The following are some observations that I have made by observing people coming to Islam and observing potential Muslims and New Muslims.
When calling people who have grown up in the darkness of disbelief in a life lit by the vain illusions of the cinema and television a sensible person remembers that…
The world illumining sun and fountain of light
Look ugly to the eye of the mole.
Thus they must remember who they are speaking to and find out where they are, their ideas, hopes, dreams, likes and dislikes and from this basis they may communicate with them, gently inviting them to truth in a non-demanding, non-possessive way, letting them be who they are, but offering them something good, which is eternal life in Paradise.
Saadi reminds us that we must speak the language of and get into their world to communicate with them …
One of the requirements for society
is to attend to the affairs
of thy household
and also at the house of God.
Tell thy tale according to
thy hearer’s temper…
Every wise man who sits with Majnun
Speaks of nothing
but the story of Laila’s love.
Prepare to speak only when
Your words are likely to have effect.
Speech is a perfection
in the soul of man
But do not ruin yourself by speaking.
Inviting a non-Muslim to belief is usually like befriending someone from a newly discovered continent or taming a wild deer that is ready to run back into the wood at the first hint of threat. One Sufi explained that in this task we are not to be like a healing surgeon, not like a man with a hatchet.
One who challenges other people on anything without great rapport will find that nearly all of them will run away and fail to benefit. This is why hundreds of millions of dollars of so called “Wahhabi” Dawa money flowing out of Saudi Arabia have failed to have much effect on the non-Muslim world, all they have managed to is turn many traditional Orthodox Muslims into “Wahhabi” Muslims through their propaganda, thus leading them to swap the highly polished and fine tuned spiritual vehicle of Classical Islam for a simpler and more austere one.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (saws) taught the believers to gently establish the important issue of true Monotheism first when inviting others to the religion, all other things flow from this.
If someone can be brought to Tawheed (true Monotheism) and acceptance of the Prophets (as) after disbelief then this is indeed an achievement for them, even if they still have far to go and even if they still do many things that are not ideal, many people will not go farther than this stage and it is important that foolish big mouth people don’t drive them away from what they have.
A believer once heard a particular ignorant man praising Allah in a misguided and incorrect way and he made the mistake of angrily chiding him, later he was inspired to know of his mistake, realizing that that foolish man’s relationship with God had been conducted in a strange and imperfect way by him, but at least he had had that, which had now been taken away from him by harsh words. If the believer had been gentle and soothing in his Da’wa it would have been better for both of them.
If you are aware of news
which will grieve a heart,
remain silent that
others may convey it.
bring tidings of spring.
Leave bad news to the owl.
The one en-wrapped in the play and distractions of the modern world isn’t usually either happy or satisfied but they are entranced by it and fooled into believing that it is the best way. They are often like someone who is brainwashed or intoxicated. Trying to bring them to belief by negative tactics and warning of the Hell fire is usually counter-productive.
A foolish fellow in the height of intoxication, cares not for the coming day of distress.
The tree which sheds its foliage in spring, will certainly have no leaves remaining in winter.
Just as Jesus son of Mary (as) reminded his followers to spread their seeds on the fertile land and not the rocky ground, those who are inviting to faith may remember that it is of little point wasting effort on human snakes and scorpions who have souls like that of misguided Abu Lahab. They may think of the following saying of Saadi’s…
The earth receives showers from heaven
and gives to it only dust.
Every vessel exudes what it contains
Arguing and fighting with others and trying to use rational proofs to try and bring them to belief this way is misguided and harmful, those who engage in this approach have very little success. Those who wish to argue are probably from the “grey-souled” wretches that are made for the fire, they are not the people wise people are reaching out to.
Rust which has eaten into the metal
Cannot be removed by polishing.
Of what use is preaching
to a darkened heart
An iron nail
cannot be driven into a rock.
Be not astonished when a wise man
ceases to speak in company of vile persons, since the melody of a harp
cannot overcome the noise of a drum
and the perfume of ambergris must succumb to the stench of rotten garlic.
Saadi reminded us not to waste our time on headstrong worldly people who have no feeling for God..
A scholar of note had a controversy with an unbeliever but, being unable to cope with him in argument, shook his head and retired.
Someone asked him how it came to pass that, with all his eloquence and learning, he had been unable vanquish an irreligious man.
He replied: ‘
My learning is in the Qur’an,
in tradition and in the sayings of sheiks, which he neither believes in
nor listens to.
Then of what use is it to me to hear him blaspheming?’
To him of whom
you cannot rid yourself
by the Qur’an and tradition
The best reply is
if you dost not reply anything
Rather than waste their time on seemingly lost causes the wise people are reaching out to those with signs of hope, signs that inside they have luminous souls, souls that are reaching for God, even though they may have been put into the bodies within the communities of disbelief.
Wise people know that they do best if they invite those people with apparent natural good qualities and seeming potential for reformation.
In every land of the world there are millions of people born who instinctively know that there is only one God, that there is Heaven and Hell and that we must live good lives and respect and worship God. These people may later be fooled by false teachers or distracted by life, but despite this they wait, hungry for those of belief to reach out to them, but they will likely only be able to understand them if they are spoken to in a way that is in harmony with that which they already understand.
In addition there are many other people who, although they do not so instinctively possess the simple Noahide truths, are able to perceive the light of belief and thus they engage in a spiritual search and reach out to genuine spiritual teachers when they see them, sadly many of these people get waylaid by false teachers who prey upon, like bandits at the roadside of life.
In addition to these two groups there are other people who are apparently rancorous and hostile to belief, yet later they come to the light of faith out of the darkness because Allah wills it and even though no one may have expected it, yet we have limited time on the world and focusing help on rancorous people who are confirmed in their disbelief is wasteful of human energy and other resources.
Those calling others to faith should be aware that there exists another type of person too whom those inviting to faith may beware of and this is the fake seeker, who is merely playing a sport with those who try to help them, a sport in which they demand constant attention and assistance for their many problems.
They may be identified by the fact that they are thankless people, who fail to respect reasonable boundaries and do as they wish in every field and never improving although always claiming that they wish to improve. This is only a claim to encourage continued attention which is what they crave and if they feel that they have received insufficient numbers of people bending over backwards amongst the believers then they will move on to the Methodists or or the Buddhists or the Secular Humanists to play their neurotic games with and they are apt to denounce all those who have helped them previously.
There are many better people than these ones who good hearted people can spend their precious time helping. Yet only Allah can see into the hearts of men and none should be rejected whilst they claim to belief.
Dawa amongst the disbelieving and the ignorant believing neighbours is a duty of the believers, both on the group and personal level. The sign of hope on the other people is their real search and their existing good qualities of manners and generosity, even if they may be a great sinner in other ways.
Wise believers do not let the duty of invitation remain unfulfilled, indeed they remember and know that it is one of their key roles in life and something far more important than the vain pastimes that dominate the lives of many believers.