Dawah and It’s Challenges
The challenges in conveying the message of Islam to non-Muslims (and non-believers) are complex. In this day and age, there is and has always been a lack of information with regards to the correct knowledge of Islam in the West, and North America in particular. These challenges are marred by mis-information and dis-information about Islam and Muslims. There are many reasons why this is so: some political, some economic, some religious and so-forth.
The Muslim population in the West has increased in the last 30 years, to the extent that Muslims have become the second largest religious group in the United States. Accordingly, it is a challenge for Muslims to live up to their responsibility in correcting the current worldwide knowledge (mis-information and dis-information) concerning Islam.
The question is why dawah and ‘Why Dawah is required by all muslims. It is clear in the Qur’an that all Muslims are to convey the message of Allah (SWT). This command is stated in the Holy Qur’an in over 200 ayats. One example of an ayat states:
“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair preaching and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly your Lord knows best who has gone astray from HIS path, and HE is best aware of those who are guided”.
The above stated ayat is just one of many ayats in the Qur’an which give Muslims similar directives.
Allah (SWT) commanded Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to “convey My message”. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) completed his mission to Allah (SWT) in his lifetime by conveying the message of one GOD to the whole Arabian Peninsula, and by sending letters to the leaders of other countries. A Hadith shows that even upon his impending end, Prophet Mohammad still carried out his mission. For during his farewell Hajj, Prophet Muhammad gave a Khutba which passed on this responsibility to every Muslim when he stated, “Those who are present should convey (my message) to those who are not” (Bukhari). The Muslim community is obligated to go out and convey Allah’s message, for Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had said “convey for me (to the people) even (if) it be a single ayat”.
This works the same way teaching does: when a new teacher begins to teach, that person (i.e., the teacher) learns first and then becomes more learned the more he/she teaches. The more learned the teacher becomes – the more that teacher can teach others. Individuals and the Islamic community have a duty to convey Allah (SWT) message to people who know little or nothing about Islam and to invite them to it (Islam). The emphasis is on the transmission of the message of Islam to other people. Muslims are not responsible to convert people by force or through coercion (Qur’an 2:256).
According to many scholars in Dawah, the term dawah applies to conveying the message of Islam to non-Muslims and inviting them to Allah (SWT). Non-Muslims and non-believers (and even some weak Muslims) need to be re-educated and re-motivated to become better Muslims. They already know Allah (SWT) and have been given the concept of One and Only One GOD (Allah).
For COQII – Children of the Qur’an Islamic Institute, the working definition of dawah includes (but is not limited to) the following:
conveying the message of Islam and information about Islam to non-Muslims and non-believers and inviting them to Allah (SWT) and Islam,
making efforts to remove mis-information and dis-information about Islam and Muslims from the media and other referenced materials,
making efforts for the integration of returning and new Muslims into the Muslim community, and
to develop material resources, recruit volunteers and provide dawah training for dawah workers,
create a bridge for incarcerated non-Muslims and Muslims by providing Islamic information and materials, with efforts towards creating resources for inmates upon release,
extending dawah efforts to increase presentations at Islamic and non-Islamic activities, including conferences, inter-faith activities and cultural & city events,
providing free information, materials, books and tapes to non-Muslims, new Muslims and persons incarcerated (men and women in prison).