The Methods Of Propagation and Missionary Work
- :Sayyid Bahashti
The Methods Of Propagation and Missionary Work
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon Muhammad, his pure Household and the righteous among his companions. Indeed people's enthusiasm towards Islam and embracing it in overwhelming numbers is indisputable. This great phenomenon is drawing the attention of observers everywhere, whether they believe in Islam or not.
It is appropriate to ask: Is this the result of efforts exerted by Muslim missionaries? Has the means of communication, at the disposal of Islam, reached the level of those of its rivals? To say the least, the answers are doubtful, particularly to the second question.
A great number of Muslims still do not see the necessary connection between being a Muslim and a missionary, conveying the message of Islam; unlike the first generation of Muslims who worked under the banner of the Messenger (s.a.w.). In the same vein, a large number of Muslims do not consider themselves responsible for exemplifying Islam and the practicing of it in terms of personal behaviour, ethics and tens of other aspects of good conduct. Consequently, some Muslims would do a great damage to Islam or even distance many people from it by acting contrary to their religion.
But, it is obvious that the means of communica-tion are at the disposal of others, especially by the West, both in its religious and civil sense, surpassed what is obtained in Islamic media, in the same way, the West's industry and technology surpasses that of the East.
People' turning towards Islam, being in the West or in the East, and from different classes of society, preceded by the educated people, is due to the empti-ness of the ideologies of Western materialism, on the one hand, and shows the richness of the Islam in its thought, belief and tenets of behavior, on the other.
The Western man has no doubt attained all the means of material comfort. What he lacks is a tranquil heart, a blissful mind, a noble soul and an intellect that can relate with profound matters and lofty objectivees. Thus, whenever the Muslims gain the opportunity to play the role of the deliverers of the Message of Islam and become the missionaries bearing its word to the world surrounding them, then the Promised Day on which Islam shall overwhelm all religions and ideolog-ies will definitely be near, Allah willing: And give glad news to the faithful.
However, as Islam has its own principles, bases, concepts and rules, therefore, the issue of propagation is also given special attention and the verses of the Holy Qur'an and the noble texts have defined and explained the features of propagation and cited its milestones. The evolution of societies, coupled with the progress of knowledge and the flourishing of the arts, all have a great influence on the methods of Islamic propagation, and are closely interconnected with a number of social sciences.
We are glad to present this study to our dear readers, beseeching Allah, the Most High, to make our community the best of communities selected for mankind commanding what is right and forbidding what is wrong and believe in Allah. All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.
The Divine Message - A Transformation Movement
"... verily Allah changes not the condition of a people until they change what is in theirsel-ves;…" Holy Qur'an (Ra`d 13 : 11)
"O my people! how is that I invite you unto salvation and you call me unto fire? You call me that I should disbelieve in Allah and associate with Him that I have no knowledge of, and I invite you unto the Almmighty, and the Oft-Forgiving (Lord)". Holy Qur'an (Mu'min 40: 41- 42)
The study and analysis of the form of the divine call, its thought, composition, constituents and objecti-ves make us conclude that it is a movement for transformation, whose main objective is to change man's social and intellectual conditions, and is not a syncretic call that accepts compromises or corrupt situations contrary to its principles. This call rests on the foundation of the belief in Allah, the One, the Unique, calling people to Him so that His Divine unity will be confessed to and worshipping Him be establish-ed on the earth.
This great foundation and broad mode of thought clearly espouses the transformative nature of the Islamic message. It is really a call for the transforma-tion of concepts and reforming what the pertain to, such as feelings and sentiments, and for redirecting the mental powers and faculties. This is regarded as the fundamental principle for bringing about a comprehen-sive change in behaviour, relationships, coordination, civilization and way of life. The Holy Qur'an makes it clear by saying:
"…verily Allah changes not the condition of a people until they change what is in theirselves;…" Holy Qur'an (Ra`d 13 : 11)
A sound heart is the very foundation of a sound and healthy formation, the uprightness of both individ-ual and society and the deserving of divine recompense. "The Day when will avail not wealth or sons, save him who comes unto Allah with a heart submissive." Holy Qur'an (Shu`ara 88-89)
For this reason, the Qur'an builds the move-ment of social changes, including politics, economy, and social behaviour, on the foundation of changing the nature of the human self and its inner realm.
So, this change starts from the depths of the mind and the purification of the self and sentiments, so as to attain the sound and healthy heart which is free from evil tendencies and does not accede to straying, corruption or the penetration of the perverted inner intellect. From studying the verses of the Qur'an which talk about the form of the Islamic message and its principles, one will understand that it is a transformative message, whose aim is to eradicate the condition of pre-Islamic period of ignorance and uproot all its dimentions.
In this sense, it is a call that demolishes, rebuilds and changes the mode of thinking and the method of material thought, as well as, a way of properly unders-tanding things.
It is a call for a change in belief and the foundation of thought in life, and a transformation of feelings, sentiments and human emotions. It is also a call for change in the human relation-ships and ties and an exposition of the nature of human behaviour in addition to social and historical changes. It is a call for change in organisation and laws; for changing the course of life.
It is a movement which persists in building the individual, the society and the state in a distinctive manner and a continuous change based on the principl-es of demolition and reconstruction.
A perusal of the verses previously mentioned will reveal the method of transformation carried by the Islamic Message and the fact that it rejects the com-promising stand, vis-à-vis pre-Islamic period of Jahiliyyah, with all its diverse denominations, schools of thought and social behaviour. Nowadays, this Jahiliyyah has, no doubt, taken on new theoretical forms and trends of philosophical,
political, economi-cal and mental schools aiming to explain the nature, thought and behaviour of man and his social life, in a manner which contradicts the Islamic approach. The latter starts with changing the mode of thinking and belief and building a principle of thought based on firm, rational and scientific foundations. The following verses of the Holy Qur'an portray a clear picture of this by the transformation in thought and belief. Allah, the Most High, says:
"You call me that I should disbelieve in Allah and associate with Him that I have no knowledge of, and I invite you unto the Almighty, and the Oft-Forgiving (Lord)". Holy Qur'an (Mu'min 40: 41- 42)
"I withdraw from you and what you call up-on other than Allah, and I call upon (only) my Lord…" Holy Qur'an (Maryam 19: 48)
"... and whoever disbelieves the rebels (false deities) and believes in Allah, has indeed laid hold on the strongest handle no break is for it…" Holy Qur'an (Bqara 2:256)
Thus, the Divine Message of Islam starts with thought and belief to be the base that carries the edifices and deliniates the course for life. It is a call to the unity of Allah as the basis on which civilization is built, and the social and psych-ological condition is established.
