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The Manners and Etiquette of Da`wah
  Explanation of the Verse, "Say this is my way, I call unto Allaah..."
Author: Dawud Adib
Source: Al-Huda Magazine
Article ID : DAW010001  

"Say: 'This is my way: I invite to Allãh on/with clear knowledge - I and whomever follows me (does this). Glorified is Allãh, and I am not of the polytheists."" (12:108),

This is one of the ãyãt that our righteous predecessors extract the rules/principles/basics of Da'wah from. The Arabic term is Usool ad-Da`wah and is used interchangeably with the word Minhãj.


"Say" We are instructed to inform the people whatever follows after the command of "say". This ãyah, as well as all the others, is being addressed to the Muslims in general and the Prophet in particular as to how we are to give Da`wah. In it are important commands for us to implement. Thus, we should learn them, understand them, and apply them.

Hãdhihi Sabeelee

"This is my way" The word Sabeel is synonymous with the words Tareeq, Minhãj, and Sunnah. The Companion Ibn Abbãs explained "the Shar`ee (laws) and Minhãj (methodology) as the Sabeel (way) and Sunnah (example)" - Bukhãree p. 16.

The instruction that follows is the Sunnah of Da`wah, and it is very important that it be adhered to. It is as follows:

Ad`oo Ilallãh

"I invite... This phrase is in the first person, singular of the present tense of the verb da`ã. It means: I am calling, I do summon, I bid/beckon/invite. to Allãh. This does not mean we call people to where Allãh is - above His Throne which is above the seven heavens over the heavenly waters. What it means is we summon people to the meaning of Lã ilãha illãllãh which is "none is worthy of worship except Allãh, and it also to call people to His Deen, to His Uniqueness, and knowledge of Him by way of His Perfect Attributes.

There is a science of the Arabic language in which a part of a phrase can be used when it is actually referring to the whole phrase. This science is being applied when the ãyah states to Allãh because it is referring to the Kalimah (Lã ilãha illãllãh). The reverse of this is also a science in which an entire phrase is used when it is actually referring to part of a phrase, e.g. "They thrust their fingers into their ears... " (2:19) The word fingers is used but it is actually referring to the fingertips (of possibly only two fingers yet the Jam` case of three or more is used).

So it is here that Allãh tells us to invite the people to Tawheed. Clearly notice that we are not commanded to summon the people to any individual (regardless of how knowledgeable), any organization or masjid, any way of thinking, any project, nationalism, interfaith dialogue, ism or schism, etc. We are only commanded to call the people to the meaning of Lã ilãha illãllãh.

`Alã Baseerah

"with clear knowledge" This part the ãyah tells us HOW to invite the people to the statement of Tawheed: Lã ilãha illãllãh. The word Baseerah is not simple one to translate into English, however, for right now we'll use the word knowledge.

Baseerah means Daleel and Burhãn (clear proofs and evidences). The word Daleel literally means guide. Often people ask the question "What is your Daleel (evidence/proof from the Qurãn and authentic Sunnah)?" So what they are literally asking for is "guidance" because this is what revelation does - it guides us. Thus, this is HOW we invite the people toTawheed: with proofs/evidences from the Ourãn and authentic Sunnah!

Evidence can be produce by two basic ways:

  • Naqlee - transmitted evidence: the Qurãn and authentic Sunnah, and the statements, understanding, and practical application of the Sahãbah, and
  • `Aqlee - rational evidence: views based on scholarly understanding of the Qurãn and authentic Sunnah related to the issue at hand (we begin with Sahãbah/ Companions, then the Tãbi`oon/Successors, then the Atbã` at-Tãbi`een/Followers of the Successors, and any of the scholars who follow their Minhãj (which is abiding by the Qurãn and authentic Sunnah and discarding personal, unfounded opinions) e.g. al-Bukhãree, Ibn Taymeeyah, ash-Shawkãnee, M. ibn Abdul-Wahhãb, al-Albãnee and several others; and the linguistics of the Arabic language which must always be dependent on and consistent with revelation. We must note that we always seek an answer from the transmitted texts, and only go to rational points that are made based on Qurãn and authentic Sunnah when we - via the scholars - are unable to find an answer within the transmitted texts.

