The Challenge Of Daw'ah
In our age the challenges in conveying the message of Islam to non-Muslims are complex. On one hand we face a great deal of misinformation about Islam and Muslims in media, school and college text books and reference material in libraries. In addition, adversaries of Islam and Muslims and making serious efforts to defame Muslims and dis-inform people about Islam and Muslims for political, military and economic motives related to the Middle East situation and world politics. On the other hand there has been an information vacuum with regards to the correct knowledge of Islam in the West, in general and in North America in particular. When Muslims were few in the West, the situation could not be rectified by them. During the last two or three decades the Muslim population has increased many fold to the extent that Muslims have become the second largest religious group in the U.S. and in many other countries of the West. Therefore, it is a challenge to the Muslims to live up to their responsibility to fill the vacuum of correct knowledge about Islam and Muslims in the West and remove misinformation and combat disinformation.
Why Da'wah In North America
There are several solid reasons for Muslims to convey the message of Islam to the North American people.
1. It is a duty assigned by Allah
In the Qur'an Allah has placed the responsibility on the Muslim Ummah to convey the message of Islam to mankind. Allah (SWT) says in Surah Al-Baqarah:
We find numerous verses in the Qur'an on the same topic. Here witnessing means to convey the message of Islam, i.e. to call people towards Allah (da'aa ilallah as in the Qur'an 41:33). Prophet Muhammad (S) completed his assignment in his life time by conveying the message to the entire Arabian Peninsula and sending letters to the heads of surrounding countries. In his Khutba of his farewell hajj he passed on the responsibility to every Muslim when he said,
He did not allow us to wait until we are a perfect Islamic society before we begin to convey the message. Prophet Muhammad (S) did not wait until a few converts grew up to develop an Islamic society nor he did want us to wait. He said as given in Bukhari,
No one as an individual or as a community can delay until perfection is achieved; as soon as you have some knowledge of Islam you have a duty to convey it to those unfortunate people who know little or nothing about Islam and invite them to it.
The emphasis is on the transmission of the message of Islam to other human beings. We, the Muslims are not responsible to convert people by force or coercion, as Allah (SWT) has clearly forbidden such tactics (Qur'an 2:256). All human beings on earth have God given freedom to submit to Him (God Alone) or submit to taghut (non-God anything).
2. Preservation vs propagation of Islam
Millions of Muslims from all over the world have migrated to North America and many North Americans have accepted Islam. Many are busy developing Muslim communities at local levels. The major problem of Muslims in North America is to PRESERVE Islam in their future generations. The melting pot effect of the American society does not allow isolation of a unique community like Muslims to preserve their identity of religion and culture. The net effect is the loss of their young to the melting pot culture. The only way of preserving the identity of Islam and Muslim culture are, (a) to increase the size of the community through propagation or/and immigration until it is large enough to preserve itself, and (b) to develop Muslim neighborhoods and Muslim enclaves with all the necessary facilities for survival. It is apparent that PROPAGATION of Islam is the best way to increase the size of the community. This is the way of Prophet Muhammad (S).
3. Resource development
Development of the Muslim community and its propagation needs human and material resources. Initially, Muslims in America would have to contribute a large share of resources and bring some from Muslim countries, whenever possible. As Americans, particularly the middle class, begin to enter in the fold of Islam they will bring their own material resources and skills with them. Prophet Muhammad (S) has reportedly (Bukhari) said that among the new Muslims those who excelled (in human qualities) during the period of ignorance (jahiliyah) excel in Islam after learning Islam. It simply means that the propagation of Islam will become a self catalyzing process after some input of energy, money and skills. It cannot happen until we make an organized beginning with definite goals and keep pushing until it takes over by itself and moves on.
4. Moral and spiritual healing
Muslims are moral and spiritual physicians and in this capacity they have the responsibility of diagnosing the patients and treating them. Muslims are in the forefront of claiming that Islam has the treatment for the ills of America, however, they lack the skills and courage to present the Islamic medicine to the American society. Is it possible that a medical doctor sits among many crying and moaning patients and not offer medicine to them? Similarly, Muslims, moral and spiritual doctors are living in a sick society; they know they have medicine but do not offer it to the sick. This is either hypocrisy or a false claim. Muslims have a duty to themselves not to acquire American social, moral and spiritual diseases and they have a duty to offer the treatment of Islam to the sick.
The Islamic injunction against alcohol and intoxicants will cure Western society of liquor and drug addiction. Islam removes the demand as well as the supply of drugs of abuse; it is a balanced approach. The Islamic system of infaq, zakah and prohibition of riba (interest) will bring social justice and equity in material terms. The prohibition of fornication and adultery will remove the problems of high divorce rate, single parents and juvenile crimes. Equality of races and equality of opportunity will bring harmony among all people and prosperity to all equally. The concept of accountability to Allah Who is All Seeing, All Powerful, All Knowing, All Hearing and Just will reduce the crime rate to a low manageable level bringing peace and security for all. And so on.
