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   Conferences / The Thirteenth General Conference : Renewal in Islamic Thought
 
RENEWAL IN PRESENTING ISLAM TO THE WEST

RENEWAL IN PRESENTING ISLAM
TO THE WEST
By
Imam Dr. Abduljalil Sajid JP*
Director, The Brighton Islamic Mission (UK)
I feel honoured to be invited by the Office of the Grand Sheikh of
Al-Azhar to present my paper on Renewal of Da'wah to the West.
When Sheikh Muhammad El-Sharqawi asked me I, without hesitation,
accepted the invitation because Al-Azhar has a special place in the
heart of Muslims throughout the Muslim world and I could not
hesitate to think about the invitation to visit the prestigious place.
Let me begin with some verses of the Holy Qur'an about the
conditions of Renewal of the Muslim Ummah:
Allah's Tradition/ Condition Towards Change
.Lo! Allah changes not the condition of folk until they (first)
change what is in their hearts (themseleves) (Al Raa'd :11)
) (11) (
Fulfill your (part of the) convenant; and I shall fulfil my
(part of the) Convenant, and fear Me" (Al-Baqara :40)
) (40) (
* A paper presented at the 13th General Conference on "Renewal in
Islamic Thought" organised by the Grand sheikh of AI-Azhar and The
Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Cairo (Egypt) on 1st May-3rd
June, 2001.
.Faint not nor grief, for ye will overcome them (Al-Batil
forces) if you are (indeed) Muminen (believers)". (Al-lmran :139)
) (139) (
Those who believe and have not obscured their faith (Iman) by
wrong doings, it is they who shall be secured (be in peace) and it is
they who are guided to right path". (Al-An'am :82)
) (82) )
..Lo! All the earth is Allah's. He gives it as a heritage to such as
He will of his servants; and the future belongs (only) to Allah-
conscious (people)." (Al-A'raf :128)
( (128)
"Allah has promised those of you who have attained to faith and do
righteous deeds that, of a certainty, He will cause them to accede to
power on earth, even as He caused (some of) those who lived before
them to accede to it; and that, of a certainty, He will firmly establish
for them the Den which He has been pleased to bestow on them; and
that, of a certainty, He will cause their erstwhile state of fear to be
replaced by a sense of security (peace)- (seeing that) they worship Me
(alone), not ascribing divine powers to ought besides Me. But all who
(having understood this) chose to deny the truth- it is they, who are
really iniquitous!". (Al-Nur :55)
(

(55) )
The Only Way of Renewal: There is no short cut in Islam. The
reviving of the present condition of Ummah requires that Muslims of
the world as a whole should reconstruct, rearrange, or reset
themselves as ordained in the Qur'an and the Sunnah. They have to
resort to a method and the process through which revival of Ummah
can be achieved. This essential at the time when the sufferings of the
Muslims throughout the world are multiplying by leaps and bounds.
Muslims stand nowhere in the decision-making process in the
community of nations. Muslims are the followers of the last Prophet
of Allah who is the best leader, the most perfect model, but the most
practical guide for every human being. The model is before us, intact
and well documented, to follow. But the Ummah left it and hence lost
its unity, cohesive power, and effective role in the affairs of this
world.
Now if the Ummah is to revive its position, it has to go back to the
beginning and adopt the method and process, which built it
originally. The same ingredients are now required to give it a new
lease of life, working on the pattern prescribed and practiced by
Prophet Muhammad. The under noted adage of Abu Bakr Siddiq, as
reported by Imam Malik, pin-points towards the same re-treat:
(Reported by lmam Malik).
"The later part of this Ummah will not be revived or reformed except
by resorting to what molded its shape in beginning."
This required two things: First Guidance, which is now available in
The Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, and secondly
a well disciplined team of dedicated, devoted, and committed workers
referred to in the holy Qur'an as Ibadun-Salihun (The pious people).
The Prophet through Da'wah built up this team. With the help of the
Guidance and the team of the trusted and the disciplined workers,
which Rasuluallah collected through strenuous Da'wah efforts, he
built up the group of the righteous people to whom Allah promised to
inherit the world. The Holy Qur'an says: "And verily we have
written in the Scripture, after the Reminder My righteous servants
(Ibadun-Salihun) will inherit the earth." (Al-'Anbiya': 105)
( (105))
Rasulullah built the team of righteous people who brought the
Da'wah both intensively and extensively in the society, adding to the
numerical strength of the movement gradually in ones and twos. In
the midst of severe opposition, the righteous people were getting
strength day by day. The Da'wah, the struggle between Islam and the
system of ignorance (Jahiliah) went on along with ever-increasing
tempo in the persecution of the believers for about thirteen years in
Makkah. Through this process, Haq (Truth) became very distinct
from Batil (falsehood).
The Prophet of Islam and his companions had to migrate to Madinah
where a group of Muslim Ummah was already in the making through
the magnificent Da'wah efforts of Mosab Bin Umair. Reaching
Madinah, Rasulullah consolidated his position by neutralising the
Jews by getting them to join the Covenant of Madinah as its
signatory and strengthening the relations of Ansar and Muhajireen
through Muwakhat (Brotherhood). Simultaneously, Allah exhorted
the Muslims to migrate to Madinah from wherever they were
through forceful revelation in Ayahs 72 to 74 of Surah Al-Anfal and
Ayahs 97 to 100 of Surah Al-Nisa. This consolidation process helped
in building that Jama'ah of Al-Ibad Al-Salihin, which was and is an
essential instrument to get the Deen of Allah established on this earth
as ordained in verse 105 of Surah Al-Anbiya'.
The migration and the consolidation of the Islamic community at
Madinah was a turning point in the history of the Islamic Movement.
It expedited the emergence of the Islamic society as envisaged by
Allah and His Prophet. Rasulullah and his companions struggled and
fought against the onslaughts of disbelief (Kufr) over Madinah with a
great amount of sacrifice of life and resources. Allah, in His turn
paved the way till Makkah was conquered in the eighth year of Hijra.
