Wednesday, 28 October 2009
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Running a da’wah campaign is akin to a branding exercise for a product line. In this case, the product may perhaps be classified as afterlife insurance. Truth be told, how do we brand Islam? If we believe that it is a superior product, we must be able to convince the potential customer. What makes it better? What makes it a viable alternative? What are the special features? It is difficult to think like a non-Muslim.
Does Islam offer salvation? So, does every religion. Would anyone join a religion that does not offer some form of salvation? And what sort of salvation? Gardens with rivers flowing seem so passé. Or the tired slogan, “Islam is Peace.” Then how do we explain the fact that almost every other conflict involves Muslims. Sometimes on both sides. Or that Muslims get offended over food, over cartoons, over things people said and start to march and demonstrate and burn down embassies.
Some would cite the idea that Islam was the first major religion to preach women’s right. How do we explain honour killings? Or the fact that women cannot drive in Saudi Arabia. Or that the Salafists banned women from going to school and even killed them for wanting an education? Or the many instances of cultural restrictions and prejudices? The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said to seek knowledge, even in China. Then why do Muslim countries have such poor standards of education? Or that we lag behind in scientific innovation and industrial progress? How do we sell that?
Islam is a marketing nightmare since Muslims in general are such bad advertisements for their own religion. Perhaps we can say that Islam is like a car and the Muslim is the driver. What happens to the car is an indication of how good the driver is. You can have a fantastic vehicle but if the driver cannot drive, it will still crash. And then the driver will blame the car.
So, what is the answer? The answer lies beyond the Realm of ‘Ubudiyyah. The truth is this: that man may think he moves mountains but it is only Allah (s.w.t.) that Moves the hearts of men. When I decided to convert to Islam, it was not my decision. It was already Written. We strive because we do not know what is. We are Judged by our intentions and not our actions. Our actions do not belong to us. By whatever actions we do, until the Door is Closed, there will always be people coming to the Truth. We do nothing. We are mere vessels of His Will. So why do we do da’wah? Simply because it is our duty. Allah (s.w.t.) is ar-Razzaq. He is Generous beyond Measure. And what better thing to share than knowledge of Allah (s.w.t.)? Everything else we may give of wealth and the world, none can bring to the grave. But the Love of Allah (s.w.t.), that ‘ishq, is currency for Eternity.
When people speak of Jannah, they have this idea of gardens and decadence. But Jannah is beyond our comprehension. Since Allah (s.w.t.) is Unlimited, there is an infinite number of Jannatun. Do we think what we have bereft in this world, our Rabb will not Give us? All that we lose can be replaced with something better. But lose Allah (s.w.t.), and all Creation cannot replace Him. And these are the words of Mawlay Abu Abdullah Muhammad al-‘Arabi ad-Darqawi (q.s.).