I think everyone remembers the first time they gave a halaqah or a lecture. And if you haven’t given one, mark my words inshaaAllah you will remember your first one.
For those of you who are about to give one for the first time, I pray the following advice benefits you. Again, one of the reasons I really wanted to put a resource out there for guidelines in regards to giving a halaqah or a lecture is because I had previously tried to search for this information on my own, and I did not find much. I don’t claim to be an expert, and all of the following are just from my own personal experiences.
If anyone has anything to add to these points, please post in the comments section below :)
1. Check your sincerity.
An action that begins with a sincere intention is sure to be fruitful, bi’ithnillah. And keep a close-eye on your intention. It doesn’t hurt to pause every once in a while and silently make dua to Allah to make you sincere.
Begin with the Khutbatul Hajja and any du’a such as the du’a of Musa (Rabbi ishraH lee Sadree…)
2. Don’t try to “wing” it!
A friend of mine was about to give her first halaqah. I spoke to her the night before and she expressed frustration, and said “I was thinking of just going in there and winging it.”
I probably reacted somewhere along the lines of “NOOOO!”
Do not do that. You’re setting yourself up for failure. This is not an audition for the school play. It is the dissemination of sacred knowledge and sincere advice.
Prepare your halaqah in advance, and read over it often. Give it to someone to check, just in case. Practice giving the halaqah, and do it enough times so that you won’t have to keep looking down at your paper, because this can lead to a break in people’s attention. (See point #8)
Practicing beforehand will also help to avoid that “first-time-monotone.” You know what I’m talking about? It’s when someone feels so overwhelmed with nervousness, that their voice loses any sign of emotion, and they begin to sound like a robot reading off a piece of paper.
3. Don’t welcome questions/comments during the halaqah.
If it’s your first time, a simple question could side-track you and make you lose your train of thought.
When you are about to begin, just mention to everyone to “please write down questions during the halaqah if you have any, and we will try to go over it at the end; if I cannot address the question, I will get back to you inshaAllah.”
Similarly, a simple comment could leave you flabbergasted and wondering how to continue with your halaqah. People love discussions and enjoy chiming in with their own reflections, and inshaAllah as you begin to give more halaqaat, you will become skilled at hearing a comment or a question during the halaqah, addressing it warmly and correctly, and then moving along smoothly.
4. Pick a single topic – don’t bombard them.
Pick a single topic and let it all revolve around that topic. It can be a very general topic such as “Relationship with Allah,” or “Righteous Companions,” etc. but don’t go in there with the idea of just giving “General Pieces of Advice” and then bombard them with 15 pieces of seemingly disorganized and unrelated “advices.” If you have a lot to say, find a way to make it fit into a single topic, so that it is easier for others to follow.
We may think to ourselves, “This may be the only time I see these people, I should make sure they hear everything!”
To this I say, “If you want them to come back, give them something they can enjoy and easily digest — if you give them heartburn, you probably won’t see them in your halaqah again.”
One topic that I enjoy for a First Halaqah is “Righteous Company” because I see it as a way to encourage them to attend future halaqaat and Circles of Remembrance. There are many other benefits to making this a first-time topic.
5. Make it relevant and applicable
Da’wah is always tailored to suit the audience. Find out the general description of your audience, and prepare accordingly. High schoolers are addressed differently from University-goers.
New-to-Islam vs. Not-New-To-Islam
Married vs. Single
Recently started practicing vs. Been Practicing
You get the point, inshaAllah.
6. ‘Aqeedah first
Always be wise in your da’wah and include clear messages regarding ‘aqeedah, as this always comes first.
Even a topic like “Righteous Companions” – you can easily bring `Aqeedah into that.
If you’re unsure how to do this, leave a question inshaAllah.
7. “Sorry guys, this is my first time”
Is this something you want to say? I don’t know… maybe, maybe not. I’ll leave that up to you.
(I personally wouldn’t say it, only because it may make you more nervous, and make them more aware of your “first-time-ness.”)
8. Eye contact is important.
And you need to make sure you know what’s on your paper so you can make eye-contact for long periods of time. Try to meet everyone’s eyes, not just a couple of people. Let each of them feel like they are being addressed personally.
That is all for now, again please add to this list, and I will also see if anything else comes to mind.