Within the next two years, the Deen of Allah was totally established
in the Arabian Peninsula. The struggle which Rasulullah made in this
respect, the process through which the Islamic Community passed,
and the amount of sacrifice of time and resources which he and his
beloved companions rendered in accomplishing the mission of
Rasulullah are available to us in the minutest details. That is the only
model for us now to follow till eternity. (Al-Mumtahanah:6)
) (6)(
There was indeed in them an excellent example for you to follow-for
those whose hope is in Allah and in the Last Day. But if any turn away,
Truly Allah is Free of all Wants. Worthy of all Praise."
"Nor can Goodness or Evil be equal Repel (EviI) with what is better:
Then will be between whom and you was hatred become as it were
your friend and intimate.' (Fussilat: 34)
) (34)(
The Muslims of today, in order to get the condition of Ummah
revived, have no alternative but to undertake the task which was
propounded, undertaken, and demonstrated by the Prophet of Islam
and his companions in building Ummatun Wasatun" and "Khaira
Ummatin" (the model community and the best of the nations). The
required team of dedicated and devoted workers (Da'is) is to be built
up in every Muslim society from among the Muslim brothers and
sisters who are determined to come forward to accomplish the task of
revival. The Islamic movement will make serious efforts to build the
character of individual Muslims and Muslimahs, multiply the number
of Da'is through the process laid down earlier, transform itself into the
desired group of Ibadun-Salihun as ordained by Allah.
The Definition of the Term:
The term "Da'wah" is used in many contexts. It more specifically
covers the following range of meanings. The word da'wah (plural
da'wah) is a noun derived from the verb da'a. Its infinitive noun or
verbal noun (masdar) is du'a and da'wah, literally meaning, desire for
God (narghbah ila Allah). The Qur'an says: "And if My servants ask
you, O Prophet, concerning Me tell them that I am quite near to them.
I hear and answer the prayer of the suppliant, when he calls Me (idhza
du'ani). (Al-Baqara: 186)
)
(186)(
It can mean an appeal for aid or call for help (istighathah). The Qur'an
(Hd: 13) says: "And you may call (wad'u) to your assistance
whomsoever (of your deities) you can except Allah, if you be right". It
can also mean an appeal to God or prayer. The Qur'an (Al-'Ankabt:
65) says: "And when a wave (in the sea) covers them like the
mountains, they appeal to Allah making their faith pure for Him
alone". Lastly the word can also be applied to mean an invitation to a
meal (walimah). (Bukhari and Muslim).
The Muslim authors use the word Da'wah to mean "calling or
invitation to Islam only". As an example, Abd al-Karim Zaydan, the
author of the book Usul al-Da`wah gives the meaning of da'wah as
follows:
"By da'wah we mean the "call" to Allah, as Allah the Exalted says:
"Say: This is my way, I call on Allah with sure knowledge, I and
whosoever follow Me", so what is meant by "call to Allah" is the call
to His religion, and that is Islam: "Indeed religion with Allah is
Islam", which Muhammad brought from his Lord, praised and
exalted is He. And Islam is the object of the da'wah and its reality, and
that is in fact the first basic of da'wah". (Abdul Karim Zaydan, Usul al-
Da'wah: Alexandria (Dar Umar ibn al-Khattab, 1976, page 5).
Wa can say that the word "da'wah" in the Arabic language gives a
wide meaning, but all these are derived from the primary meaning of
call or invitation. However, in Islamic terminology, "da'wah" is an
invitation extended to humanity by the prophets. From the Islamic
point of view the religion of all the prophets is Islam, and each prophet
has his own da'wah. Muhammad's da'wah was the last and he was the
last dai' among the prophets; it is commonly known as the da'wah (al-
Dawah al-Islamiyyah).
By a natural extension of the application of the word da'wah among
contemporary Muslims, is denoted also the content of this appeal, the
religion of Islam (din al-Islam), the message of Islam (risalat al-Islam),
and the Islamic law (shari`ah). So the words Da'wah, Din al-Islam,
Risalah and shari`ah are often used interchangeably.
Besides the word "da'wah", which was applied to the call to Islam,
there are a lot of terms in the Qur'an and the Sunnah used with the
same meaning as the term da'wah or at least in relation to Da'wah..
Some of these words are as follows:
) (104))
Enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong (al-amr bi al-ma`ruf
wa al-nahy `an al-munkar). (104 & 24)
Warning from the bad news and announcement of the good news
(al-indhar wa al-Tabshir). (14 & 2)
( (214))
Witness before mankind (al-Shahada `ala al-nas) (2:143 & 22:78)
( (
Reformation (al-Islah) (114 & 220)
( (
Good counsel (al-nush) (34 & 79)
( (79)(
Reminder (al-tadhkir) (55 & 21)
) (55)(
Conveyance (al-Tabligh) (2 &67)
) (
Presentation of the Religions (izhar Al-din) (33 & 28)
) (
Establishment of the Religion (iqamat Al-din) (13 & 30)
) (
Exaltation of the Word of God (i`Ia' kalimat Allah) (40)
) )
Exhortation one another with truth (altawasi bi Al-haq) (3)
( (3))
Cooperation in the godliness (al-Ta`awun `ala al-birr) (2)
( )
What is the Nature of Islamic Da'wah?
Islamic da'wah means as denoted before "an invitation extended to
humanity by Prophet Muhammad to believe in Islam". From the
definition of Islamic da'wah we can understand that the word
"invitation" in including admission, invitation, request, and call to
come to Islam as faith and as a way of life, as al-din. This is an
invitation to all human beings and the invitation becomes more
pressing for those who respond to this call, for they have to engage
themselves in an unceasing struggle to transform their own lives,
individual and social, in accordance with this code of guidance
(shari`ah). It is addressed to the "self as well as to the society, to the
black as well as to the white, to the Muslim as well as to the non-
Muslim. It cannot be restricted to any race, colour, community, or
religion.
