Foundations of Propagation
- :Sayyid Bahashti
Information dissemination and publicity activities occupy a very important and critical position in man's life now that the world is full of inventions and industrialization, operating with scientific methods and advance techniques. This makes information, publicity and ideological and psychological warfare the single most important instrument that serves any thought, ideology, facilitates the propagation of the principles of a people and supports politics, the economy and boosts the morale of troops in armed combat.
Information and publicity undertakes three important tasks: Ideological and psychological attack aimed at shaking or even destroying the foundations of a faith or idea, introducing, buttressing and depending on the status quo and establishing social and civic changes; creating contentment in the minds and creating public opinion.
The more capable the means of information is in terms of technical know how and expertise and the ability in directing the message, the more successful it will be in fulfilling the aims and objectives of propagation. It is, therefore, imperative for those who undertake the duty of Islamic `da'wa' and propagation to avail themselves of all the advancements attained in science and technology, such as the radio, the television, the video and the press. Similarly, the discoveries in the field of psychology, such as the scientific understanding of the nature of the intellect and the mind, and how they are influenced, are indispensable.
The work of propagation and information definitely needs special foundations for propag-ation and information dissemination on a par with the current civilization. These foundations must put in view the rivals of Islamic thought and what they posseses in terms of technology, organization, administration and programmes. They should be able to employ the different sciences in the service of propagating and forwarding the Islamic message.
When we study and analize the methods conveying thoughts and concepts we will find that there are three ways. They are:
1- The word.
2- The picture.
3- Practical behaviour
1- The word
Since the beginning, propaganda and the need to inform the fundamental instrument for conveying any idea and having impact on the audience has been the word. As human knowledge and science evolved, the art of constructing the word and the method of passing it on to the intended audience also developed by means of oration. The Holy Qur'an discusses a lot about the art of oration and explains the importance of the word and its impact on the listener; psychologically and ideologica-lly. The Almighty, Allah, says:
"See you not how sets forth Allah a parable? Of a goodly word (being) like a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) in the heaven, yielding its fruit on every moment…" Holy Qur'an (Ibrahim 14: 23-24)
"…and speak kindly unto all people…" Holy Qur'an (Baqara 2: 83)
The Almighty Allah even commanded Moses and Haron (Aaron) (a.s.) to employ mild speech in order to have an impact on Pharoah, the peak of human arrogance. Using mild speech as a way of addressing the audience gave Moses (a.s.) the hope in guiding Pharoah as the following verse enjoins:
"Go you both unto Pharaoh, verily he has trans-gressed (the bounds). Then speak you both unto him a gentle word, happly he may get admonish-ed or fear (Our punishement)." Holy Qur'an (Taha 20: 43-44)
Just as the good word has a constructive psych-ological impact and a positive and fruitful role, the evil word has a destructive impact and deceptive and misleading role in the life of mankind. Thus, the Glorious Qur'an attached the evil word and likened it with the evil tree which gives only harmful fruits. Allah, the Most High, says:
"And the parable of an evil word is that of an evil tree rooted upon the surface of the earth, it has naught of stability." Holy Qur'an (Ibrahim 14: 26)
And He warns us of the power of deception of the word and its misleading ideological and psychological effects, thereby exposing the hypocrites who take it as a cover. He says:
"When you see them, marvel you their bodies; and if they speak, you listens unto their speech; (they are) as if they were blocks of wood propped up in garments, deem they that every cry is against them, they are the enemy (of yours), so beware you of them! May Allah annihilate them, whence do they deviate!" Holy Qur'an (Munafiqun 63: 4)
And His saying:
"And call you unto the way of your Lord with wisdom and kindly exhortation and dispute with them in the manner which is the best;..." Holy Qur'an (Nahil 16: 125)
This verse makes incumbent that the wise missionary should employ a good word in conveying Islamic thought and exhortation to the audience. The Holy Qur'an brought a miraculous method and a literary presentation that bewilders the intellect and overwhelms the minds. It is a wonderous token of eloquence that achieved the aims and objectives of the message.
The honourable Messenger (s.a.w.) described the importance of the word and its power of impact, change and conveying what is intended in the following words: "Verily there is a (form of) spell in eloquent speech." The missionary, therefore, should have literary ability and a good command of language in discussion, speech and writing. He must be able to make appropriate use of his words.
From the foregoing, it is obvious that 'the word', as one of the instruments for propagation, needs the services of special organizations. These organs would bear the responsibility of ensuring the appropriate-ness and versatility of the language of propagation and the method of relaying information to the audience. Those in charge of the above mentioned organs would need the necessary expertise and artistic ability and advanced technological tools for the collection, broadcasting and dissemination of the fruits of those organs. Such tools include the radio, the instruments used in recording, writing, printing, speech, dialogue, schools, libraries, lectures and parties.
Thus, it is incumbent on us to plan and work out programmes in order to prepare our missionaries and give them the required education and orientation on the art of propagation and its requisite know-how.
Indeed, the conditions we are in today, have made the programmes for preparing the orator, writer, lectur-er, journalist or advertiser indispensable. Where we are unable to establish preparatory organizations and foundations we can only resort to conducting special courses for grooming the Muslim missionaries, giving them drills on their work and conveying the expertise, experiences and information from experienced missionaries worthy of emulation.
