On the authority of Tameem ad-Daaree radhiyallahu ‘anhu, the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The religion is sincerity, the religion is sincerity, the religion is sincerity.” They said, “To who, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “To Allah, and His Book, and His Messenger, and the Imaams (leaders) of the muslims, and their common folk.” (Sahih Muslim, The Book of Faith, No. 98)
O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful (al-Hujura̅t, 49:12).
Last week, for three days in my life, I had a taste of ‘being interrogated’. Questions on my activities with my juniors here with regards to their da’wah and tarbiyyah, on how I treated my children, on my ibadah and even my intention to having started the halaqah in my home in the first place, were posted to me in an inappropriate manner. This was not the first time. I had had this before, years back, in 2003. So 10 years later, I came face to face again with the same matter. Did I mention how it made me feel? Imagine a person who does not know you, come to your house without a notice, by pass the head of the family, starts to reorganize your things and when you served them food, though knowing you are a Muslim, this person asked if the food is halal. That was how I felt.
I tried really hard not to think about the story of one of the Prophet’s companion who went to Madinah. This companion, radhiyallahu ‘anhu, wanted to pray. He went to a Christian woman’s house and asked if her house was pure. This woman answered, “Purify your heart and pray anywhere you like.”
Was it a bad person that came to meet me? No! They are good people who want to do good things- for Islam. They did not come from any governments but they did come from a system that wants to govern. A system that forms student circles and teaches them about Islam and inspiring them of what they can and need to do to exalt Islam. All is good as far as that goes.
But things become nasty when we lost sight of the bigger picture. When our focus is to get people to follow our way, our method, our modul, our style, our group instead of focusing on people following Islam! With this subtle change of focus hence begin the rhetorical da’wah. We start to focus on number of members that we have under our wings because now that becomes the measuring stick. The more members we have, the better our group is, the superior we are compared to others, our methods must be the right one to be used.
The rhetorical da’wah creates an invisible net that each of us cast upon our targeted mad’u, the people that we are calling to Islam. Everyone wants the big fish, the ready-to-go person. We start to pick and choose. We want the easy target. We do not want those who questions too much either because i) they do not know enough; or ii) because they know a little bit and are critical. Hence begin another disgusting game of member snatching.
The word snatch in itself is powerful and happens in split second may be. But these ‘people of da’wah’, their minds are trained, their behaviours are trained, their responses are trained and they are trained to be patient. They did not come and grab in one go. They come, they assess the situation, they get closer and try to know you but then, instead of fortifying the locally existing da’wah works, they want their share of the people.
While many did not realize this, they are taking the route of ‘the end justifies the means’. They unconsciously throw out the windows all the adab in pursuing their passion to bring people to Islam the way they think is the only correct way. Where did our respect go to the leader of that local community? When was it permissible to lobby one person after another to get our goal fulfilled when shura, a unanimous consensus, is the way of Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam?
Sneaking has become our character in doing rhetorical da’wah so much so that we are not troubled by it. In fact it is being nurtured in us that we are sneaking around even in our personal life. Just because the technology allows us to go on anyone Facebook and look into their ‘life’ as to who are their friends and family, what right did we have to go behind their back and contact these people for our own benefit? This is not a character of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He will not make gestures with his eyes although a person who was standing in front of him was supposed to be beheaded. Instead he ended up forgiving and showing mercy though he did not like it. That is the character of the man who preached Islam day and night till his last breath. He was clear, concise and true. He was an open book. That is the character of the man who we all claim we are following his footsteps in doing our da’wah.
Islam is inclusive instead of exclusive. We want people to accept Islam at their own paces and build them up to reach the peak of iman. By casting our nets only on the big fish: those who are ready to do da’wah, those who want to attend halaqahs, those who has Islamic education background, those who has the potential of being our next cadet, that will propagate our way, we are losing a hundred people for each person that we ‘catch’. We need to acknowledge the disparity of understanding that exist amongst us and try to find a middle ground as a community. Likewise, we must respect another community when they have established their middle ground.
I plead and beg of us to PLEASE stop this rhetorical da’wah and focus on the sincere da’wah. There is no glory in winning more people at the expense of losing the barakah, the blessings from Allah in our efforts to bring people back to Islam.
I do not see the need for us to go and try to meddle into a local community as long as they are not going against Islam. Rasulullah built a masjid in Quba when there were only six muslims there. Why? In my opinion, it was for them to have a sense of community hence a sense of belonging. On the other hand, Allah asked Rasulullah to destroy Masjid ad-Dirar that was built by the hypocrites because this masjid was built more for a show than to build the people’s faith in Allah. I believe that once the masjid (read: Islamic community) has been established, we have no right to come and overrule their leader and start to boss people around, as subtly as we may be in so doing, it is wrong- simply wrong. If they already have their halaqah, what is the need for us to create more halaqahs for them? We can advise, again advise them on what they can do but do not dictate what they should do. We think we are doing a good thing but we are carving notches in their community and sooner or later, we will break them apart. And from my previous experiences, we will not be there to catch them because then we will be busy casting our nets to catch the next da’ee wannabe.