Then, it stats to purify the self and change the inner realm of man, ranging from his feelings and his sentiments, like those of love, hate, anger, pleasure, etc., and construct it on the basis of the belief in Allah, the Glorious.
The Holy Qur'an establishes this fact:
"And the believes men and the believer women, they are guardians to one another..." Holy Qur'an (Tawba 9: 71)
"Verily, your guardian is (none else but) Allah and His Apostle (Muhammad) and those who believe,…" Holy Qur'an (Ma'ida 5: 55)
"…Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah, and those who are with him are vehement against the infidels, compassionate among themselves…" H oly Qur'an Fath 48:29)
"O you who believe! Take not the disbeliev-ers for friends rather than the believers; …" Holy Qur'an (Nisa 4: 144)
"You shall find not a people who believe in Allah and the Hereafter befriending, those who oppose Allah and His Apostle, …" Holy Qur'an (Mujadala 58: 22)
The noble Messenger, Muhammad (s.a.w.), has firmly established the nature of emotional and mental relationships between the believers, says: "The strongest bond of belief is to love for the sake of Allah and hate for the sake of Allah" "None of you will be a (true) believer until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself."
"The most accomplished in belief from among the believers is the best of them in morals." "The best of mankind is he who benefits others."
It is within these foundations and principles that Islam changed the feelings, sentiments and drives, both mental and moral, and coordinated and strengthened them on the basis of loyalty to the Almighty Allah, His Messenger and the believers as well as, disassociation from the enemies of Allah. In the following verses, the Holy Qur'an portrays the strong emotions and the interplay of belief and sentiment, and the feelings that bestow such mental urges and aroused emotions upon the one contented in thought:
"And when they hear (the Holy Qur'an) what has been sent to (Our) Apostle (Muham-mad) you will see their eyes overflowing with tears on account of what they recognize of the truth; say they;: `O Our Lord! We believe, so write us down with the witness (of the truth).'" Holy Qur'an (Ma'ida 5: 83)
"Allah has sent down the best recital, a Book consistent (in its parts) with iteration, at which do shudder the skins of those who fear their Lord, then get softened their skins and their hearts unto the remembrance of Allah; This is Allah's guidance, guides He with it whomseover He wills; and whomsoever allows Allah to stray, for him there is no guide." Holy Qur'an (Zumur 39:23)
"And nor is it for the faithful that they should go forth (to war) all together; why should not then a company from every party of them go forth that they may acquire (proper) unders-tanding in religion, and that they may warn their people when they return unto them, so that they may be cautious?" Holy Qur'an (Tawba 9: 122)
"And that there should be among you a group who call (mankind) unto virtue and enjoin what is good and forbid wrong; and these are they who shall be successful." Holy Qur'an (Al-e-Imran 3: 103)
Since the dawn of human history, Allah, the Glorious, has sent messengers and prophets (a.s.) as guiders and reformers for the salvation of mankind, solving their social problems, resolving their ideologi-cal conflicts and calling them to the unity of Allah and worshiping Him alone. The Holy Qur'an has recorded this fact:
"…and there is not a people but a warner has gone among them." Holy Qur'an (Fatir 35:24)
This was necessary because, to know Allah, the Glorious, to worship Him and to reform mankind cannot be achieved except by way of the messengers and the divine call. And it is not possible to know the hereafter, which is related to this world, nor is it possible to know the path of bliss and deliverance in the next world, except by divine guidance and explanation.
The consequence of the relationship between knowing Allah and worshipping Him, on the one hand, and the coming of the divine guidance and explanation of the reward that man deserves in the next world, on the other, is the principle of divine justice. This is because entitlement to reward is connected with faith and deeds and, likewise, faith and deeds are related to knowing and depending on Allah. As a result of these, the Qur'an established the principle of divine justice and makes clear that there is responsibility and no recompense, sending of messengers and making the message, unless fater revelation reaches mankind.
Allah, the Most High said:
"…and We chastise not (any people) until We raise an apostle (among them)." Holy Qur'an (Bani-Israel 17: 15)
Then He addresses man, charging him with the responsibility of his destiny after the explanation and revelation has reached him, saying: "And indeed We caused the Word (of guid-ance) to come unto them continuosly, that they may be admonished." Holy Qur'an (Qasas 28: 51)
Therefore, Allah, the Most High, introduced Himself to His servants, sent messengers to them, revealed messages and presented proofs and miracles: "…that there may remain any argument for people against Allah, after (the coming of ) these apostle,…" Holy Qur'an (Nisa' 4:165)
From the foregoing, we can understand that the propagation of the Divine Message is among the most important and sacred obligations on this earth. And its tasks are shared by the Sender of the message (Allah, the Most High), the Messenger and the one to whom the message is addressed i.e., man. Thus, it is clear that the call to Allah is initially the responsibility of the messengers and the prophets. Thus, Allah addresses His Prophet, saying:
"And call you unto the way of your Lord with wisdom and kindly exhortation and dispute with them in the manner which is the best; verily you Lord knows better of him who has gone astray from His path; and He knows best of those guided aright." Holy Qur'an (Nahil 166: 125)
Just as the responsibility of propagation (or Tabligh) is initially that of the Messenger (s.a.w.), the Message of Islam has subsequently made it an obligation on every Muslim who believes in the Prophet (s.a.w.) and follows his guidance and footsteps. It is the responsibility of every Muslim; not only the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) alone.