Da'wah is the most obvious Sunnah of the Prophet. The Qur'an
says: "O messenger! Deliver that which has been sent down to you
from your Lord. If you do not, you will not have delivered His
message. God will protect you from men. "(5: 67)
(
(67))
It should be mentioned here that the invitation is not only to a new
faith (iman), a new outlook in life, but also to a new order, the Islamic
way of life. The Prophet Muhammad represents the last expression of
Islam. Before him all prophets of God fulfilled this function of
invitation (da'wah). The Qur'an contains the word of God as it was
revealed to the Prophet and his Sunnah provides the living model,
which Muslims try to follow.
Da'wah, that is the call unto Allah, is incumbent on each and every
Muslim, male and female. This is the responsibility assigned by Allah
(SWT). Every Muslim and Muslimah is to carry it out, irrespective of
whether he/she is free or in prison, at home or abroad, in a friendly
environment or on foreign lands. This is a lifelong assignment. The
injunctions of the Qur'an are very clear in this respect.
"And who is better in speech than one who calls (the People unto his
Lord and does good deeds and (declares) Lo! I am of those who
surrender (Muslim) unto Him." (Fussilat:33)
) (33)(
"Call unto Allah" means surrender to Allah Who is the Creator,
the lawgiver and the Sustainer. It means to accept His authority in its
totality in every walk of life. It advocates that sovereignty belongs to
Allah alone and denies all authorities besides Him. Allah alone has the
right to ask loyalty and obedience from a Muslim. Only Allah-given
laws are to be accepted, practised and implemented in an individual's
life and established in the society where the Muslims live.
This was the mission and Da'wah of the Prophet of Islam from the
beginning to the end of his life. The entire struggle of his life was just
to root out the forces of Batil/Shirk from the Arabian Peninsula and
then establish Allah's Deen in its place in totality. This was to serve as
a prelude to make Al-Deen-Al-Islami dominant in the rest of the world.
The messenger of Allah, Muhammad (peace be upon him) has also
stressed the significance of Da`wah as is evident from the following
Ahadith:
1 - Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah said,
Whosoever among you witnesses an evil, he should remove it with his
hand (force). If he is not able to (remove it by force), then he should
remove it by his tongue (speak out against it). If he is not able to
(speak out against it) at least he should resent it in his heart and that is
the weakest level of Iman. (Muslim)
2- `Abdullah Ibn `Umar reported that the Messenger said' "you
should pass on to other even if you know just one sentence (of Islamic
knowledge)." (Bukhari)
3- Hudhaifah reported that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said, By Him in
Whose hands is my life, you must enjoin good and forbid evil;
otherwise it is near that Allah will send chastisement upon you from
Himself. You will then call Him but you not be responded to.
(Mishkat)
The Prophet's call to his people and to mankind at large was to
invite them to accept Allah's authority without attaching any partner
either to His Person or His attributes, and to feel responsible/
accountable before Him for every action and deed of this life and in
the Hereafter. The Prophet exhorted his followers to enter into Islam
(be obedient to Allah) in its totality and exert every possible effort
towards making Allah's deen dominant with the maximum amount of
sacrifice of life, time, and resources in His way.
What is the Motive of Islamic Da'wah, or: why Da'wah?
Humanity, according to Islam, does not need to know the person of
God, but has need of Divine guidance (hidayah). The Qur'an says,
"Show us the straight way". This hidayah is very important to a
human being as guidance. Prophet Muhammad is the last Prophet and
messenger to mankind, who came to close the cycle of prophecy. The
Islamic position is ensured firstly by preservation of the Divine
guidance in its pure and pristine form in the Qur'an and secondly by
making the Muslim Ummah, every Muslim and all Muslims, the
witness of Truth before mankind in the same way as the Prophet was a
witness of the Truth unto them. The Prophet has also enjoined the
Muslims in a number of places in the Qur'an. The Qur'an says,
"There should always be among you some people who invite to what
is good and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. Now you
are the best community which has been raised up for the guidance of
mankind: you enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and
believe in Allah." (3: 104)
) (104((
According to Islam, da'wah is an obligation and a mandatory duty.
Da'wah should be performed by every Muslim as an individual and
by the whole nation on a collective basis. This was the call to Islam
addressed by all the prophets to the people and they were ordered to
convey the message of Islam to mankind; as Allah says to Prophet
Muhammad, "He had ordained for you that religion which He
commanded unto Noah and that which We inspire in you
(Muhammad) and that which We commanded unto Abraham and
Moses and Jesus, saying: "Establish the religion and be not divided
therein." (42:13)
)
(
Alter the passing of the Prophets of Allah, their successors were
made responsible for the fulfilment of this obligation, as Allah says,
"And verily We sent Noah and Abraham and placed prophethood and
the scripture among their progeny and among them there is one who
goes right, but many of them are evil doers. (26)
In short, the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad is responsible for the
discharge of the duty of da'wah. The Prophet says, He who sees
indecency and has power to change it with the force of his hand, he
must change it. But if he has not the power, he must do it by his
tongue, and if he has not the power, he must dislike it in his heart, and
this is the lowest stage of religious belief. Da'wah is seen as the
personal duty of every individual Muslim as part of his or her
responsibility and obligation in Islam. The evidence is found in a lot of
verses in the scripture, the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Da'wah is the
fulfilment of these commandments to call mankind unto the way of
Allah. Besides, it is the effort by Muslims to enable other men to share
and benefit from the teachings of Islam. Following the examples which
Prophet Muhammad has set in da'wah methodology, one can say that
he presented Islam primarily through preaching among the people,
and by practising the Islamic teachings in his words and deeds to give
people the best example. He taught them by doing himself what he
wanted them to do.
Thus, the Prophet's methods and means in da'wah were methods
and means of planning, communication, discussion, and permission on
the one hand, education and purification and exemplary godliness
(qudwah) in lives of the people on the other. The Prophet has ruled out
coercion by instrument of da`wah. So da`wah is gentle in its methods
and means.
