Can you give a brief summary of some basic principles of Da’wah and Interfaith engagement?
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh
[3:19] Indeed, the religion in the sight of Allāh ﷻ is Islam. And those who were given the Scripture did not differ except after knowledge had come to them — out of jealous animosity between themselves. And whoever disbelieves in the verses of Allāh ﷻ, then indeed, Allāh ﷻ is swift in [taking] account.
Da’wah and Interfaith dialogue are important but complex concepts. We strongly recommend that those who are not well-versed in Islamic principles underpinning these two important areas should restrict themselves from extensive engagement in these areas and stick to basics of Islam (such as narrating the five pillars of Islam etc). Those who are not trained in the precepts or lack knowledge but persist on deeper engagement can actually cause significant damage by misinterpreting or misrepresenting key Islamic components despite their sincerity and zeal to further the cause of Islam. We recommend for all Muslims who wish to engage in Da’wah and Interfaith dialogue to continuously consult with (expert) Islamic scholars to avoid the negativities consequences. However, we would like to briefly list some basics which should be adhered to at all times:
Islam is THE Religion:
The only religion acceptable to Allāh ﷻ is Islam. Salvation of mankind is through Islam. A person should have unshakable conviction in Islam being the only acceptable religion and they should not be shy about unambiguously stating it through their words and expressing it through their actions.
Da’wah is a duty
[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.
A Muslim is the one who submits to the oneness of Allāh ﷻ and affirms the finality of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. It was the divinely designated duty of all of the Prophets (Peace be upon all of them) to invite mankind to the worship of Allāh ﷻ . Since there are no more Prophets to come after Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, it is the duty of the followers of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to invite mankind to the worship of Allāh ﷻ . It is our duty as the followers of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to dispel myths, respond to allegations and to provide a counter narrative to Anti-Islam propaganda but all of it must be done in the best manner possible by following the Prophetic example. If a Muslim is unable to keep their emotions in check or to construct a viable argument we strongly urge them to retreat from this field and leave it to others.
Muwasat and Mu’amalat with Non-Muslims
[60:8] Allāh ﷻ does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes — from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allāh ﷻ loves those who act justly.
Muwasat means to assist, support, help, remove harm, console and benefit the Non-Muslims in their worldly affairs and Mu’amalat means to deal in transactions and to trade with Non-Muslims. Both of these areas are keys to affect the Non-Muslims and to soften their hearts towards Islam. Non-Muslims are our neighbours, our colleagues and we interact with them on a daily basis. It is unfortunate that many of us have failed in our duty to set an example with our conduct. Our interactions with Non-Muslims leaves a lot to be desired and falls short of the Prophetic precedence. We urge all Muslims to behave and conduct themselves according to the noble principles of Sunnah which will go a long way towards spreading the message of Islam.
Cooperation with Christians and others
[5:2] And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression
This verse of the Qur’aan is primarily targeted to the Muslims. However, there is nothing prohibitive in Islam about cooperating with Non-Muslims on beneficial (social) matters. There are issues in our society which need our combined attention. We should join platforms and cooperate to assist the weak and the oppressed. We should join platforms and cooperate on vital institutions which exist to benefit the weak and the vulnerable (such as the NHS). We should join platforms and cooperate at times of emergencies and natural disasters. We should join platforms and cooperate to feed the poor, provide comfort and shelter to them. In fact, we should lead from the front in these matters.
Mosque are House of Allāh ﷻ and for worship of Allāh ﷻ
[9:18] The mosques of Allāh ﷻ are only to be maintained by those who believe in Allāh ﷻ and the Last Day and establish prayer and give zakah and do not fear except Allāh ﷻ, for it is expected that those will be of the [rightly] guided.
Mosques are divinely designated to engage in acts of worship and they are not halls or conference rooms to engage in debates and discussions. In fact, all topics which are not directly linked to worship of Allāh ﷻ should be avoided. Da’wah is invitation towards Allāh ﷻ which is a noble and permissible act but interfaith dialogue or debates and discussions about other religions should be avoided in a Mosque. We would go as far as to say that not just the areas of worship (in a Mosque) but the entire building as a place of worship is sanctified and should not be used to hold Interfaith debates and discussions.
It is permissible for Non-Muslims to enter the Mosques but guidelines should be followed to preserve the sanctity of the house of Allāh ﷻ .
