You are certainly not alone if you suffer from social anxiety or a lack of self-assurance. Even the prophet of Allah, Musa (AS) had prayed to Allah for strength in order to preach His message in the court of Fir’awn (Pharoah). His dua is recorded in the QURAN as,
O my Lord! Open for me my chest; Ease my task for me; And remove the impediment from my speech, so they may understand what I say.
(Al Taha; 20:25-28)
When performing duties such as dawah, it is impossible to avoid interacting with individuals from diverse backgrounds, and you must exude confidence if you intend to appear certain and persuasive. You might read blogs, get quick suggestions, and watch documentaries, but if you’re not internally motivated, none of these things will help. Moreover, this quality is not innate; it must be acquired via practise. The difficulty is how to exemplify this assurance while inviting others to Allah. Let us explore together. Following is a collection of recommendations that should prove useful in your social interactions.
Prepare well, I know enough!
According to the psychology of effective communication, a person is more convincing when he knows every nook and corner of his topics. Preparing carefully is essential; do your homework. Your preparation could include brainstorming potential questions, counter questions, and responses. When we lack preparation and knowledge, deep inside we are aware of it, and that reflects in our actions. On the contrary, when you are knowledgeable in the subject, you instantly feel assured.
You must appear presentable and decent. Groom yourself well. A messy individual can never appear confident. You cannot expect others to give you positive attention if you smell horrible, have dirty nails and hair, and wear inappropriate clothing. If possible, bathe every day, wear quality perfume, and take care of your personal hygiene. Cleanliness is half of faith, and it boosts your self-confidence to the point where no one can compete with you.
Nice pitch and audible voice
Speak with a distinct and audible voice. Your volume should be clear for your audience. Do not mumble, as it will not draw attention. People who are clear are more likely to attract attention and are also more assured. Do not leave any of your sentences or words unfinished and do not hesitate to present your argument. Also, try to use a rich vocabulary.
Body language that stands out
Good body language is a deal breaker in any interaction; this is fundamental to any engagement. Maintain a good body posture to appear friendly. Keep your back straight, don’t look too stiff or closed and never allow your head and shoulders to sag. Also don’t keep your arms folded or cross your legs and arms while sitting. It was part of the Prophet’s practice, or sunnah, to direct his full body toward the person he would converse with. Always wear a smile and do not look intimidating. Maintain eye contact so the other person can have a sense of rapport and understanding.
Quit underestimating your abilities!
People have a tendency to undervalue their own abilities. By over thinking, you should not underestimate your potentials. Once you start speaking, you will naturally utter things you never intended to say. Confide in yourself and in Allah SWT. You are more knowledgeable than you believe, so, have faith in the knowledge you acquired over the years.
Anticipation is self-fulfilling prophecy!
When we anticipate the worse, our behavior increases the likelihood for it to occur. The majority of people lose confidence because they are afraid of things that have not yet occurred or may never occur. Sometimes we anticipate the worst outcomes, negative results, rejections, embarrassment, and failure, but things turn out extremely well. Therefore, cease inventing and creating circumstances in your mind and start living in the present and not dwelling on the past and future. Always go with the flow; interactions should never be over thought.
Stop getting intimidated!
At the end of the day every human shares the same needs, emotions, and desires. So why should we be afraid of someone we do not know? Allah SWT alone is worthy of our awe and respect. There is no reason to be intimidated by the crowd. Allah has said in the Quran.
“And you feared the people, while Allah has more right that you fear Him. (Al Ahzab: 37).”
Nurture your heart with the consciousness of Allah. All fears dissipate when a person internalizes the knowledge that he is being watched and cared by The One who is far more above than anything else. Fear of Allah outweighs fear of people and their judgments, and as a da’ee, you will be naturally more confident.
Confront your fears!
Few of us suffer from social anxiety or social phobia. Desensitization is a viable treatment for this issue. Your anxieties do not exceed your capabilities and the phobia to avoid intimidating social settings, if continued, can eventually lead you to avoid everything you detest. Instead, confront and overcome. Although you might be hesitant at first, you will quickly get more comfortable. Meet as many people as possible, including people you feel uncomfortable engaging. Move beyond your comfort zone. Everything new to our experience may not be so simple for us to confront. Consider the worst that may happen and ask yourself shortly thereafter, if that is a sufficient excuse to abandon something so important to Allah and His messenger? Then walk forward, putting your fears and excuses to rest.
