Fear Public Speaking No More!

According to a 1985 Wall Street Journal Article, the number one fear in America is public speaking. For some reason, that makes me chuckle. As an Asian, I’m too familiar with that fear, but to read that statistic coming from the Americans makes me laugh in disbelief. Seriously, Americans afraid of public speaking ?!

I would readily understand it if an Asian is afraid to go up and speak in front of an audience, due to the culture of the east, but it’s almost ridiculous to find out that the people of the west with a culture of outspokenness also have this fear. I guess it’s a universal feeling then.

Prophet Musa alayhi salam, when told by Allah to go to the Pharaoh, was filled with fear and apprehensiveness. So Allah taught him this du’a.

Rabbish rahlee sadri wa yassirlee amri wahlun ‘uqdatam millisaanee yafqahoo qaulee

O my Lord! Open for me my chest (grant me self-confidence, contentment, and boldness). And make my task easy for me. And loosen the knot (the defect) from my tongue. That they may understand my speech. (TAHA: 25-28)

Open my heart

In class, the sister gave an analogy of a jar that is tightly sealed. Let’s say we want to fill it with something, but if it remains stubborny shut, we can’t fill it. Same with our hearts, if it’s sealed, we can’t  fill it with Quran, so we ask Allah to open our hearts.

When people say, “My heart’s in it,” it usually implies that they’re really into it (whatever it is) and that they will do whatever it takes, jump over hurdles and all, to pursue the it. When our heart is in something, we will with full dedication and joy put forth our energy and time into it. With studying the Quran, we need to have our hearts where they’re supposed to be, and this is the significance of this part of the du’a.

Make my task easy for me

For Prophet Musa alayhisalam, his task was to invite Fir’awn to worshipping Allah. For any of us, the task in question can be anything from going for an interview to memorizing the Quran.

Loosen the knot/defect from my tongue

“I can’t explain it.” I always feel this when trying to convey what I learned, or at least, I do try to convey it, but feel like I don’t do the topic justice. Wahlu means open, and in this part of the du’a, we are asking Allah to open the knot in our tongues at the appropriate times. Another analogy was put forth in class, of a jewelry box that we want to open at a party. Let’s say it can’t be opened at the party, and only budges pen after the party. It would be of no use. Same with our tongues, if we are able to come up with a perfect response to a question days after the question was asked, it would be a shame.This is why this du’a is always recited before speaking.

Bust your public speaking fears and ask for help from the only One who can help.


2 thoughts on “Fear Public Speaking No More!

  1. Fascinating post! I’m a Christian and the Bible contains a very similar story (Moses tried to turn the job down of going to see Pharoa because he was a bad speaker).

    And I absolutely agree with your surprise that Americans have public speaking as their first fear. Well, I was, but no longer, to be honest. I train people in public speaking and in making presentations in the UK and on our public courses we often find it’s the Americans who are the most anxious: they’re full of “me first” too though, which is confusing! 🙂

    Best wishes…. Simon

  2. I used to cite that doa and the malay translation before every agama class in primary school. Back then it was just a ritual without any significance to me. Maybe I should cite it again everyday and insya Allah, one day, the sickly knots in my tummy disappear when I speak in public.

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