The Principles of Da'wah:
When the Holy Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) first called people to
Islam, he was alone and had no material power at his command. But
the power of his call moved people, won their hearts, and made them
devoted followers of Islam. This was due mainly to the fact that the
Holy Prophet was absolutely sincere in his mission and whatever he
preached was reflected in his action and deeds. By virtue of his
qualities, he was able to make a great impact on his contemporaries.
His companions and followers also had profound influence on the
people around them because they were good images of what a true
believer should be. As a result, millions of people came to the fold of
Islam and devoted their lives to its cause. Their choice of the right way
of calling the people to Islam (Dawah) produced a glorious Ummah,
while our neglect of this very aspect later on shattered the strength of
the Ummah.
The Holy Qur'an makes it incumbent upon Muslims to carry the
message of Islam to all mankind. It is, therefore, of profound
importance to lay down a proper plan for the training of those who
invite others to Islam. Allah sent the Prophets, and their heirs,
especially the Ulema (Scholars), were charged with the same
responsibility.
The following are some of the key principles of Dawah:
(i) Large Heartedness and Forbearance:
For a Da'i (who invites people to Islam) the Qur'an has commanded
that even with the worst enemies they must speak gently. When Moses
and Aaron were asked to take Divine Message to the Pharaoh, they
were commanded:
"Go both of you unto Pharaoh. Lo! he has transgressed (the
bounds). And speak unto him a gentle word, that per-adventure he
may heed or fear." (20:43-44)
( (43) (44))
Again we read in Surat al-Imran:
"It was by the mercy of Allah that you was lenient with them (O
Muhammad), for if you had been stern and fierce of heart they would
have dispersed from you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for
them and consult with them upon the conduct of affairs. And when
thou are resolved, then put your trust in Allah. Lo! Allah loves those
who put their trust (in Him)." (3:159)
)
(159)(
The mission of calling the people to Islam is the most delicate, trying
and exacting task. A lot of patience and perseverance is needed in it. It
may so happen quite often that instead of giving a patient hearing,
someone in the audience or the opponents of Faith begin to indulge in
a harsh and taunting talk and false accusations. But in all
circumstances, a Da'i should remain polite, dignified, and unirritated
Da'i should behave large-heartedly and he should have the patience to
be able to tolerate even the most unpleasant things. Allah has
commanded:
"And if a slander from the devil wound thee, then seek refuge in
Allah." (7: 200)
) (
It is, therefore, highly important that a da'i should have the patience
and perseverance to be able to endure hardships and adversities that
may befall him in his mission of calling people to the faith. In this
sphere, he will get many examples from the life histories of the various
Prophets and Apostles sent by Allah. The Qur'an explains the
necessity of this trait of patience and endurance for the da'i in the
following verse:
"And We appointed, from among them, leaders giving guidance
under Our command when they persevered with patience and
continued to have faith in Our Signs." (24)
) (24)(
Thus hardships should not make the da`i despair and his
determination should not falter in the face of any difficulty. In all
circumstances he should be firm in his call and have good will towards
all people as displayed so conspicuously by Prophet Muhammad
(p.b.u.h.), who used to pray to Allah to guide the disbelievers saying,
"O Lord guide my people for they know not.
(ii)Deliberation and Wisdom:
In the Holy Qur'an the Holy Prophet has been commanded:
"Invite to the Way of the Lord with wisdom and beautiful manner."
(125)
)
(125((
"So keep clear of them, but admonish them, and speak to them a
word to reach their very souls." (63)
During the course of Da'wah one may face some discouraging
experiences. In this verse we are commanded (i) to bear with the bad
or irritating remarks of opponents of Faith with patience, (ii) to advise
and admonish them to desist from the wrong track and (iii) convince
them of the truth with persuasive arguments. This is the quality which
strengthens the character of the true believer and develops in him
confidence and firm determination by means of which he can face the
storms of disbelief and evil.
"Is he who pays adoration in the night, prostrate and standing,
bewaring of the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord, (to be
accounted equal with a disbeliever)? Say (unto them, O Muhammad),
Are those who know not equal with those who know? But only men of
understanding will pay need" (9)
(
(9))
Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi in explanatory notes of Ayah 125 of
surat al-Nahl writes in "Tafhimul Qur'an": (The Understanding of
Qur' an)
"Invite (all) to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful
preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most
gracious; for your Lord knows best, who have strayed from His Path,
and who receive guidance." (125)
(
(125))
In Da'wah two things should be kept in view. One is hikmah, and
the other good advice or instruction. Hikmah means that the tone,
manner, method, and content of the invitation to truth and the
exposition of the deen of Islam should be adjusted judiciously
according to the occasion, place, prevailing circumstances, and
intellectual and educational level of the listeners. At first it is essential
to diagnose the illness, then comes treatment with appropriate
reasoning so that heart and mind are equally influenced and the
disease is cured after uprooting the cause.
Good instruction or advice means two things. Firstly, you should
not rest at satisfying your listener with logic and reasoning but an
appeal should also be made to his emotions, sentiments, and feelings.
Try to arouse his conscience as there is natural repulsion against
wrong in everyone. Make good acts and right guidance attractive and
absorbing . Secondly, impress him with your well-wishing demeanor,
sincerity, and sympathy without, in any manner, assuming superior
attitude and airs.
Again, fair exhortation and reasoning in the better way means that
you should not treat a dialogue, discussion, conversation, or speech as
an intellectual exercise, a text of debating prowess, a measure of
inventive irrationality, a trial of argumentative ability, or an
opportunity for incrimination, degradation, mockery, and fault-
finding. Its purpose should not be to silence your interlocutor or to
announce your eloquence or fluency in language. Thus you should not
induce obstinate attitude or open stubbornness in your audience, but a
receptivity of mind and heart.
(iii) Make Things Easy:
Abu Burda says that when the Prophet sent his grandfather Abu
Musa and Muadh to Yemen, he said, "Make things easy and do not
make them difficult; gladden and do not scare; comply with one
another and do not disagree. (Bukhari and Muslim)
: : " ?
