In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- Muslims are commanded to set a good example for others in all aspects of life. They have to convey the message of Islam in the best way and not to help distort it.
2- It is the responsibility of Muslim individuals, scholars, and people in authority to make dawah and convey the message of Islam to others in the best form and as instructed by the glorious Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
3- They should use wisdom and good admonition and bear into consideration that everyone is free to choose to follow or not to follow the right guidance.
In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada , states:
The Qur’an commands us to call people to the way of Allah. This is explicitly stated in a number of verses; for instance, we read in the Qur’an:
“Call [all humankind] unto your Lord’s way with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and dialogue with them in the most gracious manner: For, behold, your Lord knows best as to who strays from His path, and best knows He as to who are the right-guided.” (An-Nahl 16:125)
Furthermore, in his farewell sermon, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) addressed Muslims saying, “Let those who are present here convey this message to those who are not present.” (Al-Bukhari)
He meant to say that the Muslims have a responsibility to convey the message of Islam to all of humankind. But while doing so, they must always abide by the methodology of the Qur’an. This methodology is based on the assumption that everyone is free to choose to follow or not to follow the right guidance.
In other words, the duty of Muslims is limited to conveying the message plainly; they are not supposed to lord over them or push the message down their throats. The Qur’anic principle on this matter is precise and clear: “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith; truth stands out starkly clear from falsehood.” (Al-Baqarah 2:256)
Allah further tells His Messenger, “But if they turn away [from you, O Prophet, know that] We have not sent you to be their keeper: You are not bound to do more than deliver the message [entrusted to you.” (Ash-Shura 42:48)
“And so, [O Prophet,] exhort them; your task is only to exhort: You cannot compel them [to believe].” (Al-Ghashiyah 88:21-22)
Once we follow the method described above and keep in mind the sound principles, the activity of dawah is a most rewarding one. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told his cousin `Ali, “By Allah, if a single person is guided by Allah through you, it will be better for you than a whole lot of red camels.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
So I commend you for your desire to convey the message of mercy inherent in Islam. But while doing so, be forever on guard against self-righteousness, and never fail to arm yourself with compassion and patience.
I pray to Allah guide your steps in this noble pursuit, and may He guide us all unto the truth and make us all instruments of guidance.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.