Our methodology, our fiqh, of da`wah, is based on three principles; brotherhood, love and hope, and is also constituted by three important elements. Our religion teaches us that the knowledge of the tawheed (Oneness of Allah) is written in the heart and in the soul of every human being but some have forgotten this truth.
The function of the Prophets – and ours as we follow in their footsteps – is to remind people by spreading the knowledge and the understanding of Islam.
This is the function of ar-rasul (messenger), an-nadhir and the da`iyah and it is only when this recall has been carried out that we can say that the people are kuffar (unbelievers). Al-kufr (disbelief) is to have been recalled, to know, and then to deny. The keepers of the hell will ask:
Has no warner ever come to you?” and those who disbelieve in their Lord will reply “Yea, a warner did indeed come unto us but we gave him the lie and said, ‘Never Allah sent down anything’”. (Al-Mulk 67:8-9)
The first dimension of our methodology is then to spread knowledge and especially in these secular societies. As Muslims we are taught that two things have to be avoided: ignorance and forgetfulness.
Today we are witnessing a great lie: the people in general and the youth in particular think that they are free to choose and very often they know nothing about their religion. But freedom cannot be based on ignorance for they are antithetical words.
The ignorance of faith and religion in our societies works as a constraint, as a coercion and as such this fact sheds a new light on the well-known verses: “No coercion in matters of faith”. (Al-Baqarah 2:256)
Coercion through power and might is not the only way of compulsion, for there is a more pernicious one that uses ignorance to deceive people and lead them astray. As Muslims we have to spread the message to give the people the opportunity to choose in full knowledge.
To explain, what the fundamentals of Islam are, is important but the real message of Islam will be the manifestation of how our faith transforms us and help us to be sincere, trustworthy, confident and at peace. To be a da`iyah is to be an example, a model as the Prophet was (quduwah). Good words, books, and theories do not change or guide people, the example does. To bear witness to the truth is to act as a model and not necessarily to speak so much.
And who could be better of speech than he who calls unto God, and does what is just and right and says “Verily I am of those who have surrendered themselves to Allah. (Fussilat 41:33)
For this purpose, we need to live among the people, to be in touch with them and not to be isolated from the society we live in. There is an important verse, which give us a specific teaching on the way we have to be and to interact with people and it reads:
As for such (of the unbelievers) as do not fight against you on account of your faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave towards them with full equity: for, verily, God loves those who act equitably. (Al-Mumtahanah 60:8)
As noted by Az-Zamakhshari, “does not forbid you” in this verse implies a positive exhortation. Allah gives us two keys: kindness (al-bir, same root as the word used for our parents, bir al-walidayn) and equity.
Language of the Heart
The kindness is related to our heart and manifests in our sensitivity in our day-to-day life. Kindness and our generosity are means through which people can understand the intimate meaning of our religion based on faith, peace and brotherhood.
This is the language of the heart and it comes first in this verse. Then, we find the language of the mind and action: one of the great signs of our religion is to promote, to defend and to maintain justice in all circumstances. This has to be our distinctive characteristic: to be fair, equitable and just, intellectually, socially, and financially.
To be Muslim is to respect both the heart and the mind of our fellow human, to be both kind and just, with both Muslims and non-Muslims. Our message is love, our message is justice: not only the words ‘love’ and ‘justice’, but by their real translation in our day-to-day life.
You may know the story of the Prophet with the young Jew, who stayed with the Prophet for several years and whom the Prophet loved. He once fell seriously ill and was about to die.
The Prophet – who had never forced him to become Muslim – went to visit him and after a while asked him to utter the Shahadah (Testimony of Faith). The young turned his eyes towards his father and asked: “May I, father?” The latter said “yes” and the young Jew said the Shahadah. The Prophet was so happy for he loved him and was very attentive and thoughtful towards him.
This is an example for us. To be kind, to go along, to be patient and humble and never to constraint or push and to give to everyone the attention he or she deserves.
To believe is a grace and blessing of Allah and ‘we cannot guide aright everyone whom we love’ so we must be aware of our limited role. But our role remains of a great importance, nevertheless, and we will be called to account by Allah as to the way we bear witness to and transmit the message of Islam to the societies in which we live.
Asked about the destiny of those who did not know anything about Islam a ‘alim answered “I fear that we may be called to account by Allah for having not convey the message as we had to”. Every one of us is a da`iyah and should be a light for the people around, by reminding people of Allah by being living example of how He should be loved and served.