? " ( )
Aisha reports Allahs Messenger as saying; "The acts most pleasing
to Allah are those which are done most continuously even if they
amount to little. (Bukhari and Muslim)
: : " ." (
)
Be not strict to yourselves lest strictness he imposed upon you. For
a people laid hardships upon themselves and, as a consequence of
their own choice, Allah also became hard towards them. Behold their
remnants in the monasteries. Asceticism which they innovated of their
own accord: We did not prescribe it for them. (Abu Dawud)

. ( )
Islam also rejects the unbalanced living so conspicuous in the
contemporary materialist society. Then it forbids prodigality and
extravagance, and excessive indulgence worldly life, even if it were
through lawful means. The Qur'an is explicit on this issue:
)
(32)(
(iv) Slow but Steady Pace:
While presenting the message of Islam to a new community or people,
we should not try to explain the Shari'ah all at once.
A da'i should have clear insight into the psychology of the various
groups of people whom he is to serve, as well as their culture and
traditions so that he may be able to impress and guide them to the
path of happiness and felicity. He should be wise in teaching his people
the Truth step by step using tact, kindness, and reasoning whenever it
is needed so that people may accept his teachings and put them into
practice.
In order to start the propagation of Islam at any place, it is essential
that the first priority should be given to its basic concept, namely,
Tawheed (Unity of God). The people should be persuaded to worship
Allah and submit to him alone. This was the principle of invitation,
which the holy Prophet followed to bring home to the preachers of
Islam when they set out from Madina for this purpose. The Holy
Prophet exhorted Mu'adh bin Jabal (Allah be satisfied with him) at
the time of sending him to Yemen, in the following words:
Certainly you will come across a section of people of the Book. Call
them to bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that
Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. If they submit to that, teach
them that Allah has made obligatory upon them prayer for five times a
day and a night. If they ,submit to that, teach them that Allah has
made Zakat obligatory for them, which will be taken from the rich and
will be given to the poor among them if they then obey that, avoid
taking the best part of their property; and fear the invocation of the
oppressed, because nothing stands between it and Allah. (Bukhari
and Muslim)
: "

?
.
The Holy Prophet also taught us that it is Salat (prayer) which makes
the difference between a Muslim and a Kafir. And the place for Salat is
the Masjid. It is necessary for the Muslims that they sacrifice some
portion of their time for the fulfilment of His Will: Salat, Sawm, Zakat,
Hajj and Jihad. We should not remain busy in activities of this world
alone; we must sacrifice a few hours to go to the Masjid for the sake of
our Hereafter. Those who live or work near the Masjid can easily go, if
they want. We must try to fulfil our duties to Allah. It should however,
be emphasised that it is unbecoming of a Muslim to go to the Masjid
for prayers without a sincere heart. Sincerity is the essential condition
for Ibadat (worship).
(v) There is no Compulsion in Religion:
The Holy Quran is a very eloquent on this point:
There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is
henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejected false deities and
believeth in Allah ,hath grasped a firm handhold, which will never
break. Allah is the Hearer, knower. Allah is the Wal (Protecting
Friend) of those who believe. He brings them out of darkness into
light. As for those who disbelieve, their patrons are false deities. They
bring them out of light into darkness. Such are the rightful owners of
Fire. They will abide therein. (256-257)
)
(256)
(257)(
Islam prohibits its followers to resort to force for the sake of
converting :people of other faiths:
And if thy Lord willed, all who are in the earth would have
believed together. Wouldst thou (Muhammad) compel men until they
are believers. It is not for any soul to believe save by the permission of
Allah. He has set uncleanness upon those who have sense. (100-101)
) (100)
(101()
Allah guides whom He will to the Straight Path. (24-47)
) (46))
(vi) Self-Consistence Between Precept and Behaviour:
To induce people to accept Islam the Da'i must prove the
sincerity faith, good moral character, and best behavior with honesty.
Only after that he may gain their acceptance. If we say that we are
Muslims but commit all kinds of evil deeds, then people will think:
Islam does not teach good morals. Why should people become Muslim
unless they can find something better than what they already have?
And people cannot believe that Islam and Muslims are the friends of
humanity unless and until Muslims change and become good men and
truly practice Islam and develop exemplary moral qualities for
attracting people to Islam for seeking common good. These techniques
of Da'wah were employed by the holy Prophet and recorded in his
sacred Sunnah. He was known as Al-Amin (The Trustworthy) and As-
Sadiq (The Truthful).
(Vii) Individual Efforts:
The Holy Quran says in this context:
O Messenger! Make known that which has been revealed unto thee
from thy Lord for if thou do it not, thou will not have conveyed His
message. Allah will protect thee from mankind. Lo! Allah guides not
the disbelieving folk. (67)
)
(67((
The preacher of Islam should be bold and straightforward and
repose full trust in Allah. He need not fear the reproach of anyone in
the discharge of his divinely ordained mission. He constitutes a
member of that group about whom Allah says in the Quran:
They fear not the insult of the insulators.(54)
) (
Another important factor which a preacher should not lose sight
of is that he should adhere to the Sunnah of the Prophet with tenacity
and steadfastness. He must not suffer from the inferiority complex,
which may prevent him from practising that which is right and just.
He should never pay any heed to Judo-Christian advice: While in
Rome do as the Romans do"; rather he should abide by the warning
delivered by Almighty Allah in the Quran:
Obey not the disbelievers but strive against them herewith a
greatendevour.(25: 52)
) (52((
An individual Da'i has to review one's efforts of Da'wah and its
technique. One has to ask questions to oneself:
1. In what work is he utilising his knowledge.
2. From where does he obtain his livelihood and in what ways and by
what methods does he spend it?
3. In what does he spend his physical and mental energies, and finally:
4. What portion or percentage of them is for the work of Allah?
This self-analysis in itself should be sufficient to help one find out
to what extent one is fit to become a da'i for the religion of Truth.
