Dawah Lessons From a Master


From our interview with Sheikh Kemal El Makki


Sheikh Kemal El Makki is one of Al Maghrib Institute’s best loved instructors and Imams. Originally from Khartoum in Sudan, he is well known across the United States as he brings lessons laced with a light-hearted presentation that people love.  He is well known expert in dawah, and shares his thoughts with us on certain issues.

The hardest part of Giving Dawah

Speaking to people is not difficult, whether I am speaking with a Christian, and Atheist, or anyone else it is essentially the same. I don’t find that one group of people is more difficult than another. This is because I am not making anything up, everything I say comes from Allah (SWT) and from His divine revelation. The Qur’an can crumble solid mountains, so I know that it can affect someone’s heart.

The biggest challenge that we have faced in our years of doing dawah and interfaith was creating the organized structure and setup where there is follow-up and materials to give to everyone.  For instance, if I get 100 new Shahadah, and five of them are kicked out of their homes for embracing Islam, I need to be sure that I’ve got a place for them and a support network set up to help them. That sort of network is crucial for successful dawah.

There’s a lecture that I did once called “A Thousand Years ago in Mauritania” that you can look up on-line. This was about Abdullah ibn Yasin and Yusuf Tashfin who propagated Islam so effectively that within a few years, there were thousands of shahada who were educated and well rooted in Islam. The difference between then and now is that they had a support network which helped them.

Imagine the scenarios that we have today where you have a new shahada and then you take him to the masjid but then he makes a mistake in salaat and some uncle hits him over the head for it. That new brother is going to leave the masjid. So everyone in the community, everyone in the ummah has to be involved with the structure of dawah. If we had that in place, the world would look very different today.

Approaching the LGBT issues in Dawah

There is this huge misconception that Islam is violent against homosexuals or that an Islamic State would be. None of us have lived in an Islamic state. The last time there was an Islamic State was over a century ago, so nobody alive today knows what it is like to live in a truly Islamic state.  In an Islamic State there is a court system with judges and a code of law.

If we had an Islamic state with Khalifah and the Islamic system of governance and you found a gay couple; even then you couldn’t do anything to them. You have no authority. This is what people don’t understand. They believe that we only have to respect each other because this is America but in a Muslim country we could beat them up. That is because they don’t understand the Islamic state.  There is no hurting people in an Islamic state. If you attacked them in the street then they would take you to court and YOU would get punished.

Of course we do not approve of things like gay men getting married but we cannot go and attack people! There is this idea that when someone is doing a haraam act that they have no more sanctity and you can attack them. This is not supported by any evidence whatsoever in sharia.

Choosing the right dawah material

In our old days, we would have pamphlets on different topics. I would have a different sort of pamphlet stuck between each finger and then I would give them a specific pamphlet based on where they are and the issue that they seem to be most interested in or most troubled with. Engage in conversation and if the person has no problem with tauheed, but needs to know more about Muhammad (SAWS), then focus on that and give him the information about Muhammad. You cannot stamp out the same sort of Dawah to everyone, you have to customize the dawah based on the individual that is in front of you.

The first step of dawah

Have good manners.  You have to be a good, decent person to be able to greet people properly and make a good first impression. If you start the conversation pleasantly then everything else will be pleasant and the conversation will help you to find out what the person needs to know. If you have prepared yourself with all the knowledge of the world but have poor manners then you are not prepared at all.

Getting other Muslims encouraged to do dawah

Muslims need to read the Hadiths and get the virtues of dawah, understand how powerful that is. The rewards of Dawah are phenomenal, just understanding that is a major piece of the puzzle. Once you understand that, there is no way you would stop giving dawah.

If someone told you that there was a stock that is going to close in one hour, but whatever you can put in it will multiply so that if you put $100 in it then it would be multiplied by ten, then by seven, then by one hundred and continue multiplying.  The catch is that this stock is going to close in one hour.  If we knew of something like that, people would rush to put as much money as they could, they would sell everything they had, even take out loans to jump into this opportunity.  The rewards of Dawah work the same way, they multiply and grow.

The next thing would be going out and trying it with someone who has experience. Watch him, listen, learn dawah from others and you will fall in love with dawah. It increases your imaan when you talk to others about Islam and it brings you closer to Allah (SWT).

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