Living Islam Today
A Magazine for Muslim Americans
Vol. 1 Issue 1                Spring 1420/ 2000

Da'wah

A serialized edition of the popular book: How To Tell Others About Islam

IFNA

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate Source of All Mercy

Chapter 1

Why should we learn to give Da'wah?

by Yahiya Emerick

"There is no god but Allah, And Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah." 

     This simple statement is the most powerful declaration ever devised. For beyond the words themselves lies a powerful concept and a compelling ideology. Whole societies, cultures and empires have been elevated with its application or ruined by its rejection. 
     And yet, away from grandiose movements and campaigns, the lone spiritual wanderer can attain to the highest levels of wisdom and insight, in the contemplation of its mysteries. This declaration of faith, the Shahada, captures the essence of what Islam is all about: peaceful surrender to the will of the Divine.      
     Islam, however, is not a new religion that began in the seventh century with a great Prophet. Islam is, rather, the latest installment of a Message brought by all the previous Prophets. 
     If, over the course of time, a people came to forget, ignore or change the teachings bequeathed by their Messenger, Allah, in His Mercy, would renew His Message by sending fresh guidance. In this way, every age had access to Divine precepts. This process of revelation and correction went on unabated through human history.
          
        Allah says, "Certainly, We have raised among every nation a Messenger who declared, `Serve Allah and shun false objects of worship.' Thus were some guided by Allah, while ruin was justified on others. Travel over the earth and see what befell those who rejected their Messengers." (Qur'an 16:36) 
          
     The scripture revealed to Muhammad, may he be blessed, the Holy Qur'an, contains directions for every important aspect of life. It also includes instruction in wisdom, ethics, philosophy, economics, politics as well as science. 
     Furthermore, the recorded deeds and sayings of the Blessed Prophet provide us with additional, detailed information about the specifics of living life properly and peacefully. The requirements of our faith, however, are wider than our merely practicing it ourselves. 
     Thus, we see that promoting good in society and forbidding wrong are also requirements of the faith. Allah makes it clear in other verses that only by following His Laws can true justice and order be established. We must therefore give the call to those around us that they might desire to lead lives of goodness and faith. With this understanding in mind, how do we go about our task? 
     The purpose of this ongoing column is to equip the eager Muslim with the necessary information for calling others to Islam (an activity henceforth to be called Da'wah,) in North America.
          
          Allah says in this regard: "There should be a number of you who actively call people to righteousness; who encourage goodness and forbid evil. These are the ones who shall prosper." (Qur'an 3:104)
          
       No Muslim is required to leave his or her job and family and shout on street corners. All of us are capable of making our own small contributions in the cause of Islam. A small percentage of the work of one hundred is more effective than one hundred percent from one. So do not feel that Islamic da'wah is a daunting task best left to the "professionals." There are no priests in Islam, only a society of men and women united by the bonds of a potent ideology. An important saying of the Prophet is that, if there are at least three Muslims in an area away from the Muslim community, then they must make one of them their leader. 
          

          Allah, the Exalted, gives us direction by saying:   "Call people to the path of your Lord with wisdom and inspiring speech. Reason with them in a superior and respectful manner. Certainly, your Lord knows best who strays from His path and who is guided." (Qur'an 16:125)

          

The Preliminaries: The Importance of Da'wah 

          
     The community that fails to promote its values ceases to exist. That much is universally recognized, and Muslims are no different. But we are not interested in da'wah just because we have a sentimental attachment to Muslim culture. Our main concern is obedience to the commands of Allah and to follow the example of His Messenger. What is the evidence that da'wah is really essential to our faith? We find that Allah has said: "This is a reminder for all humanity, for those who desire the straight road." (Qur'an 81:27-28) Our lives are filled with choices, and it is even a choice for us to deny our Creator. Indeed, many people have sought to forget, so to speak, their dependence on Allah. But it is the plan of Allah that His creatures should have ample opportunity to remember themselves and their true nature.. That is what da'wah is about. 
          
          Allah also said: "And We have made you a moderate community that you may be a witness to humanity even as the Messenger is a witness to you..." (Qur'an 2:143) 
          
     Every Muslim, man or woman, is bound by the injunctions of Islam and must, therefore, make da'wah an important part of their lives. If you say you are committed to your job or your family you will do things unquestioningly and without hesitation. Why? Because you have a vested interest in the enterprise. Is serving the Preserver of the Universe any less important? For many people it seems like a task of gargantuan proportions, but it really is not. It is rather a duty of responsibility, not of hardship. Be happy about sharing your faith with others. 
          
          The Blessed Prophet told us about da'wah: "Convey this Message, even if only one sentence (ayah)." "Learn the required precepts of Islam and the Qur'an, then teach them to others, for I will not live forever." (Bukhari)
          
     It's important to you and you know it will benefit the spiritual void plaguing this land. In the issues to come we will proceed to take a look at our fitness to do da'wah. Are we properly qualified, and what are those qualifications?  See you next issue for the answers.
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