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Da`wah: Following in the Prophets' Steps

{Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best.} (An-Nahl 16: 125)

By Dr. Ali Al-Halawani / 21 Feb 2013

{And who is better in speech than he who invites to Allah and does righteousness and says, 'Indeed, I am of the Muslims.'} (Fussilat 41: 33)

It is a well known fact that making da`wah or inviting people to Allah is the mission of all Prophets and Messengers (peace be upon them) as He says:

{Those are the ones whom Allah has guided, so from their guidance take an example. Say, 'I ask of you for it [i.e., this message] no payment. It is not but a reminder for the worlds.'} (Al-An`am 6: 90)

Indeed, Prophets and Messengers (peace be upon them) did not anticipate any reward or payment from their invitees as they knew for sure that they would be abundantly rewarded from the Almighty One Who sent them with that guidance to mankind.

This also applies to every Muslim who should deem da`wah as an excellent means for incurring great rewards from Allah as each and everyone who invites others to goodness will be abundantly rewarded without diminishing the reward of the invitees in any way. This is clear in the hadith that is narrated by Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported as having said,

“He who called (people) to righteousness, there would be reward (assured) for him like the rewards of those who adhered to it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And he who called (people) to error, he shall have to carry (the burden) of its sin, like those who committed it, without their sins being diminished in any respect.” (Muslim)

Da`wah is one of the recognized fields of Jihad as jihad can be exercised through purifying one’s self, educating others using one’s tongue or pen, and – with the fulfillment of certain prerequisites – through striving against evil. Da`wah is one form of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, and it is usually exercised using one’s tongue or pen to educate others and inform them about the Creator and His Greatness. Hence, all the merits and rewards a mujahid or one who enjoins goodness and forbids evil is promised can be assigned to a da`iyah as well due to similarity of responsibilities and mission.

In addition, da`wah can be seen as a means of saving not only the Muslim Ummah, but also all forms of life through preventing the mischief of the ignorant and the unjust. Hence, a da`iyah saves himself, his Ummah and all other forms of life from perishing or destruction as can be understood from the famous hadith of An-Nu`man ibn Bashir that is often called Hadith As-Safinah (i.e., the Ship Hadith) in Al-Bukhari.

Dispersing the fog

There are two main common misconceptions that may affect the constitution of da`wah and limit the effectiveness of many da`iyahs.

Firstly, da`wah should be the responsibility of official bodies or authorities. However, da`wah should be the individual duty of each and every Muslim who should act as a real da`iyah in society. One should set an honest example of Islam to be appreciated by all be it at home, in office, on the street, in the market, or elsewhere.

This is one of the best ways of inviting others to appreciate faith as can be seen in the hadith in which Lady `A’ishah was asked about the character of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in which she said, “His morals were (the morals of) the Qur’an.”

Hence, a Muslim should be mindful of this great responsibility and should exert himself to carry it out by all possible means and in an excellent way.

Secondly, da`wah should be directed to non-Muslims only. True, da`wah should be targeting people of other faith communities to let them know about Islam and then they may appreciate it in due course. On the other hand, it should also be targeting Muslims to restore them to the original intact conception of Islam and draw them nearer to Allah. Both levels of da`wah are complementary and highly needed as we cannot do without any of them.

Means of da`wah

People are of different natures and mentalities as can be attested to by the regular and constant interaction between humans in every walk of life.

In addition, the vicissitudes of life as well as the different stages of da`wah that may vary between weakness and empowerment, peace and war, restriction and expansion, all these necessitate variation of the discourse form and even content at some times.

Based on the above, it is natural that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to address everyone with what befits him, order him to do what is right for him, and prompt him to carry out what benefits him as well as others. To cite one example, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said,

"Whoever has slaughtered a sacrifice should not keep anything of its meat after three days.’ When it was the next year the people said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Shall we do as we did last year?’ He said, ‘Eat of it and feed of it to others and store of it for in that year the people were having a hard time and I wanted you to help (the needy)." (Al-Bukhari)

Thereupon, one who shoulders the responsibility of inviting others to Allah and who realizes all this will surely realize the necessity of finding varying methods of da`wah that may include multiple discourse levels, as well as diverse discourse approaches. Undoubtedly, this is one of the main pillars of making da`wah with wisdom and fair preaching as ordained in the Qur’an,

{Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best.} (An-Nahl 16: 125)

In the same vein, Allah instructs His Beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) on Da`wah as saying,

{Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish (i.e. don't punish them).} (Al-A`raf 7: 199)


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