Dawah: Challenges and Keyword Solution (Series)
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PART 1

Dawah: Challenges and Keyword Solution (Series)

Dawah: Challenges and Keyword Solution (Series)

Dawah, or calling people to Allah, is a noble cause that was carried out by the most honorable people on earth, the messengers of Allah. Bestowing His Mercy on His creation and helping them fulfill their responsibility as trustees on earth, Allah sent humanity guidance and appointed some of them to help others embrace it:

{We have sent Our messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them the Scripture and the balance that the people may maintain [their affairs] in justice …} (Al-Hadid 57:25)

Even though this noble cause was primarily the job of Allah’s messengers, the rest are also obligated to do it especially after the death of the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Allah said in the Quran,

{Say, “This is my way; I invite to Allah with insight, I and those who follow me. And exalted is Allah; and I am not of those who associate others with Him.} (Yusuf 12:108)

Although this important responsibility comes with great honor and a lot of reward, it poses a lot of challenges. Those who follow the footsteps of Allah’s messengers will face similar challenges. Therefore, Allah prescribed for His messengers and those who follow them what is needed to effectively fulfill this responsibility, and to overcome any challenges they may face. In addition to the direct help and support of Allah, theda`iyah, the one who takes on such an honorable responsibility, should acquire the necessary knowledge, and demonstrate many personal and interpersonal qualities and skills. On top of these qualities sabr resides. In this series, we will discuss the challenges facing the da`iyah, the necessity of acquiring and developing sabr, and some useful tips on how to do so.  

A Word About Sabr

The Arabic word sabr, translated in this article as patience, is, actually, more than what the English word patience entails. Checking the word in the Arabic dictionaries, we find that the word contains these two main meanings:

  • Patience, or ability to tolerate pain, suffering, delay, or trouble, without getting angry or upset
  • Perseverance, or the quality of being resolute in doing things despite pain, suffering, delay, trouble

Even though the word sabr can be used to mean just patience, we use it in this article to include both meanings. We will, for simplicity, translate it into patience.  

Challenges Facing the Da`iyah

In order to understand how patience is an essential quality theda`iyah must demonstrate, we will discuss the types of challenges the cause of Dawah imposes. In this article and the next, we categorize these challenges into three main categories: 1) personal challenges, challenges the da`iyah faces from within, 2) resistance to Dawah, challenges imposed by the people the da`iyah calls to Allah, and, 3) opposition against Dawah from its enemies. In the next few sections, we will describe those briefly.  

Personal Challenges

This type of challenges is the most important one and hence the one that should take the highest priority in the da`iyah’s life. Since the focus of the Dawah is helping others and calling them to Allah, the da`iyah often forgets himself. It is important to remember the obvious truth: the da`iyah himself is a human facing the same problems everyone else faces and needs help and guidance as everyone else does. The reason we include these personal challenges and make them a top priority is because we believe they are the most detrimental to the cause of Dawah. When Moses (peace and blessings be upon him) was sent to Pharaoh, his first response to Allah’s command was a supplication in which, {[Moses] said, My Lord, expand for me my breast …} (Taha 20:25) knowing that it is his own soul that will be the most challenging. Read along the following few examples of personal challenges the da`iyahfaces and try to recall how much patience is required to overcome them.  

Laziness, Boredom, and Despair

Calling people to Allah is a life-long cause. It is by definition a long-term effort; people do not change overnight and people are in a continuous need for guidance. Furthermore, results do not show themselves quickly, or, sometimes, don’t show at all. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

I was shown nations: a prophet would pass with just another man; another prophet would pass with two; a third would pass with a small group; And, a prophet would pass with no one else …” (Al-Bukhari)

With such long-term causes human soul gets lazy and bored. With the lack of quick and apparent results despair emerges. It is not surprising the Allah Almighty tells His Messenger the story of Noah (peace be upon him) who spent close to a thousand years with his people calling them day and night publicly and privately. It is one of the Quran’s tools to prepare theda`iyahs by constantly reminding them not to hasten in expecting results. “Be patient” is key to the da`iyah’s success.  

Lack of Knowledge and Skills

Dawah, at its core, is the art of dealing with people to bring about change in their lives, a job that is most difficult. The complexity of the human soul and its rapid influence by its environment make it very difficult to deal with. On the other hand, presenting Allah’s message to people with relevance and in a way that is understood is also a relatively challenging task. This requires the da`iyah to acquire the needed knowledge and to develop the necessary skills, an endless learning process the da`iyah must undergo. Acquiring knowledge and developing skills are tasks that require patience, a lot thereof.  

Lack of Organization

Dawah is an effort that often succeeds when organized and performed in teams:

{And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful.} (Aal `Imran 3:104)

With teamwork comes a lot of challenges. When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) sent two of his companions to share Islam with people and teach it to them, he advised them to:

Give [you two] glad tiding and do not chase people away; make things easy and do not make them difficult; be flexible with one another and do not get into conflict.” (Muslim)

He (peace and blessings be upon him) knew that this last advice is essential since there are two of them. Being in a team and bearing the challenges that arise require patience. It will be fair to say that one of the most common sources of failure in Dawah –and any cause for that matter- is inability to organize, build, and maintain effective teams.  

Personal Conflict

Even though the da`iyah calls people to Allah out of love to them and desire for their well-being, sometimes this relation experiences conflict. A clear example of these conflicts was what happened to the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) when his people rejected him, disbelieved him, fought him, and even killed some of his Companions and family members. It takes a great deal of discipline and, of course, patience, to overcome such conflicts. We may not like people that we call for Allah due to bad things they do or some harm these impose to us. They may not simply be our favorite type of friends. Therefore, it requires real patience and self-discipline to be able to continue our dawah endeavor with the presence of these conflicts. In the next part, we will continue discussing the remaining types of challenges. Stay tuned.


About Dr. Wael Hamza

Wael Hamza is a Muslim writer, thinker and an active figure in MAS (Muslim American Society ), U.S.A.

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