Interfaith vs. Da’wah: Calling To God vs. Explaining Ourselves

At the behest of Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda, I’m reposting some thoughts I wrote on Twitter:

It would seem to a great extent interfaith engagement is replacing da’wah (calling to Islam). It’s as if we’re more comfortable explaining who we are than becoming what we’re supposed be. Some of this is undoubtedly rooted in a general malaise in the form of a lack of confidence in ourselves as well as in what it is we actually believe. The vast majority of so-called interfaith sessions I’ve attended have been populated by persons who don’t seem to know exactly what they believe in; a proverbial blind leading the blind. And if not leading then handholding. But when we look to Noah (Nūh), here is a man of God who preached, called people to God, and even wanted the best for them. Perhaps it’s here that the secret is laid bare: many Muslims today feel da’wah is akin to being closed-minded, arrogant, and self assured. That to call people to Islam is to preclude any compassion for them and perhaps, based upon certain previous models, they may be correct in that observation.

Shaykh Khalid. He was active in da’wah in southeast Michigan where I met him and ultimately became Muslim.

When I reflect on my own journey to Islam I find I was not called to Islam through interfaith: I was called to Islam by a man who was confident, compassionate as well as passionate, and uncompromisingly Muslim. His attitude was infectious and played a major role in my unwavering acceptance of Islam. Moreover, he called to The Way without any expectation. He embodied the passage from Surah al-Isra:

مَّنِ اهْتَدَىٰ فَإِنَّمَا يَهْتَدِي لِنَفْسِهِ ۖ

““Whoever is guided is only guided to his own good.”Qur’an 17: 15

Islam can only be explained so far, be it for non-Muslims as well as believers. At some point it has to be lived as well.

Khutbah at Drexel University: Knowing the Story of Islam – The Du’ah

Du’ah is the narration of our story called Islam:

يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ! إِنَّكَ مَا دَعَوْتنِي وَرَجَوْتنِي غَفَرْتُ لَك عَلَى مَا كَانَ مِنْك وَلَا أُبَالِي

‘O son of Adam, I forgive you as long as you pray to Me and hope for My forgiveness, whatever sins you have committed.

Religious Dispatches – Post Retreat Thoughts

It was my supreme pleasure to have attended the 2012 Ella Collins Winter Retreat. I was honored to have shared a stage with the likes of Imam Suhaib Webb, Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda, Ustadh Abdur Rahman Murphy, Shaykh Wisam Sharieff, Chaplain Omer Bajwa, Mo Sabri, Chaplain Khalid Latif, Sister Ibtihaj Muhammad, Brother Hamza Abdullah and so many others. I was also honored to have met all the wonderful folks who attended. You input and questions showed your deep commitment to Islam and this Ummah. Since returning I have received a number of Tweets and emails about, “what do we do now?” It is natural after experiencing something so elating that when one comes back home, it can often leave a feeling of isolation, boredom and even depression. So my response is mainly to keep in touch! Not just with myself, or the imams, but perhaps even more importantly, with each other. Maintain your friendships. Show care and concern for one another even if you are separated by hundreds or thousands of miles. I know this is easier said than done but, God willing, we’re up to the challenge. I pray we all can meet again in 2013 (Mayan FAIL!).