Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dawa and why I don't 'do it'

EDIT: I am aware that you can spell 'Dawa' as 'Dawah'. I spell it the former way, not sure which is more 'correct' but you know what I'm talking about anyway.

I thought I'd give you two posts to make up for having a week off. I like to pair my 'Islam' articles with something different so everyone get's something to read, even if they are not a religious sort. I'm nice like that. For the non-Muslims here, Dawa is the act of 'calling people to Islam', evangelicalism if you like. Let us begin...

I often get asked 'why don't you do Dawa'? I'm told how good I'd be at it given my apparent 'skill' at writing and talking (this raised my eyebrows). I'm told how wonderful it feels to welcome new brothers and sisters into the faith. And I'm told how it is every Muslims 'duty' to do this.

Frankly I've always been slightly repulsed by the thought of going up to someone and shoving my faith in their face. We've all had the people knocking at our door trying to spread the 'good news' and I've yet to know anyone who has 'converted' because of it. By and large, Muslims don't go knocking doors, not that I know anyway, but similar tactics of 'approaching' people exist.

Again, this makes me feel odd. Why should I mess with someone's choice of faith? What concern of mine is it? None I feel. But I'm told how wrong I am and how I should be shoving it in their faces.

But here's the thing, Dawa, as in 'evangelicalism', isn't really Dawa. I know plenty of 'converts' from these evangelical activities. Most of them aren't 'Muslim' any more. The other thing is that, yes, one of a Muslim's 'duty' is Dawa. But again Dawa isn't evangelicalism.

It's not how many 'souls you can save'. There is no thing in Islam over 'saving souls' and indeed, the actions of others are not taken into account when a person is judged for their life. A person's actions are all that matters. Granted, causing someone to sin means that the 'cost' of the sin is born by yourself as well but the same goes for causing someone to do something good. However, 'converting' someone never falls in anywhere.

Because Dawa is living as a good Muslim. I always say that every Muslim is an ambassador for their faith. Most of the 'converts' I was talking about cease to be 'Muslims' because we aren't 'Muslims' ourselves. We show them how Islam is and should be and then act in a completely different way and thus, they drop the faith that they 'converted' to. I don't blame them.

A friend of mine is studying in the Middle East right now. She told me how rude the 'Muslims' are, how they don't care for others, how the behave badly. She is, might I add, and Asian Muslim so this behavior is new to her. Indeed, a lot of Muslims go to the Middle East and expect it to be and Islamic paradise for some odd reason! How mistaken they are, in fact I must say of all the 'Islamic' places on earth, the Middle East is way towards the bottom of the list. Not to say there aren't good Muslims there, but the attitude in general is all wrong. They are not good ambassadors by far.

The other issue is with the evangelical Dawa givers themselves. They are all seem to be happy to 'convert' dozens of people, but they seem to skimp on the actual important bit of looking after other new Muslims and making sure they are secure in their faith. There is more to Islam than repeating the Shahadah with meaning you know. I'm ofter suspicious of these 'great' Dawa givers who convert people after a lecture or on their doorstep. What sort of person learns all there is to know about Islam in a few hours?! And what happens to them after this 'conversion'? There seems to be stress in getting people through the door and not caring what happens to them after. That is not Dawa.

We simply, as Muslims on the whole, don't behave correctly. If you really want to give Dawa then start with yourself. Start behaving 'Islamicly'. That doesn't mean you dress in a certain way and spend all your time in a Mosque. It means having manners, respect for others and behaving politely. It's really all about being a better human as well.

It means that you treat others as Islam says you should, it means kindness, compassion and charity to all of mankind. It means becoming a better Muslim. It means you go that extra bit to help others. It doesn't mean you go around feeling good at the dozen 'new Muslims' you 'created'.

You should never aim to be 'converting' people, rather you should make 'conversion' a by product of your life. If someone looks at you and feels they want to find out more about your faith then isn't that better than shoving it in their face? If they want help with this then by all means give it, but you shouldn't make it your goal.

That is the best Dawa you can ever give and it is what will actually 'convert' people. Be an ambassador, not an evangelical.



  1. Words of a true Muslim Ambassador ^__^

    But some may beg to differ with reasons of "content of the dawa" being the turning point; some may say that an effective 'shoving in the face' may not need to include exceptional enlightenment, but it just need to act as a spark that leaves the listener wanting to know more themselves rather than given a full blown lecture on Islam.

  2. Glad you could make it over here Amani :-) Since you asked for it, I'll do your organ donation in Islam as one of my articles. As both a blood donor and an organ donor, it's something close to me. My argument is that the Qu'ran says at 5:32:

    'On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.'

    It talks of how the Children of Israel ignored this very clear command to try and save lives and to only kill in very strict circumstances. And how better to save a life than to give life in your death by donating an organ.

    I'll leave that there for now as it's a topic that can be read in a later article I'm doing.

    Anyway, your post. The 'content' of the Dawa being a spark is often argued but my reply to this is that once you start lecturing people and shoving it in their face, they cease to listen. Any sparks you may make have already been dampened. Think about it, when the salesman comes up to offer you a new credit card or whatever, do you listen? Or is it more 'oh here we go again' and switch off?

    I again say that it's far better to be an 'ambassador' and make lots of 'sparks' by living your life as Islam and humanity commands. For sure, explain when someone asks why you live your life like you do and always help with people's questions. That is Dawa! I believe that Islam as a faith is self evident, all it requires is for us to practice it.



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