Feb 27, 2013

Practical Steps For Dawah - Part 2

By Melody

Part 1


Importance of Dawah
It is our duty to spread the word of Islam and invite others, starting from family and close friends, to the path ordained in the Qur’an and Sunnah (way of the Prophet Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam). This includes both to non-Muslims and Muslims alike. Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala tells us in Surah Fussilat: 

And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah and does righteousness and says, "Indeed, I am of the Muslims." (41:33) 

You could liken the importance of dawah to possessing a cure to a disease. If you were to know someone suffering from a lethal ailment, and you possessed the very cure in your pocket, holding on to it tightly whilst debating within yourself – shall I or shall I not share it?, would you be justified in doing so based merely on the grounds that the person in question may not listen to you? Every time you meet this person, you may see them suffering more and more, but each time, you withhold this precious remedy away from sight... But what if it is rejected? You think to yourself. It probably will not make a difference; I will be wasting my time... But this cure you have wrapped tightly around your fingers may have previously cured you of your disease too and may be just the remedy that is needed and sought after by this individual. Would it not be wrong and blameworthy of you to withhold this cure, under such circumstance? It could even be considered selfish by others if you kept it to yourself and reaped its benefits whilst not taking the time to share it with others.

And thus the importance of dawah. If something worked for you, would you not want to share it with the world too? We will be surprised to see how many people are actually looking for the truth, searching for the answer to life and if you were to help them discover that, how grateful do you think they would be? The joy of helping one sincere soul find its purpose in life would be worth all the rejections you may encounter along the way. Keep your focus clear, make lots of duaa (supplication), and remember that above all Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala alone is responsible for the guiding of hearts and you are but passing on a message.

In Surat Al-Asr (surah 103), Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala tells us that by default, as time passes we are at loss EXCEPT:

“...those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” (Surah Al-Asr 103:3) 

We should believe and perform righteous deeds but our worship should not stop there; as well as reaping the benefits ourselves it is paramount that we advise others of these benefits also. If you learn something useful, spread it to whomever you can, and if you see something wrong, advise against it in a sincere and heartfelt manner. Notice also how, in this verse, Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala mentions patience after advising others to the truth; this is because one who advises to the truth will surely be inflicted with harm from the people and thus patience automatically follows as a criteria. It may be easy to stay in our comfort zone and not put ourselves through potential rejection, but remember that we will be asked about this on the Day of Judgement. Also remember that with duaa, all will be made easy, inshaAllah.

Take the Prophet Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam as an example. He gave up everything to deliver this beautiful message to all of mankind, and the fact that we are Muslims today is a manifestation of the fruits of his sincere efforts. Many people rejected him and hurt him both physically and emotionally, but his aim was clear; he wanted to deliver the Truth to all of humanity. He loved the people dearly and wanted what was best for them so he spread the message with his heart and soul, yet they turned away from their own salvation which pained the Prophet greatly – indicating his selflessness and pure nature. This is how we need to be like; we need to both cherish the religion AND love the people around us for effective dawah. The words that come directly from the heart, sincerely wanting the best for the people, are the most touching and effective.

Approach of Dawah
The degree of comprehension to any message being delivered is largely dependant on the approach. Hence approach is very important in dawah. We are all gifted with talents, abilities and interests that we could potentially use in dawah. Think about the people you are surrounded by, think about your circle of influence and use that as a starting point. Definitely start with your family and friends first and it is key that you are yourself when delivering your message. Be friendly, natural, thoughtful and attentive and be sure to share your experiences as these can be the most moving. Any conversation can be a dawah conversation especially in the West as Islam is a way of life and your friends/colleagues are sure to find in you a practice that they are not familiar with e.g. hijab. Islamic Awareness Week in Universities is also a great way to meet students from all over campus and be able to share and listen to other people’s experiences and views. In these sorts of settings, it is very important to introduce yourself and get to know the interest and views of your audience before commencing your dawah so that you can adjust your approach accordingly.

