Written by: Aboo Aamir Al-Atharee (Is’haaq bin AbdirRaheem)
First Published in Jumadal-Uula, 1439 [January 2018] under the Topic: ‘Da’wah is Worship and Must Conform to the Sunnah’
The command to invite the people to Islam is well-entrenched in the sources of Islam. There are many texts of the Sharee’ah elucidating the excellence of Da’wah in Islam. In fact, it is one of the essence of Islam. One of the best people in Islam is he that invites to Islam. Allaah the Mighty said:
وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلا مِمَّنْ دَعَا إِلَى اللَّهِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا وَقَالَ إِنَّنِي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ
And who is better in speech than he who [says: "My Lord is Allâh and then stands straight, and invites (men) to Allâh, and does righteous deeds, and says: "I am one of the Muslims." [Fussilat: 33].
Calling to Islam however has to be upon guidance not whims. Allaah Mighty said:
قُلْ هَذِهِ سَبِيلِي أَدْعُو إِلَى اللَّهِ عَلَى بَصِيرَةٍ أَنَا وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِي
Say: "This is my way; I invite unto Allâh with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me…" [Yusuf: 108]
And the best thing the Messenger of Allaah salallaah alahyi wa sallam called to is Laa ilaa ha illla Llaah.
Allaah will hold the whole Ummah responsible when there is nobody among them that calls to Islam. Allaah the Mighty said:
وَلْتَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining Al-Ma'rûf and forbidding Al-Munkar, and it is they who are the successful. [Aal-Imraan: 104]
Da’wah must be with wisdom and beautiful exhortation. Allaah said:
ادْعُ إِلَى سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ وَجَادِلْهُمْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ
Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom (of Qur’aan and Sunnah) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. [Nahl: 125].
One of the best things that can happen to a person is that Allaah should use him to guide someone else to Islam. The Messenger of Allaah told alee, as recorded in the Two Saheeh, as thus:
فَوَاللَّهِ لَأَنْ يَهْدِيَ اللَّهُ بِكَ رَجُلًا وَاحِدًا خَيْرٌ لَكَ مِنْ أَنْ يَكُونَ لَكَ حُمْرُ النَّعَمِ
‘By Allaah that Allaah should use you to guide a man is better for you that you should have a red camel.’
Above all, the Da’wah must meet two conditions:
One, Ikhlaas to Allaah.
Two, conformity to the Sunnah.
While it is only Allaah that can say how sincere is someone’s Da’wah, but its conformity and otherwise to the Sunnah is what anybody with the knowledge of Islam can see.
One sad reality is that, the two conditions must be met before a Da’wah can be accepted. It is not a matter of ostentation and cosmetics, and the number of those hearkening to the call. If the Da’wah is devoid of Ikhlaas and Sunnah, it is null and void.
Allaah the Mighty said:
فَمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو لِقَاءَ رَبِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلا صَالِحًا وَلا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدًا
Say: "I am only a man like you. It has been inspired to me that your Ilâh is One Ilâh. So whoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord, let Him work righteousness and associate none as a partner In the worship of his Lord." [Kahf: 110].
A beautiful and otherwise active effort can turn to a mere exercise and labour if it is carried out with foul intention, and the Sunnah is found wanting. If you like, do it from night till dawn.
A Da’wah effort devoid of pure sincerity to Allaah is nothing but Shir’k – the lesser type albeit. And if the intention is for Allaah, as many who do Da’wah will claim, but Sunnah is not found in its methodology then one becomes a mubtadi’ – an innovator who seeks to worship Allaah with what He has not decreed. Don’t forget, Da’wah is worship; that is the theme of this piece.
Our Salaf – those righteous men whose like cannot be seen again – would shun all innovations. They would not act before they knew, unlike the latter people – of the succeeding generations including ours; we act first before we know. You can see the frantic efforts of those people in Jama’aat seeking proofs for their falsehood. The Muslim Congress [TMC] is the latest in the fray.
Al-Imaam al-Bukhaaree brought a title in his Saheeh: Chapter: Knowledge Precedes Actions.
