Originally written for & published at www.iera.org
At iERA, one of our main objectives is developing duaat — individuals who convey the call to Islam in a peaceful and compassionate manner. In this post, iERA Outreach Specialist Nadeem Ashraf gives the ‘low-down’ of the typical mistakes that either he’s come across in his personal experience as a da’ee or in others when they trying to invite individuals to learn more about Islam.
Read through and share your thoughts in the comment section below.
1. Assumptions and Unconditional Optimism
Upon approaching any fellow human being with the intent of initiating a dawah conversation, we must have an unconditional positive assumption of that person. There is absolutely no room for judgment, nor is there permission to judge. That judgment begins with placing a person in a stereotypical box.A caller cannot place labels on people based on their appearances, such as assuming a person to be an atheist, Islamophobe or a far-right political advocate. Approach every individual with this mindset and gain a genuine connection with them to positively to convey the call.
2. The Lost Etiquettes of Discussion
The Qur’an instructs us: “Invite ‘all’ to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and kind advice, and only debate with them in the best manner.” [https://quran.com/16/125]
This candid reminder gives us a de facto position — to constantly strive for humility whilst conversing about Islam by using beautiful words in tandem with pearls of wisdom.On the contrary, using rhetoric aggressively just to get a point across, is what many inexperienced duaat (callers to Islam) are increasingly opting for in their search for another proverbial ‘scalp’ — engaging in a confrontational ‘Battle Mode’ of sorts.This tactic leads to a debate — disintegrating into a ruthless display of argument, name calling, abuse, and sarcasm — taking precedence over conveying the call in a kind and compassionate manner. This type of “daee” (caller) is overcome with the thirst to simply win the argument. This is an egregious mistake to make — which must be rectified — as many see ‘dawah’ as means of disputes/argumentation rather than inviting one to learn more about Islam.
3. Lack of Fluidity in Discussion Methods
All humans share an inherent nature and the fitrah — an innate disposition — can be triggered through multiple avenues. Yet for many, being ‘academically astute’ and being able to relate to abstract discussions seems to be the only method for giving effective dawah to a Non-Muslim. However, the mistake is ignoring or deliberately avoiding other methods and styles — such as rational argumentation being an untapped resource.The daee must possess or train to adopt versatility — be able to access varying means at his disposal such as recitation of relevant Quranic verses, taking someone out for lunch by continually displaying great character and etiquette during such interactions. It must be remembered and accepted that despite having such various means and resources at our disposable, guidance is ultimately God’s will. Our goal is merely to behave as a conduit at maximum and conveying the message effectively. Therefore, one must be emotionally and physically prepared for rejection, as this is, at times, an inevitable part of the dawah process.
4. Falling into The Trap! — Shifting Focus from Tawheed to Textual Criticisms
The objective of dawah is to invite people to the recognition and the worship of the one true Creator. However, countless deviate from this goal, tangling up in endless and unnecessary discussions on specific ‘controversial’ Quranic verses — which of course have been taken out of context. As daees, the majority of us are not scholars who are able to digest specific ‘controversial’ texts and give them the justice with an accurate response.
However, such ‘criticisms’ are not limited to confronting such matters on a public stage — such as a dawah stall — they make come across such is becoming prevalent online also. Critics of Islam will push the narrative that it’s clear and obvious that our faith is ‘incompatible’ with ‘Western values’ is ‘outdated’ and in need of a ‘reform.’ As effective duaat we need to be able to sidestep such flawed accusations — due to it being based on a biased orientalist perspective — and shift the focus back to Tawheed, more specifically the framework iERA have developed for such instances, the GORAP for example.
5. Not Breaking the Ice
In order to engage in a meaningful and effective Dawah-oriented conversation, it is imperative to first connect with the person who you are speaking with, especially since he or she is a stranger. A Da’ee must remember that Allah SWT has created every person as a separate individual, paired with varying likes, dislikes and overall personalities. Therefore, one must observe the different tones each person responds well to and customise the conversation, catering to those specific needs. For example, if a person is an avid football fan, try speaking about that sport, or if they have a certain hobby, then dwell upon this for a small while and then let the conversation flow into the purpose of your meeting. The critical point here is that the person should feel you are genuinely attempting to connect. After establishing a genuine foundation, even if the connection is slightly unstable, you will discover that the person will respond much more positively to the conveyed message.
6. Lecture Mode – Forget the Spiritual Connection!
Unfortunately, a significant number of Da’ees (Duaat) falsely believe they are obliged to deliver a short lecture filled with facts at the Dawah stall or on the streets or even at a one to one level This merely results in people politely nodding their heads, hoping to slip away from your gaze. Dawah is a two-way street and cannot be misused as an avenue to prove people wrong or to belittle their beliefs. It is an innate human fact that people do not appreciate being told what to do, especially what to believe in.The purpose of Dawah stall is to provide people with an alternative to books, therefore, the Da’ee should not recite from a book like a robot — the ‘dry preaching’ approach. The aim is to engage in meaningful conversations, adorned with open-ended questions and positivity. A major sign of a successful Dawah conversation is that you, the Da’ee, will actually enjoy the experience and learn from it. Moreover, this joy will trigger further motivation and commitment to the Dawah.