In Da’wah: Violence Doesn’t Bring Any Good

Using gentleness with those who are hoped to embrace Islam is a desirable thing, in order to attract their hearts to it. This is with regards to the disbelievers; what then should the attitude be towards someone who is hoped to make repentance while he is a Muslim who believes in Allah and His Messenger? Is he not worthier of gentleness than the disbeliever who is hoped to embrace Islam?

In Da’wah (calling to Islam), gentleness is a form of a kind treatment that opens the heart of the recipient. This is one of the established principles of Da‘wah in Islam that is uniformly mirrored in the Quranic discourse and the practices of all Messengers of Allah with their peoples. It is more evident in the story of Prophet Ibraaheem (Abraham), may Allah exalt his mention, when he was inviting his father to believe in Allah. He repeatedly called him “O my Father”, thereby hoping to appeal to him through this firm father-son bond. It is also quite clear in the story of Prophet Moosa (Moses), may Allah exalt his mention, with Pharaoh, who claimed to be God. Allah The Exalted commanded Moosa and Haaroon (Aaron), may Allah exalt their mention, to invite Pharaoh to believe in Him with kindness; He Says (what means): “And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear [Allah].” [Quran 20:44] There is no doubt that gentle speech is more likely to be responded to positively.

Islam preaches this same general attitude when calling people to Allah The Exalted. Rather, the Quran emphasized it and the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) implemented it; Allah The Exalted Says (what means): “And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter.” [Quran 3:159]

Contemplating the Quran, we notice that harshness is not mentioned except in the context of fighting the enemies in battlefields. Here, there is no room for gentle speech as no sound is louder than that of the sword and spear. The rules of efficiency in combat dictate toughness when confronting the enemy until the battle comes to an end. However, even in this context, Islam preaches kindness by establishing the refined etiquette of Jihaad in this glorious religion. There should be no fighting before conducting Da‘wah (calling people to Islam). In fact, the object of Jihaad in Islam is to usher people to guidance; the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) said: ~“If a single person is guided by Allah through you, it will be better for you than a whole lot of red camels.”~~ In Islam, the purpose of Jihaad is not killing people and taking captives and war booty; rather, it is prompted by mercy in all its aspects. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) used to instruct his Companions to observe the Islamic etiquette of war, saying: ~“Set out with the blessing of Allah. Do not kill a decrepit old man, or a child, or a woman; do not steal (from the booty) or act treacherously, and do right and act kindly, for Allah loves those who act kindly.”~~

If Islam preaches kindness and gentleness in the context of war, how about that of Da‘wah?

Violence Yields no Good

Violence in the context of Da‘wah begets no good. Nothing mars Da‘wah more than violence, because the caller to Allah hopes that his call delves into the depths of the recipient to make him a person of God in his conceptions, feelings, perceptions, and attitude. It alters his whole being and transforms him to another person in terms of thought, feeling and willpower. It also targets the community to change its inherited beliefs, deeply rooted traditions, and prevailing moral and social systems that do not conform with the laws of Allah or the tenets of faith and the concepts of truth.

It is thus a substitution at the intellectual, ideological, and emotional levels. It is well known that beliefs and ideologies can never be changed through violence, force, or coercion. Being harbored by the hearts and minds, there is no way to force beliefs and ideas on others. In fact, the only effective means to change beliefs and ideas are persuasion and reasoning.

This can only be achieved by means of wisdom, clever handling of matters, and knowledge of the human nature and man’s innate inclination to hold on to the old norms, while taking into account his inherent inclination to dispute; Allah The Exalted Says (what means): “… but man has ever been, most of anything, [prone to] dispute.” [Quran 18:54] This entails adhering to gentleness and skillfully trying to win the heart and mind of the recipient to soften his heart, weaken his persistent clinging to old ideas and practices, and eliminate his prejudice.

There Should Be no Compulsion in Religion

Allah The Exalted and Glorified does not force anyone to believe in Him or embrace His religion. In fact, He forbade the believers from coercing people into embracing Islam; He Said (what means): “There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion.” [Quran 2:256] Evidently, coercion is utterly pointless as far as beliefs and ideologies are concerned. It does not yield genuine faith, as a person cannot become a true believer under duress.

