Dawah

Giving Dawah to Non-Muslims- I

By: Zeinab Hassan Ashry

I still remember the words of a man who contacted me inquiring about Islam. He said “ I have always believed what Muslims believe, but I never knew about Islam until now.”
He and his family had contacted me to continue their quest for knowledge. They had been in Kuwait only two months when the father, an engineer working local petroleum Exploration Company, had first been exposed to Muslims. He was greatly affected by their hospitality and warmth. As he spent more time with them, he came to understand that what was inviting about them was their faith. He began to ask questions about Islam and eventually began reading the Qur’an.

He was so impressed by the Qur’an, that he accepted Islam with his whole heart without any hesitation. For the first time in his life, he felt contentment and inner peace. He then began working hard to guide his family to Islam. His wife and children noticed the positive changes that Islam brought into their life, and embraced it themselves.

They were all practicing Islam together and continuing to study. Today, Islam makes them stronger and happier. On the day I met them, they told me that they came to discuss a few issues and ask questions. Before they left, they told me that when they returned home, they would make Dawah, telling people about Islam in hopes that they too would convert.

DOES THIS HAPPEN EVERY DAY?

Million of people around the world are sincerely searching for the Truth but have no true guidance. Why? Muslims are not doing enough dawah. Unfortunately, dawah is no longer the center of the Muslim lifestyle. Today, Muslims are so absorbed in their own lives that they have become totally indifferent to inviting people to Islam. Somehow, we have forgotten that dawah is an essential for the Muslim Ummah to restore its leadership position in the world by giving dawah its due place-at the top of the Ummah’s priorities, in fulfillment of its mission of Tawheed.

What is Dawah?

Dawah is to invite mankind to worshiping Allah alone, follow His Straight Path, and keep away from all sorts of disbelief and evil. The Qur’an tells us, “And We sent not before you any messenger except that We revealed to him that, ‘There is no deity worthy of worship expect Me, so worship Me.’” [12:25] And of all issues and conditions which must be maintained the following two are of utmost importance:

First, when we give dawah, our main concern should be to make sure Allah’s Message reaches people in a clear, proper and convincing way so that they are targeted according to their level of understanding, background and culture. Our sincere aim and focus should be to deliver dawah with wisdom and good manners. We should not be concerned with the results of our efforts, for that is in Allah’s Hands. And He, subhanahu wa ta’ala, has taught us in the Qur’an that it is not part of this responsibility to ensure that people be guided to the truth, and that there is no compulsion in religion, “ “ [2:255].

Second, inviting people to Islam should be deeply and strongly rooted in compassion. The motives behind it has to be love of people and concern that they follow the truth and be saved from disbelief and its evil consequences. This was beautifully summarized by the Companion Rib’ee ibn Aamer when the king of Persia asked him why the Muslims came to Persia. Rib’ee then told the king, “Allah has sent us, with His Message to mankind, so that we release whoever desires, from the worship of people, to the worship of the Lord of people, from the injustice of man-made religion to the justice of Islam, and from the strangling of this world, to the disburden and grace of the Hereafter”.

Significance

Dawah is an obligation for every Muslim according to his/her ability and knowledge. Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, said: “Invite to the Way of your Lord (Islam) with wisdom and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better”. [16:125]. Allah’s order “invite” as stated in this verse is presented in a general form indicating that all Muslim, individual and collectively, are included in this obligation. To this end the prophet ,sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, has said: “Convey from me even one verse”. (Bukhari)

Calling people to Allah is one of the noblest acts one that results in great reward, “And who is better in speech than he who invites people to Allah and does righteous deeds, and says: ‘I am one of the Muslims.’” [41:33]. The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, has said: “Whoever guides (another) to a good deed will get a reward similar to the one who performs it.” (Muslims) and, “By Allah, if Allah were to guide one man through you, it would be better for you than the best type of camels.” (Bukhari and Muslims) it is the duty of all Muslims to remove obstacles from the way of Dawah so that the message of Islam, the last message from Allah to mankind, could reach every place in the world.