2- The Picture
Man, by nature, is very responsive to pictures, scenes and other sensory situations as portrayed in paintings, and they often have an impact on his thoughts and feelings. The more a picture portrays movement and thoughts the greater the reaction it entails and it would have a stronger power for changing the viewer and be more efficient in accomplishing its aim.
With the development of informative technology, the use of pictures and movies in propaganda and publicity has also advanced. The art of cinema, television and video has become the most prominent means of propaganda and publicity, introducing ideas and concepts, presenting human problems and influencing the senses, intellect and feelings of the viewers.
Motion pictures are more efficient in information dissemination but conventional pictures also retain their value. Lively pictures, such as carricatures, are no doubt a means by which the problems of society are presented, thoughts and concepts are conveyed and the general public is educated and given awareness.
The Islamic call is comprehensive and covers all segments of human life and its ills. As such, applying pictorial methods in spreading Islamic thought, presenting its solution to the societal ills and its knowledge and culture to the general public is indeed an efficient means. Those responsible for propagative activities should, therefore, work towards the establish-ment of organizations, companies and centres for film production and procure professional artists who would train people in this field and be able to employ the motion picture in propaganda and publicity in a successful way.
The picture, especially when projected on screen, presents an embodiment of a thought, gives it a perceptible dimension and brings its meaning closer to the minds, whether the thought is political, economical, ethical, or it pertains to worship like pilgrimage, prayer or other bodily worship.
3- Practical Behaviour:
"And say you (unto them), act as you will, Allah beholds your deeds, and His Apostle, and the believers;…" Holy Qur'an (Tawba 9:105)
"O you who believe! Why say you what you (yourselves) do (it) not? Most hateful is it unto Allah that you say what you (yourselves) do (it) not?" Holy Qur'an (Saf 61:2-3)
"By the Time! Verily man is in loss! Save those who believe, and do good deeds, and exhort each other to truth and exhort each other to endurance." Holy Qur'an (Asr 103: 1-3)
The distinguishing feature of the Islamic Message is that it is a life building message, a message for knowledge and action. It is not a collection of sheer ideas nor mere intellectual theories. For this reason, the Qur'an invites to a belief based on a foundation of knowledge associated with action, as confirmed by tens of verses. The Qur'an makes this clear enough and supports its call by these principles. Concerning these principles the following verses of the Holy Qur'an are explicit: "And say you (unto them), act as you will" & "Verily man is in loss! Save those who believe, and do good deed,"
As we read the temporal disapproval of the Qur'an on those who only talk but do not act on their word, thereby turning the principles and objectives of Islam into mere speeches, narrations, theological dialectics and theories devoid of reality and action.
The Holy Qur'an condemns such a stand, saying:
"Why say you what you (yourselves) do (it) not? Most hateful is it unto Allah that you say what you (yourselves) do (it) not?" Holy Qur'an (Saf 61:2-3)
Whenever man disregards action and becomes content with mere words and misleads himself and others into behaving such that talking alone is sufficient, he is definitely exposing himself to the wrath of Allah, the Most High. This is so, because such a person is a liar who says what he does not practice and he cannot change the reality in the way. A person who enjoins others to practice truthfulness, piety, restraining the oppressors, kindness, helping the needy and devotion to one's principles, but he, himself, upholds nothing from these values or even acts contrary to it before the public view, will never be accepted by the people and not a word nor admonish-ment of his will be acted upon.
The best way to present Islam is to act according to it. This way is examplified in the behaviour of the true believers and in its enforcemnent by the nation founded on Islamic principles. Only then can the word be a means of introducing Islam since it is applied both in behaviour and actions pertaining to the way of life.
When the sceptic witnesses practical application of Islam in the society, in the economy, ethics, com-mitment in political freedom and execution of Islamic laws to solve man's problems, these will serve as the best caller to Islamic principles and the most powerful means of satisfying others. On the other hand, propaga-tion will have a negative effect on the audience if the Muslim missionaries distort Islam by misapplying it and allowing a discrepancy between their word and action.
The verses of the Revelation and the Prophetic Guidance that invite people to justice, knowledge, production, love and peace, for example, would lose their value and impact in the minds of the nation and people who do not believe in Islam if they see that the Islamic society does not apply these principles, nor do they have any impact on it. It should be noted that others are observing our social condition and individ-ual behaviours before they study Qur'anic texts and our legislations, despite the fact that it is the texts and laws that are suppose to be regarded as a judging gauge on our situation and behaviour and not the reverse.
Other agencies and organizations that are capable of conveying the Islamic ideology and awareness in its capacity as a practical religion and are able to convince those who are being invited, of Islam's concern for their welfare, are the foundation for serving humanity, like schools, hospitals, charity organisations and humanitarian agencies, whose duty is to preserve human rights and honour and to reveal and demonst-rate Islam's concern for man. As the social life of man evolved political and ideological organizations, also, evolved and as a consequence, the means of social work that can be employed in propagation have become numerous.
Adapted from: "The Methods Of Propagation and Missionary Work" by: "Sayyid Bahashti"
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