In the Name of Allaah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful…
One of the great senior scholars of this era, Shaykh Saalih ibn Fowzaan al-Fowzaan (may Allaah preserve him), was asked:
Is this manner of da’wah (Islamic propagation) correct: One that begins by inviting the people to good manners at first?
The shaykh responded by saying:
No, this is misguidance, a contradiction to the da’wah of the Messengers. This is the call of the hizbees (bigoted sectarians) nowadays. It is a false da’wah, because it is contradictory to the methodology of the Messengers. What they (really) desire is that people remain upon their (various) beliefs, whether they are (the beliefs of) the Qubooriyyah (gravesite fanatics), idol-worship, or sufism. What is important (to them) is just to gather the people together, merely for the sake of following them (i.e. their group) exclusively.
Source: This Arabic recording.
1. When the Prophet (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) sent Mu’aath ibn Jabal (may Allaah be pleased with him) to Yemen, he told him:
إنك تقدم على قوم من أهل الكتاب، فليكن أول ما تدعوهم إلى أن يوحدوا الله تعالى، فإذا عرفوا ذلك، فأخبرهم أن الله قد فرض عليهم خمس صلوات في يومهم وليلتهم، فإذا صلوا، فأخبرهم أن الله افترض عليهم زكاة في أموالهم، تؤخذ من غنيهم فترد على فقيرهم، فإذا أقروا بذلك فخذ منهم، وتوق كرائم أموال الناس
“Verily, you are going to a people from Ahlul-Kitaab (i.e. the Jews and Christians), so let the first thing you invite them to be to worship Allaah alone. If they understand that (and accept it), then inform them that Allaah has ordained upon them five daily prayers. If they pray, then inform them that Allaah has ordained upon them the payment of zakaat from their wealth, taken from their rich and given back to their poor. If they agree to that, then take (zakaat) from them, but abstain from the people’s best (most expensive) belongings.” [Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim]
From this and many other clear evidences, we learn that the focus and priority of the da’wah of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) was to towheed. Other essential matters of the Religion were presented only after people accept towheed.
This same methodology is also evident from the many Quraanic passages describing the da’wah of Allaah’s Prophets and Messengers. Refer to the book The Methodology of the Prophets in Calling to Allaah by Shaykh Rabee’ ibn Haadee for a more complete discussion of this important topic.
2. Shaykh Saalih al-Fowzaan, in the above fatwaa, is not saying that good manners in da’wah is not important, nor is he saying that calling the people to good manners is not from Islaamic da’wah. He is merely assisting the Ummah to redirect their focus and priority in giving da’wah back to its original theme – that Allaah has the sole right to be worshipped.
3. Many Muslims today incorrectly assume that, since manners are highly stressed in Islaam, we should make them our priority when giving da’wah. There is a difference between giving da’wah with good manners and beginning one’s da’wah by inviting to good manners.
4. Making good manners the focus and priority of da’wah causes us to resemble the Christians, whose great Prophet and Messenger called them to worship Allaah alone from his very first words after birth, announcing himself as a worshipper of Allaah alone! [Soorah Maryam, 19:30-36] However, you find modern Christians explaining their religion as merely good morals and manners. Not only have they taken towheed out of the priorities of their da’wah, they have removed it from the religion altogether! Muslims must be wise enough to learn from the mistakes of the people who came before us. We must not follow in their footsteps into the traps of Shaytaan.
5. Every Muslim is a daa’ee (caller, one who invites to Islaam), through his/her actions and behavior, and we are all required to implement Islaam properly in our lives and be good examples of Muslims. However, it is not correct to say that any Muslim knows enough to get involved in organized da’wah work and outreach programs. How often we see ignorant Muslims who wish to serve their Religion cause extensive harm and corruption in the name of da’wah! Knowledge must come before this kind of da’wah work. We must shun the corrupt form of “do-it-yourself” da’wah, independent of the scholars of Islaam and their advice and direction.
And Allaah knows best.
Translation and commentary by: Moosaa Richardson