Adhān & it’s purpose
[Bukhari] Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Umar (RA) narrated that when the Muslims arrived at Medina, they used to assemble for the prayer, and used to guess the time for it. During those days, the practice of Adhan for the prayers had not been introduced yet. Once they discussed this problem regarding the call for prayer. Some people suggested the use of a bell like the Christians, others proposed a trumpet like the horn used by the Jews, but ‘Umar (RA) was the first to suggest that a man should call (the people) for the prayer; so Prophet Muhammad ﷺ ordered Bilal (RA) to get up and pronounce the Adhan for prayers.
In the Islamic tradition, Adhān has specified purposes with the most well-known being a call to Islamic worship. Its primary purpose is to call to the worship of Allāh ﷻ but it is also called at other designated occasions, it is blessed and great reward has been associated with its pronouncement and its response.
Calling the Adhān and using it for any other purpose which is not specified in Islam is a deviation from the noble Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and moving away from the practise of Islam, no matter how “useful” the purpose may logically appear. Da’wah and/or Interfaith dialogue are not purposes for calling the Adhān.
Politicising Jumu’ah Prayer
[62:9–10] O you who have believed, when [the adhan] is called for the prayer on the day of Jumu’ah [Friday], then proceed to the remembrance of Allāh ﷻ and leave trade. That is better for you, if you only knew. And when the prayer has been concluded, disperse within the land and seek from the bounty of Allāh ﷻ, and remember Allāh ﷻ often that you may succeed.
The Muslim Ummah (due to our sins) is afflicted with multiple tragedies from Kashmir to Palestine. It is often that we need jolt our communities from their slumber and encourage them to rise to the aid and assistance of our suffering brothers and sisters. However, Friday prayers (and the associated Khutbah) is an integral part of Islam and a vital act of worship. It should be used to bring the community closer to Allāh ﷻ and not to summarise various Brexit options. There are guidelines in the Sunnah on how the Khutbah should be prepared and delivered and how those listening to it should behave. It is not a community event to vent and express rage against certain political events.
Friday Khutbah is worship and not merely a community relations opportunity. The focus needs to be on the spiritual aspect of Jumu’ah and maintaining balance between providing guidance on challenges pertaining to Muslims and spirituality is the key.
In our experience, we have not seen others politicise their sanctified day of worship by focusing on non-religious events in their places of worship. There is nothing wrong with discussing politics once in a while and making short announcements but the primary designation of Jumu’ah Prayer is to worship Allāh ﷻ .
Gender Interaction, Fundraising and Mosque Open days
[24:30–31] Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allāh ﷻ is Acquainted with what they do. And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allāh ﷻ in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.
The foundation of personal conduct in Islam is based on modesty. Interaction between opposite genders in Islam is based on necessity and restricted even when justified due to necessity. Da’wah events, Interfaith dialogues and Mosque open days are not exemptions to basic Islamic rules of modesty, decency and the need to guard one’s gaze.
We have witnessed that certain Mosques restrict access to women for daily prayers and yet on certain events no restrictions are placed and members of the opposite genders can be seen freely interacting with each other in a sociable way attending a social event.
The need to raise money for an emergency in Syria does not absolve Muslims from restrictions between members of the opposite gender.
The need for Da’wah does not absolve Muslims from restrictions between members of the opposite gender.
Da’wah is to portray and exhibit Islam in its pristine and pure form, Da’wah is neither an opportunity to dilute the teachings of Islam nor to make Islam appear “flexible, hip and cool” to the masses.
Acts of Islamic worship in Chruches
[Bukhari] Imam Bukhari (RA) gave a chapter in his Saheeh the title “Chapter on prayer in churches”, in which he narrated that ‘Umar (RA) said: We do not enter churches because of the statues on which there are images. And Ibn ‘Abbaas (RA) used to pray in churches except a church in which there were statues.
There is a difference of opinion amongst scholars about Muslims carrying out acts of worship in Churches and places of worship of other religions at the time of necessity. A Muslim should strive to worship Allāh ﷻ with sincerity and make their worship purely for the sake of Allāh ﷻ . An act of worship should not be used as a PR opportunity.
Furthermore, in our time due to prevalent (geopolitical) circumstances Muslims should be vigilant and careful about praying in Churches or places of worship of other religions even during the time of necessity.
We hope that these brief notes have highlighted the importance of this subject and provided basic guidelines of conduct for Muslims. We believe that a lot needs to be done in this area and a lot can be achieved without comprising the essential teachings of Islam. Our success is not in numbers or the extent of our outreach but in following the commandments of Allāh ﷻ and following the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
If you have an event coming up and need guidance then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by email.