In our lives, we see, meet, and interact with non-Muslims on a daily basis. These moments, be it large or small, creates an influence on the person whether it was our intention or not. Based upon my personal (both serious and hilarious) experiences, there are three ways one can give Dawah without even mentioning the phrase “convert to Islam”.
Message from the Author: This article is an Eid special (by the way, all of the events happened in the three days of Eid except for the last event). Eid Mubarak and Enjoy!!
Getting to the three different ways that one can give Dawah (without mentioning “convert to Islam):
1. Behavior - On the day of Eid, we were invited to someone’s house and on the way there, we stopped by a supermarket to buy them a small gift. My dad told me to go inside and to get something nice, so I went inside, found a nice cake, asked the baker to write ‘Eid Mubarak” on it, and then took it to the checkout aisle. As I waited in line, I noticed the cashier, a nice old lady, was talking very animatedly and had a nice manner towards the customers. The customers, in turn, were very relaxed and they were clearly enjoying their time as they were asking the lady for advice on miscellaneous issues. When it was my turn, she continued to smile, gave me the customary greetings, and proceeded to checkout the cake.
I was personally amazed at her manner because the majority of cashiers that I normally encounter are the type that just want the day to end and carry an air of indifference around them. This was not to be the case with the old lady, and as I left, I left with a positive feeling. It wasn’t her words that left me in high spirits, but it was her manners and her attitude towards others that made an impact on me. I remember I was once in school when my teacher, Br. Karim Abu Zaid (now a local Imam), walked in and he told us that Alhamdulillah, his neighbor had embraced Islam. He then started to narrate the story of the neighbor’s conversion and said that each morning on his way to work, he would pass by his neighbor and would greet him with a smile. One day, the neighbor came to his house and announced that he wanted to become Muslim because he was very impressed by Br. Karim’s behavior. Subhanallah, one wouldn’t think that the person’s behavior could have such an impact, but that is the case of this neighbor and well as many others that came to Islam.
2. Appearance - For a second, forget even talking. What are the other ways we affect somebody? One major way that we influence somebody is by our appearance; what we wear and how we carry ourselves. We all know the famous maxim, “Do not judge a book by its cover”, but no matter how many times we hear it, our minds tell us the total opposite. It is the same with people. There is the Hadith of the Prophet that says,
The likeness of a righteous friend and an evil friend is the likeness of a (musk) perfume seller and a blacksmith. As for the perfume seller, he may either bestow something on you, or you may purchase something from him, or you may benefit from his sweet smell. And as for the blacksmith, he may either burn your clothes, or you may be exposed to his awful smell.”
From this Hadith, one can see that when you are around a person who dresses and smells good, you will benefit from him and the same applies for the opposite. Of course, when we say we should have an appropriate appearance, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean you go to the shopping mall dressed up in a Saudi thaub with the Red Kaffiyah or a Shalwar Kameez with Chappals and all. No, it should rather be that we are dressed in a modest manner that clearly distinguishes us from the others.
You have probably noticed that I didn’t mention anything about wearing shirts with Islamic messages on them. You have probably thought that maybe we shouldn’t wear them outside the Muslim community. Well that is true in certain situations – take wearing a shirt saying “My Name Causes National Security Concerns – What Does Your Do?” at the airport (as mentioned in Baba Ali’s Video Blog). That is probably not the best thing to do…
However, aside from comical Islamic shirts, I actually encourage wearing apparel mentioning Islamic slogans in the public. Once, I was at Walmart and as I was walking through the aisles, there were two large doors with an “employees only” sign in front of me. It suddenly opened and some employees came out with a large cart. I moved out the way for them and a few minutes later, an employee came back and while he was heading for the door, he glanced at me and then suddenly stopped. I instantly became weary as he walked towards me and said, “Well, what type of conversation?”
I was really confused and was about to say that I had no idea what he was talking about but then I saw that his gaze was towards my shirt and so I looked down. It turned out to be a shirt that I had gotten from CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations)’s annual fundraising dinner and since they were having a campaign to improve dialogue among Muslims and non-Muslims, the shirts they were selling said on them, “Let The Conversation Begin”. Subhanallah, that shirt helped in ways that the shirt designers may have not even imagined. It sparked curiosity in the employee and he actually stopped all that he was doing to understand what the shirt was about. So if you have a shirt saying, “Make Chai, Not War” or “Muslims love Jesus too”, go ahead and wear it at the mall and see people’s reactions!
3. Just Act Muslim – This one cannot be stressed enough. Mahatma Gandhi once said,
“Be the change you wish to see in the world”
Basically, it means that don’t wait for others to be the change that you believe in. If you have an ideal image of how a Muslim should be, then don’t look around for others to implement it, but do it yourself first. In all of your interactions with others, simply act Muslim. According to Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was like a walking Quran. Imam Safi Khan of Dar-us-Salaam once said,
“You know something is right when people are reminded of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) when they look at you”.
I once went to a Halal meat store and while I was waiting in line, I saw a Hindu family in front of me. Since the meat was taking some time, they were waiting and their little son was scurrying around bringing random items to the family. Alhamdulillah, the owner of the store has many Islamic books in his store and so the little kid was repeatedly bringing books to them and asking them in the nagging voice that only little kids can only do perfectly, “Can we please please please get this book? I want to find out what it’s about!” His parents turned red and tried explaining to the kid that they couldn’t get the book since it was about Islam. The kid obviously didn’t understand and kept on bringing other Islamic books while crying, “I do know how to R-E-A-D! Let me just take a book home!” I bit my tongue in laughter as I saw him repeatedly bring books to the parents and then starting to read the Islamic titles to his parents. Talk about effective Dawah…
I was once with a Muslim youth group at a camp and one of the activities was a scavenger hunt in Washington DC where we had to basically find items and clues in all the various museums. When we arrived in DC and got to to the Capitol, we decided to pray before starting the scavenger hunt. In front of the Capitol of the United States of America, we got in two straight lines and started our prayer. While we were praying, there were many people that were walking by us and looking in our direction. When we got to Sujood with our heads on the ground, we heard a little girl asking,
“Mommy, Daddy, What is That?”
May Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) help us to give Dawah through our words and through our actions. Ameen…
Photo Credits: “Happy Eid Cake” was taken by Sunshine Hanan via Flickr