Dawah is an important part of Islam, but often there is much confusion amongst Muslims, reverts and non-Muslims about exactly what it is and how to give it. If you’re looking to learn more about Dawah, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide.
When translated from Arabic to English, Dawah means ‘to invite’. In the context of Islam, it means to invite people to the teachings of Allah (SWT). This doesn’t mean to convert people – it means to spread the message of Allah (SWT) in the same way the prophets did.
“Invite to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching.” - Qur’an (16:125)
The fate of every human being is in Allah’s (SWT) hands, and that means it’s not the job of any human to try and persuade another to convert to a specific faith. With this in mind, Dawah is about spreading the message of God in a respectful and informative way, not a pushy or forceful way.
When Muslims give Dawah, they do so because they are showing complete and total obedience to Allah (SWT), and this is the ultimate goal for all Muslims. Giving Dawah brings with it excellent rewards, and this is because giving it mirrors and honours the way of the prophets. By giving Dawah, Muslims are continuing the work of their forefathers and the prophets, and for this, they will be rewarded on the Day of Judgement.
The question surrounding whether Dawah is compulsory draws different answers depending on your school of thought. Some believe that it is compulsory, whilst others believe it is more of a recommendation rather than an obligation. If you are in doubt as to whether it is required from you or recommended, speak to your local imam.
Giving Dawah should be done carefully. The goal is to inform people of Allah (SWT) and His teachings, but not to convert them to Islam. Those who give Dawah are sometimes compared to missionaries, but they are different. Missionaries seek to convert people to their religion and do so often by being pushy and overbearing. If you are forceful and overwhelming when giving Dawah, you have misunderstood the goal and are not giving Dawah properly.
Firstly, in order to give Dawah, you need to have pure intentions. You should be giving Dawah because you love all of humankind and want the best for every soul. Those who give Dawah should have a sincere love and compassion for their neighbours of all beliefs. When giving Dawah, you are doing so in order to show your peers an alternative way of thinking. When given correctly, Dawah should present people with the option to follow the right path of Allah (SWT).
When giving Dawah, it is important you present His message in an eloquent and calm way. You should not corner people – you should be well-mannered and concise, all the while remaining polite and tolerant. If people have questions, make sure you answer them in a matter-of-fact manner. Your aim should be to put doubt at bay by presenting a convincing case based on facts.
It is important to tailor your Dawah to a person’s level of understanding and education. This means you need to take into account their age, mental capacity, cultural background and academic level. Your Dawah should be a direct reflection of these factors if it is to be successful.
You are not to repeatedly target people with forceful preaching; you are to show them the way of Allah (SWT) and allow them to make their own decision based on the information you have presented.
“So remind them - you are only one who reminds. You are not a dictator over them.” Qur’an (88 - 21:22)
You may articulate the most beautifully worded, eloquent Dawah that is based on nothing but kindness and compassion, but the person you have spoken to may reject the message you have conveyed and remain an unbeliever. If this is the case, you must not punish yourself because Allah (SWT) will not punish you for it.
As mentioned, giving Dawah is not done to convert people to Islam, it is done to enlighten them and show them the teachings of Allah (SWT), ultimately giving them the choice to accept the right path or not.
“Your duty is only to convey (the message) and on Us is the reckoning.” Qur’an (13:40)
It’s important to remember that by giving Dawah, you may not see results immediately. Most people need adequate time to consider their options. Converting to Islam and accepting the teachings of Allah (SWT) can be a big change, so it’s to be expected that a person will need time to think about their decision and weigh up their choices.
If the Dawah was successful, it will have removed all grains of doubt from a non-believer’s mind and showed them how freeing Islam is, how tolerant it is and all the enrichment it can bring to a person’s life. If you have yet to sow the seeds of a successful Dawah, you should evaluate how you are delivering your Dawah and how it might be improved. This does not mean getting more forceful with your message, but rather trying to articulate it more concisely and ensuring you have the knowledge to answer any and all questions you might be asked about Islam.
All of the prophets faced resistance when trying to convey Allah’s (SWT) message, but they did not give up. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) exercised great patience, despite the adversity he experienced from the people of Mecca which forced him to migrate to Medina. He never lost faith and continued his teachings in a peaceful way. This does not mean he didn’t feel sad or disheartened – as a human being it is natural to feel negative emotions, including sadness. The important thing is that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did not punish himself, he found solace in Allah’s (SWT) words.
“So destroy not yourself in sorrow for them.” Qur’an (35:8)
If you are in doubt over your Dawah, you should also look to find peace in Allah’s (SWT) words.
Dawah is a complex yet fundamental part of Islam. For those looking for guidance about Dawah, speak to your local imam and converse with others giving Dawah so that you may learn and refine your practice.
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