I am asking Allah (SWT) today through this brief talk insha Allah to reach out to my brothers and sisters in Islam, by talking to them about an action that Allah (SWT) loves very much. I am also hoping, in the spirit of optimism, that it is already running in the veins of many of us, and if not then that after today’s talk insha Allah it will become so. Particularly because today’s action is one that raises one to the most honorary ranks with Allah [SWT].
If we search for the most honorable human beings throughout history we cannot possibly find those more honorable than the Prophets and Messengers (as). The natural question that follows from this inquiry is what did they do that caused them to reach beyond earthly heights? And furthermore, why are we asking these questions in the first place? Simple, because if we inquire of their actions, then we can take them on and in turn rise as they did—not of course to their ranks for that’s impossible but close to them.
You must understand sisters and brother that the prophets were here on the face of the very earth that we live on today. Yes, the very same one. They lived among humans like we do today. But the question is how did they live their lives among humans? They lived for “Dawa” to Allah [SWT]. They lived to call and invite others to Allah. They lived their lives as “captains steering ships that carried people to the shores of safety.” Indeed they were the very vessels that carried people to Allah [SWT]. They showed others the purpose that Allah intended for them. They led them out of the darkness and into the light—the light of Islam, the light of submission to the will of the Creator of the Heavens and the earth. The Prophets and Messengers were those who were chosen for a mission, and they accepted it head on and dedicated their lives to save those who were drowning in the seas of sin and making them see the vastness of Allah’s forgiveness.
We too, dear Muslim brothers and sisters, want to be the captains steering those ships that carry people to Allah [SWT]. We want to be those vessels bringing them back to the fold of Islam. We want to be the lifejackets for those drowning in their sins. We want to light the way for others, guiding them from the pits of darkness to the best of lights– the light of Islam. We too want to spend our days and nights sending out invitations to people asking them to come back to Allah. We want our every action to advertise for Allah [SWT] and His way.
You know there is an ayah in the Qur’an that we should stop at and contemplate on today. In this ayah, Allah is asking us in earnest to think about who is indeed the best of the best. He asks: “And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah and does righteousness and says, ‘Indeed, I am of the Muslims.’” [Fussilat (41): 33]
Alhasan Al Basri interpreted this ayah and said: “Those who call and invite to Allah in speech, and do righteous deeds are the beloveds of Allah [SWT] on the face of the earth. They are crown of of Allah’s Creations. For they responded to Allah when He called them, and said to others, ‘I am from the Muslims.’”
Isn’t this ayah enough for us to aspire to attain such a position with Allah [SWT]. Let’s make a commitment today to imitate the Prophets and Messengers through the action of the Prophets and Messengers before us, that of “calling and inviting others to Allah.” We want to follow their path, so that we are resurrected with them insha Allah in the Hereafter. Not only that but we want to literally be resurrected holding hands with them, because we are going to lead our lives figuratively holding their hands in our lives through our speech and actions. Say Insha Allah.
But let’s consider a point in question. Why does Allah [SWT] love Dawa [calling/inviting to Allah]? And why does Allah love a person who takes on Dawah? And furthermore, why is the speech of calling and inviting to Him, so pleasurable to His ears? Because a person involved in Dawa is the one who believes most in the “idea.” The one who believes most in this Deen [religion/way of life]. The one who believes most in the creed of Islam [Aqeedah]. The one who believes most in Allah.
Let me explain. If you have a company, or you are a person who believes in a certain principle/value/ideal, and someone comes to you and says, “I love your idea. I am going to sponsor it. Not only that but I am going to spend my life advocating for it.” If that person says to you, “I am going to lead people to you. Guide them to you and tell them to listen to you.” And to Allah is ascribed the best of examples. In earnest, if this was to happen to you, how much would you value that person who advocates for your ideas, principles, values and ideals. No doubt, we always value a person who believes in us. So, does Allah [SWT] love and value a person who calls and invites others to Him [SWT] and to His path, because that person is the one who believes in Him the most. So know that if your state of affairs is such that what you say and do are evidence of your deep faith in Allah and certainty in Allah [SWT] then you are to Him [SWT] the best of people. You are a living example of the inheritor of the Messenger Muhammad (saw).
