By Sabeel Ahmed:
Definition of Dawah
Dawah means to invite non-Muslim to accept the truth of Islam. Performing Dawah involves both our words and actions.
Importance of Dawah in Islam
? 'Invite all to the way of your Lord with Wisdom and beautiful Preaching…' (16:125)? '…you are made witnesses unto mankind…' (2:143)? 'Let there arise a group inviting to all that is good…' (3:104)It was the persistent Dawah by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that brought several youth into Islam, including Prophet's cousin, Hadrat Ali ?. It was the many youth throughout Islamic history who took Islam to the various geographical frontiers including Muhammad bin Qasim, a 17-year-old youth, who brought Islam to the subcontinent of India.Provided below are some practical suggestion that Muslim students as individuals and as a group should undertake to accomplish the above responsibility.
School Students: Receptive to New ideas
Schools and college students are routinely exposed in their classroom to new information and opinions, hence they tend to be more receptive to new beliefs and ideas. Learning institutions are therefore fertile grounds where the seeds of Islam can be sowed inside the hearts of non-Muslim students. Muslim students should take ample advantage of this opportunity and expose their schoolmates to the beautiful beliefs of Islam.
First and foremost the Muslim students should establish themselves into a Muslim group (Muslim Students Association, Islamic Circle, Quran Study Group etc) if they haven't yet instituted one. Organized efforts give better results and contain blessings of Allah in them. The prime aim of this group should be to evolve Muslim themselves into dynamic Muslim personalities and also to portray Islam to their non-Muslim peers and schools staff in a positive way using words and actions.
It has been proven that one to one contact with non-Muslim students in the classroom is the most effective way to share Islam. Personal contacts tend to be more informal and tend to be more invitational of the questions from the non-Muslims. It is advised that brother work on the non-Muslim boys and likewise sister work on girls.
Muslims can create opportunities for non-Muslims to ask them question by performing simple conducts like: saying 'insha Allah' when talking about a future activity; mentioning that they are going to prayer during Salaat time, not eating during fasting, brothers wearing kufi, sisters wearing Hijab etc, not using swear words during conversation, not lying, using modest clothes etc. And when the questions that do crop up from their peers should be dealt with in a very concise and eloquent manner. Doing this would require some basic knowledge on the part of Muslim students.
Get Prepared to Explain:
Some of the topics that all Muslims should be able to explain are:
? Concept of Tawhid (Oneness of God) ? Prophet Muhammad (S) as being a real Prophet ? Quran: a Message to mankind? News reports about violence by Muslims ? Polygamy in Islam ? Reasons for wearing Hijab ? Reasons for praying five daily? Quran and Science
All students should obtain the ways to explain these topics through their study Circle, by reading articles in Islamic magazines, videos, lecture and through experiences of other students. For further assistance contact: Islam662@cssn.com
Dawah through School & Campus Newspaper
School and campus Newspapers are another effective mode of doing Dawah. Muslim students are highly encouraged to become writers and editors of their school papers. Inform the writing staff to consult you before publishing articles on Islam and Muslims. Being a writer will give you ample opportunity in providing Islamically inclined articles which will insha Allah open the hearts and minds of its readers. As a group the Muslim students should try to contribute an article on Islam in each issue of its paper. The school may not allow you to preach in the school paper, but Al-Hamdullah there are way to circumvent this problem. When your Islamic group holds any Islamic event like lectures, religious/ cultural events etc, submit an article about this event as a 'news' article. Thus you are still exposing an aspect of Islam without coming forth as a preacher. Second way to circumvent the problem is to write articles about Islamic holidays e.g. the two EIDs and again submit them as 'news' articles. It also helps to have a good rapport with the editor and the writing staff of the paper. Invite them to your iftar parties, gatherings, lectures etc.
