|...and then there
is Dawa overkill
the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and reason
with them in ways that are best and most gracious." (Quran
Dawa - calling to
Islam, the deen of Allah.
There is Dawa ...
And then there is
Picture this. A
young eager non-Muslim, with a curious and open heart, approaches
a Muslim with one discreet question. The Muslim responds to the
question ... and then like a battery induced bunny, keeps on going
and going and going. The overwhelmed young man stands rooted to
the spot, unable to move, as the Muslim launches into a seemingly
endless diatribe about every single detail of Islam. The "Islamic
educator" focuses on how Islam is vastly superior to christianity,
even quoting at length from obscure passages of the bible. The young
non-Muslim, who is not Christian and could care less about the intricacies
of the Old Testament, begins to get a distinctly glazed, jailed
look in his eyes. After 15 minutes of nonstop talking the Muslim
stops to catch a breath. Snatching the opportunity, the young man
mutters a quick excuse and bolts from the vicinity.
This Muslim, undoubtedly
feels that she or he has done a wonderful job of spreading the essence
of the deen of Allah. However, what this Muslim really accomplished
was turning someones genuine interest into revulsion.
Dawa is an obligation
on every Muslim. We are not allowed to be so arrogant as to conceal
this precious deen. But sharing Islam does not mean bombarding every
non-muslim we bump into, with facts and quotations from each subsection
from virtually every fiqh treatise written in the last 1400 years.
This is not Dawa
- and it is certainly not the wise and beautiful preaching that
Allah has commanded us to embark on. We must understand that we
are not in a football match in which every convert to Islam means
points for our side. It is Allah who guides hearts; we only share
what we know to be the truth. The reception of that Truth is between
the heart and Allah.
Dawa is not something
that happens in one meeting with a person and it is not merely the
unloading of information. This is not how Islam has spread to every
corner of Allahs earth.
To most of the world,
Islam was spread by lived example. This means that we reveal the
beauty of Islam by not only what we say, but (primarily) through
the way we live; this includes how we deal with people at work,
in the market place, at school and university, how we interact with
the person who puts gas in our car or who bags our groceries.
As Muslims we should
live a life that, even at first glance, seems blessed by the light
of Islam, we should be joyful as a rule and patient in adversity.
We should be honest with our employers and employees, respectful
of the elderly person on the bus and kind to the child having a
tantrum in the toy store.
Regardless of what
we do, who we are and where we go, we should conduct ourselves in
a manner that is befitting the dignity of a Muslim. If one is a
typist, then one should be a Muslim typist, or a neuro-surgeon,
an astronaut or a house painter. We must maintain the ethics and
behavioral standards of Islam. Whatever it is you do, do it well,
do it with confidence and do it with dignity.
If you are Muslim,
you are blessed; because you have been made aware of the most beautiful
gift - Islam. Celebrate that fact. Live your life well. Live in
the world as if you know the value of the gift you were given. Succeed
in this life and in the next. Set goals for yourself and strive
toward them. Anger, cynicism, bitterness and despair are all unworthy
of you and are signs of weak faith. Because you are a Muslim, and
you are being looked upon as a representative of Islam, it is not
an option for you to be foolish, cowardly or pathetic. You do not
need to be perfect every day of your life. We all have bad days,
each persons faith ebbs and flows. But we must not allow ourselves
to be miserable or to bring misery into the world.
The people we meet
should become respectful of Islam and interested in it, simply by
knowing us and knowing the joy that comes to us, by living our lives
according to Islam. This does not mean that we should not speak
clearly about the actual texts and beliefs of Islam. But when we
do speak about them we should already be living them.
And when there is
an opportunity to speak about Islam in more detail, we must have
the intelligence and tact to do that beautifully as well. The Prophet
of Allah, Sallallahu alay wassalam, said "Give glad tidings
and do not scare others; make things easy and do not make things
When speaking about
Islam to non-Muslims remember these points:
- Remember that
it is Allah who guides whom He wills and not you.
It is not up to
us to make someone accept Islam. We can provide information, challenge
ignorance and make Islam a viable choice for people. however, it
is only Allah who can give guidance and open hearts.
- Treat everyone
Do not dismiss non-Muslims
as kafirs and think that they worthless. They too were created by
the one Creator who sustains them and to whom they will also return.
When you treat non-Muslims with disrespect or condemn them to hell,
you close the door of Islam in their faces. They will never listen
to a word of Islam, from you or anyone else, without remembering
your contempt for them. Regardless of what kind of life one is leading
now, one may be blessed with faith and guidance by Allah and have
ones life transformed.
Understand who you
are speaking to and what he or she cares about. For example, when
speaking to marine biologists, share with them the verses in the
Quran about water. When speaking to artists, tell them about the
tradition of Islamic art and architecture and what it has meant
to the ummah. Relate to people in ways that they can understand
and are comfortable with.
- Not every non-Muslim
is a Christian.
Getting into detailed
debates of Christianity and Islam is unnecessary. chances are, you
are speaking to someone who knows about as much of Christianity
as she or he does of Islam. And most of that is probably from Charlton
Hestons movies. (I have met only five real christians in my
entire 25 years of living in this country.)
Refuse to speak
about Islam from a position of defence or weakness. You do not have
to justify or explain the actions of every (or any) Muslim group
or individual in the ummah. While we are often asked to respond
to media contortions of Islam, we should not do so through shame
or contrition. Remember that your job is to call people to Islam,
not to a particular group of Muslims.
- Do not argue
The truth of Islam
is clear, if people chose to not understand or to not believe, then
that is their choice. Do not enter into petty, mindnumbing arguments
with people who are not sincerely interested in seeking the Truth.
Your job is to be knowledgeable enough to explain our beliefs with
wisdom and reason. The rest is between them and Allah; and it is
none of your business.
- Interact with
people, do not give lectures.
Do not constantly
preach at people. Just be normal and live your life without
concealing Islam. You will find unlimited opportunities to speak
of Islam and the myriad ways that your life is uplifted by your
faith and practice.
Be well groomed,
presentable and articulate. Dress Islamically, while still looking
like you belong in this decade.
Picture this. A
group of non-Muslims have a dispute. A muslim walks into the room.
The non-Muslims turn to the Muslim for arbitration knowing that
they will receive a just, honest and wise solution. Because that
is what Muslims can be relied upon for.
task would be complete.
"There is no
compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct
from error. And he who rejecteth false deities and believeth in
Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah
is hearer, Knower." Quran 2:256
The Prophet Muhammad,
Peace be upon him, said, "The dearest of you to me and the
closest of you to me on the Day of Judgement will be those who are
And the most offensive
to me and the farthest from me on the Day of Judgement will be the
most boring and the most rhetorical."