The orator and public speaker should take into consideration the intellectual and the cultural level of the direct and the indirect audience and he should not mention anything from religion except those things which match the intellectual standards of the listeners and reply to their objections and give clarifications for the answer given to them according to what their minds can imbibe.
What follows is a narrative by Hujjat al-Islam Sayyid Munir Khabbaz, the teacher of Hawza Ilmiyya of Qom, of his meeting with His teacher Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Sistani in Najaf:
On Thursday, 11th of Zil Hajjah of the year 1439 A.H, we went to meet the grand scholar Sayyid Sistani (may Allah prolong his life) and sought his fatherly advices for us and for all the orators who sit on the husaini pulpit, as the month of Muharram is approaching, and thus he blessed us with these glittering words with all his attention and concern towards religion and safeguarding the honor of the hussaini pulpit while fulfilling its dangerous duties.
Thus he advised us by mentioning in his talks these two points:
While mentioning the role of the hussaini pulpit especially in the days of Muharram, he mentioned that the duty of the pulpit is summarized, along with other things, into mentioning what the Ahl al-bait (pbuh) went through while propagating the religion and firming it within the minds and hearts of the Muslims by mentioning the Quranic sciences and answering their questions with satisfying proofs and by training the souls of the believers to inculcate piety, merits and optima values.
And this is exactly the role with which Allah entrusted his Prophet (pbuh) who was the first person to go to the pulpit, and the Quran explains his role in Jum’a Sura –It is He who has sent among the unlettered a Messenger from themselves reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom – although they were before in clear error. The verse states that the job of the Prophet (pbuh) – for whose propagation the pulpit was an active tool – focuses on firming the religion by purifying the souls and protecting them from the defilement of evil and spiritual and moral diseases and presenting to them Quranic sciences and instilling wisdom in their hearts in different forms through knowledge or action.
Just as the goal of the reformation movement of Imam Hussain (pbuh) was to protect the religion and establish it in front of the Umavi movement which was standing with the aim to demolish the pillars of Islam and its values as is evident from various testimonies which can be known by looking into the historical texts.
Indeed, Imam Hussain’s (pbuh) movement stood on the basis of confronting this dangerous movement. And the highest goal of his mission and sacrifice was to save the religion from downfall and deviation and we believe that had there not been such a great sacrifice from Imam Hussain (pbuh) in such a calamity there would not have remained any sign of Islam because the Umavi plan was sophisticated and close to reaching its goals, as the Hussaini pulpit is an extension of that day of Imam Hussain (pbuh) and its role and responsibilities revolve around the religion in the form of persuasion, defense, education and training.
Among the most evident methods to safeguard the religion and consolidate it is confronting the suspicions raised against the religion and its basic concepts and moral values. However, several things should be taken care of in this regard:
1: The confronting orator should be well versed in this field and armed with experience and abundant information or else what he may spoil by confronting may be more than what he amends. The pulpit is one of the most important available means to fight the suspicions raised about the true beliefs. The Prophet (pbuh) and the Commander of believers (pbuh), apart from explaining and teaching the religious concepts, would go to the pulpit and clear the suspicions that would be there in the minds of some of the Muslims because of their proximity to the days of illiteracy or some others who were influenced by the ideas alien to the Muslim community, and from here the importance of the role of Hussaini pulpit becomes evident as it is the extension and continuation of the message of Mustafa and Murtaza (peace be upon both of them and their lineage) which requires that the one going to the pulpit should be competent, worthy and knowledgeable.
2: The suspicions are of two types: Some of them are prevalent and famous while others are mentioned but not prevalent except in limited regions. And it is appropriate rather mandatory to directly confront these famous suspicions among the public circles; as for the suspicions not prevalent in wider ranges, it is not wise to discuss and explain them among the public circles, rather it is right for its treatment that the religious preacher should lay strong foundations for the concepts that will clear those suspicions from the minds of those who stand by such suspicions, without mentioning or commenting on them.
3: It is well known that not everything can be spoken at every place, thus it is mandatory for the orator that he observes the intellectual and cultural standard of the direct and the indirect listeners and does not say anything from the religious concepts except that which corresponds to their intellectual standards and reply to their objections and give clarifications for the answer given to them according to what their minds can imbibe. It has been narrated from the Prophet (pbuh): We, the group of prophets, have been commanded to talk to people according to their intellectual levels.
4: It is necessary to utilize up to the maximum level the knowledge of Ahl al-bait (pbut) that has reached us through reliable sources and chains, and it has been narrated from them that ‘indeed if people had known the beauties of our sayings, they would have certainly followed us’, and their sayings include diverse integrated content like the content of the Holy Quran, there in is masterpieces of wisdom and the milestones of morality and the stirrings of the hidden treasures of minds and the refutation of suspicions which illuminate the Muslim and strengthen him in his belief and religion, and this is because they are the second heaviest thing next to Quran in the light of the narration of Thaqalayn and other such narrations.
Thus the Hussaini orator should see to it that such dimensions too are included in his speeches just like it is mandatory for him to narrate the calamities Ahl al-bait (pbut) went through especially in Karbala, because it has a great effect in keeping the tragical event of Karbala alive in our souls.
We ask Allah to bless all the orators to succeed in carrying out their duties in the best ways and look over their faults while establishing the religion and purifying the souls; indeed He is All listening and responsive.