It goes without saying that Allah The Exalted is able to cause all His servants to be believers; He Says (what means): “And if we had willed, We could have given every soul its guidance…” [Quran 32:13], “And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed – all of them entirely. Then, [O Muhammad], would you compel the people in order that they become believers?” [Quran 10:99]

However, He did not do so and instead provided His servants with clear and compelling evidence to usher them into the correct path, and sent them Messengers to guide them to the truth; Allah The Exalted Says (what means): “[We sent] messengers as bringers of good tidings and warners so that mankind will have no argument against Allah after the messengers.” [Quran 4:165] He then left them the choice to believe or disbelieve so that the consequences would be those of the servant’s own choice, not of someone else’s actions forced on him. Allah The Exalted Says (what means): “so whoever wills – let him believe, and whoever wills – let him disbelieve. Indeed, We have prepared for the wrongdoers a fire whose walls will surround them.” [Quran 18:29]

The Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) lived in Makkah and saw the idols everywhere, yet he did not demolish or burn them. Rather, he continued calling people to Allah and communicating the divine message to them to enlighten their minds, change their false beliefs wisely, and correct their perceptions so that the change would stem from within them out of full conviction.

The Muslim youth around the Messenger of Allah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) were sometimes carried away by zeal for their cause and asked him to take up arms against their enemies. However, he sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) urged them to adhere to patience and commanded them to refrain from fighting the disbelievers until instructed otherwise, and concentrate their efforts, instead, on establishing the prayer and paying the Zakah until the budding Muslim community is strong enough to take the apt measures. Allah The Exalted Says (what means): “Have you not seen those who were told, ‘Restrain your hands [from fighting] and establish prayer and give Zakah’?” [Quran 4:77]

Assume that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) had given in to their wishes and commanded them to fight the disbelievers of the Quraysh, how would have the Muslims, few in number as they were then, been able to confront their enemies? Had the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) demolished the idols around the Ka’bah, what would have been the consequences of such an act?

Saddening Reality

Some ardent Muslim youth in a large Muslim country dug up the graves erected inside mosques and demolished shrines venerated by some misguided Muslims who made offerings to them. These zealous Muslim youth defended their action by bringing forth textual evidence from the Quran and Sunnah regarding the obligation of forbidding such sinful acts. There is no doubt that their intention was good and they sought to enjoin good and forbidding evil. However, their actions incurred adverse consequences; they were arrested and so were large numbers of scholars, seekers of knowledge and religious Muslims. All of them were severely harmed, and their families suffered material and moral harm as well.

Add to that, these shrines were rebuilt better than they were before. In brief, forbidding the evil in this case incurred a graver one.

I recall another incident in a Muslim country where a statue of a naked woman was installed at a square. It was an old worn-out statue that people hardly cared about or noticed. A zealous Muslim young man broke the statue and vandalized it. Perhaps he was somewhat right, but again the consequences were unfavorable; he was arrested and subjected to much suffering, and the officials rebuilt the once-neglected statue, turning it to a better and more noticeable version. It became the talk of the town and the incident actually drew people’s attention to it even more.

We do not accept or approve of preserving such idols and statues or of building shrines and allowing people to circumambulate them. We do not accept or approve of any sinful act committed in a Muslim country; however, we must consider the consequences of actions and their results. Forbidding an evil may be considered an evil itself if it led to an even graver evil, as Muslim scholars agreed.

Addressing corruption and evils with violence or in a manner that does not conform to the principles of the Sharia and the due conditions of enjoining good and forbidding evil often incurs legal implications on the doer under the man-made laws. It also constitutes a major irritant for some influential notables, who benefit from preserving such corruption and evil. Thereupon, the caller to Allah would be exposing himself to the punishment and oppression of authorities and no good would be generated from his action. It would not benefit the call to Islam or Muslims in the slightest. His efforts would be wasted and his call would be rejected and prevented from spreading.

We are not suggesting that the caller to Allah should be a coward; rather, we want him to expand his mental and psychological horizons and address the root causes of the problem wisely and patiently, taking into account the beginnings and endings of matters. This is the normal way of addressing problems.

In fact, demolishing idols and statues does not eradicate corruption or uproot disbelief, and it will not change the situation in the slightest. On the contrary, people would more likely erect new ones or rebuild the broken ones to be better than before, and they may be blinded by stubbornness from seeing the truth. Most likely, such an act would enrage them, driving them to retaliate against Muslims and their Messenger sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) as did the people of Ibraaheem (Abraham), may Allah exalt his mention, when he demolished their idols.

