The Fundamentals of Da'wah
Introduction<<Say: 'This is my way: I invite to Allăh on/with clear knowledge - I and whomever follows me (does this). Glorified is Allăh, and I am not of the polytheists.">> (12:108),
This is one of the ăyăt that our righteous predecessors extract the rules/principles/basics of Da'wah from. The Arabic term is Usool ad-Da`wah and is used interchangeably with the word Minhăj.
Qul"Say" We are instructed to inform the people whatever follows after the command of "say". This ăyah, as well as all the others, is being addressed to the Muslims in general and the Prophet in particular as to how we are to give Da`wah. In it are important commands for us to implement. Thus, we should learn them, understand them, and apply them.
Hădhihi Sabeelee"This is my way" The word Sabeel is synonymous with the words Tareeq, Minhăj, and Sunnah. The Companion Ibn Abbăs explained "the Shar`ee (laws) and Minhăj (methodology) as the Sabeel (way) and Sunnah (example)" - Bukhăree p. 16.
The instruction that follows is the Sunnah of Da`wah, and it is very important that it be adhered to. It is as follows:
Ad`oo Ilallăh"I invite... This phrase is in the first person, singular of the present tense of the verb da`ă. It means: I am calling, I do summon, I bid/beckon/invite. to Allăh. This does not mean we call people to where Allăh is - above His Throne which is above the seven heavens over the heavenly waters. What it means is we summon people to the meaning of Lă ilăha illăllăh which is "none is worthy of worship except Allăh, and it also to call people to His Deen, to His Uniqueness, and knowledge of Him by way of His Perfect Attributes.
There is a science of the Arabic language in which a part of a phrase can be used when it is actually referring to the whole phrase. This science is being applied when the ăyah states to Allăh because it is referring to the Kalimah (Lă ilăha illăllăh). The reverse of this is also a science in which an entire phrase is used when it is actually referring to part of a phrase, e.g. <<They thrust their fingers into their ears... >> (2:19) The word fingers is used but it is actually referring to the fingertips (of possibly only two fingers yet the Jam` case of three or more is used).
So it is here that Allăh tells us to invite the people to Tawheed. Clearly notice that we are not commanded to summon the people to any individual (regardless of how knowledgeable), any organization or masjid, any way of thinking, any project, nationalism, interfaith dialogue, ism or schism, etc. We are only commanded to call the people to the meaning of Lă ilăha illăllăh.
`Ală Baseerah"with clear knowledge" This part the ăyah tells us HOW to invite the people to the statement of Tawheed: Lă ilăha illăllăh. The word Baseerah is not simple one to translate into English, however, for right now we'll use the word knowledge.
Baseerah means Daleel and Burhăn (clear proofs and evidences). The word Daleel literally means guide. Often people ask the question "What is your Daleel (evidence/proof from the Qurăn and authentic Sunnah)?" So what they are literally asking for is "guidance" because this is what revelation does - it guides us. Thus, this is HOW we invite the people toTawheed: with proofs/evidences from the Ourăn and authentic Sunnah!
Evidence can be produce by two basic ways:
One of our eminent scholars, Ibn al Qayyim al-Jawzeeyah stated, "Knowledge is what Allăh says, what the Prophet says, and what the Companions say."
Therefore, in light of the above, one must, be knowledgable in whatever he is inviting the people to. This is a very important condition of Baseerah because if one does not know what he's talking about he could be inviting people to Kufr and Shirk and Bid`ah and Kabă'ir and other Muharămăt. The Prophet said, The seeking of knowledge (of religious matters) is mandatory upon every Muslim (al-Bayhaqee); and Allăh says, <<Everyone must know that there is none worthy of worship except Allăh>> (47:19) and <<invite to Allăh with clear knowledge>> (12:108).
A second condition of Baseerah is that the dă`ee (inviter) should be familiar with whom he is giving da`wah to. This is important because having this knowledge may be beneficial in convincing the invitee(s) to accept Islăm because the dă`ee would know how (or how not) to approach his audience. When the Prophet commissioned Mu`ădh to be the governor of Yamăn, he abreasted him that he was assigning him to an area that was predominately of Jews and Christians (see Bukhăree vol.9 #469 and Muslim vol. 1 #27). With this information it would be useful for Mu`ădh to know that he would be around people who had some knowledge of the previously-revealed divine scriptures because the approach we use with a Confucianist would not necessarily be the same approach we use for a Sabean or for a Christian, etc. Likewise, it may be better to send our Muslim brother Mustafă O'Connell to Ireland than it would be to send someone of British origin (because generally people are more comfortable with others who are similar to themselves - and notwithstanding the ongoing conflict between the two nations).