Relief Booths to Help Disaster Victims
During the time of any natural and human created disasters, Muslims students should be the first one to respond by setting up a disaster relief assistance booth, which collects money, canned food, clothes etc. This gives a very positive picture of Islam and Muslims as servers of humanity, compared to the negative images of Islam portrayed by the media.
Including Islamic Holidays in School calendar
Many schools events and exams are scheduled around the Jewish and Christian holidays. Muslims students should approach the school authorities as a group and had our Islamic date to be included in the school diaries and be considered during the scheduling of important school events.
Islamic books in School and Campus Libraries
Encourage the school libraries to shelf books and magazines on Islam written by Muslim, and provide the librarian a list of recommended books on Islam. If the library is unwilling to purchase it themselves, the students should raise funds amongst themselves and from their parents and come up with the required books.
Scanning Textbook for Misinformation on Islam
Students of all grades and their parents should constantly scan the text books to detect any biased material on Islam. If any is found, it should be brought to the attention of the teachers and the school authorities, providing them with the correct information with evidence, and have the teacher announce to the students the correct information.
Starting an Islamic Newsletter
A newsletter on Islam and Muslims can be started by the Muslim students, if the school and campus allows it. This letter can be funded mostly by advertisements and donations. A newsletter on Islam and Muslims will again help in dispelling the misinformation circulating around and also portrays Muslims as being organized and proactive.
Incorporating Islam in Class Projects
Some aspects of Islam can be very well incorporated in the school projects. E.g. In the speech class, if there is a freedom to choose a topic, an Islamic topic should be selected. Similar opportunities can be created in history, social science, writing and other classes.Remember, It was always Muslim creativity, Iman and the help of Allah that has constantly won victories for the Muslims, and schools and campuses won't be any exceptions.
Other Miscellaneous Activities
? Setting up Dawah tables? Hosting Islamic exhibitions ? Placing advertisements in the school and college newspaper with the toll free telephone number for non-Muslims to call: 1-800-662-Islam or your local Masjid number.
It is highly recommended that all Muslim students should carry Dawah flyers in their schools bags and purses to pass them on to their friends at school.
We should use every opportunity presented or created to sensitize non-Muslim peers and school staff with Islam and establish an environment in which every where a non-Muslims turn, they notice Islam portrayed in a positive way and get influenced by it and eventually accept Islam with Allah's guidance, insha Allah.
Sabeel Ahmed [Currently, he is the co-chairman of the Da'wa Committee and Board of Director at the Muslim Community Center, Illinois. A student of Ahmed Deedat and now works for the 1-800-662-islam hotline of ICNA. His main interest is in comparative religion.]
1- The problem with ultraconservatives is that they would be able to recruit few people to Islam. Moderates on the other hand who are sticking to the ten commandments and the basic values of Islam with allowing people to have fun enjoying music movies and extra will be able to recruit millions of people.
2- Freedom of sex and alcohol are not a compromise for their destructibility. Though you still can be a Muslim and sin but as we build our Muslims communities we need to encourage people of early marriage and giving up alcohol. There is no obligation in religion or behaviour but there is also freedom of Dawah or spreading Islam and its morals. I am not an Imam but I am a constant observer the best for the communities is moderate Islam.
3- Non-Muslims should not feel intimidated God has the right to spread his message and people has the right to refuse it and even sin.
4- Christians who are spreading their religions and its morality are encouraged to do that. Muslims should consider them our brothers and sisters. We are waiting for the same great man Jesus (PBUH).
5- Islam can be a great antidote to the problems of drugs, sex and violence in schools in the west and Muslim countries. Islam can be also be of great value to family integrity and the sense of community.
6- They will scare people in the west of Islam although what I mention above is the exact Dawah of Jesus. He was even more passionate about it and was breaking the tables in the temple when he was fighting corruption.
7- The other thing they will scare you about is that this is against the Dawah of Jesus who they will quote was talking about a different kingdom. If he would come today he would be sent on rendition to somewhere in the Middle East. When he will come down to earth he will be in the middle of righteous people who would support and protect him.