The Role of the Caller to Allah

The role of the caller to Allah is not to kill idol worshipers. Killing them is pointless because it does not end idol worship. His role is not to demolish these idols, while their love remains vivid in the hearts of their worshipers; because, as we said before, they would rebuild them and make them better than they were. Rather, the role of the caller to Allah is to demolish the idols within the hearts and minds of the worshippers until their love is eradicated and people learn that these idols are false gods that do not benefit or harm themselves, let alone their worshipers. He is required to uproot the reverence, love, and glorification for such idols from the hearts and channel that reverence, love, and glorification to the One who is truly worthy of them. By doing so, the worshippers will demolish the idols with their own hands after the callers to Allah have demolished them within their hearts. This is the real change, and this is the role, job and duty of the callers to Allah.

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Small Thought #5 – Start With Yourself Before Others

Who to start with?
In Da’wah (call to Islam), start with yourself before the members of your family and other people and look at what is lacking in you in order that you may start treating it.

So if there is a common deficiency between you and one of your companions or family members, then join him with you in resolving this problem because the Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever from amongst you sees an evil he should change it with his hand and if he is not able to, then with his tongue and if he is not able to, then he should hate it in his heart, and that is the weakest level of faith.” [Narrated by Muslim and Ahmed]

How is your humbleness in prayer?
When our hearts are overloaded with the pressures of life and at the point of exploding, comes the prayer as an outlet where souls can breathe the taste of tranquility, throw the troubles of life away and become happy and calm. However, for prayer we have to provide it with what makes us Humble. Allah Says (what mean): “Indeed, they used to hasten to good deeds and supplicate Us in hope and fear, and they were to Us humbly submissive” [Quran 21:90]

How is your relationship with Allah?
Are you one who’s supplications are answered or do you notice most of your supplications not being answered?

Look into your Aqeedah (Faith) and the level of your certainty and reliance upon Allah, and observe closely your food and drink – are they from that which is Halal (lawful) or Haram (unlawful), or is there some doubt about their source?

If the situation was one that requires enjoining good and forbidding evil, what would you do? Prophet Muhammad said: “By Him in Who’s Hand is my soul, you will enjoin good and prohibit evil or (else) Allah will soon send upon you a punishment from Him, then you will call upon Him and He will not answer you.” [Ahmed and At-Tirmithi]

Maybe you would benefit from reading Hadeeths (Prophetic narrations) pertaining to the punishment of the grave and that of its bliss, about the terror of the Resurrection, and the torment of the Hell-Fire. You could well continue reading for days, weeks or months, accompanying that with good actions and self-struggle.

Are you prepared for the meeting with Allah?

  • Have you fulfilled the rights of the creation, one to another? Or are you in a constant state of postponing and deferring?
  • Have you converted your knowledge of repentance into crying and penitence?
  • Have you turned whatever you have read about loving Allah into real love for your Muslim brothers?
  • Do you often visit them, and overlook their faults? Do you aid the needy from amongst them, feel delighted for their happiness and grieve for their sorrow?

It is better for you if you were to meet death whilst trying to improve your own condition than to die whilst striving to improve others’, being held accountable at the same time for leaving off obligatory actions just like the lantern that burns itself out and gives light to others, as in the Hadeeth: “The example of the scholar who teaches the people good things but forgets himself is that of a lantern, it gives light to the people but burns itself out.” [At-Tabarani]

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Using Social Media For Islamic Da’wah

Da’wah i.e. preaching of Islam is a continuous process which never stopped from the day Allah’s Apostle Muhammad SAW was given prophethood. Da’wah majlis (event) was held first in mosques and in personal gatherings. Then people started arranging da’wah majlis in their homes and in private gatherings. With the advancement of technology, da’wah was done on TV and then the internet came where God-fearing Muslims started their da’wah activities.

The Internet has become the most effective tool of communication because now a day’s computers have become tv as well. All the tv channels are now hosted on the internet as well. Thus, TV is losing its importance and the computer is becoming a work station as well as the entertainment source. Many social networking websites are working successfully where millions of people are registered and log in daily. These social networking sites are actually created to gather people on one platform for social and political to philosophical discussions.

Muslims started da’wah on such social websites too. The most used social websites in the world are facebook and twitter. On these websites they work of da’wah is being done continuously. From common Muslims to scholars, everyone has official pages and accounts where they can be accessed easily. For example, Dr. Zakir Naik has his official community on facebook and twitter as well.