5. Benefits to Muslims living in North America
Muslims living in North America know the problems they are facing in their daily lives as Muslims. Islamic holidays of Eidain (two celebrations) are not recognized and it is difficult for them to take time off for Eid prayers or even Jum'ah prayer. Due to the bad perception of Islam and Muslims in this continent, many Muslims shy away from identifying themselves as Muslims. This is, in part, a problem of personal conviction and courage, and, in part, negligible minority perception. If there are many Muslims in an organization they will support each other and will be recognized. In schools our children are sometimes ridiculed for being Muslims and they do not get special privileges for Friday prayers, food and clothing requirements for gymnasium and swimming. If there are many Americans Muslims, even as a significant minority they will bring recognition of Muslim needs at the city, county, state and national levels.
6. Benefits to Muslim Countries
Islamic revivalists in many Muslim countries are trying to establish the Islamic way of life or khilafa but they are failing due to, (a) rampant sickness and corruption, (b) lack of understanding of Islam and its requirements by the Muslim masses, (c) secular minded oppressive rulers as kings, emirs and dictators supported by the anti-Islam West including Americans, (d) the ever present hand of the Western intelligence, particularly the CIA which employs every dirty trick in its book to crush the rise of Islam under the guise of anti-fundamentalism. If Islam spreads in America and many more people understand Islam properly, there will be many Muslim senators, congressmen, journalists, businessmen, diplomats, bureaucrats and others in addition to those sympathetic to Islam, at all levels to protect the interests of Islam and Muslims. They would not allow the CIA or similar such organizations to operate in Muslim countries in an adverse manner. A few examples are the State of Israel and European countries where the CIA and similar organizations do not interfere in internal matters and allow those countries to be run as their inhabitants would like. In case of Muslim countries the CIA is involved up to its neck in conspiring against Islamic systems and the revival of Islam. The spread of Islam in the West would have a positive psychological impact on West-imitating Muslim masses in Muslim countries.
7. Tazkiah or purification of Muslims
Prophet Muhammad (S) is a role model for Muslims and Muslims in turn are required to be role models for the rest of the mankind. Muslims will realize this important duty to become role models for other people only when they begin to present Islam to others. Muslims will have to learn Islam before presenting it which will have the positive effect of purifying them. Purification (moral and spiritual) is the process of success, i.e. going to paradise as Allah (SWT) has said,
It works the way teaching works; when a new teacher begins to teach he learns himself first and he becomes more learned the more he teaches.
The Term "Dawa'h"
According to many scholars in this field the term DA'WAH applies to conveying the message of Islam to non-Muslims and inviting them to Allah. Non-practicing and lost Muslims need to be reeducated and motivated to become better Muslims; they already know Allah (SWT) and have been given the concept of TAWHEED.
The working definition of DA'WAH for the Institute (III&E) includes the following functions: (a) conveying the message of Islam to non-Muslims and inviting them to Allah, (b) making efforts to remove misinformation about Islam and Muslims from text books, reference material and media, (c) making efforts for the integration of new Muslims into the Muslim community, and (d) to develop material resources, recruit manpower (volunteer) and provide training for da'wah workers.
An Appeal To Islamic Organizations
Knowing the importance of da'wah to the non-Muslim American people, it is a duty of every Muslim and Islamic organizations to spend a significant proportion of their budget, manpower and time on da'wah. It is suggested that Islamic organizations spend 30 to 50 percent of their budget and manpower on propagation of Islam in their city and state. Individual Muslims should spend 5 to 10 percent of their disposable income and 50% of their zakah on da'wah through the fund for talif al-quloob.
The Institute of Islamic Information & Education (III&E) was established in 1985 with the comprehensive project of conveying the message of Islam to everyone in North America. You are invited to give your helping hand to this project by giving your time, talent and money. III&E is a non-profit religious institution and all your donations are TAX EXEMPT (as allowed by IRS under certain income limits). It is suggested that you give one percent (1%) of your annual income to the Institute. You may give all your ZAKAT money to the Institute. III&E uses one hundred percent of its funds for da'wah work.
III&E publishes brochures and tracts for non-Muslims as well as Muslims. In addition, III&E has an Islamic Reading Room in Chicago where it holds classes on Islam for new Muslims and non-Muslims. III&E gives out free books and tapes to needy persons and participates in da'wah work in the prison system. III&E personnel give lectures and talks on Islam and Muslims in schools and churches on request. You may request one set of brochures and tracts by mailing a five dollar check or money order to the Institute. You may request Islamic literature in bulk quantities for distribution. Write to III&E, call or send a fax.