Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided. – Surah An-Nahl 16:125
Inviting people to Islam, to the way of God is a commandment of Allah. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in his farewell sermon also exhorted his nation saying ‘Relate from me, even if only one verse!’
We Muslim-Americans live in the midst of people whose belief system spans from no God to one God to a Trinity to many Gods with many variations in between. They are our neighbors, co-workers, doctors, grocery shop clerks, teachers or our customers. Our daily interaction with these friendly people gives us all a great opportunity to present the simple and clear message of Islam. This opportunity will reveal itself only to those whose eyes are on the prize. By Inviting people to Allah we are in fact doing the job of the prophets and certainly the reward for such a work that has no material benefits is enormous.
Sahl ibn Sa’d reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “By Allah, were Allah to guide a single man through you would be better for you than a herd of red camels.” Sunan Abu Dawud 3661
Often times the task of performing acts of dawah can seem too much for an individual, but remember what Imam Ahmed Qassim taught us in last month’s issue when he said “Begin with friendship.” Often, merely giving positive action on a consistent basis is enough to break down barriers and get people interested in Islam. When people ask questions, it is important to know how to talk with consistency and intelligence and/or to immediately guide them to information sources that can address questions properly.
When someone is attempting dawah on their own, it is important to remember a few key points to stay focused on. First, keeping focused on the one-ness of Allah (tauheed) and that Allah is the title for the one supreme God which is related to the Hebrew word “El” and the Aramaic “Eloi” which are part of the message that has emanated from the time of Adam (AS) until the time of Isa/Jesus (AS). Secondly, focusing on the identity of Muhammad as the final messenger while recognizing the highly respected status of other messengers that came before; this way da’wah means (for most people) adding information to what they already know rather than challenging them to leave everything behind. Third, that Islam is meant for all people until the end of time; this is important because many (even Muslims) have the erroneous idea that Islam is only for certain groups of people or that it is culturally bound. Fourth, emphasize that Jesus was a prophet of Allah when speaking to Christians (or former Christians or people who respect/love Christ) and that Moses was a prophet of Allah when speaking to Jews; once again, this connection ensures that we are adding to what they already have rather than taking something away. Lastly, mention the accountability for actions; many people leave other religions because there is no sense of justice, yet in Islam we have a sense of justice and mercy in conjunction. When you maintain focus on these points and use these as central themes to conversations that you have with people, then it is easier to talk about Islam without talking down to people and without getting off subject.
One thing that is important to keep in mind is that nothing we do as individuals can cause a person to convert unless our efforts are blessed by Allah (SWT). It is only by His divine permission that people may be freed to embrace Al-Islam. Do not lose heart, do not get frustrated and do not press too hard. Provide information and ask Allah for guidance. Not everyone is cut out to perform dawah personally to all people; perhaps it is only your job to provide information and a kind interaction to lessen their bigotry toward Islam so that another person may guide them in shahadah much later. Only Allah knows the hearts of others.
Alhamdulillah, most Muslims realize that dawah is important and so they often volunteer their time to dawah groups in the masajids. They do their best with whatever time they can find after their jobs, businesses or other commitments. Unfortunately in most cases such dawah initiatives function with inconsistency; many times literature requests are handled late, inquiries are sometimes never responded and information is not dispensed in a consistent fashion. This way of handling is non-productive at best, and is often counterproductive as Muslims appear to be disorganized or uninterested in sharing the religion.
In fact in order for dawah work to be done with professionalism and consistency, it should be done by those who are specially trained and by using all the latest available technology and mediums. This can only happen if we have people working full time in a specialized office environment. That body should function just like any other business would function with a full 7 day work week where clerks take phone calls, mail out literature, organize seminars and other campaigns set up throughout the country so that the principles of Islam and the solutions it offers for today’s problems can be shared for all of society in a fashion that is both interesting and organized.
Companies market and sell their products and services to people with professional consistency, strength and planning. The basic theme of all these marketing is essentially how their products and services will improve our life in some way. Isn’t Islam much more important than all these products and services they market, isn’t Islam the best improvement of life? Yet the “marketing” of Islam via dawah is given such a low priority for most that it is only reserved for volunteer work. Since Islam the only way of life that Allah has approved; and since Muslims are commanded to share this way of life with all of mankind, shouldn’t we put more energy to organize such an office where Islam is given the priority that it rightfully deserves?
American Islamic Outreach Foundation, an organization local to the Charlotte area, was established with the above stated objective. They have identified several dawah avenues and divided them in to departments with team leads and helpers based on their strengths, expertise and passion. Major programs/venues for dawah include Tarbiya (development and training), Open House, Dawah Tables, Direct Mailing, Website and Social Media. The directors and volunteers meet every other Thursday for general updates on the projects handled by each teams. Individual departments also meet on other days as the need arises. Though AIOF does not have its own facility at this time, the future plan does focus on having AIOF function as a full time organization with paid office staff and a permanent facility.
Since incorporation, Charlotte based AIOF has distributed several thousand translations of the Holy Quran and informational brochures on various aspects of Islam, organized Charlotte Muslim Community Meet and Open House Events for non-Muslims to interact with the Muslim community. Their direct mailing campaign was instrumental in reaching out to promote the message of Islam to thousands of Charlotte area residents. Many more such campaigns are in the planning as they intend to reach out to everyone in the Charlotte area with the message of Islam.