When it comes to how Islam was spread universally, we hear from many that Islam was spread by sword and bloodshed. However, studying the conduct and manner of all the prophets, and especially Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), in inviting people to Allah unveils the truth about this issue.
When one decides to start a revolutionary cultural movement, he/she needs to plan for different aspects of this movement. The most important thing is the message he/she wants to convey to the audience. After that, he/she comes to how to spread this message in a way that can be vastly heard, and then it’s time to discover how the message should be said and conveyed to attract the audience. This is the most primary rule in media studies, and prophets in their era were well-aware of these rules and if they needed help regarding techniques and concepts, they received guidelines from Allah to help them spread their message in the most influential way.
The messages that prophets were going to convey to people were revealed to them by God Allah. The question ‘“how to spread this message” is discussed as a method of invitation. And the question ‘how to make the words influential’ is discussed under the title of manners of invitation in this article.
Allah (SWT) highlights the mission of His Prophet (PBUH&HP) as follows:
“O Prophet! Indeed We have sent you as a witness, as a bearer of good news and as a warner. And as a summoner to Allah by His permission, and as a radiant lamp.” (33: 45-46)
In this verse, the Prophet (PBUH&HP) is introduced as a “witness” ; a person who is present in his society and observes the problems and challenges of people on one hand, and as a person who has the best capability to testify the truth about Allah, His creation, and the hereafter on the other.
He has the responsibility to invite people to Allah, inform and remind them of the mercy and blessings of their lord and warn them of what is harmful to them. He, as a “radiant lamp” lightens the path of his people toward prosperity. .
But, has God Allah provided His prophet Prophet ((PBUH&HP) with any methods to help him guide people?
In some verses of the Quran Allah (SWT) provides the Prophet (PBUH&HP) with the following methods:
“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good advice and dispute with them in a manner that is best...” (16:125)
Using this verse, the first step in inviting people to God Allah is to use correct wisdom and reasoning, and since the mission of the Prophet of Islam (PBUH&HP) is to awaken thoughts and ideas and to flourish rational treasures, the best way to achieve this goal is to use logic and reasoning.  This method is mostly used for those intellectual people of the society.
The verse introduces “good advice” as a method for communicating with the audience who have softer hearts. “Good advice” is the method in which good deeds are reminded and expressed in such a way that the listener's heart is softened by hearing that expression and, as a result, surrenders. Therefore, for some audience gentle speech is more effective than logical arguments. 
However, for a group of audience who are stubborn and have prejudice on their ideas, the Quran suggests the method of dispute and argument in a way that is best.
The definition of “best despite” can be best understood when recognizing what is a wrong dispute. A wrong dispute or argument as described by Imam Sadiq (AS) is “a disgraceful, immodest argument to deny a right, or to accept a falsehood, as a result of your own intellectual weakness, or to do so as a result of the abuse of a rival's intellectual weakness.” 
Therefore, the best dispute is the one in which both parties listen to each other with the intention of learning from and informing each other, and accepting the truth and justice even if it is against our mindset.
In another verse of the Quran Allah (SWT) Commands His prophet Prophet (PBUH&HP) to:
“Say, ‘This is my way. I summon to Allah with insight—I and he who follows me. Immaculate is Allah, and I am not one of the polytheists.’” (12:108)
In fact, the Prophet of Islam (PBUH&HP), by the command of GodAllah, determines his religion and method to invite all people to this path out of awareness and insight. The followers of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) must also invite the people to the divine religion with awareness and insight.
Apart from all the methods that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) knew them well, it was his manner that attracted people to him and his message.
As Allah mentions in the Quran, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was sent to humanity as a mercy and blessing:
“We did not send you but as a mercy to all the nations.” (21:107)
Although the great manner and behavior of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) has been admired in the Quran , the difficulty of his mission in interacting with people has been so great that Allah puts mercy and gentleness in his heart:
“It is by Allah’s mercy that you are gentle to them; and had you been harsh and hardhearted, they would have surely scattered from around you. So excuse them and plead for forgiveness for them, and consult them in the affairs, and once you are resolved, put your trust in Allah. Indeed Allah loves those who trust in Him.” (3:159)
This verse shows that his kind attitude and his sympathy with people has been one of the main tools he used in inviting people to God.Allah.
Other absorbing characteristics of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) are mentioned in another verse of the Quran:
“There has certainly come to you an apostle from among yourselves. Grievous to him is your distress; he has a deep concern for you, and is most kind and merciful to the faithful.” (9:128)
The verse emphasizes on the fact that the prophet Prophet (PBUH&HP) was one of the people, not considering himself higher than them. He was a man who was so compassionate to the people, and his mind was all concerned about their problems and their life in this world and in the hereafter.
Although this verse ends with the phrase that he was kind to faithful people, another verse of the Quran shows that he tried so hard to guide and help the unfaithful. So much that Allah (SWT) told him
“you are liable to imperil your life [out of distress] that they will not have faith.” (26:3)
In sum, the Prophet of Islam (PBUH&HP) used all correct logical, psychological, scientific, and behavioral methods to invite people to truth and the soul of his merciful invitation still flows all over the world through the hearts of the truth-seekers.
- Tabatabaei, M.H, Tafseer-e Al-mizan, http://www.aviny.com/quran/almizan/jeld-16/mizan-17.aspx
- Jawadi Amoli, Abdulllah, ‘the Prophet of Islam’s Conduct and manner in inviting to truth’, Pasdare-e Eslam Magazine, No. 296, (2007, July)
- Muhammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar , vol.70, p. 402.
- The Quran (68:4), Surah Qalam , verse, 4
The hours of fasting in Ramadan vary based on the geographical position of the city where one lives. In some regions, the fasting hours might be extremely long while in other places it might be too short such that one wonders if the goal of fasting (Sawm) has been accomplished or not. Extended fasting might cause difficulties.
