Intelligence is important in assessing the person to whom the Message is to be delivered. Concerning this, a Prophetic Tradition reads:
We, the community of the Prophets, are commanded to address people according to their level of understanding.
A good preacher should know how to approach the one he wants to address and how to win his friendly attention. This point can be illustrated by many examples from the life of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. Here are two of them:
God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, at first, won the heart of ‘Umar by showing appreciation of his good sense, saying: I cannot understand how a reasonable man like you can expect anything from inanimate objects like stones, wood or earth.
He also inspired confidence in ‘Umar through his good conduct. Above all, the commitment he displayed in worshipping God had so great an effect on ‘Umar that at last he came to God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, and was as obedient and reverent before him as a well-mannered child before a respected father.
One day, a young man (whose name appears, from different narrations, to have been Julaybib) came to God’s Messenger and said: ‘O God’s Messenger, give me the permission to fornicate, for it is something I cannot resist.’ Those who were present reacted in different ways. Some scoffed at the young man, others pulled him by the skirt of his robe, and still others made as if to strike him. But the compassionate Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, drew him nearer to himself, and the following conversation took place between them:
– Would you agree that someone should do such a thing with your mother?
– My mother and father be your ransom, O God’s Messenger, I do not agree with that.
– Indeed, no one agrees that his mother should be a party in such a disgraceful act. Would you agree that someone should do the same with your daughter, if you had one?
– No, O God’s Messenger, may my soul be sacrificed for you!
– Indeed, no one agrees that someone should do the same with his daughter. Would you agree that your wife, if you had one, should be a party to such an illicit intercourse?
– No, I wouldn’t, O God’s Messenger!
– Would you agree that the same be done to your sister or aunt?
– No, I wouldn’t.
– Indeed, no one agrees that it should be done with his wife, sister or aunt.
This conversation was enough for the young man to forsake his desire. But God’s Messenger concluded the ‘spiritual operation’ with a supplication. He put his blessed hand on the chest of the young man and prayed: O God, forgive him, purify his heart and maintain his chastity!21
Julaybib became a model of chastity. Some time later he married through the intermediation of God’s Messenger. Not long after that he was martyred in a battle after he had killed seven people. When his dead body was located on the battlefield, God’s Messenger put his hand on his knee and said: This one is of me, and I am of him.22
God’s Messenger was so competent and successful in educating the people that it constitutes a conclusive proof of his Prophethood: the most uncivilized, crude, ill-mannered, ruthless and ignorant people of the world at that time were transformed into the most praiseworthy guides of humanity in a very short period. I wonder whether even the largest, best-equipped group of professional educators, modern pedagogues, sociologists, psychologists, teachers and the like, could achieve in a hundred years anywhere in the modern civilized world even a hundredth of what God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, accomplished in twenty-three years in the uncivilized desert of Arabia fourteen centuries ago. The efforts made, and the techniques applied, to remove so insignificant a bad habit as smoking with almost negligible success, prove that the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace, was without parallel or equal in the education of people.
His wisdom and intellect will be discussed more fully in the next section.
21. Ibn Hanbal, 5.256–7.
22. Muslim, Fada’il al-Sahaba, 131.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.