ROLE OF THE MUSLIM UMMAH

The Muslims Ummah is expected to reach great heights, to be example to mankind enjoining right and forbidding wrong; Allah says, “You have been the best Ummah (nation) ever presented to mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong and believing in Allah.” [3:110)

The Muslim Ummah must provide leadership in faith and project strong virtues. It should motivate people to do good until good prevails. To do so, the Muslim Ummah should set the best example in Justice, equality, adopting system of consultation, and the protection of people’s rights. It narrated that when Saad ibn Waqqas conquered Hems, a city in northern Syria, he collected the Jiziah (taxes for military-service) exemption of non-Muslims) from its people, who were Christians. Then he was ordered to leave and go to another city. Before he left, he returned the taxes back to the Christian saying: “We collected this money in return for your protection. But now we are leaving and we cannot protect you anymore, so we cannot protect you any more, so we are returning it.” Amazed at this honesty and justice, many said: “No one has ever treated us like this, neither the Romans nor the Persian.” Many converted to Islam as a result.

The Caliph Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz was a bright example of a just ruler. During his Caliphate, poverty was eradicated, maybe for the first time in history, and Muslims could not find poor people to distribute the Zakah. At his time, so many non-Muslims entered Islam that some of his governors complained of the lack of Jizyah revenue. He sent them a letter reminding them that Allah had sent Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, to mankind as a guide, and not as a tax collector. In fact, the Ummah’s role in dawah is the most effective way of spreading the Message of Islam. Therefore, Allah warned us that if this Ummah turns away from this job, he will replace it with another Ummah who would do better in establishing Allah’s Rule and calling people to His Message, “And if you turn away, He will exchange you for another people and they will not be the likes of you.” [47:38] Many scholars point out to the absence of Dawah as one main reason that the Ummah has the present-day situation weakness and inability.

THE ROLE OF ORGANIZATIONS

To effectively achieve dawah, the Ummah must develop means for doing the best possible job. Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, says: “Let there arise from among you a community of people who invite others to all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong. Such are they who attain the true success.” [3:104]

Scholars have interpreted this verse to mean that the Ummah must provide dawah with all the organization and support its needs. This can actually be the best way to fulfill its obligations towards dawah. This verse therefore, directs Muslims to preparing enough places and qualified professional people to carry on all the tasks of dawah, such as scholars, Imams, reformers, social workers, universities, institutes, dawah centers, etc. Their responsibility should include delivering dawah, research and planning, and serve as a reference for workers in dawah so that they turn to them for guidance and consultation.

THE ROLE OF INDIVIUALS

As we stressed before, every Muslim man or woman is obligated to call to Islam according to his/her capacity. Conducting dawah is essential for maintaining one’s faith and keeping away from disbelief. Allah says, “…and invite to your Lord and be not of al-Mushrikeen (those who ascribe partners to Allah).” [28:87]

Furthermore, dawah is the way of the true followers of Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam. Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, says : “Says (O Muhammad): ‘this my way: I do invite unto Allah, on evidence clear as the seeing with one’s eyes, I and whoever follows me: Glory to Allah! And never will I be of al-Mushrikeen’”. [12:108]

Personalized dawah can be a very effective way of delivering the message of Islam. But individuals must possess knowledge, be aware of certain conditions and must develop some good manners for their dawah to be successful.

PRIORITIES OF DAWAH

In order to make Dawah easy for people to accept, the caller should introduce Islam gradually in a way that matches their ability and person’s response or reaction to it. We should first focus on the Shahadah, the core of what Islam is all about. The Prophet, sallahahu alayhe wa sallam, sent letters to the kings and princes of the neighboring countries inviting them to recite the Shahadah.

And as he, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, sent Muadh ibn Jabal to Yemen, he instructed him to teach people the pillars of Islam-step by step, in order of importance and according to the way they respond, otherwise they may refuse it. He, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said ton Muadh, “Invite the people to testify that none has the rights to be worshiped but Allah and that I am Allah’s Messenger. If they obey, then teach them that Allah has enjoined on them that Allah has made it obligatory on them to pay the Zakah from their property. Zakah is to be taken from the wealthy among them and given to their poor.” (Bukhari)

INTRODUCING ISLAMIC CONCEPTS TO NON-MUSLIMS

The foundation of dawah should be Allah’s Existence, Oneness, and Perfect Attributes.
Biography of Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, and evidence of his truthfulness.
The miraculous nature of Qur’an and its agreement with scientific facts, and the unanswered challenge it has been making to mankind since it was revealed from Allah to produce a book similar to it.
The Hereafter and the proofs that there is resurrection and reckoning ,and that the good and the wicked will not be made equal.
The uniqueness of the Companion of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam.
Islamic virtues and manners.
The impact of Islam upon the world.
REMEMBER TO:

Prioritize your objective according to importance and according to people’s responses. Give people what they need when they ask for it.

