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The Obligation of Da’wah Between Facts and Obstacles, 2

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

(Friday speech delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, NC on October 18, 1986)

Last Friday I talked about the obligations of da’wah to Allah (S.W.T). We learned that the Islamic da’wah is established on clear evidence. This da’wah is the task of the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) and his followers until the Day of Judgment. Also we learned that this da’wah fought all types and forms of Shirk (association with Allah other deity), and also we learned how the prophet (S.A.W) used all available means, and ways to convey the message of Allah (S.W.T) in the clearest way, for example personal contact, public sermons, visiting the people in there gathering places, going out of Makkah, and sending letters to the kings and leaders of deferent nations.

Now I will talk about the obstacles, and the hindrances that helped to neglect the obligation of the da’wah among the Muslims today, in hope that we recognize them and to work to remove them.

Some Obstacles and Hindrances facing the Islamic Dawah:

  • The first obstacle is the misunderstanding among many Muslims today that, the obligation of this da’wah to Allah (S.W.T) is restricted and is limited to a group of Muslims, who are the scholars of Islam. And that Muslims in general should not carry on this duty. This misunderstanding is build on the misinterpretation of what Allah (S.W.T) says in surat Al-Emran, (Verse 104), what can be translated as, "Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoying AL-Ma’ruf (all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful."
  • To answer this misunderstanding to this verse, we go back to the explanations of the scholars to this ayah.

    Imam Ibn-Kathir said, "What is meant by this verse is that a group is dedicated to this task even though the obligation of the da’awh is upon every individual of this ummah according to his/her ability. Imam Muslim reported that prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said, "Whoever among of you sees a munkar (evil action), let him change it with his hand; and if he is unable to do so, then let him change it by his tongue, and if he is unable to do so, let him change it with his heart, and that is the weakest faith."

    Imam Ar-Razi said in his explanation concerning Allah’s saying, "People among you" they are two opinions among the scholars: One of them is "Among you" Here dose not mean part among of you, this is because of two reasons: first, Allah (S.W.T.) put the duty of enjoying what is right and forbidding what is wrong on all the members of this ummah in his saying in surat Al-Emran (Verse 110) what can be translated as, "You are the best ummah, ever raised up for mankind, you enjoin what is right and forbidding what is wrong." The second reason is every mature Muslim is commanded to enjoy what is right and forbid what is wrong, either with his hand or his tongue or his heart according to the hadith that we had mentioned earlier. Thus, the true and correct interpretation or the meaning of this verse is "Be all of you an ummah inviting for the good, enjoying what is right and forbidding what is wrong so "Among you" here is meant for clarifying and not for classifying like Allah’s saying in surat Al-Hajj, (verse 30), what can be translated as, "…So avoid the admonition of idols…"

    Even though, if we say that the obligation of da’wah is only on the scholars of Islam and it is Fard Ke-fa-yah which means a duty that is accomplished by a group who are able to carrying it on, no sin will be put on the others. But because they could not accomplish it, then the obligation of the da’wah is upon all Muslims until the requirement of accomplishing this task is met.

    If we look at the situation of the Muslims today and the situation of their scholars, we will realize that those who are carrying on the task of da’wah, have not fulfilled it. And thus, the requirement is not met, so the task is placed on all the Muslims with no exceptions, each according to his/her ability.

    The second obstacle is the misunderstanding among many Muslims today of what Allah (S.W.T) says in surat Al-Ma’idah, (verse 105), what can be translated as, "O you who believe! Take care of your ownselves, no hurt can come to you from those who stray if you become guided." So to get rid of the duty of da’wah and to justify their laziness, they think that this verse is excusing them from the responsibility of da’wah, as long as they are good and guided themselves. In fact the misunderstanding of the meaning of this Ayah came to some Muslims at the time of Abu Bakr may Allah please with him, he stood to eliminate this misunderstanding. He said, "O peoples you are reciting this verse and misinterpreting it. ‘O you who believe! Take care of your ownselves, no hurt can come to you from those who stray if you become guided.’ " Then he continued, "I heard the messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) saying, "If the people see Ath-Thalim (Wrong doer, unjust) and do not stop him, a punishment from Allah may embrace all of them." " (This is an authentic narration reported by Imam Abu-Dawood and others.)