Allah, the Almighty, says:
"Say you (O Our Apostle Muhammad): `This is my way, I invite ((you call) unto Allah; with clear sight, (which) I and he who follows me (possesses); and glory be to Allah, and I am not of the polytheists.'" Holy Qur'an (Yusuf 12: 108)
However, the Holy Qur'an confirms that the responsibility of calling people to Allah is a joint venture between the Prophet and his followers, those who believe in Him down the Day of Re-surrection. Therefore, the Muslims, after the demise of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), upheld the banner of Islam by word and thought and by Jihad (striving in the cause of Allah) and power, smashing the fortresses of the tyrants and remov-ing the obstacles in the way of the Divine Message so that it could march its way to enlightened intellects and the pure nature of man. Thus, Islam spread and its banner of monotheisim flew high, over great distances, in different parts of the world.
More than that, Islam considers the conducting of Jihad with one's wealth, life and word for the sake of inviting people to Allah, establishing the true message, spreading Islam and practicing it, as among the most important and sacred obligations.
Allah, the Most High, says :
"And who is better in speech than be who calls unto Allah and does good and says `verily I am of the Muslims'". Holy Qur'an (Fussilat 41: 33)
"He has prescribed for you the religion what He ordained unto Noah and that which revealed We unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus, That: `Establish you the religion and be you not divided therein;' Hard is it to the disbelievers what you call them unto; Allah chooses unto Himself whomsoever He wills, and guides He unto Himself whosoever turns (to Him).'" Holy Qur'an (Shura 42: 13)
"Go you forth (with) light and heavy equip-ment and strive in the way of Allah with your property and your selves; this is better for you, if you know (it)." Holy Qur'an (Tawba 9: 41)
Similarly, the Holy Qur'an charges the Muslims with the responsibility of inviting people `da'awa' to Islam with their wealth, life and word, and it makes it obligatory upon them, saying:
"Establish you the religion and be you not divided therein;' Hard is it to the disbelievers" Holy Qur'an (Shura 9:13)
"... why should not then a company from every party of them go forth that they may acquire (proper) understanding in religion, and that they may warn their people when they return unto them…" Holy Qur'an (Tawba 9: 122)
In yet another place comes a Qur'anic order on the obligation of da'awa to Islam in clear and emphatic terms: "And that there should be among you a group who call (mankind) unto virtue and enjoin what is good and forbid wrong; and these are they who shall be successful." Holy Qur'an (Al-e-Imran 3: 103)
The exhortation of the Holy Qur'an is that a band of the believers should go forth and that there should be a group from among them inviting people to Islam and introducing it to them. The Qur'an also addresses the believers to conduct Jihad with their wealth and lives. All this presents a proof on the obligatory nature of da'awah to Allah, the type of obligation which is called Wujub al-Kifa'i.
Based on this definition, this type of obligatory duty, in some cases, can be discharged by one person, and in other cases, by a group of individuals with the necessary facilities; material, administrative knowledge, etc., in sufficient amount as needed. In this case, gathering all the necessary facilities in the required amount to discharge this obligation is, itself, an obligatory work.
Therefore, `da'wa' to Islam includes the following:
1- Inviting non-Muslims to believe in Islam and act according to its rules: "And whosoever seeks any religion other than Islam (total resignation unto Allah) never shall it be accepted from him, and in the next world he shall be among the losers."
Holy Qur'an (Al-e-Imran 3: 85)
2- Inviting Muslims themselves to practice Islam, act on its rules and laws, observe its values and morals, as well as spread its concepts and ideas. It also involves educating the Muslims so that they can gain the awareness, understandings the culture of Islam and delivering it as a pure and original way of guiding the course of life, ideology and civilization.
It is also incumbent upon the Islamic society to invite other nations and peoples through its experiences and implementation of the Islamic way of life in the political and social systems.
Whenever the non-Islamic nations and people witness the Islamic society excelling in organiza-tion and values, in civilizational matters, in its ability to solve ideological and spiritual problems, and peace and tranquility reigning in the lives of mankind as a result of applying the Islamic system, then, definitely they will turn to Islam and embrace it. In case the Muslims fail to present a practical model of their message and principles because of their ideological and civilizational backwardness and their misunderstanding of Islam, then, surely they would do a great disservice to the principles and values to which they invite other people to.
Methods of Dialogue
In order to be competent enough and fully prepared, a missionary must be well acquainted with the methods of dialogue and identify the mentality and inclination of those whom he will engage in dialogue; be it ideological and historical, political or belief systems. We are now going to introduce the various methods of dialogue so that they will be clear to any missionary and caller.
1- Method of dialogue with atheists.
2- Method of dialogue with the People of the Book.
3- Method of dialogue with secularist political trends.
4- Method of an Islamic dialogue to invite the Muslims to return to their religion.
5- Method of dialogue with various Islamic trends and jurisprudential approaches.
1- Method of Dialogue With Atheists
Ever since the descent of the Divine Messages, part of humanity believed in while others chose to be atheists and rejected the existence of the Creator, revelation and prophet-hood. The Prophets had been engaging the atheists in dialogue and disputation according to the latter's mentality, since the beginning of these conflicts. Their aim was to introduce the Creator of existence and confute whatever obscured the minds of the atheists.
As human intellect evolves and knowledge increases, the subjects of dialogue also become more complex, in a way, and simpler in another. In the first case, the debated issues become more complex as a result of man's arrogance and his ignorance of reality. On the other hand, they become simpler and even aid the divine ideology because science is a way to belief and the intellect speaks on behalf of Allah, the Glorious.
This is why it is incumbent upon a caller to Allah to build his method of dialogue on the following points:
1- The dialogue should start from first principles and axioms acceptable to the intellect and from which it is based when trying to comprehend nature and the sensory world.
2- Defining the way by which man acquires knowledge, pointing out that it rests on inductive reasoning, syllogism, probability and the principl-es of causality.
3- Defining the means by which knowledge is acquired; that they are the senses, experimentation and intellect, which is the final judge and that establishes knowledge.
4- To use the results of scientific and experi-mental discoveries in proving the soundness of divine thought. Such issues include astronomical findings, the beginning of life, medical dis-coveries, the nature of plant life, etc.
5- Explaining the role of religion in meeting the spiritual and social needs of man and fulfilling the religious instinct, as well as, differentiating the true and healthy satisfaction from the corrupted one.