Concentrate on teaching the basics, and avoid details and difference of opinions.

Avoid talking about punishment in the grave, Day of Judgment, and torture of the fire; delay them for a later time.

Avoid discussion of no interest to non-Muslims such detailed Fiqh issues or politics. They can distract one’s attention and focus.

Avoid using names and terms unfamiliar to non-Muslims for they create confusion.

A SUCCESSFUL CALLER

A look at the life of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, and his companions reveals some of the conditions that must be there for one’s dawah to be successful.

Consistency and actions corresponding to words. Allah says: “O you who believe! Why you say that which you do not? It is most hateful in the sight of Allah that you say that which you do not.” [61:2-3]
Trusting in Allah and seeking of support.
Willingness to sacrifice time, money, and self-pride for Allah.
Good knowledge, adequate training, clear language & appropriate speaking skills.
Patience, steadfastness, and endurance.
Tolerance, moderation, forgiveness and soft-heartedness.
Generosity & good manners.
Communication and cooperation with other Muslims working in dawah.
Knowledge of non-Muslim communities.
Awareness of current problems and contemporary issues in the community.

Giving Dawah to Non-Muslims – II

By: Zeinab Hassan Ashry

MANNERS AND DAWAH

The above conditions may or may not all be of every Muslim’s character and dawah at all times. However, experience shows that some of these conditions are more critical than others when considering individual personalities. It is the overall impact and impression that is made that is more important than the possession or lack of one characteristic or the lack of it to make dawah successful. And since manners an examples are seen as a reflection of character, beliefs and convictions, dawah by examples is most impressive. Therefore, the successful caller is one who uses common sense to grow closer to people and influence them. Pay attention to, and make use of, current events, situations, and occasions to introduce Islam to people in a casual way. These are suggestion to help one improve self-awareness and manners:

DOS

· Always look your best. It is true that people are impressed by appearance more than anything else, especially in the beginning.
· Be simple, informal, and moderate.
· Welcome people warmly and give them sincere respect.
· Listen carefully and show deep concern to their words.
· Affirm your willingness to help at any time.
· Try to understand the background and culture of those you deal with.
· Praise their good qualities and the good things in their way of life.
· Tolerate people, their faults and shortcoming. Every one of us has imperfections.
· Address people according to their level understanding
· Exchange visits and gifts.
· Give information in a simple convincing manner.
· Return good for evil and face problems with more endurance.
DON’TS

· Avoid giving dawah while your are sick or under stress
· Be very careful not to contradict yourself.
· Always be on time.
· Do not break your promises.
· Avoid criticism and overlook faults.
· Avoid inviting people to disorganized places or to careless caller. This may turn people off.
· Do not get discouraged by problems, nor attacks on Islam. The conflict between the truth and falsehood is a part of life.
· Avoid wasting time in unless arguments.
· Do not get discouraged if you get no result. People take time to respond; and, after all, guidance comes from Allah. “You can not guide whom you like but Allah guides whom he wishes.” [28:56]

ON REPRESENTING ISLAM

Islam should be presented in a simple, clear, wise way. In these times, especially in the West, one should bear in mind the misconceptions and stereotypes associated with Islam. The following features should be emphasized:

