In the Merchant of Venice the Prince of Morocco said, "Mislike me not for my complexion." (Act 2 Scene 1). He knew that their eyes could clearly see a difference but here we are concerned with the differences that cannot be seen. The Prince of Morocco was speaking to the people of Europe and he addressed the differences in people in terms of skin colour and belief. Have we tried to address these?
Is Islamic outreach something that we should be concerned about?
Well you should be concerned about this if you are a lover of the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) because that is one of the main purposes of Prophethood. To call the people to the message of salvation; the message that will save them from everlasting humiliation. Most of the time there are only a few groups performing this obligatory action in the West. The Sunni “Sufi's” seem to have given up outreach with the exception of the scholars. Calling people to Islam is an obligation on the community.
Anyone who comes from the Indo-Pak background owes their Islam to Sufi's. This is no exaggeration, war did win over the political power but the hearts of the people was won over by Sufism. When we say Sufism or Sufi's we mean those who follow the sacred law correctly and follow a spiritual leader. We do not mean those who are called Sufis and are in many ways worse than those who do not pray!
Sufi's like Sayyid Yusuf Al-Din (could that be Yusr al-Din?) a descendant of Sheikh Abdulqadir Jilani who saw a dream ordering him to leave Baghdad and go to Sind. He eventually won over seven hundred families who converted to Islam at his hands. (Spread of Islam in the World T. Arnold p.274)
In our times the so-called Sufi's come out for the Mawlid and are not interested in speaking about Islam to anyone. This is not the way of the Spiritual masters who have preceded us and or the one who gave us this religion.
The Preaching of the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him)
He would supplicate for people to become Muslim and he would facilitate their Islam after they came into Islam. His prayer was one of the reasons that Umar ibn Al-Khattab became Muslim and he supported Salman the Persian (may Allah be pleased with them both) after he became Muslim. So this is the way of the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) and it is nothing new. Dawah was something that he said he would continue to do until it became manifest or until he died trying.
According to the book Foreign policy of Muhammad by M. S. Qureshi he states that the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) sent thirty letters to kings and sent over eighty delegations to tribes explaining Islam.
“Thou wouldst only, perchance, fret thyself to death, following after them, in grief, if they believe not in this.” (The Cave 18:6)
The Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) was anxious that people enter into Islam.
Ponder the following narration:
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “The garden is the obligatory reward of anyone at whose hands someone becomes Muslim.” (Tabarani kabir 786, Awsat 3456 and Saghir 439)
Now we have established that we have to call people to Islam; we have to establish how:
“Invite (people) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good counsel. And argue with them in the best of manners. Surely, your Lord knows best the one who deviates from His way, and He knows best the ones who are on the right path.” (The Bee 16:125)
Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet (May Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “The Prophets were ordered to converse with people according to their intellects.”
We need to speak to people in the West using information in the way that they can digest. This does not mean we demean Islam, we should explain Islam, honestly.
Come from a root Arabic word دعا which means to call or summon. دعوة which can mean to invite or to appeal. We are inviting them to the appeal of unchanged religion meaning that they will enter into endless bliss by becoming Muslim.
We are only responsible to deliver the message, once this is done our responsibilitly is over. It is up to them to become Muslim or not. In the Tibetan language Dawa means the moon. We want people to see the beauty of the man who is more beautiful than the full moon.
What should be our next step?
Our next step is to engage local Masjids into giving out the correct outreach to non-Muslims. If they are not willing to do anything for outreach then we have to engage groups outside the Masjids. This is something that is becoming increasing apparent. Many Masjids do not understand the environment that they are in and thus other centres have to be opened by like minded individuals who are ready to do this work.
Here are some points that we think are important:
1) We need to have English speakers who are open to speak about Islam to non-Muslims. Be that having open days for the public or for select groups of people like school groups.
2) We need to have soup kitchens that feed the poor.
3) We need events where people can come and ask questions.
4) This events where people can get together. Leeds new Muslims is a group of concerned Muslims who bring all those who have recently converted together to have a meal. This is normally a weekly event and this gives so many people chance to interact and make new friends. It is not easy to become Muslim and they need as much support as we can give them. Recently this program has been copied in Dewsbury and its results have been extremely positive. There are many Muslims in our communities who hide their Islam and live in areas where there is little hope of assistance. This program brings hope and brings them together with other Muslims who can help.
These are some things that we feel are important and need to be addressed. Of course there could be more.
Most of all we should be extremely careful of how we interact with other people because that can also have a bearing on whether people become attracted to Islam or not. If they see an enlighten human being who is a Muslim then Islam becomes attractive however this is not the case when they meet a rude and obnoxious Muslim.
Acts of kindness should not be seen as anything small they should be seen as ways of attracting people to enter Islam. We do have a collective and an individual responsibility concerning the outreach of Islam and this needs to be taken seriously. Muslims have to note that they can play a large role in making a new Muslim feel welcome. Even if they do not know much themselves as long as they know where to go to gain knowledge. Any small action is something that could be massive on a personal level.
We need to accept new Muslims into the fold and make them feel welcome. I have lost count the number of English Muslims who are seen as outcasts because they do not come from 'back home.' This is rubbish, Islam is not about a racist or tribal religion. Anyone can be a Muslim and they can be from any race of people. Also if you see a English Muslim in the Masjid who has finished praying, do not go up to him and ask him if he is Muslim! This is most stupid thing you can do! Invite them for some food and do not kill them with spices!
If you know or find a new Muslim in your area then support them as much as you can by encouragement. Get them the right books, prayer mats, invite them to good lectures and take them to teachers to learn. Do not sufficate them and if they have questions then pass them onto someone else knowledgable. They need support and avoid informing them that so and so group is the wrong group to follow, unless they are clearly wrong. As this may confuse them in the early stages of their development. Let them grow and let them learn at their own pace.
All that glitters is not gold but the gold we have can be shared without deminishing.