Some might complain that there is no advantage in fasting long days. Others might find excuses to avoid fasting altogether. But, Islam does not want Muslims to suffer. There are, therefore, some rulings on how to fast on very long days and very short days, that we review them all next.
In the case where the days are very short, one should perform fasting in its typical way, from dawn to sunset, according to the prayer times. Hence, short fasting hours does not change the default time rulings on fasting (Swam) .
Fasting is not a mere act of depriving oneself of foods or drinks, but it aims at spiritual growth and salvation, inner peace, exercising patience, strengthening the social ties and experiencing how poor people live their lives .
Hence, the obligation on fasting is not to make people suffer; as it is stated in Surah Baqarah: “Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship” (2:185). So, there are some rulings on long fasts which make them less difficult.
Long fast (Swam), especially in hot summer days, is tough. In this case, one should fast according to the prayer times of his\her city of residence. But, if it is extremely difficult, whenever during the day he\she feels unable to continue, he\she is allowed to break the fast (Swam) and have to fast (it is obligatory, Wajib) later on for those missing (Qaza) fasts in shorter days of the current year and before the next Ramadan 
However, different religious experts (Mujtahids) have different opinions on this matter. We explained one of those views above. There are two other opinions as follows and one of them might be the opinion of your religious expert (Mujtahid):
In any case, one should fast according to the prayer times of the city of residence;
One should fast according to the prayer times in a “moderate region,” with the normal day length, that is on the same meridian as his\her city of residence.
Fasting is obligatory due to its spiritual and physical benefits. It is not to put pressure and make people suffer. If it is tough to fast in very long days, one can fast according to the rulings stated above.
Imagine one of your ordinary days in which you go out in the morning to go to work or the university or anywhere else. You attend some gatherings. You see men and women around you interacting and greeting on different occasions and in various manners, more frequently shaking hands.
You are a member of this community too, and you also used to greet different people with whom you had interactions every day and perhaps it was not important for you if the person you shake hands with is a man or a woman. But now, as a Muslim, you must know that shaking hands in Islam with the opposite gender is forbidden. If this has raised a question in your mind, we will be discussing the issue here.
As a scientific fact, everything we do, or we say, or any other kind of action we perform via every part of our body from legs up to the eyes, or even any thought passing into our minds has energy in itself. Once we bring something into existence, such as an utterance or an action, hence its specific kind of energy, it will never go to an end; but it is transformed and transferred to different targets, leaving its influence on them and first on ourselves.
Thus in our interactions, we are producing some kind of energy. So when people from the opposite genders confront each other and shake hands or kiss or hug each other, as a kind of greeting, what kind of energy is being interchanged between them?
God has put some kind of desire in human’s nature by which the opposite sexes are attracted to each other. When women and men who are non-Mahrams, greet each other in any way involving touching their bodies or looking at one another in such a way that arises this desire, they will be leaving a negative effect on each other; although it may feel pleasant.
Once this instinct is provoked, to satisfy their sensual needs, people may go further in their relationships and may be driven into immoral and sinful acts. The final result would be regret, distrust among people and broken families and other mental and physical consequences. Because in Islam’s viewpoint, sensual desires must only be satisfied among spouses. Due to this and some other reasons we might not know, God has set some rules regarding the quality of relationships between women and men. Following these rules will make concepts like marriage and family meaningful.
One might say that we do not have any bad intentions in our relationships with those who are considered non-Mahram for us. We can control our desires when confronting them and nothing sinful happens. But the prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and his family who were the purest ones of all time obeyed these rules too.
They avoided any kind of interaction with non-Mahrams that are considered to be Haram.
When people came to the prophet for Bay’ah (to swear allegiance), he shook hands with men, and for women, a container of water was brought in which the prophet put his hand and took his hand out and then women put their hands in the water to make their pledge .
A Muslim is only allowed to touch the body of those of the same gender and those of the opposite gender who are Mahram for him/her.
A man can only look at the face and hands of a non-mahram woman if they do not have decorations and on the condition that it is not for pleasure [i].
In the Quran, we read: “Say to the believers, that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts… And say to the believing women, that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts, and reveal not their adornment, save such as is outward…” (24:30-31). Non-Mahrams must be careful with their speaking, too. In another part of Quran, we read: “…be not abject in your speech, so that he in whose heart is sickness may be lustful, but speak honorable words.” (33:32). In these verses of the Holy Quran, the danger of arousing sexual desires through speaking and looking has been warned. However, there are no limits to touching, looking, and talking between spouses.
And some exceptions may occur. For example, if a doctor of the same gender is not available, one can go to a doctor from the opposite gender and touching and looking is permitted in this case. But only in case of necessity and as much as needed.
Most probably it will be hard for you to find an excuse to refuse to shake hands with non-mahrams especially those with whom you had usual interactions before. Because in your society this may result in a misunderstanding about your attitude toward people.
When a non-mahram wants to shake a hand with you, if you politely say that due to religious matters you can't shake hands but you are pleased to meet them, in most cases, they will accept it from you without being offended. This would be better rather than falsely mentioning illness and other things. But if you explained your reason honestly and someone reacted badly, you do not need to bother yourself convincing that person.
To conclude, shaking hands, kissing, hugging, and every other kind of greeting and interaction between non-Mahrams which involves touching and also looking at each other on purpose, and talking with each other in a tempting manner are Haram in Islam.
[i] Refer to the article “The Islamic etiquette of looking” for more information.
- shakin hands in islam
- Mohammad ibn Jarir Tabari, “Tarikh-e Tabari,” vol.3, p.61-62.