· Islam means total willing submission to Allah.
· Allah is not the God of Muslims. The word “Allah” in Arabic means “The one true God;” it is a word used by Arabs, Muslims and non-Muslims.
· Using the word “Allah” rather than “God” is preferred as other faiths sometimes include Jesus, alayhe sallam, in their use of “God”.
· Islam is not the religion of Arabs or the Middle East , rather it is a universal religion. Muslims come from different races and ethnic backgrounds. Arabs are actually a minority group among Muslims.
· Islam is a major religion in the world supply facts and figures (i.e., 1.2 billion worldwide, one quarter of the world’s population).
· Islam is not a new religion; it was preached by all prophets of Allah.
· Affirm the true meaning of Islam, peace and safety for all people: “The true Muslim is he from whose hand and tongue people are safe.” (Muslim)
· Qur’an is Allah’s Word, His last Message of guidance to mankind.
· All people are equal in Islam.
· There is no compulsion in religion.
· Islam is the religion of ease and tolerance; no soul is charged with more than it can bear.
· Emphasize man’s personal responsibility for himself, and the inevitability of the Judgment Day. In Islam no soul will be questioned about the misdeeds of another soul.
· Islam is an integrated way of life that satisfies man’s both physical and spiritual needs.
· Differentiate between pure Islamic teaching and the traditional or culture practices of some Muslims, which are not part of Islam.
· Advise people to turn to the pure sources of Islam, Qur’an and Sunnah, to obtain a good understanding of it.
· Stress the human side of Islamic teachings (Qur’an and Sunnah)
· The Islamic social and economic system offers solutions to problems of modern societies such as poverty, violence, homelessness, crimes, sexually-transmitted diseases, spouse abuse, child abuse, drug use and family disintegration. According to UN statistics, the crime rates in states that apply Islamic laws are the lowest in the world.
· Muslim communities in North America and Europe have the lowest incidents in teenagers problems, violence, crimes, drug abuse, child abuse and family disintegration.
· Women are elevated in Islam and their rights are protected. Stress that any women from the west have accepted Islam and are pleased with it as a way of life.
· Islam is the fastest growing religion in North America and around the world. Many people around the world have accepted it, in spite of the adverse conditions in Muslim countries.
DAWAH INSTITUTIONS

Another form of dawah, necessary for modern society, is dawah center. These are specially prepared places where non-Muslim are welcome in a friendly environment that providing answers to their question, reading materials and a place to talk to Muslims. Now available in many countries around the world, many in the form of reading rooms, dawah the world centers have proven to be very effective. In addition to being run by able callers, these dawah centers should always be kept clean, well maintained, and organized.

Furthermore, dawah centers need well-planned, relevant programs to be directed for both new Muslims, and non-Muslims. These programs should be given by professional callers who have appropriate knowledge, and are well aware of their community’s current issues. Dawah centers should have books, video tapes, audio tapes, flyers and other materials that can be distributed free-of-cost to non-Muslim.

· A calendar of the upcoming activities should be prepared in advance and made available in addition to a list of phone numbers to contact and books to borrow.
· Interesting entertainment programs should be offered.
· Speakers from the community should be invited to talk about issues of interest to the public.
· Follow-up programs for new-Muslims, providing information and support.
· Educational planning is essential for the success of such activities.
· Dawah activities could be financed from Zakah or a dawah fund.
If dawah centers are not available, a separate room in the masjied, somebody’s house, or a reserved hall could be used for dawah on regular basis.

SMALL GROUP & INDIVIDUAL DAWAH

Most of the present dawah activities are conducted by small groups and individual. Because personal examples in word and by action are the most powerful for successful dawah, Muslims should present themselves as workers for justice, peace, and welfare of all mankind.

Here are some suggestions for good dawah approaches:

· Take active part in some of the activities going in non-Muslim communities.
· Cooperate with organization of humanitarian interests such as fighting drugs and crime, breastfeeding support, helping patients, caring for homeless, monitoring children, and caring for orphans. Sharing in such humanitarian activities reflect the human face of Islam. The first Qur’anic teaching revealed in Makkah enjoined people to feed the poor, emancipate slaves, and help the distressed and orphans.
· Conduct dawah in public places such as universities, scholars, churches, and prisons.
· On Islamic holidays and special events, try to project a good image of Islam and Muslims: arrange cultural festivals, public lectures, bazaars, well-planned presentations; distributing food for the homeless and treats for children.
· Arrange culture talks about history, traditions, customs, food, clothes, feasts, and Islamic marriage customs indifferent countries.
· Invite professional people to talk about contemporary issues important to the community.
MODERN MEANS OF COMMUNICATION

Utilizing the latest communication technology is important for fruitful dawah. Radio, TV, and the internet are very efficient means for local and international mass-dawah.

Educational and informative radio and TV Islamic Programs, interviews, advertising, news, on-line Fatawa, professional internet sites, large scale Islamic database, mail lists, etc,. Are effective tools for spending Islamic awareness, correcting hostile attitude against Islam, and defending Muslim.

To maximize dawah efforts, Muslims should have their own radio and TV and at the same time work hard to develop positive relations with media to improve the image of Islam.