2- Methods of Dialogue With the People of the Book
The phrase "People of the Book" is a technical term in Islam that refers to the followers of Divine religions which preceded Islam. It solely refers to the Jews, Christians, the Sabeans and the Magians (Zoroastrians). The Jews and the Magians make up a religious minority when we consider the overall world population. Religious ideological tussels critically are focosed on Christian-Muslim conflicts despite the hostile and destructive roles played by both the Jews and Zionism, disguised as atheist and secularist organizations to Islam.
The Holy Qur'an had no doubt entered into ideological, analytical dialogue with the People of the Book, revealed the distortion and forgery inflicted on the Torah and the Bible and exposed places where the messages of Moses and Jesus (a.s.) are manipulated.
From the Qur'anic dialogue with the People of the Book several principles and approaches in discussing with all sects of the people are highlighted. The foundations of this method are:
1- To egin from acknowledging the principle of the existence of a God, revelation, prophethood, the last day, reckoning and reward, as being the principle accepted by all the People of the Book.
2- Adopting the intellectual principles that disapprove of polytheism by taking recourse to the researches conducted by Islamic theologians, disputants and philosophers in which they refuted all forms of fusion, incarnation and plurality with respect to the Divine Being.
3- Adopting the scientific facts which establishe the unity observed in the cosmic order thereby confirming the unity of its Creator; by explaining to the audience, from the People of the Book, the concept of divinity about which the Holy Qur'an discusses and confirms by rational investigations, and differentiating between the nature of a `mumkin al-wujud' (possible being) and wajib al-wujud (necessary being) which leads to the fact that it is impossible to ascribe a son to Allah.
4- To explain and illustrate the instances of forgery in the Bible, which is in circulation today. The fact that there are numerous and contradicting versions of the Bible is enough proof of the existence of forgery, while the Bible, which Jesus (a.s.) received, is a single uncontradictory one. It is necessary to reveal this fact and serve it as a proof.
The phenomenon of forgery and contradiction is further confirmed when we put into view the fact that the earliest version of the Bible was written two hundred years after Jesus (a.s.), therefore, the Injeel of Jesus is not the present Bible used by Christians.
5- To reveal the places where pagan beliefs occur and the roles played by the Popes, especially John, in distorting the Christianity.
6- To reveal the great descrepancies existing in the distorted Christianity as a result of adopting their Popes, monks and rabbis as legislators who manipulate the rules and values of Judaism and Christianity that were brought by Moses and Jesus (a.s.), respectively. Secondly, to point out the lack of any scientific and rational yardstick which organises the legislation of rules in measures of Christianity and Judaism. Then examples should be cited to that effect and served as proofs.
7- To stablish the prophethood of Muham-mad (s.a.w.) from the good news of his advent which Torah and the Gospels themselves carry.
8- To compare the religion of Islam, Christianity and Judaism on ideological, belief and legislative platforms and bringing, out the values of the Islamic Message which confirms its originality and divine nature and its great superiority over Christianity, as well as, Judaism.
9- A good look at the methods of dialogue will lead one to come across principles, opinions, theories and thoughts that are used in dialogue and the tendering of proofs.
3- Method of Dialogue with Secularist Political Trends
The most prominent challenge facing the Muslims today is the wave of secularist political thought whose foundation is to discard all religious dictates in man's social interactions by regarding religion as a personal matter that has nothing to do with the social life of man, organising the society and nation or directing politics, economy and the way of living.
The origin of this trend of thought is no doubt the secularist states, governments, parties, organ-ization, foundations of culture and information disseminating universities. The contemporary war of ideology and political action is waged between the religious missionaries and the secularist currents and the powers protecting them. The suitable method for holding dialogue with these trends is:
1- To present statistical records and documentary evidences of the problems, evils and miseries both psychological and social, that mankind suffers under the guise of secularism in the spheres of human rights, politics, economy, psychological state of affairs, etc.
2- To present Islam as a complete civilizational project which is an alternative in directing human life and a guarantor in solving man's problems; and compare its solutions with those of secularism, and expose its scientific emptiness on one hand, and on the other, establish the scientific value of the Islamic methodology, by way of criticism and comparison.
3- To exhibit the Islamic approach as a strong social movement within the Muslim community which can convince others by integrating the Islamic values and having the zeal to make the Islamic experiment a success, the levels of statehood To reveal the distorted foundations of secular ideology and methodology reform movements and foundations, thereby giving the world a model embodiment of the reality of Islam.
4- To establish cultural foundations and misssionary centers whose responsibility is to convey the message so that it can discharge its duties and face the ideological and propaganda campaign inimical to Islam.
5- To define the most prominent problems faced by man and explain the Islamic view point concerning them.
6- To expand the diverse levels of human society, so that the Islamic view points concerning different classes of society, such as adolescents, youths, adults, women, intellectuals, and the masses, etc., will be well articulated.
4- Method of an Islamic Dialogue to invite the Muslims to Return to their religion (Islam)
The Muslim community or Ummah, is composed of the Muslims who give the two testifications i.e., there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad (s.a.w.) is His Messenger. Among them are Muslims who practise it while others do not. In this regard, the duty of Muslim missionaries, i.e., calling Muslims back to Islam, is centered on the following:
1- One of the greatest problems faced by the Muslims is lack of proper understanding of Islam and mixing it with western, Christian, and their own cultural concepts on religion. This misunder-standing is a result of the sources from which the general public acquire their ideas on Islam: Secular parties, information dissemination sources and the universities which are custodians of ideology and culture.
Therefore, the first step in any discourse with the practicing Muslim, who understands Islam, is to make him comprehend the reality of Islam as a system of belief, legislation and a way of life, know that Islam is a method of building a civilization, the state and a way of thinking and to strengthen his relationship with Allah, the Glorious.
2- Making them conscious of their social condition and the causes of their backwardness, solving their problems and presenting Islam in a scientific way and showing how it is the only solution to the problems of mankind and supporting this presentation with statistical data and economic, historical, political and social conditions. This will make the dialogue forceful and lead to conviction and satisfaction.
3- Making the audience feel the religious responsibility regarding his ummah, belief and society, deepen his sense of responsibility and explain its relationship with the reward in the next world. To also explain the importance of enjoining the good and forbidding the abominable, and Shirk from social duties and installing the religion of Islam as a state and a way of life is no less a misdeed than non-observance of personal worship. All these assertions must be backed by relevant proofs from the Shari'a.