There are two points of views on doing da’wah on social networking websites. One group says that it is not useful because, on the internet, people with lack of knowledge or half baked knowledge present Islam very differently which makes rather a wrong image of Islam on non muslims. These internet scholars are actually a danger for Islam and for the process of da’wah.

The other group says that da’wah on these social websites is rather one of the most effective and useful tools because these social websites are the hub of general public virtual meetings. To attract masses towards Islam is easy on these social websites than by using websites. Since these websites are used daily, so Muslims and non muslims, both get daily dose of da’wah which ultimately is useful for the people.

Da’wah needs good and authentic knowledge and enthusiasm. Good and authentic knowledge may be not likely to be known by the internet scholars but their courage, enthusiasm and their good intentions must be appreciated. It is a good da’wah tool which must be used by all those who have authentic and good knowledge of Islam.

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Continuing The Da’wah Efforts

Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi had stated that da’wah is an effort to bring others to the religion of Islam, fulfilling all of the stipulations on earth, calling towards good and forbidding evil, as well as undertaking jihad in His Path. Da’wah is a continuation of the duty of the prophets and messengers, who were sent by Allah to their ummah. This role is then assumed by the Companions, as-salaf as-salih (the pious predecessors), and the Muslim scholars until the end of time……

Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi had stated that da’wah is an effort to bring others to the religion of Islam, fulfilling all of the stipulations on earth, calling towards good and forbidding evil, as well as undertaking jihad in His Path. Da’wah is a continuation of the duty of the prophets and messengers, who were sent by Allah to their UmmahThis role is then assumed by the Companions, as-salaf as-salih (the pious predecessors), and the Muslim scholars until the end of time.

Allah mentions in verse 36 of Surah an-Nahl:

Which means: “And We certainly sent into every nation a messenger, [saying], “Worship Allah and avoid Taaghoot.” And among them were those whom Allah guided, and among them were those upon whom error was [deservedly] decreed…”

In general, we know that da’wah strategy is delivered in three approaches, namely da’wah through speech, da’wah through actions, and da’wah through writing. Rasulullah provides the best example of giving da’wah. He was able to perfect da’wah strategies through all three approaches mentioned, along with his Companions.

Da’wah is also a continuous effort and it is definitely not seasonal. It must be executed with diligence and ikhlas (sincerity), though faced with various trials and challenges. This is because the objective of da’wah itself is clear, which is to invite mankind to completely surrender and submit to the Will of Allah. Indeed, the work of da’wah is a responsibility shouldered by every believer, with the condition that one must have foundational knowledge regarding the knowledge that is to be conveyed. Those engaged in da’wah will attain the reward and virtues when their da’wah efforts are accepted and practiced by others.

In the hadith of Jareer bin ‘Abdullah, Rasulullah said:

Which means: “He who introduced some good practice in Islam which was followed after him (by people) he would be assured of reward like one who followed it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect…” [Narrated by Muslim].

Therefore, every Muslim cannot avoid the very task of da’wah in inviting society to good, especially upon family members or one’s dependents. Verily, in conveying the risaalah (message) of da’wah, Islam has outlined basic principles that are clear and must be adhered to, as Allah mentions in verse 125 of Surah an-Nahl:

Which means: “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best…”

Every da’i (one who gives da’wah) must master the message that is to be conveyed so that it coincides with authentic Islamic teachings. All issues raised must be mentioned with the intent to educate and produce Muslims that are open-minded, not obsessed with rigidity, or spreading teachings that are far deviating from the actual teachings of Islam that it destroys the aqeedah, Shari’ah, and Islamic akhlaq, which are sacred.

Every da’i must always strive to increase their knowledge, especially regarding matters that are to be conveyed, remaining honest and sincere, as well as grasping thorough comprehension of Islamic tarbiyyah (education) for it is truly vital in grooming the hearts of the intended recipient of their da’wah efforts.

Allah mentions in verse 108 of Surah Yusuf:

Which means: “Say, “This is my way; I invite to Allah with insight, I and those who follow me. And exalted is Allah, and I am not of those who associate others with Him.””

The diversity of methods or da’wah techniques truly provides an effective impact upon intended da’wah recipients. The da’i must be wise in selecting the most effective methodology, the necessary tools, and its suitable time, as well as verbal speech that can captivate the hearts. However, all methodologies must be according to what has been deemed permissible by the Shara’. Do not just chase after sheer profits and popularity, which can cause a well-intended program, having good objectives, but associated with unrighteous methods and exaggerated. Hence, its outcome ends without good.

