Imam Zaid Shakir said that his Sheikh, Mustafa Turkmani, used to frequently say:
رجل واحد صاحب الحال يؤثر على ألف رجل وألف رجل بلا حال لا يؤثرون على واحد
A single person who has a refined spiritual state can affect a thousand, but a thousand people who lack any refinement in their state cannot affect a single person.
So the teaching of Islam starts with the refinement of our state and our hearts. The relationship between the heart and tongue, if it is cut off, then the tongue is just flapping. As ibn Ajiba mentions in the intro of Iqâdh Al-Himam, a great commentary on the Hikam of Ibn Ataillah: “it’s not just the wagging of the tongue, it’s the tongue reflecting what’s in the heart.”
One of our poets mentioned: “speech resides in the hearts, and the tongue is only a translator of what’s in the heart.”
So if we’re teaching religion we can read the lines in the books, but if this is just a wagging of the tongue and not a reflection of what’s in the hearts, it’s not going to affect anyone. It might impress people. It might do what they say in your graduate seminars: “if you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance then dazzle them with B.S.” It might be dazzling but when people go home and they have to deal with their families, wives, children, and neighbors, it’s not going to impact how they relate to them. They’re going to deal with them like before they went to the lesson. But if it is coming from a heart that is refined, then it’s going to affect them, influence and impact them.
(Imam Zaid Shaikr at Masjid al-Faatir in Chicago)