Al-Imaam al-Laalika’ee recorded in his famous compendium on Aqeedah, Shar’h I’tiqaad Ahlil-Hadeeth [1/86] Abdullaah bn Mas’ud – may Allaah be pleased with him, said: ‘We emulate the Sunnah, we don’t precede the Sunnah; we follow the Sunnah, we don’t innovate. We shall never go astray so far we hold to the Matter.’ End of quote. ‘The Matter’ is the Sunnah.
Ibn Abee Dunya recorded in al-Ikhlaas wan-Niyyah, Ibn Aj’laan said: ‘An act cannot be proper except upon three: fear of Allaah, good intention and conformity [to the Sunnah].’
Al-Imaam Maalik did say: ‘The Sunnah is the Ark of Noah; whoever joins it will be safe, whoever stays away will be drowned.’ Recorded by al-Imaam al-Bahayqee.
Lest you think because of the time we find ourselves, the Sharee’ah will need some modifications. If that is your thinking, you become a mu’tazilee.
Allaah has explained everything. Get that straight into your spine.
وَكُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَصَّلْنَاهُ تَفْصِيلًا
And We have explained everything (in detail) with full explanation. [Israa: 12]
In another words, the Messenger of Allaah – sallaLlaahu alahyi wa sallam - completed the Message he was entrusted, he never forgot anything someone will have to complete for him.
Al-Imaam al-Baghawee recorded in Shar’h Sunnah on the authority of ‘Abdullaah bn Mas’ood that the Messenger of Allaah – sallaLlaahu alahyi wa sallam - said:
أيها الناس ! إنه ليس من شئ يقربكم من الجنة ويبعدكم من النار إلا قد أمرتكم به ، وليس شئ يقربكم من النار ويبعدكم من الجنة إلا قد نهيتكم عنه
‘O people, there is nothing that will take you closer to Jannah and take you farther from the fire except that I have commanded you regarding it. and there is nothing that will take make you closer to the fire and take you away from Jannah except that I have forbidden you from it.’ [al-Imaam al-Albaanee authenticated it in Tahreem Aalat-Tar’b].
So when you do something never known by the Messenger of Allaah – sallaLlaahu alahyi wa sallam - and the Companions, and you ascribe it to Islam, you have only produced a Bid’ah. Some faceless people may cheer you up. They may pray for you to carry on. They may beat chests for you and gnash teeth against those who call you to order. They are only making noise, what you have come up with is nothing but Bid’ah.
Our methodologies of Da’wah can be bid’ah-proned if we don’t watch it. So be on your guard. Don’t say you have been doing it for decades. Don’t say many Christians have accepted Islam through it. Don’t say many sinners have repented via the effort. The main thing is: is what you are doing in the Sunnah? Did the Companions do it? Those have been the yardsticks; nothing can change them even if you will have to fall on one another. You can cry all day, sincerely that is your problem. The message has been: watch your Da’wah methodologies; carry on with the one that conform to the Sunnah and jettison the ones that oppose it.
The Da’wah methodologies [manaahij Da’wah] must have proofs for them. If you follow those who say you can make your own ijtihaad in the method you use in calling to Islam, you will go astray. Those who say we must join the democratic politics, we should act dramas, we can do some dancing [like the Awareness Train on campuses during Muslim Weeks], storytelling [like that of Alade Adua’s and Alhaji Muhideen Ajani Bello’s ‘during the time of Anabi Musa’], we can shave the beard, we can trail the trousers below the ankles, doing Da’wah upon oath of allegiance to certain demagogues [as it is common in the Jama’aat], we can master the Bible at the expense of the Qur’aan to invite thousands of Christian, we can continue to argue with the Christian pastors all the night disturbing those who are sleeping, we can snap pictures of ourselves and our new convert, we can… we can … since we are just trying to call to the way of Allaah. So watch it.
You should wonder why al-Imaam Ahmad forbade Ismaa'eel bn Is'haaq As-Siraaj from sitting with Al-Haarith Al-Muhaasibee despite the eloquence and piety of the latter. His methodology of Da’wah was against the Sunnah.