    Another thing that can be noticed from this verse, which assures the obligation of da’wah upon every Muslim without exception that Imam Ibn Tay-myyah, may the mercy of Allah be upon him, said in explaining Allah’s saying: "If you become guided." The true guidance comes when a person fulfills the duty. If the Muslim accomplished what is obligated on him as enjoying what is right and forbidding what is wrong as well as accomplishing other Islamic duties, in this case no harm comes to him from the misguided people.

  • The third obstacle, some Muslims might say is that the corruption and evil action has spread widely in the earth. And the corruption and disbelief are entrenched so in this situation the da’wah effort will not benefit anything. So individual Muslim should care for his own self and protect his deen only and forget about the other people. To answer to this, we say that this misconception has occurred to previous peoples. Allah has told us their news and how the da’wah callers responded to them; Allah says in surat Al-A’raf, (verse 164 & 165), what can be translated as, "And when some of them said, ‘Why do you preach to a people whom Allah is about to destroy or punish with a severe punishment?’ (The preachers said): "To discharge, our duty to your Lord, and perchance they may fear and obey Him. So when they forgot the reminding that had been given to them, We rescued those who forbade evil, but We seized those who did wrong with a severe torment because they used to rebel."
  • The forth obstacle and the hindrance which face the path of da’wah to Allah is fanaticism to the personal opinions and rejecting the other opinions, in the da’wah work. And this is what led to misuse the powers of the du’a’at (callers to Allah). Fanaticism to the personal opinion and rejecting the other opinions in the matters where there is no clear cut evidence. This unacceptable behavior is spread widely among many Muslims today. As Muslims we should not practice this behavior. When we make da’wah using one of these ways where there are no firm hadith or verse which shows us clear path we should not believe that other opinions are completely false or misguided. This is why the (callers to Allah) disputed previously and recently in the styles and ways of da’wah work and truly we don’t know which of these are the most successful and the most beneficial. Maybe all of them are good and benefit the ummah. Each one might be right in his opinion. And the one who reaches the right gets a double reward.
  • The fifth obstacle and hindrance is excessive indulgence in this worldly life and forgetting the Hereafter. The student is busy with his studying, the employee with his occupation, and the merchant with his business until this occupies most of his time so the Muslim can hardly see or find some free time to dedicate for the sake of da’wah. We have been warned from this dangerous indulgence from many verses and ahadith. The true Muslim is the one who balances between all responsibilities and duties so that nothing is done at the expense of the other.

    lastly: It is relay a grate reward for the one who calls the people to Allah (S.W.T.), listen to the saying of the messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) which was reported by Imams Bukhari and Muslim, "If Allah guides one person because of you, it is better for you than the whole earth and what is within it." In another hadith reported by Imam At-Tirmithi that the prophet (S.A.W) said, "May Allah beautify a person who heard something from us and he convey it as he has heard, maybe a person who received it through him understands it better then him." Also Imam Muslims reported that the messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) said, "Whoever calls to guidance has a reward equal to the reward of his followers without decreasing anything from their reward."

    Let us take advantage of every occasion and chance to make da’wah for Allah like the prophet (S.A.W.) used to do. It was narrated that "when the prophet (S.A.W.) migrated from Mecca to Madinah accompanied by Abu Baker (R.A.), they met on their way Baridah Al-Aslami with some of his people. So the prophet (S.A.W.) called them to Islam and they all became Muslims." The messenger of Allah (S.AW.) did not forget the obligation of conveying the message of Islam even though his enemies were chasing him.

    The noble Qur’an has told us the story of the prophet Yusuf (S.A.W) when he was imprisoned unjustly in jail. The hardships and its inconvenience did not divert him from making da’wah to Allah. He took advantage of the situation, when the two inmates asked him for his explanations of two dreams they had. Before Yusuf (S.A.W.) replied to their request he said to them, "O two companions of the prisons! (I ask you) : Are many different lords (gods) better or Allah, the one, the Irresistible? You do not worship Besides Him nothing but only names which you have named, you and your fathers, for which Allah have sent down no authority. The command is for none but Allah. He has commanded that you worship none but him, that is the right deen, but most men know not." surat Yusuf (verse39 & 40)

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