Four Principles of Dawah
By Juan Galvan
Earlier this year, I asked a local Imam advice about dawah. He replied, “Sincerity. Intention. Tension. Manners. First, you must be sincere. Your intentions and actions must be only for the sake of Allah (swt). Expect tension. Have manners.”
“Say, Verily my prayer, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.”(Qur’an 6:162). All our actions should be acts of worship. Sincerity ensures that your intentions and actions are only for the sake of Allah. Our actions must not be tainted by our own desires.
The work you’re doing doesn’t have worldly returns. Don’t expect any worldly returns. If you always expect things and are waiting for things, you’ll never get work done. You will never the get recognition you deserve. All actions are only to gain pleasure from Allah.
By ensuring our intentions are purely for Allah, we free ourselves from expectations of worldly rewards. We don’t expect acknowledgement, wealth, anything. We are sacrificing our time purely for the Deen without expectations. “[Do not follow] the lust (of thy heart), for it will mislead thee from the Path of God.” (Qur’an 38:26).
Race to do good deeds. Friendly competition benefits everyone. Ultimately, we are on the same side. This attitude helps lessen stress and dangerous levels of competition. Sometimes, you will work with people you neither trust nor admire.
A sincere Muslim does not deny anything that is known by necessity to be part of Islam. We cannot make something Halal that is Haram, or something Haram that is Halal. Sincerely repent after committing sins and avoid telling others to avoid setting a bad example. Sincere Muslims practice their religion and educate themselves.
Sincerity requires consistent actions around others and when alone. Respect and good-manners toward others should be sincere. We must be sincere toward everyone. Sincere Muslims should care about current problems and issues within the entire community. Islam is the true, universal religion of our Creator. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing, All-Aware.
The Prophet (saw) said: “Actions are only by intention, and every man shall only have what he intended.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). Actions begin with an intention.
Intention gives you direction. Intention also allows you to quantify your actions. Many new Muslims want to help but have no idea where to start. State your intentions in clear terms. Set deadlines when possible.
Intentions guide actions. What actions do you need to take? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What sacrifices will you need to make? Time. Economic. Emotional.
Always, check your intentions. You may need to modify them. Be flexible. Check your intentions for sincerity. First things first. Prioritize. Learn to think in terms of one year, five years, and fifteen years from now.
Educate yourself. You can only teach up to what you know. No more and no less.
Consider whom you befriend. People want you to follow them. Do not blindly follow people. You may never fully trust the people you follow and/or lead. Know when to lead and when to follow.
“To each is a goal to which Allah turns him; then strive together (as in a race) towards all that is good. Wheresoever ye are, Allah will bring you together. For Allah Hath power over all things.” (Qur’an 2:148). Race to do good deeds. Set your intentions. People with similar interests will miraculously enter your life. When you take a step toward Allah, He will come running toward you.
“Invite (all) to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious…” (Qur’an 16:125). Analyze people and situations. Consider current knowledge, background, customs, and culture. Avoid using expressions and vocabulary unfamiliar to non-Muslims. Use little Arabic at first.
Begin by teaching the basics. Begin with Tawheed. Tawheed is the “Unification of Lordship, of Worship, and of His Names and Attributes.” Don’t confuse people. Explain what Tawheed means. We can’t isolate ourselves from non-Latino Muslims and non-Muslims.
The three fundamental concepts of Islam are Tawheed, Prophethood, and Day of Judgment. Explain the Pillars of Faith. Explain the Pillars of Islam. Explain common misconceptions about Islam. People think you’re a terrorist. Maybe.
“How many of the Prophets fought (in God’s way), and with them (fought) large bands of godly men? But they never lost heart if they met with disaster in God’s way, nor did they weaken (in will) nor give in. And God loves those who are firm and steadfast.” (Qur’an 3:146).
Anyone who gives dawah will experience tension. You will be criticized. The more you do, the more criticism you will get. You will need to give advice, suggestions, and ask questions.
Expect tests and trials. Your patience will be tested. You will make mistakes. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t give up. Read your tension. Tension often speaks to you.
Perform an action then leave the results in the hands of Allah. You can’t control everything. Allah knows best. Patience. Everyone is busy; all the time. Only Allah knows what’s in your heart.
Be committed. Make things happen. Next time, you’ll get more volunteers. Remind people. We forget. Time is the most valuable asset you can give. People are your most valuable asset.
The Prophet would assign Muslims jobs according to their ability. We will not all be scholars, administrators, or heroes. Do your best with what is available. “And in no wise covet those things in which Allah Hath bestowed His gifts more freely on some of you than on others.” (Qur’an 4:32).
Don’t be a hypocrite. You will be called a hypocrite. Don’t burn bridges. You will burn bridges. Consequences come from our behavior. Don’t be afraid to make decisions. Get advice and ask questions when appropriate. Listen.
We’re on the same side. Seek to empower people rather than making them your slaves. The more you help others, the more they can do for themselves and others. That’s freedom for everyone. Seek long-term friendships.
Everyone is a human with feelings and needs. Everyone thinks they are right. Watch your ego. Know when to let go of your pride.
Abd Allah ibn ‘Amr said, “The Prophet of Allah, upon him be peace, was never obscene or coarse. Rather, he used to tell us that the best among us were those with the best manners.” (Bukhari). I have emphasized manners throughout the other points.
Bad morals destroy society. People will avoid and humiliate you. No one will like your personality. Avoid people who have bad manners.
“And worship Allah and associate naught with Him, and show kindness to parents, and to kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and to the neighbour who is a kinsman and the neighbour who is a stranger, and the companion by your side, and the wayfarer, and those whom your right hands possess. Surely, Allah loves not the arrogant and the boastful.” (Qur’an 4:36).
People who follow the example of the Prophet attract people. Be a role model. Be wise. Be patient. Be truthful. Be fair. Be courageous. Be considerate. Be just. Be generous. Be compassionate. Be forgiving. Be respectful.
May Allah guide us all. Surely, Allah SWT is the best guide.