What is da’wah?
The word da’wah is an Arabic word that literally means “invite (to something)”. Even though this word or derivatives of this word can be used broadly, in Islam it is commonly used when Muslims extend a direct invitation to non-Muslims to accept and believe in the message of Islam by declaring that “there is no God but Allah and Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the messenger of Allah”. It can also used when Muslims invite other Muslims to correct their actions and stay on the straight path.
So why is da’wah important?
The first reason why giving da’wah is an important action for Muslims is because it is a command from God. God says in the Qur’an:
“And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful.” (3:104).
Just like all the prophets (peace be upon them all) of God have been commanded to give da’wah to the people in which they were sent to, we as Muslims have also received this command to invite others to the path God intended for us. Da’wah can also be done indirectly through righteous actions of a Muslim as they perpetuate a positive image of Islam. Righteousness and morality are important principles of Islam and in the teachings of the prophets of God. For instance. in a hadith the Prophet (pbuh) said:
“Whoever among you sees an evil action, then let him change it with his hand [by taking action]; if he cannot, then with his tongue [by speaking out]; and if he cannot, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of faith” (narrated in Sahih Muslim).
The second reason why it is important to give da’wah is because it would expel all of the misconceptions and misunderstanding people may have about Islam and expedite the understanding and acceptance of Islam as a peaceful religion. Nowadays, partly due to the false depictions of Islam in the media, Islam is seen by many as a violent religion when Islam actually advocates for peace and justice; nowhere in the Quran does God order the killing of innocent lives. One of the teaching of Islam is interacting justly and gently with other regardless of race or gender. For instance, God says:
“And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace” (Qur’an 25:63).
To further promote this message, the Prophet Muhammad taught Muslims that,
“None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself” (narrated in al-Bukhari).
Therefore, the very fact that some non-Muslims believe Islam to be a violent religion should encourage the adherents of Islam to give da’wah. In order to do this task we should ask ourselves these question: what will the state of Muslim Americans in 10, 20 or 30 years from now? Will the hatred against Muslims subside or will it intensify? If it subsides, then what was my contribution? And if it intensifies, what could I do to prevent it?