The call to Islam can be successful if we keep the above principles
ties, and instructions in view and act accordingly. The object of the call
is to propagate the Faith, irrespective of our personal interests. All
our efforts should, therefore, be to please Allah alone and perform the
duty assigned to us. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the Da'is to
convey the mission whole-heartedly, leaving the consequences to Allah.
Their success lies in their steadfastness and perseverance in the way of
righteousness. Allah says in the Quran:
Help ye one another unto righteousness and pious duty. Help not
one another unto sin and transgression but keep your duty to Allah.
Lo! Allah is severe in punishment. (5: 2)
) (2)(
1. Knowledge of Islam
A Da'i may not be an authority on Islam but he must have
workable knowledge and understanding of it. His study of the Ouran
must be vast and analytical. The concept of Tawheed, Prophethood,
Akhirah, and the arguments to that effect as laid down in the Ouran
should be crystal-clear to him. They may be memorized to the maximum
possible extent. A Da'i must be fully conversant with the fundamentals of
the Islamic way of life, the guiding and regulating principle of Islamic
social justice, the sanctity given to the status of parents, the importance
attached to the institution of family and its integrity, human rights and
privileges, economic principles of production, distribution, earnings,
expenditures, public finance, condemnation of all kinds of exploitation,
rights of the laborer, the poor, the unemployed (or underemployed), the
destitute, the concept of crime and punishment, principles of war and
peace, the concept of Jihad and its necessity, consultation (Shura) and
accountability (Muhasabah) before law, justice (Qist), international
strategies, and the principle of excellence on the basis of piety (Taqwa).
These and other aspects of human society must be clearly
understood by a Dai in the light of the Ouran and Sunnah vis--vis the
contemporary world and must be unhesitatingly advocated to the people
through individual contacts and collective programmes. The rest of the
understanding of Islam can be broadly categorized as follows:
I) It is essential to undertake a comprehensive study of the
Prophet's life as the only model and guide now available to mankind to
follow. The historical background of wars, which Rasul Allah fought,
and the peace efforts, which he undertook, must be thoroughly studied.
The Da'i must read books of Ahadith such as Bukhari, Muslim, etc.
II) The basic principles of Fiqh (jurisprudence) and their
application to the problems, which his country is facing, must be a
matter of great importance to the Dai ila Allah.
III) The history of Islam, of the first century of Hijrah, with all its
intricacies and complexities, must be under the active reference of a Dai.
The rest of the Muslim history and the world history since the
Renaissance should be under his close study. The life history of the
prominent companions of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) should always be
another topic of his active study as an everlasting source of inspiration in
his Da'wah efforts.
IV) A comparative study of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is a
must for a Dai in the western perspective. This is the minimum, which
a Dai is supposed to know about Islam and its allied topics. A study
along the above lines will enable a Dai to present Islam in its true
perspective to the people of the land with confidence. It will enable him
to face the various absurd and concocted questions, which are allegedly
put by some people to detract the Dai and involve him in illogical and
inconclusive discussions.
2. Knowledge of the Land and the People:
A Dai must know the country, the language, the people and the
land where he has to carry out his Dawah activities. Dawah work in
the present context of the world is a highly technical job. Equally, it is
also very time-consuming. It needs a lot of preparation and training to
be a Dai. To be efficient in Dawah work, a Da'i needs knowledge,
understanding, and technical know-how in many fields. Human life is a
very complicated affair. Human society, too, is very complex and every
aspect of it needs the attention of a Dai. Islam is a way of life and does
possess the panacea for human sufferings and its chronic problems. It
is, therefore, desirable to discuss the various aspects of the social and
cultural issues as to what a Dai should know and with what he should
equip himself to meet the demands of the circumstances in which he has
to struggle for the establishment of Allah's Deen with hikmah (wisdom).
That is why Allah has not sent any messengers to a nation but in their
own language: The Ouran says:
"And we never sent a Messenger save with the language of that
nation, that he might make the message clear for them." (14:4)
( ( 4))
Islamic Dawah: Mission and Methodology:
A) Planning:
Da'wah requires a thorough planning and execution. It is similar
to the construction of a well-conceived building whether it is built on a
virgin land or on the site of an existing structure; in either case, the
following steps are involved:
1. Formulation of concept.
2. Planning and design.
3. Gathering resources, capital, building materials, selection of site,
labour, and management.
4. Actual step-by-step construction and re-enforcement, its starting
point being the site preparation and laying the foundation in a sound and
thorough manner.
5. Finishing and furnishing the building.
In a major construction project the existing structures have to be
uprooted and demolished. Similarly in the case of Dawah (the initial
step is to prepare the audience for the reception of the message, so that
the dissemination can he effective. Obviously the individual
circumstances of the audience must be taken into account. In most cases
the old beliefs and prejudices have to be uprooted. Some of these beliefs
have developed over several generations. The first step of cleansing is
very important.
The roots of Islamic belief can best be planted in a clean and
receptive mind cleaned from the old beliefs. It is very similar to the
beginning of a new life.
B) Approach:
"Call unto the path of thy Lord with wisdom and kind exhortation,
and reason with them in the most courteous manner." (Al-Nahl-125)
The person involved in Da'wah must be aware of the importance
and greatness of the message of Islam. The Dawah should not be
haphazard, disorganized or lighthearted. A full measure of the timeliness
and opportunity must be made beforehand. The message and material
should be tailored to the needs of the audience concerned and their
intellectual, social, and religious level.
The person involved in Dawah must be selfless, sincere, and known
to be a well-wisher. He must be able to arouse the best feelings in the
audience. An atmosphere of receptiveness, mutual respect, and trust
should be cultivated to deliver the message of Allah in a most conducive
environment.
The argument and the reasoning for the message of Islam must be
presented in a very courteous manner. The message should have the
following attributes:
- Simplicity and command of clear language.
- Captivating and convincing style and approach.
- Must be polite, humble, kind, reachable, and open.