Sahl ibn Sa’d reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, “By Allah, that Allah guides a man through you is better for you than a herd of expensive red camels.”
(ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 2847, ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2406)
Socialize and spread your roots!
People with growth mindset always help you achieve your full potential. Respect your time and efforts and meet people who can assist you through their happy experiences. Make it a hobby. Accept meeting every member of the community and observe their behavior. The greater your exposure to new individuals, the more likely you are to feel comfortable around them. Try to learn from all your acquaintances.
Every experience is a learning experience!
All experiences, whether positive or negative, teach us more about ourselves. Consider your dawah or social experience as an adventure in which you never know what will happen next or the response of the next person you will encounter. This exercise will get increasingly fascinating over time. Moreover, you will have the opportunity to meet people with diverse perspectives, and you may learn about their psychology. If any unpleasant experience occurs, be calm and learn from it. Experience is the greatest educator.
The more, the merrier.
Two is superior to one, because the more, the merrier. Initially, if you are on your own, your Dawah journey may be arduous and monotonous. Consider traveling in pairs or in groups. This will increase each other’s morale and confidence. Shared experience is both lovely and inspiring, it would give you the confidence that comes from being surrounded by like-minded and supportive people.
Always have a framework!
Knowledge without organizational and presentation skills is ineffective. To manage your interactions, draw up a plan. Make a list of semi-structured statements, replies, potential questions, and arguments that you will present. You will subconsciously believe you are ready for any issue or situation. This plan will help you cope with any problem that may arise, and you can make modifications based on the situation.
Make realistic goals
Are you putting yourself under excessive pressure and burden by attempting to accomplish something extraordinary all at once? This is extremely unrealistic, because, good things take time, and so will perfection in dawah. High expectations hurt badly. Expecting 15 to 20 people to embrace Islam or respond positively during your first street dawah is absurd. You cannot set goals that are unreasonable and then burden yourself with reaching them. Instead, you will feel depressed for being unable to make it happen. Be patient and set realistic and progressive goals. You can start by thinking that all you would do there is chat and make friends for the sake of Allah.
Accept diversity and rejection
There are a variety of individuals with diverse natures and backgrounds, so do not expect everyone to respond favorably. Maintain your resolve and be prepared for rejection. Also, rejections and mixed reactions should not deter you from your ultimate goal.
You may also meet people who appear unapproachable. In such situations, whisper to yourself the famous proverb, “ what really matters is invisible to the eyes,” and go ahead, keeping in mind that only Allah knows the true state of hearts. Remember, rejection is more beneficial than inaction.
All that I have learned thus far has come from rejections. Inaction has taught me nothing. -Neeraj Agnihotri
As a da’ee, you must accept that rejections are inevitable and you will encounter more frowns, death stares, and head shaking than head nodding. Know that you have been chosen to carry on the legacy of our beloved Prophets, who embraced all frictions. So, come to terms with these inevitable rejections and focus on the reward.
A person who is unaware of themselves and their environment cannot persuade others to change their perspective. Mindfulness is the key to alertness and awareness, and a person who is aware is confident. Do not become engrossed in your thoughts by considering the future or reminiscing the past. Start living in the moment, maintain vigilance. You should be attentive enough to comprehend what the next person says and answer accordingly.
Be mindful of what you are saying, not of what next person is thinking
People cannot communicate with others out of fear of being judged. We have the ability to influence what people believe through our words. Avoid evaluating yourself through the eyes of another person. Did you ever notice that the more confident a salesperson is, the more likely you are to believe him? Being confident is nothing more than being mindful, vigilant, active, and aware. Stop imposing constraints on yourself that will impede your progress.
Allah stands on your side. He has endowed humanity with limitless opportunities. Do not hesitate; come out of your shell. Remember that you are spreading His words in the right direction and when you know you are headed right, you are well-prepared. Also, rejoice in the fact that you are working for a noble cause, the ‘Invitation to Islam’. Nothing should hold you back.
So, try out these ideas, and tell us what you think.