This piece was originally written for the Youth Club Lahore brothers to retain members but it can be used for anyone else trying to get the young crowd to their events….!
This is probably the trickiest work of a dawah organization.
From my humble experience from the last decade, there are a number of factors that affect this.
- Lack of relationship
- Lack of incentives
- Communication techniques
- Different venues
Lack of relationships
What I mean here is that dawah in its most literal form is ‘inviting’ . When we are engaging with the youth and general masses, we don’t see them as a customer or a product. We view them as human beings with feelings, issues and other personal traits. When we invite a brother or a sister to an event, the work does not stop there. We need to become their best friend! You could try various ways to do this i.e. have a coffee with them, invite them round for chai! Call them up for a general random chat: ‘how are you bro?’ how’s your health/studies/family and then finish the call. Leave at that, so they know (albeit surprisingly) that you called them up for a chat without an agenda behind it!
Be there for them, offer advice or counseling.
I know this can be difficult as there are only a few bros and many new guys attending. Just divide them, among the bros , try small talk after the event or over food. See who you build a small rapport with, or who lives closest to you. Pick them up for prayers at the masjid, sit down at the masjid for a litte chat after the salah. They need to trust you and see your genuine sincerity and this only comes about with regular almost daily contact.
Lack of incentives/motvation
This is where it does get a bit ‘salesy’ . In this day & Age of people living extremely busy lives a facebook invite or an email/sms invite just doesn’t cut it im afaid! We need to offer them something. It could be anything ranging from ‘free knowledge- free food- free lift’ but something FREE has to be involved. The word FREE does wonders for the human mindset! Offer them a nice coffee after the event; say ‘my treat’ or something to that affect.
If you look at YC events of the past, then most of the events have been free entrance, but we have also offered amazing knowledge of various skills ranging from ‘leadership skills’ to ‘ dawah training ‘ skills etc. Calling them up is the more effective than just a nicely designed poster and hoping they would turn up. People usually see these posters for a few seconds and then move to something else really fast!
Merchandise, a book, miswak, a dvd or anything cheap you can think of can be offered as an incentive with the condition they turn up to the halaqah.
Offering free lifts.
Offering free transport ‘don’t worry brothers, we will pay for taxi/rickshaw (if funds are available). Even suggest that if a few bros are living in close proximity then taxi share etc.
The basics are that when you identify a young brother/sister, that you get connected by all means. Get their skype, email, facebook aswell as their home/mobile numbers. If smartphones then add them to your ‘whatsapp/viber’ networks. These are free apps and youngsters are usually using these apps 24/7! Get connected!
Offer lifts to the halaqah, get specific times out of them. Give as much notification as possible. Make the event exciting ‘ oh did you know that this week Br Raja Zia is coming from ISB’ or ‘a new brother will be doing his first halaqah’ or ‘ can you guess what topic we’ll be covering today?! Very controversial bro! You have to come’ . You have to be excited about the halaqah yourself on the phone and your language has to be exciting.
Don’t bombard them with calls, but maybe once early in the week ask them, ‘are you free Sunday morning’? wanna go on a drive?! ‘ then a text on Friday evening/Saturday evening and if they agreed they would like to come, and they didn’t notify you of last minute change of mind, then turn up on their doors! This is a proven method. They will be compelled to get out of bed and jump in your car.
Word it nicely. Don’t call it a halaqah ( for many youngsters, halaqahs conjure up a very boring image). Try calling it a get together for the lads. Breakfast get together. A discussion. Debating an issue. Q&A.
Try different venues, other than devan e khaas. Maybe choose ‘large spacious, clean, nice looking ‘ masjids. Identify Masjids that won’t mind YC bros getting together on a Sunday morning.
When the weather becomes warmer, try outdoor locations, parks etc.
Inshallah do practically try the above points with confidence and with the correct intention. It will prove a bit difficult and awkward at first but put yourselves in these guys shoes, what would motivate you to attend events like halaqahs etc?
Duas are with you guys!