Dawah, Oct - Dec 2002

Lessons from a Dawah Barbeque

By Isa Lima

I remember the last time I tried to participate in dawah work with Hispanics. We sort of went out into Culmore, the Spanish neighborhood close to the Darul Hijrah mosque in Virginia. We set up a barbeque and a table full of pamphlets. One bro was grilling burgers; another was yelling “FREE FOOD!” I was trying to give an overview of Islam to those who were coming, and other brothers were giving pamphlets out. If people showed a lot of interest and wanted to know even more than what the pamphlets said, we’d give them a Spanish translation of the Qur’an.

We were at some soccer fields. We gave out pamphlets along with food…we went on and on…all day. Some things I learned from that experience are the following:

1. Don’t go out to give dawah with 12 ambitious well-intended, English-speaking brothers and one Hispanic brother. The Hispanic bro will collapse.
2. Learn Central American slang to communicate with Central Americans. It’s a completely different language I tell you.
3. Be consistent. Come back to the neighborhood every weekend or whenever you can.
4. Don’t show up wearing thobes. Otherwise, you will have to explain to Hispanics why such and such brothers are wearing “skirts,” which aren’t really “skirts.”
5. Realize that you will be talking to drunkards, drug addicts, and people from the slap-a-ho tribe, and men lacking common knowledge of hygiene.
6. Don’t bring too many sisters with you because you’ll have to defend them from alcoholics. I’m serious.
7. Bring a truckload of Spanish translations of the Qur’an and pamphlets on Islam.
8. Bring big brothers in case you have to rumble with La Mara Sapatrucha or whatever the hell it’s called. Latin Kings..la misma vaina.
9. Make sure the masjid has your name and number in case people come in asking for a Muslim to speak about Islam in Spanish. This goes the same for Portuguese speakers.
10. If any people accept Islam that don’t speak English very well, try to set up a Spanish speaking Qur’an class.