4- To clarify the nature of his responsibility and train him on the method of change and social reforms and how to bear his responsibility so that he will be a part of the reform movement calling for goodness, guidance and service to the society.
5- The method of inviting a Muslim who does not practice Islam differs from that of a practicing Muslim, because we must, first, understand his personality and the causes of his deviation and sinning. After identifying the conditions and causes of his behavior we then help him realize his problem, solve it and pave the way for his uprightness and good conduct. The dialogue shall start by treating the subject of deviation, its causes and problems in a composed mood so that he can perceive that the co-discussant respects his personality, loves him and is desirous of a blissful destiny for him. It should also be pointed out that deviational behavior threatens his own integrity, while comparing his situation with that of an upright personality.
We must also make him sensitive by drawing examples of obstinate characters who committed all forms of crimes and sins and what befell them, as a result of their misconduct, in this world and what awaits them in the hereafter. We should also acquaint him with what the love Allah has for mankind and that the divine way is truly a way which is based on Allah's love for man and His bestowal of bliss in this world and the hereafter. This should be helpful since the person we talk to is a Muslim, a believer in Allah and the Last Day.
In case the cause of deviation is ignorance, then he must be given the necessary knowledge; present to him the information on beliefs which can solve his problems and remove his mental and spiritual confusions. Here the duty of the prosperous missionary is like that of a psychiatrist and social expert. 5- Method of Dialogue With Various Islamic Trends and Jurisprudential Approaches:
The unity and unification of thought, legislation, leadership and feelings are the foundations on which Islamic thought, society and politics are built. The Ummah enjoyed that unity during the life-time of the Prophet (s.a.w.) because he himself was the caller who espouses the system of beliefs and rules and he was the leader and guardian of the society and the state.
The Messenger (s.a.w.) was the sole authority explaining the rules and delivering judgement in all matters as well as the leader and guardian of the Muslims. The Muslims are unanimous on this issue. After the demise of the holy Prophet (s.a.w.), three candidates for the leadership of the Ummah, Sa'ad bn Ubadah, Abubakr bn Abu Qahafa and Ali bn Abi Talib emerged. That conflict was the beginning of political and ideological differences in the Islamic Ummah.
New developments and conditions cropped up calling for the exposition of the relevant rules pertaining to them. Likewise, the Muslim community was quickly evolving and there was a vigorous quest for learning, exegesis and thought. This gave rise to questions and complications in matters of ideology and legislation that needed explanation. The people resorted to the compan-ions of the holy Prophet (s.a.w.) for clarification. The latter presented their verdicts, exigesis and narrations from the Prophet (s.a.w.) but contradicted one another in many places. This became the origin of the differences in the verdicts, exegesis and narrations issued by different scholars and it is the cause of the existence of various schools of jurisprudence, ideology, hadiths, etc.
The generations after the companions witnessed greater development in Islamic thought in theory, methodology and scientific reasoning. Consequently, the exercising of independent judgement (ijtihad) and deriving rules from the sources (istinbad) started and with it theological sects and schools of jurisprudence, traditions and narrations, theology, principles of jurisprudence and exegesis came into existence based on the theories of the various Islamic scholars.
Unfortunately, the multiple differences in opinion, due to a number of reasons, turned into personal opposition, the denouncement of one another as renegades or having strayed from the right path, and even to clashes, that were sometimes bloody, between the followers of different opinions and schools of thought. The foremost problem in the conflict between Muslims centers on three areas:-
1- The issue of leadership and ideological authority after the Prophet (s.a.w.).
2- The issue of differences in jurisprudence and what relates to it like the sources of jurisprudential opinions and methods of Istinbad.
3- The issue of ideological conflicts such as cases of determinism `jabr', choice `ikhtiyar', changing of decrees in matters of creation `bada'', infallibility of the Prophets (a.s.), the essential attributes of Allah, etc.
Scientific studies in the fields ideology, jurisprudence, exegesis, traditions and history have produced many opinions, convictions, concepts and ideas conflicting with one another.
A survey of Islamic thought and history and an exploration of the causes of conflicts shows that they centered on the following points: 1- Scientific differences and the multip-licity of the Methods of Ijtihad, Comprehension and Istinbat:
It is a scientific conflict, like the differences of whether a given tradition truly came from the Prophet (s.a.w.) or not, or the differences on the meaning of a particular Qur'anic verse, or the rules derived from it, or the abrogation of it by a another verse or not, or accepting a particular historical event or rejecting it, or the differences on whether to accept certain terminologies, such as, `Qiyas' (analogy) and `Istihsan' (approval) or not, or to accept the companions school of thought `madhab al-Sahabi' as a compulsory verdict or not, which continues even to the present day.
Just as these issues and realities have a direct bearing on one's understanding of Islamic legislation and ideology, the level of knowledge of the scholar practicing `Istinbad', and his ability, also affect the understanding.
Scientific conflicts take a great share in indoctrinating the academic mentality and promoting the by and opinions through conducting provocations, criticisms, dialogues and methodology in order to defend the accepted theory.
2- Bigotry and Selfish Desire: This is where the greatest problem lies, because bigotry, corrup-tion and selfish desire negate all objectivity, scientific thinking and the methodology of dialogue. Instead it brings about mental impedi-ments, deepens the conflicts, sows hatred and vengence on the opposite view. In this case, the scientific dialogue gives way to protecting selfish interests and personal accomplish-ments rather than depending on the truth, principles and scientific reality.
3- Political and Worldly Interests: The beginning of the conflicts which occured on the day of the Prophet's (s.a.w.) demise, was political in nature, as there are differences on the understanding of the Qur'an and the Sunna (the Prophet's Traditions) and their applications. These facts became conspicuous during the time of the companions, especially under the rule of Uthman bin Affan, the third caliph, when he mainly depended on the Umayyads in his administration. The revolt against Uthman and his assassination, the outbreak of armed conflicts between the constituted authority of Imam Ali (a.s.) and the seccesionist Mu'awiyya bin Abi Sufyan are all proofs of political differences.
