اذْهَبَا إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ إِنَّهُ طَغَىٰ فَقُولَا لَهُ قَوْلًا لَّيِّنًا لَّعَلَّهُ يَتَذَكَّرُ أَوْ يَخْشَىٰ
Go, both of you, to the Pharaoh, for he has exceedingly rebelled. But speak to him with gentle words, so that he might reflect and be mindful or feel some awe (of Me, and behave with humility). (Tā-Hā 20:43–44)
Here, it is revealed to a Prophet with a style appropriate for Prophethood that even if those to whom the Divine Message will be delivered are people like the Pharaoh, Nimrud, or Shaddad, whose hearts and minds are utterly closed to belief and conditioned to unbelief, they should be addressed with “gentle words.” There is another important point here: if “speaking with gentle words” has become an essential attribute of the conveyor of the Message or the guide, he will be effective as this attribute has become integrated into his feelings and thoughts. Otherwise, if “speaking with gentle words” or gentleness has not become integrated in the personality of the guide, in other words, if the guide does not act naturally and from the bottom of his heart, then many errors will be inevitable. In case of an irritation, the main character of the guide will appear itself and cause destruction instead of improvement or reformation. And those who encounter such harshness will move away from the thought and mission he represents.
Thus, it is very important for a guide who conveys the Divine Message to appropriate gentleness or make gentleness a part of his nature. This is only possible through gentleness in behavior and manners and through kindheartedness.
If one has a question about “hatred towards unbelief,” the Divine rule about it is evident. Loving for God’s sake and hating for God’s sake are principles in Islam. Therefore, a person is loved for his virtues and perfections and is disliked because of his vices and evils. So our hate is directed toward attributes and deeds, rather than the persons themselves. The Qur’ān describes those who sin and do wrong as those who wrong themselves. Therefore, we pity those who wrong themselves and desire their reformation. In any event, we should be gentle and kindhearted and act gently in conveying Islam to others. Even if our addressees do not accept Islam, we have done our duty.
Another point worth mentioning is that God ordered Moses to go to Pharaoh together with his brother Aaron, peace be upon them both. This indicates that mutual help or collective behavior is more effective in some affairs. It is especially important to give moral support and bear witness to each other in the presence of haughty persons.
Although the opponent of Moses was a rebellious one, God’s ordering His Messenger to speak gentle words also reminds us that a guide cannot change his style because of temporary reasons and should always act in a manner befitting him and not cause aversion in the addressees with rude and sharp words. Moses had to act especially gently and “speak with gentle words” because he had been brought up in the Pharaoh’s palace and treated kindly. It was his duty to awaken them to spirituality, otherworldliness, and to eternity. If one acts in this way, there might appear some who, as stated in the verse, would “reflect and be mindful or feel some awe of God” and behave with humility.