And if some people tell you the modern media too are innovations, tell them to sit down. In the context of this piece, the manaahij [methodologies] are different from wasaail I’laam [media of communication]. Out of their foolishness, they may say using the microphone in calling the adhaan is Bid’ah! And in the modern time, using the Internet for communication is Bid’ah! By now, you should know that whoever says that is bereft of the proper understanding.
The main difference between the two, and kindly apply it to all phenomena of Da’wah, is this: would the Messenger of Allaah use this methodology when he was alive? If yes, why didn’t he use it? A clear example is: would the Messenger of Allaah use the Bible [even you can remove ‘at the expense of the Qur’aan’] to invite the non-Muslims among the Jews and the Christians to Islam when he was alive? If yes, why didn’t he use it? That is the principle. You will recall that the Messenger of Allaah wrote letters to Christian kings such as the Emperor of Byzantine and Negus of Abyssinia. You would remember he had a dialogue with Banu Najran [the Christian tribe from Yemen] who came and spent days in Madeenah; did he use the Bible with them? And when he sent Abu Ubaidah, Ameenul-Ummah, with them, he told him to use the Bible against them? How did Tameem ad-Daaree, our dear Abu Ruqayyah, the describer of Dajjaal, accept Islam? What of Suhaib ar-Ruumi from Rome? AbdusSalaam, the Jew? How? How?
Another matter is that using the media to pass a message does not in any way attract extra rewards than if it is not used. Allaah knows best.
And if they tell you, the methodologies of Da’wah fall under masaalih-mur’salah [public benefits], know that they want to plunge you into darkness. The ‘media’ can fall under it not the manaahij. Things the Messenger of Allaah – sallaLlaahu alahyi wa sallam - could have done in his life time but did not it cannot be justified with masaalih-mur’salah. Those who often use that as a façade are criminals in the deen. The Ikhwaanul-Muslimun are one of them. How many innovations in the deen have crept into Islam through masaalih mursalah? But get it right, masaalih-mursalah is one of the sub-secondary sources of the Shariah, not the primary. And a lot of ijtihaad comes with it, and of course, some ikhtilafaat. Allaah the Mighty knows best.
And watch the media too, some of them are strictly prohibited while some, the people of knowledge differ regarding their use. Using life pictures as media of communication are strictly prohibited, but the moving pictures have some differences of opinion regarding it; the best one and most satisfactory is not using them. Allaah the Mighty knows best.
Thus the way of the Messenger of Allaah– sallaLlaahu alahyi wa sallam - is lucid and clear, its night is like the day. If you want perdition just move away from it.
Indeed the Messenger of Allaah – sallaLlaahu alahyi wa sallam - did betroth to us many methodologies of calling to Islam, they are inexhaustible. It was those methodologies Allaah used through him to bring millions to Islam. The methodology the Taabioon inherited from the Companions that when one of their students, al-Imaam Ahmad, died, forty thousand Jews accepted Islam! His death was not using the Torah to preach!
And the methods include the following: the sermons on the day of Jumu’ah and the two Eids, circles of knowledge which in the past had produced thousands of scholars, issuance of Fatawa by capable scholars, writing of books [you can imagine the effect of books of Shaykh al-Albaanee in the Muslim world today], and Jihaad [that conforms to the Sunnah] against the unbelievers [Allaah did use Jihad to bring the Roman and Persian Empires to their knees, millions of Christians and Persians became Muslims as a result].
Get it again; the Muslims will not progress if the means they use in calling to Islam are against the Sunnah. Just ponder once again. May Allaah help all of us.
Al-Imaam Ad-Daarimee recorded in his Sunan that Hassaan bn ‘Attiyyah said: ‘ A people will not invent a Bid’ah in their Deen, except that Allaah will remove what is similar in their Sunnah, and He will not return it until the Day of Resurrection.’
O Allaah, we seek Your Help Alone.
Conceptualized from: al-Hujaj al-Qawiyyah ‘Ala Anna Wasaailad-Da’wah Tauqifiyyah of Ash-Shaykh ‘AbdusSalaam bn Bar’jis ‘Abdul-Kareem – may Allaah bestow mercy on him.