OUR CHILDREN & DAWAH

Children are the future leaders of their communities. The most important factor for dawah to continue effectively is raising callers from the new generation of Muslims living in the West who are knowledgeable about Islam.

PREPARING CHILDREN FOR DAWAH

It is the responsibility of the entire Muslims community, particularly Islamic schools, mosques, callers, and parents to established interesting long-term educational programs for children, to strengthen their faith, accustom them to Islamic practices, assert their Islamic identify, and protect them from negative stereotypes.

Making dawah should be part of our children’s upbringing by making them aware that they are the future carriers of Islam; and Islam is their identity; without it they are lost.

Islamic schools, mosques, and dawah centers should offer dawah training.

Children should be asked about their dawah efforts and rewarded or and kindly redirected if they err.

To have dynamic successful callers for our new generation, brilliant youth should be sent to Islamic universities to learn Arabic and obtain good knowledge and understanding of Islam.

DAWAH & STEROTYPING OF ISLAM

Unfortunately, in the West Muslim are stereotyped in a very negative way. They have been associated with terrorism, suicidal attacks, mistreatment of women, etc.

Dawah in the West will not reach optimum levels of success until misconceptions about Islam and Muslim are replaced by the true image of Islam.

One of the aims of dawah should be correcting the popular untrue beliefs about Islam. Establishing strong relations with media is a very powerful tool in counter-acting the stereotyping of Muslims and improving public perception of Islam. However, only skillful and qualified people should deal with media; they should be alert and ready to act quickly whenever an incident against Islam occurs. However, one should be careful not to supply inaccurate information, or to defame or stereotype people.

DAWAH IN HISTORY

In Islam; there is no compulsion to convert-people have always entered it willingly. The historical presence of non-Muslim minorities among Muslims evidence of tolerance in Islam.

Islam spread in the most population Muslim countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Africa through the contact between native people and Muslim travelers, merchants who brought with them not only goods but also values of Islam-straight dealing, honesty, and generosity.

The impact of Muslims upon these communities was tremendous. In Singapore, on Arab Street, near the port where the Arab traders used to land, the residents say that the natives used to prefer good treatment and fair prices.

In my opinion it is unfair to compare the spread of Islam in Asia and Africa with the spread of Islam in the West, and blame Muslims for not effectively promoting Islam in the West. Unlike the modern western world their history was free from hostility and enmity against Muslims, and there fore, their conversion to Islam was natural and easy.

COULD DAWAH FAIL??

Allah will guide through dawah, those who are qualified for His mercy; those who have good hearts and are sincerely searching for the truth. And, He will turn away from it those who chose to divert from His way. All of this is decreed according to His perfect wisdom and knowledge.

The success of dawah is guaranteed as a fulfillment of Allah’s promises; …and who is more truthful than Allah.” [4:87]

1. Allah promised to make the way for dawah easy for Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, and his followers alike, “We shall ease your way unto the state of ease”. [87:8]
2. Allah also promised to preserve Qur’an, His last guidance to mankind. It is forever protected from any sort of distortion, change, or modification: “Verily We have sent down the Reminder and We shall indeed preserve it.” [15:9]
3. Allah promised to make dawah prevail and reach everywhere in the Earth so that all mankind will be aware that Islam is the truth from their Lord: “We shall show them our signs in the horizons and within themselves till it will be manifest unto that it is the truth.” [42:53]
4. Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, assured that Islam is the religion of the future and it will spread all over the world; he said, “Verily Islam will reach every place as the day and night reach. There is no house (in city or desert) on Earth but Islam will enter it.” (Ahmed and at-Tabari)
Due to all of these reasons, the dawah could never fail; that is why Prophet Muhammad, sallallahhu alayhe wa sallam, expected his followers to outnumber the followers of other prophets. He, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, (None of the prophet before me but was given (physical) miracles because of which people believed him. But the miracle which has been given to me is indeed a revelation Allah revealed to me (Qur’an and Sunnah). So I hope, on the Day of Judgment, my followers will outnumber the followers of other prophets.” (Bukhari)

Intentions and, above all, a strong sense of taqwa. If a Muslim truly lives to please Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, dawah is effortless. In order to share Islam with people, we must develop strong relationships within our Ummah to support these efforts with dawah centers and well-written material. Each of us has a gift from Allah we should not ignore our obligation in fear of rejection or failure but, join together to contribute our talents and reasons to share the gift of Islam, truly a mercy from Allah.

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