A few days ago, on a Wednesday, I was contacted by a family friend who is a convert to Islam. They wanted me to meet their friend who wanted to embrace Islam on Friday but had some final questions. So we arranged for me to meet the brother before Zuhr salah at the masjid on Thursday. We sat at the back of the masjid before salah and started discussing. I came expecting to have to clarify issues about the correctness of the Islamic belief (aqeeedah) and other questions about Islam. As we discussed, it became quite clear that he understood the aqeedah and that his questions had already been answered. I really had little to do. He had even looked into things he would need to do after becoming Muslim. He said he was ready to embrace Islam after the salah. After the salah in jamah I mentioned that someone was ready to embrace Islam. I then handed over to Imam AbdulQadir who led the salah who said a few words and took him through repeating the shahdah – after which he was hugged by so many people, giving a booklet on salah, and a Qur’an. May Allah (swt) reward his friends who gave him dawah and had already clarified his questions.
This amazing episode got me thinking about our role as a Muslim community in actively introducing Islam to non-Muslims in the West. There are some individuals who are active in discussing and introducing Islam to their non-Muslim colleagues and neighbours and through that, Allah (swt) guides some people to Islam. However, there are few active initiatives - on a community wide basis - to carry dawah to non-Muslims. Not only is it an Islamic duty upon us to invite people to Islam, the result would be many indigenous Muslim converts who can even better interact and convey Islam to others in the wider society where they are not seen as immigrants – as many of us are!
Why are there so few community dawah initiatives inviting non-Muslims to Islam? Here are some reasons:
1) Some Muslims have an inferiority complex. They feel we only just arrived in the West looking for a better life. They look up to the West as if it alone has all that is good so are eager to adopt from it – ignoring its many social problems, spiritual vacuum, family breakdown and growing political and economic problems. They forget that we have something to give in terms of Islam’s clear and rational belief, its noble values and morals and a system by which to organise life such that humans live a life of tranquillity, harmony and progress. So you see them downplaying their Islamic identity, changing their names and eager only to emulate the West thus embracing the good and bad from the Western culture.
2) Some Muslims feel overwhelmed by the constant attack on Islam by sections of the media and some politicians. Especially since the launch of the so called ‘war on terror’, some newspapers, commentators, and politicians have taking to intellectually attacking the Islamic values, practices and system. They say our Mosques are places where hatred is preached, hijab is women’s oppression, the Khilafah is a terrorist state, and one even call for banning the Qur’an. Under such attack, some Muslims feel there is no use carrying dawah to the kuffar since all they do is attack us. They forget to separate between those politicians and commentators who attack us and the common person who is simply misinformed hence ignorant about what Islam really is. Who will intellectually challenge those who demonise Islam? Who will enlighten and remove the ignorance and terrible opinions that our non-Muslim colleagues, workers and neighbours are been fed about our noble Deen? That duty is clearly upon us so we have to engage in dawah with the wider public.
3) Lack of understanding of Islam is another reason some feel unable to engage in dawah discussions with non-Muslims. Due to the media propaganda, many non-Muslims now hold many false accusations against Islam; Islamic Shari’ah punishments are barbaric, Islam oppresses women, an Islamic system will take the world back to the stone age, e.t.c.. Lacking the arguments to refute these allegations, some Muslims feel it is better to retreat or not raise discussions about Islam so as not to have to confront such allegations.
Similar to us living in the West, Prophet Muhammad (saw) lived in Makkah where non-Muslims ruled and dominated yet he conveyed the message of Islam to people. Similar to us, he faced false allegations from the hostile elite of Quraysh. With the elite, he challenged their false propaganda, while with many other non-Muslims, he engaged with them with kindness, care, and preaching, clarified their misconceptions and awakened their thinking. This led many to embrace Islam or at least to understand the true position of the Muslims. By following his example and by equipping the Muslims with the powerful arguments from Islam, we should be able to encourage our community to fulfil the duty of engaging in dawah with the wider society.
Media Representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain
13 Muharram 1434
27 November 2012