The da’i must know who is the target of their da’wah. The saying goes, “different pond has different fish, a different field has different grasshoppers” (meaning: the different area has different circumstances).

May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.

Reality of The Da’wah at The Present Time.

At the present time, Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) facilitates the issue of Da’wah through means that were not available in the past. Da’wah today has become easier through several channels, as it has also become possible to establish the proof to people by various ways, such as the radio, TV, the press, and other means….

At the present time, Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) facilitates the issue of Da’wah through means that were not available in the past. Da’wah today has become easier through several channels, as it has also become possible to establish the proof to people by various ways, such as the radio, TV, the press, and other means. Thus, it is the duty of the people of knowledge and Iman (faith) and those who follow the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) to fulfill this task, cooperate in achieving it, and convey Allah’s Messages to His Slaves without fearing the blame of any one except Allah. Moreover, they should compliment no one in this matter; rather, they should convey Allah’s Call to His Slaves as revealed and prescribed by Him.

On the other hand, this can also be an individual obligation in a place where there is no one to undertake this task but you, as in the case of enjoining good and forbidding evil, for it might be an individual or collective obligation. If you are in a place where no one has the ability to convey Allah’s Call but you, it becomes obligatory upon you to do this. If others can observe Da’wah, enjoin good, and forbid evil, it becomes a Sunnah for you. If you hasten to observe it, you will be of those who compete and rush toward offering acts of obedience. Over and above, among the evidence supporting the fact that Da’wah is a collective obligation, is Allah’s saying:

“Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam).” [Al-Quran, Surah Ali-Imran, verse 104].

Al-Hafizh Ibn Kathir said that this Ayah means: let there be a group of people who stand erect for this great purpose, calling to Allah, propagating His Religion, and conveying His Religion. It is also known that the Messenger (peace be upon him) called to Allah and established His Religion in Makkah as much as he could. The Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet, may Allah be pleased with them) had also done that as much as they could, then after their Hijrah (a believer’s migration to an Islamic land), they intensified Da’wah. Also, as they scattered all over the world after the Prophet’s death, they continued to do this as well, pursuant to their knowledge and capability.

Thus, upon the existence of a few people who can do Da’wah and large numbers of those doing evil, and on the prevalence of ignorance (in religion) as in our case nowadays, Da’wah becomes an individual obligation for every one, each according to his or her capability and knowledge. However, if there is a small place, a village or a town for instance, where those who exist undertake the mission and convey Allah’s Call, this shall suffice. Da’wah in this case becomes a Sunnah (supererogatory act of worship following the example of the Prophet) for the others, for the proof will be established by others and Allah’s Commands will be implemented by others.

However, all people, scholars and rulers should convey Allah’s Orders according to their capability by all possible means. This is an individual obligation on them according to their capability. This way, it becomes known that Da’wah being a collective or individual obligation is a relative issue, for sometimes it is individual for some people and a Sunnah for others, since there exists those who undertake this task, so it sufficed for them.

Rulers who have more power and authority, have greater responsibility to convey the Da’wah as much as they can through every possible mean and in all spoken tongues. They should convey Allah’s Religion with these languages to communicate with a wider range of people with their languages; whether Arabic or any other language, since this matter has become possible and available now contrary to the past. Preachers should also convey as much as they can of Allah’s call in ceremonies and gatherings. They should spread Allah’s Din (religion of Islam) as much as they can, each according to his capability and knowledge.

Regarding the spread of calls to subversive principles, apostasy, and the denial of the Lord, as well as the denial of Allah’s Messages, and the Hereafter in addition to the outbreak of the call to Christianity in many countries, as well as other straying calls; the call to Allah has become mandatory for all scholars and rulers embracing Islam, as it becomes obligatory for them to convey Allah’s Din with all the power they have through writing, delivering Khutbahs (sermons), radio, and any other possible means without slackening or depending on anyone, for there is dire need today for cooperation, unity, and participation in this great matter more than ever. This is because the enemies of Allah have cooperated by all means to hinder people from the Path of Allah, cast doubt into His Religion, and call people to whatever takes them out of the pale of Islam.

Therefore, it is the duty of the people of Islam to refute such disbelieving calls using an Islamic call on all levels, by all possible means, out of fulfilling the call to Allah imposed by Him on His Slaves.

Sources: Fatwas of Ibn Baz