What are the different ways of making dawah effective?
During the Prophet’s (ﷺ) era, as in the modern era, people may be divided into two main groups with respect to their preparedness to receive the message:
- Those searching for the truth who are dissatisfied with the religion followed by their contemporaries, and
- Those not searching. This second group may be further divided into those not searching because they are content with their religion and those not searching because they have rejected belief in God. The second group has been a minority throughout history.
Having understood many of the reasons why people accept Islam in this century and the way they differ relative to the environment, it is necessary to develop some methods of effectively dealing with giving da’wah to them.
- The Role Model
First, the factors shared by the Prophet’s (ﷺ) time and the modern era should be looked at to determine what efforts are needed to make them most effective. The first method is the “role model” method. In the Middle East, those families having servants should be informed through the media, tapes and pamphlets about the importance of setting a good example for those who work for them. Too often cases of abuse of maids are reported in the local newspapers. Such adverse publicity will decrease the effectiveness of the family role in da’wah. On the other hand, in the Western context, Muslims have to develop a stronger outreach program for the communities to meet the Muslims. This can be achieved by regular open house days at the local mosque or Islamic center, during which non-Muslim neighbors are invited to visit and to share some “Eastern cuisine”. Free exotic food is always a good attraction for non-Muslims. Islamic weeks at universities in West have become some of the most vibrant means to reach the student body.
- The Da’wah to Monotheism
The essential message of Islam needs to reach the masses of Westerners. The majority of Westerners today do not have the slightest inkling of what Islam teaches. The vast majority of converts in the West are a product of family da’wah based on Allah’s instruction to the Prophet (ﷺ):
“And warn your close family members.” 
When a person converts, he or she immediately attempts to invite all of their family members to Islam. In this way, the numbers of converts increase exponentially. However great this individual effort may be, it cannot supplant the basic need for da‘wah materials in sufficiently large numbers to reach the general masses. Likewise the impact of TV and Radio da’wah cannot be underestimated. There are already a number of Islamic programs in Arabic being broadcast on satellite, however, very little in the way of English da’wah is taking place. More useful da’wah tracts need to be developed. The Deedat approach has become outmoded with its harsh rhetoric. Alternative materials need to be introduced internationally.
- Truth Seekers
As in the Prophet’s (ﷺ) era there are people in our times seeking the truth. In many cases it is due to dissatisfaction with the dogmas of their religions. These seekers find that their questions are unanswered in their inherited religion and blind faith is insisted upon by its priests. This conversion factor is very prominent among Westerners as indicated in surveys 5 - 12 as well as QCPI and Discover Islam - Bahrain surveys among their Western converts. The Detroit survey gives 86% of Americans who converted from Christianity while having difficulties in their belief system. Consequently, more literature, tapes and programs which present the Islamic solutions to religious mysteries needs to be developed. Literature which demonstrates that Prophet Jesus was in fact a prophet of Islam and that his message was Islam needs to be widely distributed.
- Reading the Qur’an
A large number of Western converts embraced Islam due to reading translations of the Qur’an. This mirrors those who converted in the Prophet’s (ﷺ) time due to hearing readings from the Qur’an. The two most wide-spread translations of the Qur’an’s meanings are those of Yusuf Ali and Muhsin Khan. However, both have serious problems with regard to getting the message across. Yusuf Ali’s translation is in old-English and his footnotes contain much mis-information. Muhsin Khan’s translation, on the other hand, while accurate has so much explanatory material between brackets that the average reader loses track of the verse. There needs to be a good clear translation in modern English with sufficient footnotes to explain unclear passages and references.
Many Western converts in Muslim countries convert for marriage purposes as is quite evident in the surveys. In a number of cases, the conversion is not genuine, but merely a ritual conversion. Although this situation is abhorrent, one cannot refuse to convert others due to suspicions. The solution is to develop programs of study, which prospective converts must go through before conversion, to insure that the basic teaching have been learned. This approach was taken by the Muslim Convert’s Association in Singapore, where they were faced with the majority of its converts being for marriage purposes.
The factors leading to conversion are basically the same the world over. They are not limited to time periods, but can be found from the earliest of times until the present. Those involved in propagating the religion and inviting others to Islam, must familiarize themselves with these and other factors in order to develop the correct strategies to deal with them. Furthermore, Islamic organizations need to keep more accurate information concerning conversion so that researchers can analyze the material and benefit those in the field. Most organizations internationally do not have proper records. Some only have names and while others have little more than that. Follow-up programs cannot be effectively implemented without proper records. Perhaps the greatest problem facing converts is the lack of follow-up. In the Prophet’s (ﷺ) time, converts were integrated into the Muslim community and way of life with the full support of the community. Today, converts are congratulated and left to fend for themselves. As a result, when many are faced with difficulties, they revert to their former faiths, if they do not find support from the Muslim community. In the West, there is a big need for institutions and Muslim social workers to cater to the needs of the new converts. Many who accept Islam in the prisons end up in their destructive life-styles and back in prison like their non-Muslim counterparts. Although their numbers are fewer, they are too many for the community to ignore.
The other major problem facing convert Muslims, especially in the West, is that without a Muslim community to support their families, their children often leave Islam by the time they graduate from high school. Consequently, among the da’wah strategies necessary is the development of Muslim schools to preserve the identity of Muslim children of the converts. Those children did not choose Islam, and they lack strong cultural ties to Muslim culture. As a result, every decade or two, a new wave of Westerners convert and during the same period, most of their children leave Islam. Those children sometimes go on to become major stars in sports like Shaquille O’Neal (Basketball), or Rocket Raghib (American Football), who have no allegiance to Islam what so ever.
Survey 1. Discover Islam [Dubai]
Survey 2. Discover Islam [Bahrain]
Survey 3. QCPI [Qatar]
Survey 4. IRF [India]
Survey 5. Denmark
Survey 6. London [England]
Survey 7. ICQ [Canada]
Survey 8. Karachi [Pakistan]
Survey 9. Detroit [USA]
Survey 10. Internet Western Converts
Survey 11. Islam Our Choice
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