Diplomacy and Soft power in Seerah of the Holy Prophet (pbuh)

 Dr. Muhammadreza Dehshiri, Assistant Professor of Faculty of International Relations

The Holy prophet of Islam (pbuh) always tried to expand Islam, and improve Muslims’ soft Power. In this regard, based on exact estimation of the capabilities and capacities, consideration of the existing conditions, equipments, and necessities of time and place, he tried to develop a strategy for accomplishment of his objective, expansion of Islam. The prophet (pbuh) considered fulfillment of a short-term goal in a certain time period as a phase for reaching to the next target. Thus, this flexibility in preaching and invitation method for accomplishment of divine goals is called “Phased Diplomacy”, referring to phasing primary, secondary and final goals for fulfilling the ultimate goal of the mission, that is ideological, moral, political, cultural and social change and evolution of human beings. Phased diplomacy is a rational principle that time and place define its specifications; it emphasizes on defining primary and secondary goals considering the capacities and limits for gradual and phased accomplishment of the ultimate goal. Application of this diplomacy, as a sign of active essence of Islamic preaching, resulted in inclusiveness and expansion of the eternal and heavenly teachings of Islam at the time of the holy prophet (pbuh). Observing this principle by the holy prophet (pbuh) reveals the comprehensiveness of the true religion of Islam, which while introducing a comprehensive worldview and a macro-strategy for human life, simultaneously pays a special attention to the details. This kind of diplomacy has a special representation in the fields of dissemination of the message, method of invitation, and form and method of fighting of the holy prophet (pbuh). The principles of this type of diplomacy are: conformity with human existence structure and evolution of human society according to timed phases and hierarchy of human change, conformity with time and place requirements given the gradedness of preaching and methods of contact with addresses, preparing the public opinion, satisfying human reason toward the divine message, variety and multiple nature of methods against unity of values and principles, simultaneous interaction of preach elements including the message, messenger, receiver, means of transfer and the environment of the message in order to prepare the beds for accomplishment of the whole aspects of preaching and elements in surrounding environment, conformity and adaptation with the principles and goals while separation of principles from details and flexibility in methods for influencing the addresses. About application of phased diplomacy in the field of message it is worth to mention that if we consider unity of the world of Islam as a short term goal, unity of monotheistic religion as a mid term goal and universal government of Islam and accomplishment of a unite universal Ummah as a long term goal, then according to the principle of “المیسور لا تسقط بالمعسور” possibility of achieving the short term goals should not lead to giving up the long term goals for their difficulty. Therefore, applying phased diplomacy within the framework of the strategy of expansion of Islam borders can be useful and effective. Regarding the application of phased diplomacy in the place field of transferring the message in the holy prophet’s strategy of invitation, we can refer to his step by step invitation. It began with secret invitation, and then invitation of the family members and relatives. Later on, it was time for public invitation and then expansion of invitation limits beyond the city borders through migration (Hijrah). The prophet (pbuh) tried to establish Islamic government in Arabian Peninsula; and in the sixth year of Hijrah started the diplomacy of invitation outside of the Peninsula by dispatching emissaries to various countries to expand Islam beyond the geographic borders of Arabian Peninsula, and develop foreign relations of Islamic government. Correspondence diplomacy of sending letters to the heads of various empires and governments to invite them to Islam, and dispatching ambassadors to various parts of the world for public invitation to Islam are demonstrations of the prophet’s invitation strategy; the strategy based on phased diplomacy of expanding influence territory of Islam and founding the great powerful civilization of Islam in political geography of that time world. In fact, it was through application of phased diplomacy in invitation strategy that the holy prophet (pbuh) successfully made his invitation so vast to cover all Arabian Peninsula in less than 20 years, so that after a short time Islam expanded from Sind River and China Wall in East to the shores of Atlantic Ocean and heart of Europe in West. The prophet (pbuh) also used phased diplomacy for expansion of preaching centers, so that first he established itinerant or informal centers, then temporary centers and finally mosques as the main permanent centers for preaching activities and centers for organizing political and social activities. About the application of phased diplomacy in invitation method we can refer to the precedence of friendly and peaceful methods to forceful actions, which is indicative of priority and preference of soft power over hard power. In this regard, the holy prophet (pbuh) always emphasized on leniency and kindness in social behaviors and cultural and preaching activities, and while recommending peaceful invitation he believed in precedence of good preachment and peaceful dispute over threatening and forceful fighting. Reflection on the Sirah of the holy prophet (pbuh) reveals that he stressed on using peaceful methods in cultural diplomacy, for example we can refer to dispatching preachers and preaching personalities and boards to contact with other peoples in different occasions, and sending envoys and representatives to transfer the message, and negotiate with representatives of other governments, groups and tribes. As for correspondence diplomacy we can refer to: the letters sent to the heads of governments, groups and tribes, conclusion of treaties and agreements for peaceful coexistence and not to engage in war, like: Hafl- ul-Fozul treaty, Aqabbah treaty, Covenant of Medina, Hudaybieh Peace Treaty. Among other activities of his diplomacy are: holding free religious disputes with Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, accepting judgment as the end of animosity and correction of the relation between the two fighting parties, emphasis on common points and the accepted documents of the two parties and… The holy prophet (pbuh) favored intellectual preaching activities over Jihad and war activities, because such soft power-based actions were influential in guiding human beings and expressing religious foundations of Islam via attractive, profound, beautiful, inspiring, rich and eloquent messages. The prophet's emphasis on precedence of guidance over war, and priority of logics and strong reasoning for development of intellectual and ideological change of enemies indicates that the ultimate goal, directing the enemies to the right path, precedes forceful actions. About using phased diplomacy in the form of campaign and fighting we can refer to phases of secret campaign, negative resistance, defensive fight, active resistance, and aggressive fight. As the greater Jihad (Jihad-e Akbar) stands before defensive Jihad, freedom Jihad and primary Jihad have hierarchical precedence which shows that preaching faith and publishing monotheistic ideas and elevation of the righteousness must be done in a phased hierarchical manner to end in human beings happiness. If so it might have more influence on the addressees, because winning the hearts and intellectual and ideological change of men shape the base of the holy prophet's invitation strategy. Therefore, soft power and peaceful and sympathetic methods in diplomacy of Islam are preferred over violent and forceful ones chronologically and hierarchically. Dr. Muhammadreza Dehshiri, Assistant Professor of Faculty of International Relations, Vice Dean of Research and educational Affairs of Islamic Culture and Relations Organization

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