Jummah Reflection:  Iqra!

Jummah Reflection: Iqra!

Jummah Mubarak, Shabbat Shalom & TGIF.

This week I’ve been thinking about how important the *messenger* is to conveying the message.

The first contact our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) had with The Divine was when the Angel Gabriel found him alone in solitude and commanded him to convey God’s truths with the command:

“Iqra!”

This word means “Recite!” or “Read!” -so it’s not just about gaining knowledge for one’s own self, but rather, proclaiming the Divine Truths aloud and sharing them with others. Muhammad’s mandate was to convey the universal truths of God’s existence and concern for us, and to do so in a way that reaches those who need to hear it most.

Muhammad wasn’t just a random person, selected to share The Qur’an from a lottery of humanity. He had qualities that made him an ideal choice for sharing The Message. He shared God’s Message in ways that others could relate to, understand and embrace even when they had to overcome their own resistance to it.

He was humble, and kind — yes, even to his enemies. He was honest, truthful in all things. Muhammad led from the center. He didn’t ask people to do things he himself was not willing to do. He elevated others, treated everyone with respect and dignity, and paid attention to details.

In short, humanity was able to receive The Message because The Messenger opened our hearts, disarmed us, and kept the focus on The Message.

As someone who works in communications, I think about this regularly. How do we convey our messages (Divine or not) in ways that others–even our most ardent opposition– can hear? Are we driven by the desire to communicate truth, or to be recognized as the conveyers? Do we approach each opportunity to communicate our messages in a way that honors the message? Or are we only interested in proving our rightness and claiming a victory that will pass away with us when we are gone?

I’ve been criticized over the years for not being tough enough on issues that matter. Those who do so generally view communication as a weapon, or at the very least, as a mode for defeating those who would disagree. They assume that because I’m not willing to join an online mob or that because I engage patiently with people I disagree with that I’m weak and soft.

The pen (or keyboard), after all, is a sword. Why not use it to combat the enemy?

But swordsmanship isn’t about beheading people in a grotesque show of dominance. You can use an axe for that… or really, any sharp object. That kind of combat is for barbarians who lack skill and patience.

Rather, swordsmanship is about overcoming an opponent through a series of choreographed movements and extreme physical, mental and emotional control. It is both effective, and beautiful when it is mastered.

As we strive to be the conveyers of Truth, Justice, Peace and Love, we must also strive to be worthy. That means not tainting our message with ego, anger, and derision.

I’m not talking about some hippy-dippy stuff here. This is strategic, and it’s important. You can’t reach people if you don’t know what they need to hear to be able to change. And you can’t do that without empathy–which takes rigor, self-discipline and humility.

Certainly, not everyone is up to the task. But if you are…the world (and the internet) needs you.