By Sh. Ahmed Elewa al-bostoni
As Muslims we are on a mission. This mission is to convey Allah’s Message to others (Dawah) and to work to make this world a better place (Islah). Without working to accomplish this mission, our Ummah loses its purpose and becomes a burden rather than a blessing.
The first half of our mission is to convey the message of Allah to others, aka Dawah. Dawah is to present Islam in the best manner possible, to make it accessible for people and to let people know that all are welcome to embrace it. Dawah is different from Proselytizing. While you grade your performance in proselytizing by how many convert to your religion, in Dawah, you’re graded based on how many people understood your message. People’s choice to embrace Islam is not part of your responsibility. So for example, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was successful in his Dawah to Abu Sufyan even before the later became Muslim, you know why? Because when Abu Sufyan stood in front of Hercules and was quizzed on Islam, he got every single question right, even though he didn’t believe in it!
When we meet our Lord, we will not be asked how many people became Muslim, but rather how many people did we help learn about Islam. Our goal, our aim… our mission as an Ummah, is to raise awareness of Islam.
Many Muslims are under the impression that Dawah is like a bonus option you could install to your Muslim Identity… No, it actually should be part of your operating system. Dawah is part and parcel of the Muslim Identity, and it doesn’t matter how much knowledge you have. You convey as much as you know. Anyone reading this article has more knowledge about Islam than Abu Bakr did the first day he became Muslim. I mean if you think about it, on Day One, there was only “Iqraa” revealed and very basic teachings. We all probably know more Quran than the first few verses revealed. Yet despite his preliminary knowledge of Islam, he got right to work relaying that message to others. He understood that that was part of the package. Learn, and then go on and educate others. If Dawah is not part of your operating system, I encourage you to install it today.
One of the beauties of running Dawah is that it’s a major incentive for your Islamic development. If you are going to start presenting Islam, then that means you are now representing Islam. If you are going to represent Islam you want to make sure that you are a good representation. That means you’re going to feel the importance of quitting those habits you know are not best practice and start living up to your role. Don’t feel overwhelmed or burdened, but rather rejoice and thank Allah for embedding in your Faith an incentive to update and improve yourself.
Presenting Islam means you’re going to be asked questions. Don’t answer if you don’t know the answer, but at the same time, learn what you need to know and continuously work on increasing your knowledge. Dawah motivates us to improve our character and increase our knowledge.
Another major reason why we should all be engaged in Dawah is because by presenting our Faith we gain friends and allies… and boy do we need them these days. As mentioned earlier, the objective we should focus on is to raise awareness, not to convert. Don’t get me wrong, not that we wouldn’t love for people to embrace Islam, but that’s something in Allah’s Hands, not ours. We preoccupy ourselves with conveying Allah’s message; Allah decides who becomes a Muslim.
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to conduct several mosque visits for students of various ages studying World Religions. They usually end up submitting reflections to their professors who sometimes forward them to me. Check out what one student wrote:
“Personally I could not do this [pray 5 times a day], I am not religious and to me this seems like it would be burdensome. It takes serious devotion to become a practicing Muslim. You need to be disciplined and have complete dedication to your faith and your God. I don’t think that Islam is for me, but I have the utmost respect for Muslims now that I have learned about the religion from practicing Muslims. I think that this mosque visit had the most impact on me because we, as Americans, are surrounded by sensationalized news stories about Islamic fundamentalists and religious violence in the Middle East and we don’t understand the religion that is being talked about. Going to the mosque helped me to understand Islam and the world that we live in that much more.”
See, although this student did not feel that Islam was right for him, due to the impression that it was difficult, you could still consider his visit a successful Dawah encounter. Why? Because it changed his perspective and he now respects Islam and Muslims. Pray with me that additional Dawah encounters would help clarify to him the beauty and importance of Islam. Ameen. But for a first encounter, this is a really positive result! Don’t you think so?
The type of Dawah we’re talking about is not about just walking up to people and giving them a spiel on the five pillars and six articles of faith and saying “O Allah, bear witness zat I coonveyed za message!”. Rather the Dawah that really strikes home is one that is built upon real and genuine personal relationships. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was respected and trusted amongst his people even before he became a Prophet. We need to invest in our reputation and relationships to be efficient in our Dawah. Who is going to listen to you about such a profound issue such as Faith if they don’t trust you and respect you? (Unless they are dead bored and have nothing else to talk about) So the next time you see your neighbor, classmate, or colleague, ask yourself how strong is your relationship with them? If you have a strong relationship then before you know it they will be the one’s asking about Islam. Practice your Faith and build relationships for the purpose of establishing strong personal connections with people… the questions about Islam will come on their own without you pushing it.
There’s much more to say about Dawah… so this is to be continued inshaa Allah. We also haven’t gotten into the second half of our mission; making this world a better place.
In the meantime, share with us some of our Dawah encounters 🙂
Fe aman Ellah,
Sh. Ahmed Elewa alBostoni