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.

#MiddleGroundPodcast – Who Are The Muslims – In Ramadan, Get To Know Yourself Again

[Direct download]

The chapter The Heights (#7)/al-A’raf, was revealed in the Late Meccan Period, during the very last days of the Prophet’s stay in Makkah. This passage, amongst many things, addresses new concerns like interfaith relations.

The Makkan leaders questioned the Jews pertaining to Muhammad and what their religion might have to say about him

Thus, this chapter addresses all social participants: Muslims, Jews and Pagans.

كِتابٌ أُنزِلَ إِلَيكَ فَلا يَكُن في صَدرِكَ حَرَجٌ مِنهُ لِتُنذِرَ بِهِ وَذِكرىٰ لِلمُؤمِنينَ

“This is a book that’s being revealed to you from God, so don’t let your heart be troubled any more over how people may respond to it, for with this Book you can give warnings and reminders to the believers.”Qur’an 7: 2

The Need To Understood vs. The Want To Be Loved and Accepted

Like our time, the Muslims were not always well understood in the broader social context and the powers-that-be went to sources other than the Muslims to find out who they were.

عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم

‏ يَأْتِي عَلَى النَّاسِ زَمَانٌ الصَّابِرُ فِيهِمْ عَلَى دِينِهِ كَالْقَابِضِ عَلَى الْجَمْرِ

Anas bin Malik related that the Prophet ﷺ said, “A time will come upon mankind where the perseverant amongst them regarding his or her religion will be like one who grasps a burning coal.”al-Tirmidhi, #2260

In addition to illustrating the pressure the Prophet felt to be understood or even accepted, Allah reminds the Prophet of his mission: “[to] give good news and warnings”. Not to be accepted because acceptance would undoubtedly involve having to accept the Quraysh’s idolatry and morality. Neither of these is acceptable to God.

Push Yourself – Don’t Settle For Yesterday

وَالَّذينَ آمَنوا وَعَمِلُوا الصّالِحاتِ لا نُكَلِّفُ نَفسًا إِلّا وُسعَها أُولٰئِكَ أَصحابُ الجَنَّةِ ۖ هُم فيها خالِدونَ

“Those who believe and do what’s morally right – We don’t place upon any soul a burden greater than it can bear! – they’ll be the companions of the Garden, and in it they shall remain!”Qur’an, 7: 42

So Who Are The Muslims? – We prioritize God

Nowadays we (the Muslims) want to be known as social justice warriors, helpers of the needy, etc., but we never give the why. Why do we care about others? Because of this Mighty Book:

القرآنُ شافعٌ مشفَّعٌ وماحلٌ مُصدَّقٌ من جعله أمامَه قادَه إلى الجنَّةِ ومن جعله خلفَ ظهرِه ساقَه إلى النَّارِ

Jābir relates that the Prophet said, “The Qur’an is an intercessor whose intercession is accepted whose testimony is trustworthy. Whoever places the Qur’an before him, it will lead him to Paradise. Whoever puts it behind his back, it will lead him to the Fire.” —  al-Mundhi, al-Targhib wa al-Tarhib

7th Annual Interfaith Walk and Rally For Peace

It was my honor again to be asked to give the introductory speech for this year’s annual Interfaith Walk in the Inland Empire (hosted at the City of Knowledge school in Pomona).

[Direct download]

7th annual #interfaith walk:

A photo posted by Marc Manley (@sonofpierre) on

Religious Dispatches – Notes and Reflections on MLK 2013

The following is the audio from today’s interfaith service honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at LaSalle University:

وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا مُوسَىٰ بِآيَاتِنَا وَسُلْطَانٍ مُبِينٍ

“We sent Moses with Our Signs and clear authority.” Qur’an, 11: 96.

I had to pleasure to speak alongside Dr. Robin L. Smith, author of the upcoming book, Hungry: The Truth About Being Full; Youssef Kromah, a.k.a., Seff al-Afriqi; and Reverend Todd Johnson, pastor of First Immanuel Baptist Church. My thanks to Michael Smith, from the Communications department at La Salle University and the rest of the LaSalle staff.

@Issue with Steve Highsmith

It was my pleasure to have been invited on NBC 10’s @Issue, hosted by Steve Highsmith. The show was about religious leaders and how they try to lead Muslims, Christians and Jews toward peace in a post-9/11 era. I was joined by Rabbi Richard Hirsh and Rev. Sherri Hausser, both of whom I enjoyed meeting and hope to work with again in the future.

The three segments are below. If you have trouble loading them, you may view them here.

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