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Islamic Ideology ( 23 Apr 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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A Guide to Islamic Da’wah


By Moin Qazi, New Age Islam

24 April 2017

You are the best of people raised up, for you call to all that is right and righteous and you forbid the evil, and you believe in Allah.

[Qur'an 3:110]

Da‘wah - propagation of the faith-is an important obligatory duty for every Muslim. Da‘wah (also transliterated Da’wah); Arabic:  invitation") means the proselytizing or preaching Islam. Da‘wah literally means "issuing a summons" or "making an invitation", being a gerund of a verb meaning variously "to summon" or "to invite".A Muslim who practices Da’wah, either as a religious worker or in a volunteer community effort, is called a Da‘i (plural Du‘Ah/Du‘At).

Islam has a simple but highly effective evangelical message that   boils down to five points to mirror Islam’s five cardinal pillars of practice: grasp the true meaning and implications of the creedal statement that there is no deity except Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger; pray conscientiously five times a day; acquire learning and engage in the frequent remembrance of God; honour fellow believers; and participate in missionary work (Da’wah) by spreading awareness of Islam. 

Da’wah is God’s way of bringing believers to faith and the means by which prophets call individuals and communities back to God.   Historically, missionary Da’wah accompanied commercial ventures or followed military conquests. Da’wah was also the function of the caliph, extending authority over Muslims outside Islamic lands and promoting Islamic unity.

In the twentieth century, Da’wah has become the foundation for social, economic, political, and cultural activities as well as domestic and foreign policy strategies. Four major modern trends are: political orientation, interiorisation, institutional organization, and social welfare concerns.   

The “invitation”, or call, to accept Islam should be extended not just to non Muslims, but also to Muslims who do not observe Islam completely. Calling non-Muslims and “inconsistent” Muslims to Islam is considered by Muslim theologians to be an unconditional duty inherent to Islam that the Muslim community as a whole must fulfil.  Every Muslim is a missionary of Islam, 

 Da’wah can occur through writing, speaking, through proper conduct, one’s own attitude, through behaviour, through sympathy and aid. It is also important that one presents himself as a positive example. The best Da’wah is through one’s good conduct. Politeness and respect are seen as the preconditions for Da’wah   . 

The Importance of Da’wah Has Been Emphasized Several Times In The Qur’an:

        ”Who is better in speech than one who calls to Allah, does righteous deeds and says indeed I am among the Muslims.” (Q41:11)

        “Let there arise among you a group inviting to all that is good, enjoining righteousness and forbidding evil. Those are the successful ones.”(Q3: 104)

        "Invite (all) to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious. For your Lord knows best who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance" (Q16:125).

        “You are the best nation raised up for humankind. You enjoin righteousness, forbid corruption and you believe in Allah.”(Q 3 : 110 )

With regard to the Prophet’s gentle and persuasive method of preaching, the Qur’an says:

"And by the mercy of Allah you dealt with them gently. If you were harsh and hard hearted, they would have fled from around you" (Q 3:159).

The Quran says about Moses and Aaron who preached to Pharaoh, the claimant of God,

"So speak to him, both of you, mildly in order that he may reflect or fear God." (Q 20:44).

The Prophet was reported by his wife, Aisha to have said “Whenever gentleness is in a thing it beautifies it and whenever it is withdrawn from something it defaces.”(Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, P 1370, no. 6274)

In the Hadith, Da’wah is ha been emphasized as a highly cherished virtue:

        "Whoever directs someone to do good will gain the same reward as the one who does good."(Sahih Muslim, vol. 3, p. 1050, # 4665)

        "Whoever calls to guidance will receive the same reward as the one who follows him without any decrease in the reward of his follower."[(Sahih Muslim, vol. 4, p. 1406, #6470).

        "For Allah to guide someone by your hand is better for you than having red camels.”( Sahih Al Bukhari, vol. 4, pp. 156–7, #253.) (In ancient Arabia, camels – especially of a reddish hue – were considered particularly valuable property.)

        "Convey from me, even if it be only a single verse’’(Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol. 4, p. 442, #667.)

The most accomplished modern evangelist is Mohammed Ilyas Kandhlaw. When he began his revivalist movement in northwest India in 1927, it was a response to a dominant Hindu culture that Muslims feared could sweep away centuries of Islamic norms and traditions. Mr. Kandhlawi, director of an Islamic school, wanted to take his teachings from the classroom to the common man and woman.

In Urdu, it was dubbed Tablighi Jamaat, or proselytizing group. Its name later evolved to Da’wah and Tabligh in Arabic, meaning calling and proselytizing.

Kandhlawi died in 1944. But the decentralized movement he created has become a global network, propelled by its simple revivalist message and by the dedication of mostly young men drawn by its idealism. 