What you should never do in dawah is talk about things you do not know because you will be in danger of giving out false information. Do not be aggressive at all because remember you are representing not only yourself but your religion, nor should you make judgments about others as this will compromise your ability to communicate effectively. Rather, speak what is good and follow the advice given to us in the Qur’an:

“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided.” (An-Nahl 16:125)

The GO RAP technique[i]
It is more than likely that you will be asked a question related to Islam that the questioner will find difficult to grasp without prior understanding of the foundations of the religion. The GO RAP approach is ideal because you set forth a ground for those concepts that are not easy to appreciate without a basis of knowledge to build up from. It is the same with any form of knowledge; for example, it is difficult to understand algebra, if you do not familiar yourself with the basic concept of numbers first. If the questioner is not clear with regards to the fundamentals, it can lead to an endless cycle of questioning and may even lead to arguments, resulting in the questioner being even more confused than they were originally!

The GO RAP technique is set to present the reasons and evidence for the existence of God initially and gradually moves on to clarifying the proof and reasoning for the revelation and Prophethood, hence concluding with the rationale for His submission. This is more effective than trying to answer each individual question separately in your attempt at making the audience understand why you think this religion is the Truth. Since humans are limited in their knowledge, to believe solely on having all the answers to everything is not logical for we are bound to come across concepts that will take time for us to understand, but to present with the foundation gives the audience a much clearer and wider picture of the essence of the religion.

GO RAP stands for:
· God’s Existence
· Oneness
· Revelation
· And
· Prophethood

Now we will outline the structure of the GO RAP technique. Please have a look at iERA’s YouTube channel in their “Online Dawah Training Course[ii]” playlist to see the following points be put into practice. The first is the initiation step:

When presented with a question, you can follow the points below as a guide on how to build up the conversation. So to start:

1. Acknowledge the question – tell the questioner it is a good/interesting question but in order to appreciate the answer they must understand the principles.
2. Use your people skills – smile, be friendly and approachable. Remember that body language is just as important as the words that you say, if not more!
3. Concept – let them know that to appreciate this answer they need to understand the concept of Islam, and the way in which we come to understand the concept of Islam is by reasoning.
4. Agreement – ask them if they have time for you to explain it, as their answer may indicate their degree of sincerity in wanting to know.

Upon agreement of continuing, we advance on to the next part which is very important in allowing the questioner to appreciate the core principles ahead:

Common sense
1. Reality check – first of all, confirm with the questioner that they agree with the physical world around us being real, since, in order to appreciate the concepts ahead, they must believe this life is real.
2. Your decision & agreement – Ask your audience how they make their decisions in life, and reach an agreement that this is generally via reason, experience and senses.

Now we can move on to the core of GO RAP! These can be supplemented by referring to Part 1: “The logical reasoning and evidence behind the existence of God”.

God’s existence
1. Listen and identify – ask the questioner, do you believe in God? If they say no, ask why? Then move on to the next part and explain the reasoning for believing in God: 

2. Reasoning – two aspects:
Going right back to the beginning, it is necessary to ask, how did everything come to be? Could the Universe possibly have come from nothing? Or did the Universe create itself? The ultimate conclusion is that the existence of a powerful and intelligent Being who initiated creation is the most rational explanation. Refer to “Part1: The logical reasoning and evidence behind the existence of God.” for a more extensive discussion on this.

Talk about the evidence of an ordered universe, and how it is against statistics to deduce that it came from nothing. Although there may be a chance it did originate from nothing, we do not use chance in our day-to-day life to make decisions. Indeed, there are greater reasons to believe, as the alternative is less rational.

3. Agreement – ask your audience, do you understand my logic so far? It is important that they appreciate your reasoning so they can understand the concept of Islam.

1. Nature of God – Explain how God’s nature should be different from creation, since if it was the same, it will no longer be the Creator, but the creation! God must also be eternal, self sufficient and unique following this logic (refer to Part 1 for more details).

