Wednesday 10 August 2022 \


I feel shy to speak in public

At the moment I live in Europe. Recently, our district local Muslim community where I live, established an Islamic center and a mosque. And I was asked to render some help in organizing training courses and preaching the Friday sermons in Arabic and Swedish since for some years I studied Islamic sciences under the guidance of knowledgeable people. I see that today’s people need proper instructions, which are based on the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and I wholeheartedly agreed to devote myself for this activity as much as I could.

But I have been long tormented by a particular problem, namely, the fear of giving speech in public, especially during a sermon or khutbah. For example, before the khutbah I thoroughly prepare myself for the performance all day long; I write down on a paper what I need to deliver to the audience, in order not to be mistaken or get lost during the speech. But still, I always feel caught with nervousness and. I begin to err due to the confusion in thought and speech. And even during a collective prayer I often forget some verses from the surahs, which I usually recite at home. And such things happen to me not only in the Islamic center.  I remember having such a problem at school, university and at work. And I never wanted to speak in public. This feature of mine quite often let me down; I got embarrassed and felt very uncomfortable, especially when it came to meet or talk to the opposite sex. I consider myself hot-tempered, but at the same time I’m a very shy person. I admit one should be patient and calm or at least try to be so, but, honestly speaking, I haven’t got it yet.It causes sufferings for me; my blood pressure rises, I feel headache and I don’t  want to talk to anyone  or discuss anything. That is why I am often alone. How can I get rid of unwanted and disturbing sense of embarrassment and nervousness? Please give me some advice. Thanks in advance!

From the standpoint of religion:

One of the praiseworthy qualities, which are encouraged in Islam, is shyness. It is said in the hadith, cited by Imam al-Bukhari, "Verily, it came to people as the words of the first prophecy: if you do not feel ashamed, do what you want" (Sahih al-Bukhari, № 3224).

There is an indication in the hadith that the sense of shame and shyness are a barrier to commit destructive acts, injuring man in his religion and spoiling his morality and nobility. And if he loses shame, then he will not pay much attention ​​to his misdemeanors.
Once you realize that shyness is not something out of the ordinary things, that it is inherent in everyone, and become focused less on the opinion of the parishioners, it will be much easier to stand in front of them, you will not feel neither discomfort, nor hot temper. 

At first you need to pay more attention to the preparation of sermons. Try to memorize at least the quotes of your sermon. Prior to a performance read a sermon in front of a mirror or in front of your friends, listen to their views and comments. Most importantly try to start small, do not be overly demanding to yourself. Keep in mind that people are not born speakers, they become ones.

Answer by Muhammad- Amin Magomedrasulov,

Graduate of Dagestan Islamic University


From the standpoint of psychology:

All you told us about is normal and natural. It would be strange if your sermon were eloquent and fiery from the very beginning. History knows many examples when a person experiencing difficulties in terms of public speaking, developed remarkable oratorical skills.

The main problem lies in the excessive excitement, in fear that you are anchored by a great responsibility, that there is a probability of making mistake or saying anything wrong. In addition, there is embarrassment because of being watched by a lot of people. But the most important thing in this matter is that you yourself put very high standards and expect too much from yourself. Though it is a very useful quality, in practice, especially at the initial stage of mastering any activity, it may have a negative affect and cause serious obstacles.

Intuitively, it becomes clear that the basis of an eloquent speech is inner confidence that everything will be done at a proper level. In this sense, it is appropriate to raise the issue of self-confidence and its sources. We will not go into theoretical details of the issue, but let’s call to mind the theory of William James. According to him, self-confidence can be expressed as a fraction, the numerator of which is a success, and the denominator - the claims of the individual, something that people usually claim. Consequently, the level of confidence can be enhanced in two ways: firstly, either increasing the success in any activity (the numerator), or, secondly, reducing the claim (the denominator). James himself preferred the second option, based on the fact that the more moderate people in their requirements, the easier it is for them to adapt. For us the important thing here is that the internal relationship between success and confidence can be clearly determined. This means that step by step, achieving small victories on your way, it will become easier and easier to speak in front of an audience, and the more confident you feel while speaking in public, the more freely and eloquent your speech will be.

To make it easier for you at the initial stage, do not hesitate to read your report from a sheet. Over time, reduce the share of reading and occasionally hop off the text, at least in order to glaze at the audience. The most important thing is not to fear that someone is critically evaluating you. In any case, it is impossible to please everybody; people are different, but someone will surely understand you, understand that you have a problem. And if someone criticizes you, then it's not terrible – who knows how he himself would make it. Remember that you have just taken this path, do not demand too much from yourself. You will reach the desired results only through constant training.

Answer by Aliashab A. Murzaev,
consulting psychologist of the Center for Social Assistance to Family and Children

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