- Must not arouse hatred, prejudice, or stubbornness.
- Should be based on reason and rational.
- Should create a genuine desire for learning and understanding.
If for any reason it is not possible to create these conditions, the
Da'i should wait patiently, leaving the door open for the message to be
conveyed at an opportune moment later by someone else. In order to
propagate the proper message of Islam in the West it is important to note
the following points which Ustadh Khurrhm Murad raised in his famous
book Dawah among Non-Muslims in the West:
We do not invite people to a "new" religion; we invite them to the
oldest religion, indeed to their "own" religion, the religion of living in
total surrender to their Creator, in accordance with the guidance
brought by all His Messengers. Indeed, if I am not misunderstood, we
may be bold enough to say that we do not invite anyone to change his
"religion", to transfer his allegiance to a rival religion. For, by our own
admission, Islam is not a new or rival religion among the many
competing for human allegiance; it is the natural and primordial
religion. All nature lives in submission to its Creator; all Messengers-
Adam to Muhammad- brought the same religion. This does not mean
any change in basic position of Islam. It does not mean that all religions,
as they are, are equally true. One will still be invited to follow the
Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace be on him, because he is the
last Messenger, and to accept the Ouran as the last revelation from God.
But, I think, proceeding from the position I have outlined above, this
implies a radical change in approach, tone, and style of Da'wah, and the
order in which the teachings of Islam are presented!
The starting point and the basic core of our Da'wah should be, as
the Ouran makes very clear: total surrender to the One God, the
Creator of all; accountability in life after death; obeying his Messengers;
and building a new world, on this basis, where justice will prevail. This,
we may boldly affirm, without going into the question of empirical
verification, is the core of every religion. To this we invite all. And We
never sent a Messenger, before you, except that We revealed to him that:
There is no God but I, so serve Me alone (al-Anbiya: 25). The only
(true) Way in the sight of God is total surrender to Him (Al Imr?n: 19).
( (25) )
3. We, therefore, do not start by repudiating what is wrong with
others, but by inviting them to reflect on what is common between them
and us. We ask non-Muslims to come to something they accept or which
follows from what they accept: worshipping One God alone. The same
approach was adopted with the idolaters and Mushrikn of Makuh
(asking them to respond who created the heavens and the earth?) and
the same with the ahul `l-kit?b.
Say: People of the Book! Come now to the creed, which is common
between us and you, that we shall serve and worship none but Allah, and
we shall not associate anything with Him (as god), and some of us shall
not make others lords apart from Allah (Al `Imr?n: 64).
( ( 64) )
Again this does not imply any change in our position. Believing in
Allah as the only God must be in accordance with what He has
instructed through all of His Messengers, which must include the
Prophet Muhammad, as the last of them. But, again, following this order
of priority will mean a radical change in approach, attitude, and
polemic.
4. Telling people that we are not asking them to change to a rival
religion, inviting them to the One God and His Messengers as their own
religion, whose last revelation was to the Prophet Muhammad, blessings
and peace be on him, should not be a mere semantic exercise. One
important conclusion would be that we should not be compelling anyone
to accept all of `historical Islam' as evidenced by Muslims over the last
fourteen centuries, even if it deviated from Allah's guidance. And some
of it did deviate.
5, We need not own and justify everything done or said by Muslims
in the past, or in our own times. We do not necessarily have to. We may
not be able to change the forms of un-Islamic behavior on the part of
Muslims at large or of those within non-Muslim societies, but we can
certainly refrain from acting on the precept of: my nation, right or
wrong. Indeed going a step further, we should not hesitate to
acknowledge or repudiate anything in our past or contemporary
conduct, which is not in keeping with our norms in the Our'an and the
Sunnah. Is this not the spirit of Istighfar? In this regard, we should
mould our conduct according to the following Qur'anic verses.
Say: And fill up the measure and the balance with justice. We
burden not any person save to its capacity. And when you speak, be just,
even if it be against a near-kinsman (al-An'?m :152)
(
(152) )
O believers, be you establishers of justice, witnesses for God, even
though it be against yourselves, or your parents and kinsmen. (al-Nis?:
135)
6. The responsibility to guide all mankind to the path of God rests
upon us as Muslims, as trustees of the Divine guidance sent down, and
made clear, for all mankind, and as the followers of the Last Prophet,
blessings and peace be on him. Today, if people are going astray, are we
not, to a large degree, responsible for that? Today, if people are Kafirs,
how much are they responsible for their Kufr and how much does the
responsibility lie on those who are neglecting and failing in their duty to
witness to the truth?
Yes, there are Muslims, and there are Kafirs. And there should be
no intention or effort to ignore or obliterate the dividing lines between
them, or to change their definition. But is it appropriate, just, and
Islamic to start our Dawah from this premise? All Muslims of today are
not really Muslims who are true examples of Islam; even their broad
conduct is not Islamic. Kafirs of today are not really Kafirs who have
heard the truth and who have rejected it after having known it, who
have deliberately embarked upon a policy of hostility towards Islam.
There is no justification for us, then, in my view, to start our Da'wah
work by looking at the world as divided into two hostile camps: Kafir
and Muslim, where every Kafir is an enemy of Muslims, and therefore of
Islam. Because of a long history of conflict, because of contemporary
hostilities, because of our upbringing, because of our attitudes, we are
prone to do so.
We should ponder how Allah's Messengers handled their world.
Their address was always: O my people or O mankind. In the
beginning, they never addressed them as Kafirs unless the Kufr was
demonstrated to be entrenched and deliberate. Similarly the Ouran
treated the People of the Book as a category separate from idolaters, and
addressed them as such, despite laying bare all their Kufr and Shirk.