This does not in any way mean I am addressing one particular slice of the Muslim Ummah. With this I am addressing the Ummah at large; I am addressing those of you working inside or outside of the home. To those of you who are students of secular or religious knowledge; those of you are young or old. Remember the Prophet (saw) made dua for us all who take on Dawa; listen to the sweetness of the dua of the Prophet (saw), he said “May Allah grant radiance to those who hear a saying of mine [from the Prophet that is], and understand it as it was intended, and deliver it as they heard it.” Do you understand what the Prophet (saw) is asking for on your behalf in this dua? He is asking Allah that you see Him [SWT] –Allah–in the Hereafter. For “Nadhar” in Arabic appears in the Qur’an where Allah speaks about radiant faces and says, “[Some] faces, that Day, will be radiant because they will be looking at their Lord.” [(Al Quiyamah) 75:22] And remember what the Prophet (saw) said about Abu Bakr. He (saw) said, “Abu Bakr did not precede you because he fasted more than you, or that he prayed more than you. But he preceded you because of something that settled firmly in his heart.” What is this “something” that settled in Abu Bakr’s heart? It is certainty in Allah. Faith in Allah. Carrying the message of the Prophet (saw) to others—for remember most of those who were given the glad tidings of Jannah from the greatest of Sahabah were guided to Islam through Abu Bakr.
You know happiness and sorrow hold different meanings to those who do Dawa. To them they are happy to see others believe in Allah, pleased to see them love Allah. They are ecstatic when they see them obeying Allah and pleasing Allah. Inversely, their worst moments are those when they see others disobeying Allah. When they see them earning His wrath, sinning against Him, and transgressing His boundaries. That is how happiness and sorrow translates for them. Furthermore, indifference to Allah (SWT) bothers them, and triggers their duas of, “Ya Rab! O Allah I love you and want to lead others to you. Guide them O Allah.” Listen to this beautiful hadith narrated by Abu Musa (raa), who said that the Messenger of Allah (saw):
My example and the example of the Message with which Allah has sent me is like that of a man who came to some people and said, ‘I have seen with my own eyes the enemy forces, and I am a naked warner (to you) so save yourself, save yourself!’ A group of them obeyed him and went out at night slowly, stealthily and were safe. While another group did not believe him, thus the army took them in the morning and destroyed them. [Sahih Bukhari]
It was an Arabian custom that a man, on seeing the forces of the enemy, would take off his clothes and would wave it above his head to signal an impending danger. In other words, the Messenger of Allah (saw) is saying that he was doing his best to warn his people of the forces of Shaytan and the Fire towards which they were headed. But not everyone heeded his warning. Those who did were saved, while those who ignored him were destroyed. This was true in Makkah 1400 years ago and it is true today with few Muslims choosing to follow Allah and His Messenger’s commands while claiming to believe in the very Fire against which he has warned.
Know dear sisters and brothers of Islam, the world is void of the physical being of the Prophets and Messengers—for our Prophet (saw) was the last of them. So, what’s left of them? We are left—but only if we adorn ourselves with their love for Dawa. We are the inheritors of the message of the Prophets and Messengers, for remember the Prophet (saw) said, “Convey on my behalf a single Ayah.” With those words he passed the torch of the eternal Message of Islam onto us. All of us! Not just those who are enclosed within the walls of Islamic institutions. We are all as Allah (SWT) says, “You are the best of peoples ever raised up for humankind; you enjoin Al-Ma`ruf (all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allah.”
But before we take on Dawa, and call and invite people to Islam there are some important points we should consider. The Prophet (saw) said, “There are among you those who simply drive people away from Islam.” This is not the kind of Dawa we want to be involved in, for remember we are taking on this action for the pleasure of Allah [SWT]. So this kind would be counterproductive. So, we want to keep three things in mind:
The first, is that we perform Dawa with Hikmah [wisdom]. What does that mean? It means that you know what to say to whom and when. In other words, saying the right words, at the right time, and to the right person. You must understand dear brothers and sister that as callers to Allah, we are best likened to doctors who choose the right medication for the right illness, based on our knowledge of the person. Remember in Dawa we want to influence others positively, and not cause them to run away.
Furthermore, wisdom shows your sincerity in wanting to invite people, and guiding them to Allah. You are not out there just to accumulate hasanaat [rewards]. Realize, that there are two intentions you take on while performing Dawa. The first one is it’s a noble cause and you want to accumulate hasanaat. The other is that you really want to help and guide others. The first intention is not enough, because you could stand there and recall all the information that you have acquired about Islam, and unearth all the shortcomings in society and label them as Haram. But problem is that it’s not the right time or the right moment. You can see how in many cases this would counterproductive. So, when a person is in front of you, your niyyah [ intention] should be that you truly want to guide this person, and so you make a conscious decision to study them and choose what is appropriate to say and do at that particular moment. You tailor what you want to say to cater to the moment, and to the person in front of you. Remember tailor, not twist Islam. Listen to this hadith by the Mother of the believers Aisha (raa):
If the first thing to be revealed was: ‘Do not drink alcoholic drinks.’ people would have said, ‘We will never leave alcoholic drinks,’ and if there had been revealed, ‘Do not commit illegal sexual intercourse, ‘they would have said, ‘We will never give up illegal sexual intercourse.’ While I was a young girl of playing age, the following Verse was revealed in Mecca to Muhammad: ‘Nay! But the Hour is their appointed time (for their full recompense), and the Hour will be more grievous and more bitter.’ (54.46) As for Surat Al-Baqara (The Cow) and Surat An-Nisa (The Women) they were revealed while I was with him [in Medina].
