First, a Story.
I saw the world in green lenses, she saw it in red.
One day, I was walking in the streets when a woman approached me and said, “Hi! Do you know about God the Mother?” At that time, I was Catholic, and the only “Mother” that had been drilled into me was Mary (Maryam a.s.), mother of Jesus (Isa a.s.). I asked them if she was referring to her, and she went “No! God the Mother! God is Female!” Astaghfirullah. I spent another 5 minutes trying to debate with her, but it ended in futility once I realised that she was just part of a distinct group trying to propagate their ideologies. We both had two different perspectives. I saw the world in green lenses, and she saw it in red. That was why we couldn’t agree.
And from then on, whenever I saw anyone who looked like a possible evangelist, I grew wings and flew off in a direction as far from them as possible.
The Dilemma of Da’wah (inviting to Islam)
Many of my non-muslim friends in Singapore comment how wonderful it is that muslims do not preach their religion like how the evangelists do- there’s no one trying to drag them to the mosque, nor there is a quota in the number of new ‘converts’ to be met. I agreed, too. I didn’t like someone stuffing their ideologies down my throat.
But on one fine day after I became muslim, I asked my friend really casually, “Why didn’t you tell me about Islam before??” Question is, if she told me, would I have listened? Some people would, some wouldn’t. In all honesty and retrospect, I wouldn’t.
Because (and as Allah and I know me best), I had to have an initial motivation for wanting to know about something. That initial motivation had been S, until I was strong enough, rooted enough to want to know more on my own.(Which is why I so totally respect those whose initial motivation was purely love for Allah alone.)
P.S. Okay so I totally bared the secrets of my soul here. Please don’t judge me. 😮
And even right after my conversion to Islam, though I knew of the Truth and believed in it, I didn’t feel the urgency to do da’wah for my loved ones, until now. It’s been a year of learning, of seeking knowledge, that I’ve now reached the stage of being more grounded and certain in my faith, and absolutely desirous to try to bring everyone I love to Islam…which led me to a few rather disastrous incidents of trying to do da’wah to some of my friends and family.
I sent my mum a video of Isa a.s. and she went, “Don’t come and try to convert me, ah.“
I tried talking to one of my friends about the existence of God and the purpose of life, and he went, “Sorry, don’t even bother.”
And then there were those people who came up to me on the own to ask ‘questions’ on evolution and all the science-y things, but since we saw the world in totally different perspectives, there was no way for us to agree. (For muslims, science is a complementary understanding of Islam. We don’t use an understanding of Islam to try to disprove Islam.)
Okay so I was quite the miserable da’i (person who does basic da’wah), but I did learn something in return 🙂
Doing Dawah the Right Way
As reverts, we’d always be thinking of our non-believing loved ones, but how can we work around the touchy subject of religion, and them getting defensive thinking that we’re trying to ‘convert’ them?
- First and foremost we need to change our own mindset. Da’wah is an invitation, not a forced goal. We are tasked to show the beauty of Islam through our actions and beautiful speech, not by heated arguments, barbaric acts and internet trolling (simply had to put that last one in).
“Invite (all) to the Way of your Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for your Rabb knows best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.”
- Read about how Prophet Muhammad showed the best conduct and follow his example, as the behaviour of the exemplary believer stands out very much apart from others. . Be kind, be gentle and have the innocence and purity of a child while you go about with your daily activities. Insha’Allah it will soften and warm the hearts of others.
Anas Ibn Malik (r.a.) said:”Whilst we were in the Mosque with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, a Bedouin came and stood urinating in the Mosque. The Companions of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘Stop it! Stop it!’ and were about to attack him. But the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘Do not interrupt him; leave him alone.’ So they left him until he had finished urinating, then the Messenger of Allah ﷺ called him and said to him, ‘In these Mosques it is not right to do anything like urinating or defecating; they are only for remembering Allah, praying and reading Qur’an,’ or words to that effect. Then he commanded a man who was there to bring a bucket of water and throw it over the (urine), and he did so.” (Muslim)
- If there should be anyone who challenges you through questioning with difficult questions like “Why do women have to wear hijab?” and “Why can’t you eat pork?”, the best answer of all is to make them take off their red coloured lenses and put on our green coloured lenses, to see why we believe in la ilaha illallah muhammadur rasulullah– There is absolutely no deity worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammed ﷺ is the Messenger of Allah. That’s actually the basic reason why we are following all this – to submit to Him alone.
- As for the things that we do not have knowledge to, we should admit that we do not know, and direct them to a more learned source. We shouldn’t be ashamed of not knowing the answers, after all, there have been thousands of scholars over the history of Islam who have studied each specialty in its detail, and one scholar in one area of study cannot proclaim that he has more knowledge in another field which another scholar specialises in.
- In the end, we can pray to Allah for one thing for our non-believing loved ones, their hidayah (guidance). Because Allah is the one who has power over all.
For indeed, Allah sends astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. So do not let yourself perish over them in regret. Indeed, Allah is Knowing of what they do.
May Allah bless and reward all those who are in active Da’wah in the world. May Allah give guidance to the ones whom we love, and make their hearts open to the Truth and Beauty of Islam. Ameen!