As a result, two governments existed in the Islamic community, the cause of which was political differences, as well as, the differences in understanding and applying of the Book and the Sunna. One of these two governments represented the Omayyads, which was considered, by the companions, as having submitt-ed to Islam by force (after oppressing and subsequently fighting it). The second government consisted of Imam Ali (a.s.) and the Prophet's companions `sahaba' both the immegrants `Muhajirin' and the helpers `Ansar' who made up the vanguards for building Islam under the leadership of Imam Ali (a.s.), and saw his superiority in the field of leadership and legislation.
When the two governments became distinct from one another, the Omayyad government consolidated its power by adopting the ideological conflicts and tyrannizing the scholars and men of political and jurisprudential thought who subscribed to the school of Ali and his household `Ahlul-Bait' . This action was meant to exclude them from the political struggle thereby eliminating any political opposition. A war of propaganda and slander was waged against the followers of Ah-lul-Bait (a.s.) and their ideology.
Then came the Abbasids dynasty which proved more oppressive and terroristic to the Ahl-ul-Bait (household) of the Holy Prophet (a.s.). It is noteworthy that the tyranny of these dynasties did not stop at the Imams of the Ahl-ul-Bait (a.s.), and the scholars of their school, but affected the founders of other Islamic schools, as well.
Those people with political interests, the sycophants and beneficiaries had their day, sowing those differences between the Muslims, applying it in order to conselidate their power and posing as defenders of this school or that, to gain followers and protectors. Islamic history is replete with bloody wars between the rulers who exploited that destructive weapon.
4- Historical Differences: History is nothing but a register of events and occurances which took place in the past according to the social laws. The Muslims paid great attention in writing the life history of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and Islamic history throughout the ages. Nevertheless, historical records are afflicted by a great problem which shows itself as the absence of fairness and objectivity and the existence of forgery, or skipping a good deal of facts in order to please political figures, or because of enmity towards other ideological or jurisprudential schools, or because of blind bigotry. These attitudes had distorted the reality and other historical facts and records.
After the spreading of knowledge and aware-ness and the later generations becoming enlighten-ed, the rise of Islamic reform movements, the clamour for proximity of the Muslims, their consciousness of the danger of contemporary `Jahiliyya' and the political, ideological and the civilizational challenges, caused the Muslims to turn to ideological dialogue and scientific investi-gation. The first step they took was to start from the postulates and facts accepted by all, so that these axioms would be the foundation of understanding and dialogue in establishing the truths.
It is pertinent, here, to mention the steps to be taken in the dialogue between Muslims. Scientific experience has proved that these steps can contribute immensely in bringing about the mutual understanding and removal of the mental and ideological obstacles in the way of proximity. We hope that these steps can make the foundation of ideological and political unity among the Muslims.
Those concerned with this difficult task should also be able to differentiate one sect from another and employ the appropriate methods in discussing with each other. The Islamic postulates accepted by all Muslims and on which any dialogue between members of different sects or schools of thought should be based are centered on the following points:
1- That every person who testifies to the two testimonies (that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad (s.a.w.) is His Messeng-er) is a Muslim. He enjoys the rights other Muslims enjoy and is charged with responsibilities similar to theirs.
2- That disunity, disputes and enmity between the Muslims are forbidden in Islam. All the Muslims accept this fact and their duty is to act as one community with the same objectives.
3- The Muslims share the view that to exercise Itihad is allowed and that Islamic rules are of two categories; those that occur in clear texts and those that are the result of `Ijtihad'. That there shall be no Ijtihad where a clear text exists. That the result of `Ijtihad' is, at most, speculative and therefore liable to criticism and abrogation where the mistake of the scholar exercising Ijtihad is established. On these bases, the scientific dialogue concerning the disputed issues takes off.
4- The Book and the Sunna are the basic proofs accepted by all Muslims and the yardstick for all other disputed proofs. The discussion must start from this fact, then proofs are adduced for the soundness or otherwise of other sources of Islamic jurisprudence, such as analogy `qiyas' and approval `istihisan'. Similarly, the proofs for the controversial secondary rules `ahkam al-far`iyya' are tested.
5-The experts on hadith and other great learned scholars from different Islamic schools and sects have compiled the hadith from different chains of narrators producing their compendiums of hadith. Each one of these scholars had his narrators by whom he related the hadith and ascribed it to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.).
The books compiled by these scholars contain conflicting narrations coming from those narrators and the scholars from different schools of thought never approved the soundness of whatever is recorded in those compendiums. Each scholar, therefore, holds his view and criticizes that of others.
The method of scientific dialogue which is followed by the true believers in establishing unity and mutual understanding between the Islamic schools of thought, makes it incumbent on the Muslims to consent to the facts accepted by the scholars. They should examine the chains of narrators of controversial narrations to know the extent to which they conform to the Book of Allah and the unanimously confirmed hadiths of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.). This will help them to know the sound hadith and free them from ideological enmity which the enemies of Islam, who reap benefits from our disunity, try to perpetuate.
It will also make them realize that the weak narrations found in the hadith books, are regarded as a pretext for attacking one another, being denounced as renegades or sinners or villifying others. Definitely, scientific investigation, methoological intellect, sincere and true approach in searching for facts, is the only healthy way for conducting dialogue among Islamic schools. This same method must be employed when studying books on history and biography in order to establish historical facts, correcting historical distor-tions and cleansing it of falsehood and interpolations.
The methods and means of delivering Islam to the audience and missionary work in general, is among the critical issues which contribute to either success of missionary activities or its failure. This is so because the objectives which the Islamic message is trying to achieve and contribute in bringing into existence are fundamental issues. These are:
1- The Islamic principles, values and thoughts, themselves, in their capacity of being suitable and in conformity with the intellect, science and unimpaired human taste and their natural ability of solving the problems of mankind and building a growing civiliza-tion.
2 - The level to which Islamic mujtahids `jurist capable of exercising `Ijtihad', thinkers and theoretic-ians understand those Islamic principles, thoughts and values which they address to others and their power of theorizing and formulating their `ijtihad'.
3- The means, procedures and institutions to be employed in delivering the Islamic Message.
4- The level of personality and extent of commit-ment of the Islamic missionary, his awareness, ability in social interaction, understanding others and examp-lification of Islamic principles and values in his behaviour and actions that can influence others.
