Da’wah is an arabic term which means “An invitation”.It is same as the term “Dawat”, which is generally used for Lunch, Dinner or any other party. Da’wah does not mean a Party. It actually means an invitation. In Islamic Context, it means an invitation to Islam, an invitation to deen-ul-haq, the religion of truth. Generally an invitation is given to an outsider, therefore, Da’wah is done with Non-Muslims. When you talk about Islam and correct Muslims, it is termed as “Islah”. However, when you present the truth of Islam to the Non-Muslims, it is known as ‘Da’wah”.
Allah (swt) mentions in the Holy Qur’an, in Surah-Ale-Imran 3: 110, “You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind….”
Here Allah is calling us “Kuntum khairah Ummah” which means “Best of the nation or people”. He is giving us an honor. But natural, this honor is followed by certain amount of responsibility. Now what is this responsibility? The same verse gives you the reply.
“You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah…..”[Surah Ale-Imran 3:110]
If we do not call people towards good and forbid them from doing wrong, we are not fit to be called as “Kuntum Khairah Ummah”, we are not fit to be called as “the best of the people or nation”. Da’wah is nothign but inviting people towards the ultimate good and forbidding them from doing wrong.
Most Muslims know that Islam is a universal religion, meant for all mankind. Allah (swt) is the Lord of the entire Universe, and Muslims have been entrusted with the duty of conveying His message to all mankind. Unfortunately, most Muslims today have become callous towards this duty! While accepting Islam as the best way of life for ourselves, most of us are unwilling to share this knowledge with those to whom the message has not yet been conveyed.
The Glorious Qur’an says: “Ah! Who is more unjust than those who conceal the testimony they have from Allah? But Allah is not unmindful of what ye do!”[Al-Qur’an 2:140]
In order to convey the message of Islam, dialogue and debate become inevitable. Thus Allah commands in Surah Nahl 16:125, “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided.”
In the above Ayah, Allah shows us a way how to do Da’wah. It should be done with wisdom, good preaching and beautiful arguments. Which means anger, sarcasm, filthy talk, and abuse has no place in Da’wah. This is a noble work which has been entrusted upon our ummah.
In the sight of Allah, there is no better persons speech than the one who calls people towards his deen. Allah mentions in Surah Fussilat 41:33, “And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah and does righteousness and says, “Indeed, I am of the Muslims.”
Upon whom is Da’wah Obligatory
This question was put to Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-’Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah) and he replied:-
When a person has knowledge and insight into that which he is calling to, then there is no difference between the one who has a great amount of knowledge, or a student of knowledge who has recently started in pursuit of knowledge or a lay person – as long as he has certain knowledge of the issue at hand. The Prophet (sal-Allaahu ’alayhe wa sallam) said:
“Convey from me, even if it is one verse.”[Sahih Al-Bukhaaree Hadith no.346]
So it is not a condition upon the daa’ee (the one calling) to attain a great amount of knowledge, but the condition is that one must have knowledge of what one is calling to. If this calling is established upon ignorance and built upon emotion and passion, then it is not permissible.
Thus, we see that some of the brothers who call to Allaah, they do not have except a little knowledge. We see them, due to their strong emotions, prohibiting that which Allaah has not prohibited, whilst making obligatory that which Allaah has not made obligatory upon His worshippers. This is a very dangerous matter, since permitting what Allaah has made haraam (unlawful) is like prohibiting what Allaah has made halaal (lawful). So when they begin prohibiting people for making a particular matter then others will rebuke them for making it haraam. Allaah – the Most High – says:
“And do not say, concerning that which your tongues falsely put forward, ‘This is lawful and this is forbidden,’ so as to invent lies against Allaah. Indeed, those who invent lies against Allaah will never prosper.”[Surah Nahl 16:116-117]
As for the lay person, then he must not call to Allaah if he does not have knowledge. Rather, it is essential to have knowledge in accordance with the saying of Allaah – the Most High:
“Say: This is my path. I call to Allaah upon sure knowledge.”[Soorah Yoosuf 12:108]
So it is a must to call to Allaah upon knowledge. However, if a matter is clearly known to be evil or good, then one can command it – if it is good, or forbid it – if it is evil.
So the callers to Allaah must start with knowledge. Whosoever calls to Allaah without knowledge, then such a person will cause greater harm than good – as is evident. So it is obligatory for a person to first acquire knowledge, then to do da’wah. As for the clear evils and that which is clearly good, then the good is enjoined and the evil prohibited.
[Source: as-Sahwatul-Islaamiyyah (pp.75-76) of Shaykh Ibn ’Uthaymeen]