Every day, thousands of groups of Da’wah followers go on missions, called Kharooj. Like Jehovah’s Witnesses, they approach people door-to-door.  They give a two-minute speech, offer a blessing to the people they visit, and make one request: that they join them for prayer and a brief lecture at the neighbourhood mosque.

In their lessons, drawn from Quranic verses and the recorded sayings of Muhammad, Da’wah supporters lay out two simple aims. First, they encourage fellow Muslims to return to what they believe are the standards and morals of the prophet’s companions. Second, they recruit, asking worshipers to join Da’wah and take part in Kharooj.

Da’wah supporters are urged to proselytize three days per month, 40 consecutive days per year, and in four month-long missions in their lifetime.

        This formula means a constant influx of fresh recruits, akin to the chain marketing approach used by Tupperware and Mary Kay. But there is no physical product to sell, only a set of six principles that Da’wah members must uphold, including a commitment to prayer and study, to honour fellow Muslims, and to sincerity of intention

How to Give Da'wah

Some of the principles distilled from the lives and teachings of well known and successful da’is are :

        Listen attentively. speak politely ,

        Be friendly, respectful, and gentle,

        Be a living example of the truth and peace of Islam,

        Choose your time and place carefully,

        Find common ground; speak a common language with your audience,

        Avoid Arabic terminology with a non-Arabic speaker,

        Have a dialogue, not a monologue,

        Clear up any misconceptions about Islam,

        Be direct; answer questions asked

        Speak with wisdom

        Be honest ; be willing to say, "I don't know"

        Invite people to an understanding of Islam and tawhid, not to membership in a particular mosque  or organization

        Do not confuse religious, cultural, and political issues

        Do not dwell on practical matters (first comes a foundation of faith, then comes day-to-day practice)

        Take leave if the conversation turns disrespectful or ugly

        Provide follow-up and support for anyone who expresses interest in learning more.

Points of Caution For Early Evangelists

The new evangelists must moderate their enthusiasm with practical wisdom. Here are a few tips:

--Beware of beginner’s zeal. New missionaries can be overconfident and too focused on the numbers.  Religion should not be about competition, which is for bankers and financiers, not for the faithful. The idea that there should be a marketplace of religions in which priests, imams, rabbis and pundits jostle with each other to sign up new believers is deeply divisive. .

--Before you start on Qur’anic matters, connect with people as humans. Ask about their families, their lives, their troubles.

-- If you have a personal conversion experience, talk about it. People like transformation narratives. Don’t be pedantic and don’t speak to strangers as if it’s your job to instruct them. Instead, ‘‘share the joy of your belief,’’

An important point a Da’I must emphasize is that the Islamic concept of spirituality differs from that of other religions. In contrast to the renunciation of the world and physical self denial, the Islamic concept of spirituality lays stress on being in the midst of life, facing all the difficulties and hardships, and performing all the activities with the sole objective of seeking the pleasure of God. Man is God’s vicegerent and must fulfill the specified duties and obligations

 Far from proselytising and inducing others to change their religion or way of life against their free will, Islam does permit use of  coercive, aggressive or violent efforts even while exhorting people to the common good of whole mankind. To set an example, da’wah followers attempt to emulate the social practices of Muhammad in all aspects of life, ranging from which foot should exit the mosque first to which direction to face when sleeping at night. They eat from communal platters on the ground and brush their teeth with twigs known for their antibacterial properties, as did the prophet’s companions.

 In fact, the Qur’an has made it explicitly and repeatedly clear that the method of both Islamic call (Da’wah)  and preaching (Balagh) should be fair, balanced, moderate, peaceful and non-violent.   As a matter of fact, Islamic call or preaching, wherever mentioned in the Quran, has been termed as Da’wah or Balagh. While the Qur'anic term " Balagh " means "to convey the message”, and ” not to convert” as outlined in the Surah Yasin, verse 17  d Da’wah    implies fair invitation, which is a far gentler discourse with the requisites of wisdom (Hikmat) :

        “And speak to him mildly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear (Allah)” (Q20: 44).

        “You cannot guide whoever you please: it is God who guides whom He will” (Q28:56)

        “It is not up to you to guide them, but Allah guides whom He wills.” (Q2:72)

The above verses makes it clear that God already knows who is blessed or destined for paradise and who is doomed for hell. This has already been written with Him: so Islamic preachers have to call people to God, but with no insistence, force or coercion, for it is not their task to guide them. All they have to do is try to convey the Message, not to convert, and it is God Who will bring them on the right path.

Islam’s propagation thus remains a cardinal duty of every Muslim .This is particularly relevant in modern times where negative stereotyping of Muslims has brought a bad name to the faith. It is all the more important that the educated among Muslims participate actively because the knowledge explosion requires intellectually equipped brigade of Muslims to navigate the ecospace more effectively.


Moin Qazi is the author of the bestselling book, Village Diary of a Heretic Banker. He has worked in the development finance sector for almost four decades.