Also, see how the Ouran differentiates between those who are hostile to
Islam and those who simply do not believe:
It may be God will yet establish between you and those of them
with whom you are at enmity, love....God forbids you not, as regards
those who have not fought you in (the matter of Din), nor expelled you
from your homes, that you should be kindly you them, and act justly
towards them; surely God loves the just God only forbids you as to those
who have fought you in the matter of Din, and expelled you from your
homes, and have supported in your expulsion, that you should take them
for friends (al- Mumtahanah:7-8)
(
(7)
(8) )
7. The history of encounter between Islam and the West, as long as
fourteen centuries, is a history of conflict at all levels- faith, morality,
thought, politics, economics, etc. For the last three hundred years, the
West has exploited and oppressed the Muslims. Muslims, therefore, have
genuine reasons to condemn the West for its hostility and enmity
towards Muslims and Islam- in history, as in the contemporary world
(Through the Western perceptions of Muslim domination, too- say in
Sicily or Eastern Europe- are not very pleasant.) We also have to expose
the dangers of secular Western thought and ideas. But does that permit
us to engage in emotive diatribe, abusive polemic, against the West, the
white man or the Christian, Jew or Hindu? I think not. For somebody is
not evil because he is Western, or white man, Christian, Jew or Hindu;
he is evil because he is in rebellion against his Creator and His
Messengers. Yet this abuse permeates our attitudes and language.
Not that we should not provide an objective, powerful critique of
Kufr, of Western thought and society. That is our duty (though this duty
receives little of our attention). Not that we should not expose the
Western powers misdeeds in history or their present crimes. But with the
compassion of a surgeon's scalpel, not with the brutality of a butcher's
knife.
We have some teachings in the Ouran, which we should reflect
upon to provide policy guidelines in this respect. For example: it forbids
us to abuse even the idols; it condemns no one by name, except one
person; it does not condemn people, it condemns their deeds.
8. Unless we have done our duty of Dawah and unless he has
rejected the message of Islam, every non-Muslim should be seen as a
potential Muslim, not as an enemy. Except, of course, those who are
engaged in open aggression and hostility against Islam and Muslims.
This attitude is the obvious and logical consequence of our position that
man has been created in the best of moulds (al-Tin 95:4), that total
submission to One God is the original and true nature of mankind (al-
Rum: 30), that every Messenger brought the same religion.
We have indeed created man in the best of Moulds. (4)
) (4))
To the pattern on which He has made mankind: No change (1et
there be) In the work (wrought) By Allah: that is The standard Religion.
(30)
) (30) )
This one concept will have a radical effect on our devotion to
Da'wah, and on our approach and methodology. This will spur us to
carry our message to every man and woman without any reservation,
preconceived notion, or prior prejudice. This will endow us with large-
heartedness, empathy, and understanding- all so vital for Da'wah. This
will demolish many barriers, which inhibit us from taking up the task of
Da'wah.
9. Language and themes are extremely important for Da'wah. The
message remains the same, but it should be conveyed through a medium
that is understood by its addressees. All the Messengers of God employed
a language and took up the themes that were suited to their people. For
example, the language of `Islamic state' may not be a suitable language
for a Western society; instead, a Just World Order based on surrender
to the One God and obedience to His Messengers, is likely to evoke a
more favorable response. Drinking may not strike a sympathetic chord,
drugs may.
10. We should be kind compassionate, just and fair, to everyone,
irrespective of one's faith, race, colour, or social status, and in all
situations. God has commanded us to be kind and just. Muslims in the
West are the ambassadors of the last Prophet, who has been described by
the Ouran as the merciful, the compassionate and `mercy for all the
worlds' (rahmatun lik?lamin). Deep involvement in human welfare and
service to mankind is basic to Islam and of central importance to
Da'wah.
The Ouran places these values and conduct on a par with faith in
God and His worship (68:27-37; 74:42-6; 107:1-7). Why should a Muslim
be different to the uncared for, the lonely, the old, and the hungry, which
live in their societies?
11. We should make our basic Da'wah- the message of Tawhid,
Risalah and Akhirah- relevant to the concerns and experiences of
average Westerners as well as of their societies. For example, why should
Islamic, Da'wah remain unconcerned with the questions of nuclear
weapons unemployment, old age, etc. Indeed, Islam should be concerned
with all matters of public policy morality. Prophet Noah's message dealt
with caste and class differences, that of Prophet Hud with wastage of
Public resources and domination by tyrant rules, that of Prophet Lot
with permissiveness, that of Prophet Shu'ayb with injustice and
economic maladies, that of Prophet Moses with the tyranny and
oppression perpetrated by Pharaoh. In the same way our message must
deal with the problems of our day such as social, cultural and related to
daily life.
CONCLUSION
In conclusion, let me say that the task of renewal of Dawah in the
West is enormous and complex, but important and essential. There are
no immediate solutions to large-scale problems. But, in a field like
Dawah, everything must start with the individual and the small group :
Here, we have simple solutions to implement:
Firstly, as many of us as possible should become, personally, a
Da'i enthused with and committed to the mission of witness, who lives his
whole life as an ambassador of Allah and His Messenger, who follows the
same approaches as Allah's Messengers did.
Secondly, we should create Islamic groups dedicated to Da'wah,
as the top priority objective.
Thirdly, those who embrace Islam should not be content with
merely having changed their religion and found the truth. They must
move beyond. Truth wants to be known. They should be messengers to
their own people; only they can be truly effective.
( (4) )
We sent not a messenger Except (to teach) in the language. Of his
(own) people, in order to make (things) clear to them. Now Allah leaves
straying those whom He pleases And guides whom He pleases: And He is
Exalted in power, full of Wisdom. (14:4)
(Imam Dr. Abduijalil Sajid JP)
Tel/Fax: 01273722438
Mobile: 07971861972
The Brighton Islamic Mission
8 Caburn Road, Hove BN3 6EF
E.mail: ajsajid @ ibelieve.co.uk
* A paper presented at 13th General Conference on Renewal in Islamic
Thought organized by the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar and The Supreme
Council for Islamic Affairsin Cairo (Egypt) on 31st May- 3rd June, 2001.


REVIVALISM IN THE METHODOLOGY OF PRESENTING ISLAM IN THE WEST

 
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