Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H. said, “Convey on my behalf, even one verse.”
Unlike what many Muslims think, preaching Islam is not about converting others to Islam, making presentations about Islam, giving lectures in mosques, having the prophetic traditions hanged on billboards in non-Muslim countries, etc. Those acts neither improve people’s understanding of Islam, nor even urge them to respect it as an important religion. If by coincidence they do, it is always individual cases, and their admiration is mostly directed towards the presenter while their view of Islam remains the same. All people understand that presenters are well trained on attracting others to what they present. Presenters usually beautify their commodity even if it were the most terrible. Religion is not a commodity, so please don’t treat it like one. In my opinion, giving a lecture about Islam in an attractive manner, is not the proper way of preaching Islam, and it has many negative impacts on the presenter him or herself. From what I have seen so far, they think so high of themselves, and they can’t even notice it. Please understand that the best preachment you can give, is the one you give to yourself. When you repair your own defects and immoralities, you will automatically teach others about Islam through real practice, and the outcome shall be amazing to the furthest extent.
Many Muslim youths fall in the widely spread nets of false sheikhs. They are amazed when they hear that they have converted too many people to Islam by their preachments in non-Muslim countries. They feel so small and unworthy of any reward in the hereafter for not being like those so-called sheikhs. Know that the effort you make inside your country, in your daily job sincerely while enduring all hardships, showing patience, and dealing with others in the best manner like the prophet did, serves Islam millions of times more than those ‘fancy sheiks’ do. Islam doesn’t need preachers who speak about it, it needs preachers who practice it. An honest poor Muslim farmer preaches Islam a thousand times better than those fancy figures; an honest merchant preaches Islam a thousand times better than a sheikh on a mosque’s pulpit; a noble soldier preaches Islam, a good doctor preaches Islam, a diligent engineer preaches Islam, a sincere husband preaches Islam, a dedicated wife preaches Islam, etc.
By all means, preaching Islam is about interacting with other people honestly with noble manners and a sound heart. You don’t need to utter one word from the Qur’an or the Sunnah by your tongue. Conveying a Qur’anic verse or a prophetic tradition through your practice is what counts. This is what the tradition atop the page means; otherwise, it’s an invitation to hypocrisy, and this could never be what the prophet P.B.U.H. meant. If in this course you were asked by a Muslim brother or sister, or a fellow non-Muslim about what Islam or the Qur’an says regarding a certain issue, only then you can open the Qur’an, recite the verses, and explain them in a brief easy manner using a language which this person understands.
Allah says in the Qur’an, “Invite (people) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair preaching, 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 Qur’an (16:125)].
Allah mentioned “wisdom” before “fair preaching.” Verily, it’s from wisdom to realize that if you wish to preach Islam, you should earn the respect of others first through fair interaction, good ethics, and professional expertise; otherwise, any preaching you give is going to be an extremely harmful thing to Islam. Islam needs practical preaching more than verbal preaching.
Allah says in the Qur’an, “O mankind! Be pious to your Lord, Who created you from a single soul, and from its kind, He created its match, and from them, He created many men and women, so fear Allah through Whom you demand (Your mutual rights), and do not sever the relations of the wombs. Verily Allah is ever an All-Watcher over you.” [The Qur’an (4:1)].
So we are all “One Family,” and being one family means that we should be “kind & Just” towards one another. Allah also says in the Qur’an, “O mankind, We have created you from males and females, and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another. Verily the noblest among you in Allah’s sight are those who are most pious. Verily Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” [The Qur’an (49:13)].
Hence, Allah teaches us that we should get to know one another without any restrictions placed on race, nationality, religion, or anything else. The noblest people in Allah’s sight are not Arabs, Asians, Europeans, nothing of that sort, the noblest are those who are most pious, those who have good manners and noble characters, those who are honest and sincere. Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H. said: “Truthful religion is sincerity.” He also said, “There is a morsel inside your body which if you repair, your whole body becomes virtuous; verily, it’s your heart.” Hence, preach Islam by repairing your heart.
