On presenting Islam
Islam should be presented in a simple, clear, wise way. In these times, especially in the West, one should bear in mind the misconceptions and stereo types associated with Islam. The following features should be emphasized:
• Islam means total willing submission to Allah.
• Allah is not the God of Muslims. The word "Allah" in Arabic means "The one true God;" it is a word used byArabs, Muslims and non-Muslims.
• Using the word "Allah" rather than "God" is preferred as other faiths sometimes include Jesus, alayhes salam, in their use of "God."
• Islam is not the religion of Arabs or the MiddleEast, rather it is a universal religion. Muslims come from different races and ethnic backgrounds. Arabs are actually a minority group among Muslims.
• Islam is a major religion in the world; supply facts and figures (i.e., there are an estimated six million Muslims in The United States, 500 ,000 in Canada and 1.2 billion worldwide, one quarter of the world's population).
• Islam is not a new religion; it was preached by all Prophets of Allah.
• Affirm the true meaning of Islam, peace and safety for all people: "The true Muslim is he from whose hand and tongue people are safe." (Muslim)
• The Qur'an is Allah's Word, His last Message of guidance to mankind.
• All people are equal in Islam .
• There is no compulsion in religion.
• Islam is the religion of ease and tolerance; no soul is charged with more than it can bear.
• Emphasize man's personal responsibility for himself, and the inevitability of the Judgment Day. In Islam no soul will be questioned about the misdeeds of another soul.
• Islam is an integrated way of life that satisfies man's both physical and spiritual needs.
• Differentiate between pure Islamic teachings and the traditional or cultural practices of some Muslims, which are not part of Islam.
• Advise people to turn to the pure sources of Islam, Qur'an and Sunnah, to obtain a good understanding of it.
• Stress the human side of Islamic teachings (Qur'an and Sunnah) . The Islamic social and economic system offers solutions to problems of m odern societies such as poverty, violence, homelessness, crimes, sexually-transmitted diseases, spouse abuse, child abuse, drug use and family disintegration. According to UN statistics, the crime rates in states that apply Islamic laws are the lowest in the world.
• Muslim communities in North America and Europe have the lowest incidents in teenagers problems, violence, crimes, drug abuse, child abuse and family disintegration.
• Women are elevated in Islam and their rights are protected. Stress that many women from the West have accepted Islam and are pleased with it as a way of life.
• Islam is the fastest growing religion in North America and around the world. Many people around the world have accepted it, in spite of the adverse conditions in Muslim countries.
Institues that specialize in dawah for non-muslims can play an essential role in preparing professional and skillful callers. Islamic universities, for example, should have departments for dawah that offer programs for bachelor, Master, and Ph.D. degrees. The success of such university programs in Saudi Arabia, India and Malaysia among other countries has been impressive. Short term training programs keeping callers up-to-date should also be available, especially during summer vacations and long weekends. The objectives of these programmes should be to provide callers with sufficient Islamic knowledge and training to present Islam in a convincing way.
Another form of dawah, necessary for modern society, is dawah centers. These are specially prepared places where non -Muslims are welcome in a friendly environment that provides answers to their questions, reading materials and a place to talk to Muslims. Now available in many countries around the world, many in the form of reading rooms, dawah centers have proven to be very effective. In addition to being run by able callers, these dawah centers should always be kept clean, well-maintained, and organized.
Furthermore, dawah centers need well-planned, relevant programs to be directed for both new Muslims, and non Muslims. These programs should be given by professional callers who have appropriate knowledge, and are well aware of their community's current issues. Dawah centers should have books, video tapes, audiotapes, flyers and other materials that can be distributed free-of-cost to non-Muslims.
• A calendar of the upcoming activities should be prepared in advance and made available in addition to a list of phone numbers to contact and books to borrow.
• Interesting entertainment programs should be offered.
• Speakers from the community should be invited to talk about issues of interest to the public.
• Follow-up programs for new-Muslims, providing information and support.
• Educational courses for Muslims and non-Muslims.
• Proper planning is essential for the success of such activities.
• Dawah activities could be financed from Zakah or a dawah fund .
If dawah centers are not available, a separate room in the masjid, somebody's house, or a reserved hall could be used for dawah on regular basis.
Small group and individual dawah
• Most of the present dawah activities are conducted by small groups and individuals. Because personal examples in word and by action are the most powerful for successful dawah, Muslims should present themselves as workers for justice, peace, and welfare of all mankind.
• Here are some suggestions for good dawah approaches:
• Take active part in some of the activities going in non Muslim communities.
• Cooperate with organizations of humanitarian interests such as fighting drugs and crime, breastfeeding support, helping patients, caring for homeless, mentoring children, and caring for orphans. Sharing in such humanitarian activities reflects the human face of Islam. The first Qur'anic teaching revealed in Makkah enjoined people to feed the poor, emancipate slaves, and help the distressed and orphans .
• Conduct dawah in public places such as universities, schools, churches, and prisons.
• On Islamic holidays and special events, try to project a good image of Islam and Muslims: arrange cultural festivals, public lectures, bazaars, well planned presentations; distributing food for the homeless and treats for children.
• Arrange cultural talks about history, traditions, customs, food, clothes, feasts, and Islamic marriage customs in different countries.
• Invite professional people to talk about contemporary issues important to the community.
Modern means of communication
Utilizing the latest communication technology is important for fruitful dawah. Radio, TV, and the Internet are very efficient means for local and international mass-dawah.
Educational and informative radio and TV Islamic Programs, interviews, advertising, news, on -line Fatawa, professional internet sites, large scale Islamic database, mail lists, etc, are effective tools for spreading Islamic awareness, correcting hostile attitudes against Islam, and defending Muslims.
To maximize dawah efforts, Muslims should have their own radio and TV and at the same time work hard to develop positive relations with n:edia to improve the image of Islam.