Reflect on what Aisha (raa) is saying. She is saying that if the caller or inviter to Islam had called the companions to stop drinking alcohol or committing illegal sexual intercourse, they would have not responded to the call. And she is saying that the Surahs in which the rulings of the permissibility and impermissibility [ halal and haram] came afterwards in Al Madinah. Believe it or not, the prohibition of alcoholic drinks came 6 years after the battle of Uhud, that’s 16 years after the start of the revelation. So, in our Dawa we should understand that not everyone has been brought up in their homes to know that prayer should be established on time. Not every brother knows that wearing a gold necklace is Haram, or even that cigarettes are Haram.
Too often we come across a person who invites to Allah, and is Ma Sha Allah known to be a person of good faith and good intention. They have the desire to help people. But wherever they are, they can’t help but focus on people’s faults and label them as halal or Makrouh [disliked]. Wait? Do those you address love Allah? Have you won their hearts so that they can receive the news of what Allah hates and avoid it? Or is it just that you want to collect Hasanaat and go home? Remember you should have the intention to make others love Allah; love to be guided to Him and by Him. You are preparing the fertile ground for them to receive the message of light. So, win hearts first before you take on the mission of this hadith, “Whoever amongst you sees anything objectionable, let him change it with his hand. If he is not able, then with his tongue; and if he is not even able to do so, then with his heart, and the latter is the weakest form of faith.” This hadith especially has become an excuse for bad taste in Dawa.
Let’s understand the difference between “changing something that is objectionable” which is time sensitive, and between inviting to Allah [SWT]. If you see an injustice being committed right in front of you like a Muslim cab driver for instance who is blowing second hand smoke in the face of all his customers. You might never get to see him again, so do point out that what he is doing is objectionable. It is time sensitive. But Dawa, is a process of unlocking hearts first. So it could be that you are interested in inviting to Islam a person at work, a roommate, a sibling, or even a friend. If you suffocate them from day one, they won’t want to listen to you anymore. So, use your wisdom to know how to get them to know Allah; how to attract them to Allah? How you can make them understand that Allah [SWT] loves them, and is the most compassionate to them. Unlock hearts first. Break down those walls, those barriers, those fences and you can only do that if you follow Allah’s advice of “Call [ing] to the path of Allah with Hikmah [wisdom]”
So, the first characteristic our Dawa should have is Hikmah. The second is to call with our actions, and not just with your speech. So if we are to go back to our previous image of the callers to Allah being vessels carrying people to safety. If those being invited to safety, approach those vessels and find them unattractive, dark, and hostile. If they find out that they don’t have enough space for them—for their hearts that have limited space. If that is the case, then they won’t want to be carried on those vessels. Some of those who call to Allah [SWT] are what I like to call Dawah chic. Their actions beg the question. People are dying to ask you about this religion that makes them the beautiful and compassionate people they are. They are living and moving example of Islam. Remember we want to touch peoples’ hearts in dawah with the kindness and compassion of Islam, and not just through the number of Ayahs and Ahadeeth we have managed to memorize. Remember you are the lasting mark of the Prophet (saw), the product of a Prophet of Mercy to the Universe.
And last but not least, besides Hikmah and walking the walk of what you are calling for, the third is to invite people with the correct information that is appropriate to our realities and our times. Acquiring Islamic knowledge should be your best friend; that and asking those of knowledge. Oftentimes, those in Dawa out of a deep desire to guide a person they make Islam as lax as possible for others, and on the other end there are those who make it so rigid. We want to take on Dawa with insight as recommended in Surat Yusuf where Allah (SWT) says: “ Say, ‘This is my way; I invite to Allah with insight. I and those who follow me. And exalted is Allah; and I am not of those who associate others with Him.”
This is the path of the Prophets (as)—and we have inherited this path so receive your inheritance and act upon it Insha Allah today. Think today about who you will take on as a Dawah project, but make sure you have the right intention, perform it with Hikmah and knowledge, and be the best living example of what you are calling others to.
I ask Allah [SWT] to open up between us and people, so that we can show them the lighted path of Islam.