5- The level of experience in applying the Islamic system, the adequacy of machinery of the Islamic government representing the religion of Islam and its capability of examplifying the Islamic principles in forming the state and society and in individual behaviour.
All these fundamentals have a great impact in the success of missionary work or its failure. Therefore, the Holy Qur'an has treated the issue of means and procedures of propagation, imparted awareness and activism to the propagators, stressed on the importance of presenting a living example for practising Islam and proper unders-tanding and awareness and the method of interact-ing with the audience in these words:
"And call you unto the way of your Lord with wisdom and kindly exhortation and dispute with them in the manner which is the best; verily you Lord knows better of him who has gone astray from His path; and He knows best of those guided aright." Holy Qur'an (Nahil 16: 125)
The importance the Qur'an attached to means and procedures of propagation was as great as that which it attached to its aims, objectives and the results towards which the whole effort is made.
Because of the importance of the procedures and the personality of the propagators of the Islamic Message, the Qur'an commands that the mission is to be prepared both ideologically and socially and be equipped with means and procedures that will ensure their success. In a similar way it stressed that this important task be assigned to a group and enjoined their proper religious education:
"And that there should be among you a group who call (mankind) unto virtue and enjoin what is good and forbid wrong; and these are they who shall be successful." Holy Qur'an (Al-e-Imran 3: 103)
And He said:
"…; why should not then a company from every party of them go forth that they may acquire (proper) unders-tanding in religion, and that they may warn their people when they return unto them…" Holy Qur'an (Tawba 9: 122)
A wrong procedure will definitely damage the reputation of the Message and those who convey it. Not only that, it will distort the pure and crystal clear picture and the attractiveness of the Islamic principles, values and goals. Thus, the procedures and means of conveying the Islamic Message have a mental, ideological and practical influence in the success and or failure of mission-ary work.
There is an important legislative issue here: The procedure and method of propagation is one of man's actions, each of which is controlled by one of the following rules: Obligation `wujub', forbidden `hurmah' or allowed `ibahah'. The laws of Islam do not disassociate the purity of procedure and means from the ends and results at which it aims. The great Prophet (s.a.w.) alludes to this fact:
"Obedience to Allah cannot be achieved through sinful ways".
This shows that Islamic principles do not approve the achievement of aims by all means, because, contrary to Michiviellian politics, the ends do not justify the means. It is, therefore, incumbent on those undertaking missionary work to choose only legal means and methods that conform to Islamic rules through which Islamic aims can be achieved.
The fundamental issues that must be considered here are:
1- The procedure and way of invitation to Islam and the level of thought and social realities. "We, the company of Prophets, have been ordered to address the people according to the level of their intellect". What to note also is the particular situation of every invitee so that we can address him based on Islamic concepts.
Every individual is at a particular level of thinking and mental disposition, consequently, there are certain inlets through which his intellect and heart can be reached so that the Islamic thoughts would not face any internal resistance. This is why it is necessary to study persons and groups and reach a scientific understanding of their natures before addressing them. And objectives of Islam.
2- The real mental, economic, political, social, ideological, etc., needs of an individual or group must be considered. Contemporary man, is indeed, suffering from anxiety and psychological alienation, economic and political problems, social injustice and a host of other encumbrances, just as the society is weighted down by these problems. It is, therefore, foremost to address both the individual and the society on how to solve their problems. This will definitely open up responses from the depths of the heart and the Islamic message will readily be accepted when it becomes clear that it is the only alternative that can bring relief.
3- The invitation must be a gradual process and the Islamic concepts presented in stages so that it will easily be recieved, comprehended and practised.
4- It is worthwhile to arrange a programme which is cultural, informative and practical in nature. This will make propagation a clearly thoughtout affair and not an off handed one. The propagator should start with the fundamentals and the first principles to end up with the intended objectives and results.
5- The propagator should start by addressing his audience from the postulates accepted by both parties; the believer and the audience so that what is agreed on will form the foundation from which we work towards wider horizons and firmer belief in the principles "Say; O people of the Book, come you to a Word common between us and you,…" Holy Qur'an (Al-e-Imran 3:64)
6- To respect the personality of the person and or the party addressed. Let there, in his mind be a correct picture of human dignity and responsibility and his ability to participate in reforming the way of life and building the society.
7- Strengthening the relationship between the present world and the next and making the invitee perceive it so that what motivates him in taking action and undertaking reform will be his turning towards Allah, the Almighty and developing the means of establishing a relationship with Him. This is, indeed, a spiritual and ideological force that gives man an endless stimulaation.
8- There must be a strong interaction of feelings between the caller and those he is addressing, and whose conditions of thought, ethics and worship he is struggling to change, so that they will have a real perception of his concern for their guidance and for improving their condition. This can be done by sharing their sorrows and joys, giving his donation in meeting their needs and feelings on their personal and social distress.
9- Removing the individual or group, which is under invitation, from a corrupt environment that can influence their thoughts, spirits and behaviours and procuring alternative ways of fulfilling their needs for activities and relationship. Such alternatives may include the libraries, a society, a social foundation and religious friends.
10- Mankind has been suffering from injustice and the tyranny of oppressive rulers throughout history. It is, therefore, a fundamental political issue to present Islam as an alternative system which delivers, supports and leads man. This will no doubt wipe out all non-Islamic theories, structures and thoughts and pave the way for man's interaction with Islamic principles and values through active conviction.
11- Sometimes Islamic thoughts and concepts are presented directly by means of dialogue, or giving a presentation of the thought, stand and view of Islam or a comparison between Islam and other systems.
This often has a defined impact. Some other times it proves difficult to introduce Islamic thought directly. In this case, the believer who undertakes missionary work, whether he is a writer or debater or artist, should employ the recreational method that is symbolic and rather unrelated to Islam. This method is usually employed in stories, novels, the theatre, poetry, films, portraits, etc. and has the effect of convincing the other party.
12- To start dialogue on a neutral and objective beginning. If a dialogue starts by cornering the other party and defining the expected result and tenaciously stressing one's view, it will make the other party experience the urge to resist and express his bigotry. Therefore, it is better to start from a position of neutrality and gradually search for the truth, jointly. This will positively affect the codiscussant by having a real feeling that both parties are meerly searching for facts and exploring for the truth in their dialogue. They can, thus, conduct their debate in a receptive and open minded atmosphere with defensive measures and mental obstacles removed.
