Every Muslim reaches a moment in their lifetime (either during puberty - when one is held accountable for their actions - or outside of it) when they rethink the direction that their life is taking. Contrary to popular belief, there are no hard and fast rules to bring about this Moment. Each Muslim is an individual, and there's no telling what event, or what verse, or what narration, or what speaker can finally break through to a Muslim so profoundly that they think, "I gotta follow the Sunnah." However, while the catalyst for that great Moment in the life of a Muslim might be different for each individual, the next step after that great moment is common: finding like-minded people.
Occasionally, one knows to go to the masjid to find such people. But more often than not, the Moment comes at a time when the Muslim is attending either high school or college. As a result, the well-intentioned Muslim goes to some version of a Muslim student organization. Once the well-intentioned Muslim finds the organization, instinct tells him or her to get involved in whatever activities the organization itself conducts.
Usually, these activities take the form of da'wah initiatives geared towards those who aren't part of the organization. However, the desire to do da'wah to others outside of the organization is based on two faulty assumptions.
The first of these assumptions is that there is something inherently better about an organization member and something inherently worse about those outside of the organization. From one perspective, this is certainly wrong; the only proof of one's piety is adherence to the religion.
From another perspective, members' words and actions insidiously reflect this "us" vs. "them" mentality. An individual outside of the organization will see this kind of arrogance manifested in members' speech and actions. In light of this, why should any individual of intellect get involved with such arrogant people?
The second assumption is that the organization members were fit to do da'wah to others in the first place. The fact that they do da'wah to "outsiders" is proof of this. The well-intentioned Muslim worker, who decided to get involved in the da'wah activities of whatever organization he or she decided to join, glossed over an important detail: you can't teach people what you don't know. Thus, the well-intentioned Muslim worker is forced to make up some way of doing da'wah to others without knowledge of the Islamic method.
What's worse is that the individuals who encouraged the well-intentioned Muslim worker to do da'wah didn't have sufficient knowledge either. Thus, there's a legacy of well-intentioned, misguided da'wah, the origins of which are unknown, and the consequences of which are grave.
However, the legacy of the Muslims has traditionally been one of knowledge before action. Muslims are known for gaining knowledge and then acting based on this knowledge. The Prophet (sallallahu calayhi wa sallam) said, "It is from honesty that one learns, acts, then teaches" (note that he started with learning before acting and teaching).
Part of scholarship is the fact that, Islamically, all acts of worship need to be sound in their esoteric and exoteric aspects, and the soundness of both are conditions for the acceptance of any action by Allah (Tacala). Inspiring change in the condition of the Muslims is no different through da'wah.
The "why" of his or her action is the pleasure of Allah (Tacala). This necessitates the abandonment of doing da'wah to please an individual, or to strengthen an organization, or to advance a social or political agenda.
The "how" of one's da'wah effort is the manner that the Prophet (sallallahu calayhi wa sallam) did da'wah. The first thing to which the Prophet (sallallahu calayhi wa sallam) called was the correct caqida (creed). This is evidenced by the fact that he spent thirteen years teaching his companions what it meant to believe in Allah (Tacala), His prophets, His books, His angels, the Last Day, and the Divine Will and Decree. This is because there is no faith without the correct caqida, and without faith, there is no motivation to perform actions that are required to please Allah (Tacala).
Thus, a well-intentioned Muslim worker, who aims to call to Allah (Tacala) in the manner that the Prophet (sallallahu calayhi wa sallam) did, makes issues of faith the message to which he calls, even while it seems that people might be more interested in issues of the religion for which they aren't ready. This is one of the few hard and fast rules - the rule of the prophets - that the well-intentioned Muslim worker can follow to bring about that great Moment which all Muslims are awaiting, whether they know it or not.
Hey where did all the comments go? Its like 1984...on December 3, 2006 6:42 AM
Initially, I didn't include any sources because I thought it might interrupt the flow of the article. The source for the only hadith included is from Abu Khaythamah's Kitaab al-Ilm.on December 16, 2006 9:57 AM