This hadeeth concerning Mu`ădh is also a proof for the first condition of Baseerah because the rest of the hadeeth informs us that the Prophet told Mu`ădh to instruct the people in the basics of Islăm. In order for Mu`ădh to do this he himself would first have to have knowledge of Tawheed, Ittibă` ar-Rasool, Tahărah, Salăh, etc. And let us take special note that the first tbing that the Prophet ordered him to do was: invite the people to Lă ilăha illăllăh.
A third condition of Baseerah is to be respectful, polite, humble, and the like, yet not compromising any Islămic principles (like shaking hands with the opposite sex or sipping non-virgin cocktails) -while conveying the Da`wah. Allăh instructed Moosă and Hăroon <<Both of you go to Fir`awn for without a doubt he has transgressed, and speak to him with kind and gentle words>> (20:43,44), and <<If you had been severe and harsh-hearted they would have ran away from you>> (3: 159). Furthermore, we should not insult those things that the disbelievers worship besides Allăh, e.g. in the 70's when I was a member of the Nation of Kufr (the "so called" Nation of Islam) I used to say to my parents "How can we you worship that white, blue-eyed, hippie devil [Jesus]?' Although, both of us was in a state of disbelief when I accosted them in this manner it naturally brought about a defensive response (which will make it harder to convice someone of your point). To ridicule and blaspheme the gods that people worship besides Allăh is in opposition to Allăh's command <<Do not revile those whom they pray to besides Allăh because they will wrongfully revile Allăh>> (6:108).
Also, we don't use rap songs to give Da`wah. Yes, music and instruments existed in the time of the Companions, yet with their knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and practice of Islăm (that will not be superceded by any other generation before their time and after it) did not use music to give Da`wah. In fact they did not listen to music at all.
This third condition of Baseerah means that we do not tell the people the consequences Allăh has planned for anyone who does not live according to His prescriptions and proscriptions. From several ăyăt and ahădeeth we can see that it is the Sunnah of Allăh and the Sunnah of His Messenger to tell the people about dreadful and tormenting punishments for the disobedient.
Ană wa Manittaba`anee"I and whomever follows me (does this)" The Prophet and whomever follows him obeys the orders that just was given by Allăh: to invite the people to Tawheed with proofs and evidences/certified and bonafide knowledge. For the second time in this ăyah this command of Allăh is attached to the Sunnah of the Prophet. We should pay very strict attention to this because in Allăh's infinite wisdom He knows why this is being repeated in the same ăyah. So if we adhere to the orders given to us then we can consider ourselves as believing and following the Messenger of Allăh as this part of the ăyah states.
The Arabic word man is a particle that is general. It is not restricted to any place or time. Whether one is a companion of the Prophet , or is born of Slavic descent, or lives in 17th century Salem, or emerges from the pre-historic Flintstone age, or plays golf on the moon, the whomever, wherever, and whenever does not make any difference - as long as he is following the Prophet he is abiding by the dictates of Allăh. <<Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allăh>> (4:80).
The Da`wah of Islăm has three aspectsto it: Tawheed(monotheism), Ittibă` ar-Rasool (following the Messenger: Sunnah), and Tazkeeyah (sanctification of the heart: the result of believing in Tawheed and following the Sunnah).
Wa Subhănallăh"and glorified is Allăh" This Dhikr is usually translated into English as such but the denotative meaning of this phrase is "Allăh is far above and removed from any indignities, deficiencies, limitations, and lies that are attributed to Him", which connotes that He is hallowed/glorified. Included in this He's far above having any partners, peers, equals, companions, mate, or offspring.
Wa Mă Ană Minal-Mushrikeen"and I am not of the polytheists." This means that the Prophet and all those who follow him are not of the deen of the disbelievers.
Usool ad-Da'wah/ConclusionThe foundation or rudiments of inviting people to Allăh (there is none worthy of worship except Allăh) is given to us in this ăyah and other ăyăt. What we must do is learn them, understand them, and apply them. This is the methodology of Da`wah of all the prophets: Muhammad , Yoosuf (AS), Aadam (AS), et al. What these righteous individuals did was call the people to Tawheed with proofs.