Manners and Da`wah
The conditions mentioned in part one of the Giving Dawah to Non-Muslims series may or may not all be of every Muslim’s character and Da`wah 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 Da`wah successful. And since manners an examples are seen as a reflection of character, beliefs and convictions, Da`wah 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:
- 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.
- Always be on time.
- Avoid giving Da`wah while you are sick or under stress
- Be very careful not to contradict yourself.
- 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 cannot guide whom you like but Allah guides whom he wishes.” (Al-Qasas 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.
Another form of Da`wah, necessary for modern society, is Da`wah center. These are specially prepared places where non-Muslim are welcome in a friendly environment that provides 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, Da`wah centers have proven to be very effective. In addition to being run by able callers, these Da`wah centers should always be kept clean, well maintained, and organized.
Furthermore, Da`wah 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. Da`wah 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.
- Da`wah activities could be financed from Zakah or a Da`wah fund.
If Da`wah centers are not available, a separate room in the mosque, somebody’s house, or a reserved hall could be used for Da`wah on regular basis.
Small Group & Individual Da`wah
Most of the present Da`wah activities are conducted by small groups and individuals. Because personal examples in word and by action are the most powerful for successful Da`wah, Muslims should present themselves as workers for justice, peace, and welfare of all mankind.
Here are some suggestions for good Da`wah approaches:
- Take active part in some of the activities going on in non-Muslim communities.
- Cooperate with organizations 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 reflects 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 Da`wah in public places such as universities, schools, 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 Da`wah. Radio, TV, and the Internet are very efficient means for local and international mass-Da`wah.
Educational and informative radio and TV Islamic Programs, interviews, advertising, news, on-line Fatwaa, professional Internet sites, large scale Islamic database, mail lists, etc,. are effective tools for spreading Islamic awareness, correcting hostile attitude against Islam, and defending Muslim.
To maximize Da`wah 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 & Da`wah
Children are the future leaders of their communities. The most important factor for Da`wah to continue effectively is raising callers from the new generation of Muslims living in the West who are knowledgeable about Islam.
Preparing Children for Da`wah
It is the responsibility of the entire Muslims community, particularly Islamic schools, mosques, callers, and parents to establish 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 Da`wah 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 Da`wah centers should offer Da`wah training.
Children should be asked about their Da`wah 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.
Da`wah & Stereotyping of Islam
Unfortunately, Muslims in the West are stereotyped in a very negative way. They have been associated with terrorism, suicidal attacks, mistreatment of women, etc.
Da`wah 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 Da`wah 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.
Da`wah in History
In Islam; there is no compulsion to convert people to Islam. 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 therefore, their conversion to Islam was natural and easy.
Could Da`wah Fail?
Allah will guide through Da`wah, 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 Da`wah is guaranteed as a fulfillment of Allah’s promises; “…and who is more truthful than Allah.” (An-Nisaa’ 4:87)
Allah promised to make the way for Da`wah easy for Prophet Muhammad (peace be uponhim) and his followers alike, “We shall ease your way unto the state of ease.” (Al-A`la 87:8)
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.” (Al-Hijr 15:9)
Allah promised to make Da`wah 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.” (Fussilat 41:53]
Prophet Muhammad 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.” (Ahmad and At-Tabari)
Due to all of these reasons, the Da`wah could never fail; that is why Prophet Muhammad expected his followers to outnumber the followers of other prophets. He 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.” (Al-Bukhari)
Intentions and, above all, a strong sense of taqwa (God-consciousness). If a Muslim truly lives to please Allah the Almighty, Da`wah is effortless. In order to share Islam with people, we must develop strong relationships within our Ummah to support these efforts with Da`wah 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.
First published in Al-Jumuah Magazine 12. No. 3. Here taken with slight modifications from saif_w.tripod.com.