Calling Others to Islam (da‛wah)
Virtues of Calling Others to Islam
Engaging in da‛wah work is indisputably one of the best deeds in the sight of Allah and is highly commended in the Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah. Evidence to this effect includes the following:
- Da‛wah is the means to success in this life and in the hereafter, as the Qur’an states, “Let there be a group among you who call others to good, and enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong: those who do this shall be successful.” (Soorat Aal ‛Imraan,3:104)
- No one has a better speech than that of those who engage in da‛wah activities. Commending such people, the Qur’an says, “Who speaks better than one who calls to Allah, does good works and says, ‘I am surely one of the Muslims.’?” (Soorat Fussilat, 41:33) It is clear, therefore, that there is no one whose speech is better than that of a person who calls people to the truth, for he is their guide to their Creator and Lord and the one who takes them out of the darkness of misguidance into the light of faith.
- Engaging in da‛wah work testifies to one’s compliance with Allah’s command: “Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair admonition, and argue with them in the best manner possible.” (Soorat An-Nahl, 16:125) A person who dedicates himself to such a noble task must invite others to Islam with wisdom, making sure that he knows the personality of the people he wants to call to Islam so as to choose the best possible method to carry out the task, all the while arguing with them in the kindest, most gracious manner which appeals to them.
- Engaging in da‛wah work was the very task carried out by all of Allah’s messengers without exception, foremost of whom was Prophet Muhammad , whom Allah sent to all mankind as a witness over people, giving news to the believers of immense reward in the hereafter, warning the unbelievers against severe punishment and spreading his light to all mankind. The Qur’an says, “Prophet, We have sent you as a witness, as a bearer of good news and a warner, and a caller to Allah by His permission and a light-giving lamp. Convey to the believers the good news that they will receive immense favour from Allah.” (Soorat Al-Ahzaab,33:45-47)
- Inviting people to Islam is the source of unlimited goodness; for each person you invite to Islam, you will get the same rewards for his prayer, worship and teaching others. What a great blessing Allah bestows on those who engage in da‛wah work! The Prophet said, “Whoever calls to guidance will have a reward similar to that of those who follow it, without the reward of either of them being lessened at all.” (Saheeh Muslim: 2674)
- The rewardAllah has in store for those who invite others to Islam is far better than all the enjoyments of the present world, for such a reward is from Allah Himself, the Most Generous, who will recompense them abundantly for such a noble endeavour: “If you turn away from me, remember I ask no reward from you. Only Allah will reward me, and I have been commanded to submit completely to Him.” (Soorat Yoonus, 10:72)
The Prophet also said in this respect, “If Allah guides one man through you, this will be better for you than possessing red camels.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 2847; Saheeh Muslim: 2406) Camels were considered the most valuable property in ancient Arabia and the red variety was the most prized of all.
Requirements of the Correct Manner of Inviting Others to Islam
Allah describes the correct manner of engaging in da‛wah work as one which is characterised by certain qualities which distinguish it from others. These qualities are as follows:
- Insight and Knowledge
A caller to Islam (daa‛iyah) must be knowledgeable about the truth to which he invites others, clearly presenting divine instructions to them, based on clear evidence: “Say: This is my Way: I invite to Allah, on the basis of a clear proof, and so do those who follow me .” (Soorat Yusuf, 12:108)
He does not have to know many things before he starts calling people to Islam. Whenever he learns something new, he has to teach it to others. For instance, If he learns about the necessity of not associating anyone in the worship of Allah, he ought to convey this information to others. Likewise, if he learns about some aspects of the beauty of Islam, he must convey this to them. To put it in a nutshell, he must convey anything he learns about Islam, even if what he has learned is one single verse of the Qur’an, as the Prophet once ordered, “Convey what you learn from me [to others], even if [what you have learnt] is one verse of the Qur’an.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 3274)
This was the very practice of the Prophet’s companions; they would learn the principles of Islam in a few days and then they would go back to their people to call them to Islam and arouse their interest in it, especially through their high moral character.
The Qur’an says, “Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair admonition, and argue with them in the best manner possible.” (Soorat An-Nahl, 16:125) Wisdom is the ability to make sensible decisions and give good advice at the appropriate time and place because of the experience and knowledge one has.
Given the differences between people regarding their character and level of understanding, a caller to Islam must choose the appropriate method to engage in da‛wah work and wait for the appropriate opportunity to win them over.
He must approach them with gentleness and compassion, and engage in a calm and balanced dialogue which does not instigate ill feelings and inflame hatred. It is for this reason that Allah reminds His Messenger of the favours He bestowed upon him by making him gentle with people: “It is by Allah’s grace that you deal gently with them; had you been harsh and hard-hearted, they would surely have deserted you.” (Soorat Aal-‛Imraan, 3:159)
Inviting Family Members and Relatives to Islam
A person who has been guided to Islam must do his best to call his family members and relatives to this religion, because they are the closest and dearest people to him. He ought to endure any harm he may encounter patiently whilst doing so. He should also use all possible means in order to show them the truth. As the Qur’an states, “Instruct your family to offer their prayers, and be steadfast in observing them yourself.” (Soorat Taa Haa, 20:132)
Some callers to Islam may find that people to whom they are not related favourably respond to the invitation, whilst their closest relatives refuse to do so, which causes them a great deal of distress and disappointment. A successful caller to Islam, however, never gives up hope; he tries his best to guide them to the truth, using various methods and techniques and praying to Allah to guide their hearts, even under the bleakest of circumstances.
The Prophet did just that with his Uncle Abu Taalib. He left no stone unturned in calling him to Islam and continued doing so until the last moments of his life. When Abu Taalib was on his deathbed, the Prophet begged him, “Dear uncle, say, laa ilaaha illallaah, (There is no god worthy of worship except Allah) so that I may be able to intercede for you on the Day of Judgement.”(Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 3671;Saheeh Muslim: 24)AbuTaalib, however, declined to do so, and so he died a polytheist. It was on this occasion that Allah revealed the following verse: ‘‘You cannot guide whoever you please: it is Allah who guides whom He will. He knows best those who receive guidance.” (Soorat Al-Qasas, 28:56)
A new Muslim, as soon as he embraces Islam, must build a strong and healthy relationship with his relatives and acquaintances, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. He must also observe high moral standards when dealing with them, for Islam is not a call to isolation and withdrawal from social life.
Indeed, showing kindness to people and observing high moral standards when dealing with them is the best way to introduce them to this great religion with which Prophet Muhammad was sent to perfect noble character.
Observance of high moral standards and good treatment must start at home, amongst family members.