Interfaith Principles

Can you give a brief sum­ma­ry of some basic prin­ci­ples of Da’wah and Inter­faith engagement? 

In the Name of Allāh ﷻ, the Most Gra­cious, the Most Merciful.

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 .

Adhn & 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.