Why should we not avail this opportunity to the fullest? This is our opportunity to train ourselves to exercise self-control whether it is by restraining the urge to eat and drink despite those hunger pangs or by softening our words when we feel like yelling at our subordinates or colleagues.Most importantly, we must learn to reign in that red monster of anger because doing so would save a lot of trouble. Therefore Ramzan is the time for rewards and training in mock battleground without the actual enemy (Satan) marching against us. Fasting in this month will help us in our training while offering prayers will discipline us for our future life as well.
When you present the explanation in such a manner, your listener will definitely be forced to re-think his approach to the concept of fasting. He’d realize that fasting is not just about starving rather it’s a complete institution meant for schooling the deluded Nafs. And he’d even be compelled to benefit from this bounty.
Moreover, this blessed month is also the prime time to offer repentance for the past sins and vow to correct the wrong doings. Particularly in the last ashra and specifically on the Laila tul Qadr (The Night of Blessing – when the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him).
If we are able to collect even an iota of the blessings of this month then we are indeed successful. But remember RTR – Rewards, training and repentance…! Make sure you don’t miss out on any of them. And remember me in your prayers as well.
Happy Ramzan to Everyone…!