It’s true that under the stresses of the world injustices we suffer from today, some semi-knowledgeable Muslims who don’t have enough understanding of Allah’s laws and Prophet Muhammad’s Sunnah reciprocate hatred towards other nations instead of knowledge; this is not from Islam. Actually, this contradicts the innate human nature (Fitrah) as well as the Qur’anic teachings in a manifest way endangering its doer to be misguided in this life and deserve Allah’s wrath in the hereafter. Allah says in the Qur’an, “Allah does not forbid you with regards to those who did not fight you on account of faith, and did not expel you from your homes (i.e. occupy your lands), that you do good to them, and deal justly with them. Verily Allah loves those who maintain justice.” [The Qur’an (60:8)].
Muslims have been inflicted for a very long time by two kinds of religious figures that try all the time to occupy their minds. Occupying lands doesn’t matter anymore, your mind is the target. The weapons of war have changed centuries ago, but unfortunately, simple people don’t realize this. The first kind of those alleged religious figures neither teaches people about their religion, nor allows them to acquire true knowledge from the proper sources which they are very keen on sabotaging through their owned TV channels, or by flooding the stores with their books. The second kind–which is more dangerous in my opinion–is more smart and smooth, it utilizes part of the previous method besides monopolizing the teaching positions in the religious institutions. They seek avidly to brainwash their students and convert them to a flock of sheep that acknowledge anything they say without any questioning. Although they claim that they are serving religion, both kinds aim at mobilizing people in crowds at their doors in order to use them for reasons which they never declare. Allah knows best, but sometimes I get the feeling that their aim is to drive people away from truly learning their religion and practicing it properly. Unfortunately, most people follow those sheikhs like zombies. People who try to read, learn, and criticize or object to anything stated by those sheikhs are immediately cast away like lepers.
There is a great difference between true scholars and false Sheikhs. The way to distinguish between them is easier than you think, those who try to occupy your mind with their opinions, and create from you a duplicated copy of themselves are false Sheikhs; while those who try to liberate your mind and urge you to learn, think, and criticize according to logical disciplines are the ones from whom you should seek counsel and knowledge.
When you read about the most knowledgeable scholars in the Islamic history, you will find that they were intelligent lofty-cultured bookworms. One famous example known worldwide is Imam Ibn-Rushd (520-595 A.H.)–Latinized as “Averroes”–he used to read every night at least 40 pages. It is said that he never missed any night except when he got married, and when his father died. Hence, by all means, READ and LEARN, free your mind from those who love to stagger followers underneath their feet. Don’t degrade your intellectual capabilities and think that you are incapable of differentiating between wrong and right. Don’t trust any word you read simply because the one who wrote it is an acknowledged scholar. Scholars are human too, they build false opinions that could be revised and denied when found wrong. Imam Abu-Hanifah allowed his students to adopt different opinions from his own. He even ordered them to write down their opinions besides his. This did not degrade the Imam’s status; on the contrary, it made him the “Grand Imam.” Imam Mālek used to say, “Anyone is subjected to make mistakes and build wrong religious opinions that could be questioned except the prophet P.B.U.H.” Imam Shāfe‘i used to say, “My juristic opinion is right having a possibility of turning out to be wrong, and the other opinions are wrong having a possibility of turning out to be right.” Because of their deep knowledge and open-mindedness, no one of them ever accused the other of going astray or being a heretic; on the contrary, Imam Abu-Hanifah prayed behind the Mālekites in Madinah. Imam Shāfe‘i prayed in the same style of the Hanafists when he led the prayers near Abu-Hanifah’s tomb. Imam Mālek told Imam Al-Layth Ibn-Sa‘d: “He is truly a knowledgeable jurist,” referring to Abu-Hanifah. Imam Ahmad said, “Mālek is my most beloved among all traditionists,” etc. This was the kind of respect and spiritual unity those knowledgeable early Imams had, that’s mainly because they were holding tight to the most treasured hoard in Islam, “Morals and Ethics.”
Acquiring deep knowledge about the Islamic sciences takes a lifetime and is not an obligation on every Muslim, but attaining the Islamic moralities is. Muslims cannot all be knowledgeable scholars, but they must all seek to be pious and noble-minded. The prophet P.B.U.H. was a model by his ethics and morals; he taught his companions through real practice. Muslims need to stop talking and start learning and practicing immediately, or else, there won’t be any deliverance for them.
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Written By: Ehab Shawky