Islamic Studies

Glimpses from the Guiding Principles of Dawah

“For Allah to guide someone to Islam by you is better than red camels.”

This principle is an authentic hadith of the Prophet PBUH. Some lessons are:

First: The importance of eloquence. To make the meaning closer to the hearts and minds of his companions the Prophet PBUH mentioned red camels as his reference point. This is similar to one of us now talking to the youth and telling them that for Allah to guide someone to Islam by them is better than a new Benz. It makes the meaning closer and also shows us that the companions were human beings and liked nice things, but they used to be in a constant state of purifying themselves internally and battling their worldly desires.

Second: The precision of the statement of the Prophet PBUH. A great lesson from the Quran and the Sunnah is the importance of being precise and calculated in our speech. We should not just start speaking and then see what comes out; we should be careful about how we speak and the words that we choose. This will be more clear after reading the next lesson.

Third: Allah guides and we do not guide. The Prophet PBUH said, “For Allah to guide someone by you.” He did not say, “for you to guide someone to Islam.” Allah guides and we are nothing more than tools for delivering the message. Anyone who has worked in Islamic work knows the importance of this principle. We have all seen or experienced someone who is trying to teach someone else about Islam and is not succeeding. Sometimes people get worn out, they start to say things like “I’ve been telling them about Islam for two months and they haven’t accepted Islam yet.” At this moment comes this principle and all the examples of its implementation from the life of the Prophet PBUH. The father of Ibrahim did not accept Islam. The wife of Lut did not accept Islam. The son of Nuh did not accept Islam. The uncle of the Prophet PBUH did not accept Islam. Allah says, “You do not guide who love, but Allah guides who He wants.”

Fourth: The importance of having our perspective focused on the Hereafter. In the statement of the Prophet PBUH he used one of the best things of the Dunya to clarified the superiority of the Dawah. This method trains the mentality of the Muslim to always be focused on the Hereafter, to always focus on the Creator. As soon as we deal with the creation without the constant remembrance of the Creator we have lost our way. Allah says, “and the Hereafter is better and longer lasting.”

Fifth: People always take precedence over material things. Living in a world that always has its focus on material things we can forget this incredibly important fact. People always take precedence. We can build as many buildings and start as many organizations as we want, but if we do not put our attention on people there will be nobody to fill these structures. By giving the effort of guiding others to the truth precedence over red camels the Prophet PBUH gave precedence to people over everything else. This is also crystal clear for anyone who has spent time studying the life of the Prophet PBUH.

These are just a few lessons that we can take from this great principle of Dawah. I’m sure that those who are busy in dawah, dealing with people, and working towards the positive development of their communities can derive many other lessons from this principle and can feel its importance. Perhaps some of the comments will reflect this.

Based on the book “Qawaaid ad-Dawah ila Allah” (The Principles and Guidelines of Dawah to Allah) by Hamaam Abdur Raheem Saeed.

Sh. Jamal Diwan al-Azhari is a student in Al-Azhar’s college of Islamic law.  He currently resides in Egypt with his family sponsered by the Islamic American University a branch of the Muslim American Society.

About the author

Jamaal Diwan

Jamaal Diwan was born and raised in Southern California and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Third World Studies and a minor in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego . He accepted Islam in 2003 and has been married to his wife, Muslema Purmul, since 2004. He has served with the Muslim Student Association (MSA), MSA West, and Muslim American Society (MAS) at varying capacities. He remains an active MAS member and is a scholarship student with the Islamic American University. Jamaal is a graduate of the Faculty of Shariah at al-Azhar University in Cairo and has done some graduate work in Islamic Studies from the Western academic perspective. He recently finished serving as the Resident Scholar at the Islamic Center of Irvine (ICOI).

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  • MashAllah Ustad Jamal. I like this. I hope that the metropolitan Islamic centers that are progressive will include everyone in their centers and allow them to feel apart of the community and put people over agenda first.

  • Asalamu 'alaykum,

    Sh. Jamal:

    I would like to extend my gratitude to you for this noble article. What advice would you share with us on how to move these principle beyond a conceptual framework? In other words, what type of instruments could be used to; create this way of thinking, apply it in our dawa then evaluate our efforts latter?

    Br. Mamun

  • Jezak Allahu khayran.

    SubhanAllah how true: “As soon as we deal with the creation without the constant remembrance of the Creator we have lost our way. Allah says, “and the Hereafter is better and longer lasting.”

    I remember once in the MSA the president was dropping me off at the masjid and she was like, I need to pray 'asr, but if I pray, I'm not going to make it back to my group on time, and unfortunately, she chose her group over salah.

    It was a wake up call subhanAllah- top MSA activists, yet salah is not on the top of the list? It's hard to claim we are working to call others to Allah, and we ourselves are not answering His call. may Allah protect us from hypocrisy and help us be foremost in obeying Him and reforming our own selves

  • Assalamu Alaikum,

    I think one of the amazing things about the discussion of this hadith, is how short the hadith itself is, and yet how one can have different levels of depth in understanding it, and how to benefit from it. Something I thought about when reading the hadith, is how Allah (swt) is Al-Hadi and Ar-Razzaaq. He is the source of all khair that occurs in the life of a person, and guidance is the greatest blessing that He gives. When we thank Allah (swt) for the many blessings He has given us, it is often easier to remember the many physical things, events, and opportunities around us. The discussion of this hadith reminded me, that of all things, we have to thank Allah (swt) for giving us Islam, for revealing to us the Quran, for allowing us to be part of the Ummah of Rasool Allah (saw), when He (swt) completed the deen for us, and all the other elements of guidance in our lives. May Allah (swt) guide us and guide others through us, and make us a tool for others' guidance. Ameen.

    Jzk for the post!

  • Asalam alaykum
    To the person above who wrote about the MSA president delaying Asr in order to attend the group…we aren’t scholars so we can’t give the ruling in that specific situation…like if you have to pray but your flight is about to depart then obviously it’s permissible to pray later…so where do you draw the line concerning the dispensation? If one has to work in his job is unable to take breaks I think he or she is allowed to pray later, I’m not 100% sure…Allah knows best may He increase us in knowledge and forgive our sins and accept our deeds, amin. Wa alaykum alsalam

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