Once a Muslim is assured of his or her qualifications and readiness to engage in da`wah, the next step involves deciding how to prepare themselves for it; how to do it and with what resources.
There are three levels of da’wah work which can be examined:
Personal Da`wah Efforts
These include any da`wah activity you carry out with friends, family and acquaintances. (Notice the use of the word “with” and not “towards”. We cannot cause anyone, not even ourselves, to be “saved”. We must all work together mutually for the good pleasure of Allah.)
Scant resources are needed here other than yourself, a few good books on Islam, and possibly a local masjid in which to gain inspiration and any additional help one may need.
Possibilities for action are:
A- Living Islam as your way of life, thus showing others a positive image of your faith.
B- Donating books to libraries.
C- Responding to anti-Islamic propaganda on radio talk shows or in the newspapers.
D- Tacking fliers up or taking out small advertisements.
E- Subscribing to Muslim periodicals for information and thereby helping to strengthen the new Muslim media.
F- Supporting Islamic causes financially, morally and/or physically to the best of your ability.
Organized Da`wah Activities
These are medium-sized projects that usually require less than a few hundred dollars but are very effective. A relatively large supply of da`wah materials will be needed, as well as some appointed persons to organize and direct the activities.
Halls, hotel conference rooms and masjids are in plentiful supply for holding lectures and every college campus or center of town provides an excellent forum for Islam.
Common undertakings are:
A- Lectures, debates, trialogues and dialogues.
B- Fundraising activities.
C- Establishing local prayer services.
D- Book tables and literature mailing services.
E- Renting billboards or advertising in papers.
F- Community social work, i.e. soup kitchens,
neighborhood clean-up crews, elderly assistance.
G- Youth activities such as summer camps, quiz competitions, speech competitions, etc. …
Major Da`wah Projects
Here is where expenses start to climb. These activities can only be carried out by the large organizations such as ICNA, ISNA, MAS, MSA, masjid councils, etc. … and require much planning and participation. Some examples are:
C- Political activism.
D- Funding masjids, schools and aid projects.
E- Providing a wide forum for Muslims to meet,
plan and reinforce their Islamic prerogatives.
F- Coordination of a nation-wide da’wah movement.
G- Publishing useful Islamic books and periodicals.
H- Producing radio or television programs.
A word about financial commitment; we must remember that da`wah does not require cash. It is not a program of throwing money into projects and having new Muslims come in as dividends.
The Message of Islam is carried by the heart of every faithful believer, and not by an almighty dollar or dinar. There is no substitute for good, committed Muslim brothers and sisters. Indeed, millions have entered Islam solely through observing the excellent conduct and character of the Muslims they met. So insist on quality of iman (belief) over the size or scope of the undertaking.
To help you in your planning no matter what the level, here is a useful checklist of questions to ask yourself:
1- Who am I trying to reach?
2- What is the best way to reach them?
3- How much time, energy and money will it take?
4- When should I start planning?
5- What do I need to get?
6- Who will assist me/us?
7- Where/when will the activity take place?
8- Have I covered everything?
9- Do I have any back-up plans?
10- Will there be any follow-up for those who want to learn more?
The article is an excerpt from the author’s How to Tell Others About Islam, 1994 by Yahiya Emerick (a former President of the Islamic Foundation of North America, vice-principal at an Islamic school, and a prolific Muslim author).