"Who are YOU to tell ME anything?!"- We've all heard this some point or another when we got into a "heated debate" with someone. In essence, if someone spits this out at you they most likely want your resume; your credibility. (And most likely they think they're better than you, bad friend I tell ya.)
OK, what are you talking about?" I'm talking about establishing credibility (ethos), having an emotional appeal (pathos) and having a factual or
logical appeal (logos). And there is no doubt the Prophet
would have all three of these elements in his speech. *these terms are terms of contemporary rhetorical scholars, the Prophet
set the first and prime example for mankind*
So first let's give examples from the life of
then let's apply that to our lives today.
When studying seerah, you will notice how scholars are not shy of establishing the credibility of the
Prophet . For indeed, Allah 'az wa jal chose the best of the best of the best to deliver and carry the message of Islam.
Imam Ahmad narrates a hadith in which people were talking about and describing the Prophet
in different ways. For example, one person said that Muhammad
was like a green tree growing in the desert. In reality what they were trying convey was that Muhammad
was the only good person in the clan. So Ibn Abbas says
| "certain things the people were saying reached the messenger of Allah, so he mounted the pulpit and asked, 'Who am I?' they replied 'You are the messenger of Allah' he replied 'I am Muhammad bin Abdillah bin Abdul Muttalib. Allah divides the creation and made me amongst the best of His creatures and He made them all into two groups placing me in the better of them. He created the tribes and placed me in the better of them and divides them into clans and placed me in the best one and I'm the best of you in clan and in spirit.'"
So the prophet
is saying, I'm not the best person in a group of evil people. But instead he was saying that I am the best and from among the best. You'll also notice that he referenced his linage back to Abdul Muttalib who was of course well known and highly respected in all of Hujaz.
| "Verily, Allah granted eminence to kinanah from amongst the descendants of Ishmael, and he granted eminence to Quraysh from among kinanah, and he granted eminence to the bani Hashim from Quraysh, and he granted me eminence from the tribe of Banu Hashim."
Again, this establishes his credibility in a line of the best of tribes and clans. So what exactly does this credibility do? This catches the audience's attention. It makes the speaker seem that whatever they have to say is both valuable and should be considered due to the that person's ethos.
And what about other instances from seerah? The fact that the Prophet
was NEVER an idol worshiper, never drank alcohol, that Allah protected him from listening to music before his
prophet hood. These are all things that can be categorized under ethos (or credibility of the speaker-
How does this apply to YOU?
Let's say you make Islamic videos, write a speech to be delivered, have a blog or business, or even just give dawah to muslims and/or non-Muslims. You NEED to establish your credibility. And to use specific examples:
Let's say you are giving dawah to a Muslim and you are trying to convince them to pray regularly and become more practicing. Perhaps you or someone you know was in the same position a while ago and
you (or they) completely changed since that time. You should mention this experience to give you better ethos in their eyes- thus, better convincing them to take the same path you did to become closer to Allah.
Another example: Why do you think all those weight loss pills and diets catch on like wildfire? It's because of all the testimonials they see and read about. REAL PEOPLE getting REAL RESULTS. I mean c'mon have you seen those infomercials?!
Or even just look at the sheiookh when they speak at conventions or in different communities. You will always see a moderator or MC first give an introduction with a background of the sheikh before he speaks to establish his credibility to his audience.
If they do it, you should too. Wallahu Ta'ala Alem.
Gumbo - Shirien Elamawy