Da’wah to non-Muslims: A neglected duty of Muslim minorities
Mufti Zubair Bayat
An obvious but disturbing truth about Muslims living as minorities in non-Muslim countries is their general neglect of Da’wah among non-Muslims. Why is this so? This is a question that requires deep analysis to arrive at a correct answer. As an Ummah of one billion Muslims, da’wah to our non-Muslim neighbours and fellow countrymen hardly has any place among our goals and priorities. Very little of our resources are spent on thispivotal duty of Islam. As Muslim minority communities living within non-Muslim countries, we live totally indifferent to this primary duty to our neighbours. Neither do we make an Islamic impact on them, though we are more than a million strong in some Western countries. In India, Muslims are officially more than 130 million!
Da’wah among non-Muslims should not, be treated as an isolated branch of Islam.Unless we are prepared to recognise and acknowledge the central place da’wah occupies in the life of every Muslim, we will not give it the importance it deserves. We will then not devote our energies to it as we ought to. Unless we understand the importance of Da’wah to non-Muslims, it will not form an integral part of our total endeavours and struggles in the path of Allah.
Da’wah among non-Muslims must not be merely an appendage or an after thought in the life of a Muslim. It cannot be pursued as a contingent activity. It should not be incidental to any special circumstances. Da’wah, for example, should not be taken up as a response or reaction to missionary activities by other faiths. If da’wah is approached in this fashion, it will suffer the fate that it is sufferingnow. In other words, Da’wah should not be a reactive measure for Muslims, but it should in fact be a proactive endeavour.
The neglect towards Da’wah stems from the state of the current Muslim mind and attitude, individual and collective, towards Islam, towards fulfilling the dictates of Islam, towards Da’wah to all mankind in fulfilment of the mission of Islam. The general attitude of Muslims is one of unawareness, indifference, or sheer neglect. Without attempting to set this mindset right, the problems with respect to Dawah will remain.
The contradiction between Islamic teachings and the practice and examples of Muslims -which is a state of near hypocrisy – as harsh as this sounds, drives away many a non-Muslim from Islam. How can an average non-Muslim feel any attraction towards Islam, let alone choose to follow it with the present state of Muslims? How can they respond merely by listening to sermons and reading books (except for a few fortunate souls)?
As part of their overall da’wah responsibility towards non-Muslims, it is a compulsory requisite that Muslims must begin to follow Islam more seriously and conscientiously. This in itself is an indirect form of da’wah that has attracted many a soul towards Islam!
The questions that Muslims, especially our religious scholars and elders need to address urgently along with others are: How to reinstill the spirit of da’wah in the hearts of all Muslims? If da’wah is taking place, why is it not effective? What are the factors that is not making a natural way of life such as Islam, unattractive for non-Muslims? Are our present concepts, approaches and methods appropriate and correct for Da’wah among non-Muslims, or do they need to be modified or altered? If so, in what ways?
It is vitally important that conferences or workshops along these lines be conducted, to address these and related issues in depth. These need to be held on all levels, regionally, nationally and internationally. This will be the starting point of establishing a sound framework for da’wah activities. In the absence of a solid framework, da’wah efforts will be limited, short-term, disorganised and ineffective.
In the meanwhile, every Muslim needs to remind himself daily and other Muslims as well, that da’wah towards non-Muslims is an important aspect of a Muslim’s existence in this world. May Allah guide one and all.