The Almighty, Allah directed the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) to take up this method by saying:
"Say: `Who provides you with sustenance from the heavens and the earth?' Say: `(It is) Allah, and verily (either) we or you are guided aright, or in manifest error?'" Holy Qur'an (Saba' 34: 24)
Information dissemination and publicity activities occupy a very important and critical position in man's life now that the world is full of inventions and industrialization, operating with scientific methods and advance techniques. This makes information, publicity and ideological and psychological warfare the single most important instrument that serves any thought, ideology, facilitates the propagation of the principles of a people and supports politics, the economy and boosts the morale of troops in armed combat.
Information and publicity undertakes three important tasks: Ideological and psychological attack aimed at shaking or even destroying the foundations of a faith or idea, introducing, buttressing and depending on the status quo and establishing social and civic changes; creating contentment in the minds and creating public opinion.
The more capable the means of information is in terms of technical know how and expertise and the ability in directing the message, the more successful it will be in fulfilling the aims and objectives of propagation. It is, therefore, imperative for those who undertake the duty of Islamic `da'wa' and propagation to avail themselves of all the advancements attained in science and technology, such as the radio, the television, the video and the press. Similarly, the discoveries in the field of psychology, such as the scientific understanding of the nature of the intellect and the mind, and how they are influenced, are indispensable.
The work of propagation and information definitely needs special foundations for propag-ation and information dissemination on a par with the current civilization. These foundations must put in view the rivals of Islamic thought and what they posseses in terms of technology, organization, administration and programmes. They should be able to employ the different sciences in the service of propagating and forwarding the Islamic message.
When we study and analize the methods conveying thoughts and concepts we will find that there are three ways. They are:
1- The word.
2- The picture.
3- Practical behaviour
1- The word
Since the beginning, propaganda and the need to inform the fundamental instrument for conveying any idea and having impact on the audience has been the word. As human knowledge and science evolved, the art of constructing the word and the method of passing it on to the intended audience also developed by means of oration. The Holy Qur'an discusses a lot about the art of oration and explains the importance of the word and its impact on the listener; psychologically and ideologica-lly. The Almighty, Allah, says:
"See you not how sets forth Allah a parable? Of a goodly word (being) like a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) in the heaven, yielding its fruit on every moment…" Holy Qur'an (Ibrahim 14: 23-24)
"…and speak kindly unto all people…" Holy Qur'an (Baqara 2: 83)
The Almighty Allah even commanded Moses and Haron (Aaron) (a.s.) to employ mild speech in order to have an impact on Pharoah, the peak of human arrogance. Using mild speech as a way of addressing the audience gave Moses (a.s.) the hope in guiding Pharoah as the following verse enjoins:
"Go you both unto Pharaoh, verily he has trans-gressed (the bounds). Then speak you both unto him a gentle word, happly he may get admonish-ed or fear (Our punishement)." Holy Qur'an (Taha 20: 43-44)
Just as the good word has a constructive psych-ological impact and a positive and fruitful role, the evil word has a destructive impact and deceptive and misleading role in the life of mankind. Thus, the Glorious Qur'an attached the evil word and likened it with the evil tree which gives only harmful fruits. Allah, the Most High, says:
"And the parable of an evil word is that of an evil tree rooted upon the surface of the earth, it has naught of stability." Holy Qur'an (Ibrahim 14: 26)
And He warns us of the power of deception of the word and its misleading ideological and psychological effects, thereby exposing the hypocrites who take it as a cover. He says:
"When you see them, marvel you their bodies; and if they speak, you listens unto their speech; (they are) as if they were blocks of wood propped up in garments, deem they that every cry is against them, they are the enemy (of yours), so beware you of them! May Allah annihilate them, whence do they deviate!" Holy Qur'an (Munafiqun 63: 4)
And His saying:
"And call you unto the way of your Lord with wisdom and kindly exhortation and dispute with them in the manner which is the best;..." Holy Qur'an (Nahil 16: 125)
This verse makes incumbent that the wise missionary should employ a good word in conveying Islamic thought and exhortation to the audience. The Holy Qur'an brought a miraculous method and a literary presentation that bewilders the intellect and overwhelms the minds. It is a wonderous token of eloquence that achieved the aims and objectives of the message.
The honourable Messenger (s.a.w.) described the importance of the word and its power of impact, change and conveying what is intended in the following words: "Verily there is a (form of) spell in eloquent speech." The missionary, therefore, should have literary ability and a good command of language in discussion, speech and writing. He must be able to make appropriate use of his words.
From the foregoing, it is obvious that 'the word', as one of the instruments for propagation, needs the services of special organizations. These organs would bear the responsibility of ensuring the appropriate-ness and versatility of the language of propagation and the method of relaying information to the audience. Those in charge of the above mentioned organs would need the necessary expertise and artistic ability and advanced technological tools for the collection, broadcasting and dissemination of the fruits of those organs. Such tools include the radio, the instruments used in recording, writing, printing, speech, dialogue, schools, libraries, lectures and parties.
Thus, it is incumbent on us to plan and work out programmes in order to prepare our missionaries and give them the required education and orientation on the art of propagation and its requisite know-how.
Indeed, the conditions we are in today, have made the programmes for preparing the orator, writer, lectur-er, journalist or advertiser indispensable. Where we are unable to establish preparatory organizations and foundations we can only resort to conducting special courses for grooming the Muslim missionaries, giving them drills on their work and conveying the expertise, experiences and information from experienced missionaries worthy of emulation.
2- The Picture
Man, by nature, is very responsive to pictures, scenes and other sensory situations as portrayed in paintings, and they often have an impact on his thoughts and feelings. The more a picture portrays movement and thoughts the greater the reaction it entails and it would have a stronger power for changing the viewer and be more efficient in accomplishing its aim.
With the development of informative technology, the use of pictures and movies in propaganda and publicity has also advanced. The art of cinema, television and video has become the most prominent means of propaganda and publicity, introducing ideas and concepts, presenting human problems and influencing the senses, intellect and feelings of the viewers.
Motion pictures are more efficient in infor
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