2. Oneness – the most rational conclusion is that God is one and unique. There would be no order if more than one existed as they would compete. The design of the universe also points to a single creator.

3. Agreement – ask if they understand your logic because you want the audience to appreciate the logical and rational thinking behind your position. Possible points that may be suggested by your audience against the belief of God, and their subsequent refutations can be the following:

· “God is not necessary” – you could give an example of a question to refute that: well I do not need George Bush in my life, as a matter of fact he is unnecessary, but does that mean he does not exist?

· “God is irrelevant” – surely a four year old child feels that China is irrelevant, they probably have no knowledge of the nation... as a matter of fact it is totally irrelevant to the child’s life! Does that mean China doesn’t exist?

· “There is no physical evidence for the existence of God” – do we require physical evidence for everything? For example, give me evidence that your great great great great great great great grandmother exists? ...well, quite simply you are the proof of that otherwise you would not be here!

1. The need for revelation – if there is a Creator He must have announced his presence to mankind. One would deduce that an intelligent being would create with a purpose, and this purpose must be communicated to us somehow. The communication must be external because only God Himself can inform us of His nature and His purpose; for example, it is like knocking on a door and not knowing what is inside the room behind the door. Only the one inside the room knows what is inside it and can give you a reliable and accurate description, the guess of everyone else outside it is as good as yours. Revelation is required to act also as a guide or a manual to life that can only be given by the manufacturer Himself, i.e. the Creator.

2. Forms of revelation – What would be the best way to communicate this to us? We need a reference that can be passed down from generation to generation outlining God’s nature, the purpose to life and guide to live our life because word of mouth alone is unreliable and will distort the message over time (Chinese whispers). Books are a good reference and can act as a personal manual for whenever you need them, though they too can be distorted. However, the promise of God is that He will ensure the preservation of His Book and as He is the Creator of the Worlds, He can indeed do this with ease:

Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur'an and indeed, We will be its guardian. 
(Surah Al-Hijr 15:9)

It would logically follow that the Creator would choose humans to convey the message to other humans and not any other created being, because we are more likely to listen to those whom we consider as our peers. To complete the revelation, we need an example to imitate in addition to our manual and this is where the role of the Prophet comes in.

3. Proofs – How can we know a book is from God? It must be flawless, it must outline the correct concept of God, it must be internally and externally consistent and should contain miracles beyond the scope of a human for proof of its Divine origin. The Qur’an fulfils all of these criteria; the language of which cannot be matched by creation, scientific miracles are evident in the extraordinary verses and the ability for one to memorise it with ease for its preservation. Research the miracles of the Qur’an in general and choose those that strike you to share with your audience, in addition to identifying the interests of the audience and informing them of miracles they may be interested in.

4. Agreement – at each stage it is essential that the questioner is following your logic, and any confusion should be dealt with before moving on to the next step.

1. Linkage – after establishing that the Qur’an was revealed from God, we know that whoever it was revealed to will be the Messenger of God, which was Muhammd sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

2. Confirming Muhammad - We believe that Muhammad was the Messenger of God because of his exceptional character and teachings that allows us to take him as a role model. Even his enemies admitted his outstanding character and his moderate, balanced way of life is essential to living peacefully and with contentment.

3. Agreement – do they understand this logic?

Finally, the Shahada! – if the questioner is following through each of these points and understands the concepts and reasoning behind them, they will see why we believe there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger and may desire to accept the religion. Give the questioner a copy of the Qur’an and some leaflets for reference and make duaa, firstly for your sincerity and secondly for their guidance to the deen, inshaAllah.

[i] “University Dawah Challenge” Dawah training course booklet, organised by iERA. www.missiondawah.com
[ii] http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2BCAEFD98ABD8686&feature=plcp

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)


MashaAllah shukran for sharing also very.beneficial.

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