One of our eminent scholars, Ibn al Qayyim al-Jawzeeyah stated, "Knowledge is what Allãh says, what the Prophet says, and what the Companions say."

Therefore, in light of the above, one must, be knowledgable in whatever he is inviting the people to. This is a very important condition of Baseerah because if one does not know what he's talking about he could be inviting people to Kufr and Shirk and Bid`ah and Kabã'ir and other Muharãmãt. The Prophet said, The seeking of knowledge (of religious matters) is mandatory upon every Muslim (al-Bayhaqee); and Allãh says, "Everyone must know that there is none worthy of worship except Allãh" (47:19) and "invite to Allãh with clear knowledge" (12:108).

A second condition of Baseerah is that the dã`ee (inviter) should be familiar with whom he is giving da`wah to. This is important because having this knowledge may be benefcial in convincing the invitee(s) to accept Islãm because the dã`ee would know how (or how not) to approach his audience. When the Prophet commissioned Mu`ãdh to be the governor of Yamãn, he abreasted him that he was assigning him to an area that was predominately of Jews and Christians (see Bukhãree vol.9 #469 and Muslim vol. 1 #27). With this information it would be useful for Mu`ãdh to know that he would be around people who had some knowledge of the previously-revealed divine scriptures because the approach we use with a Confucianist would not necessarily be the same approach we use for a Sabean or for a Christian, etc. Likewise, it may be better to send our Muslim brother Mustafã O'Connell to Ireland than it would be to send someone of British origin (because generally people are more comfortable with others who are similar to themselves - and notwithstanding the ongoing conflict between the two nations).

This hadeeth concerning Mu`ãdh is also a proof for the first condition of Baseerah because the rest of the hadeeth informs us that the Prophet told Mu`ãdh to instruct the people in the basics of Islãm. In order for Mu`ãdh to do this he himself would first have to have knowledge of Tawheed, Ittibã` ar-Rasool, Tahãrah, Salãh, etc. And let us take special note that the first tbing that the Prophet ordered him to do was: invite the people to Lã ilãha illãllãh.

A third condition of Baseerah is to be respectful, polite, humble, and the like, yet not compromising any Islãmic principles (like shaking hands with the opposite sex or sipping non-virgin cocktails) -while conveying the Da`wah. Allãh instructed Moosã and Hãroon "Both of you go to Fir`awn for without a doubt he has transgressed, and speak to him with kind and gentle words" (20:43,44), and "If you had been severe and harsh-hearted they would have ran away from you" (3: 159). Furthermore, we should not insult those things that the disbelievers worship besides Allãh, e.g. in the 70's when I was a member of the Nation of Kufr (the "so called" Nation of Islam) I used to say to my parents "How can we you worship that white, blue-eyed, hippie devil [Jesus]?' Although, both of us was in a state of disbelief when I accosted them in this manner it naturally brought about a defensive response (which will make it harder to convice someone of your point). To ridicule and blaspheme the gods that people worship besides Allãh is in opposition to Allãh's command "Do not revile those whom they pray to besides Allãh because they will wrongfully revile Allãh" (6:108).

Also, we don't use rap songs to give Da`wah. Yes, music and instruments existed in the time of the Companions, yet with their knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and practice of Islãm (that will not be superceded by any other generation before their time and after it) did not use music to give Da`wah. In fact they did not listen to music at all.

This third condition of Baseerah means that we do not tell the people the consequences Allãh has planned for anyone who does not live according to His prescriptions and proscriptions. From several ãyãt and ahãdeeth we can see that it is the Sunnah of Allãh and the Sunnah of His Messenger to tell the people about dreadful and tormenting punishments for the disobedient.

Anã wa Manittaba`anee

"I and whomever follows me (does this)" The Prophet and whomever follows him obeys the orders that just was given by Allãh: to invite the people to Tawheed with proofs and evidences/certified and bonafide knowledge. For the second time in this ãyah this command of Allãh is attached to the Sunnah of the Prophet. We should pay very strict attention to this because in Allãh's infinite wisdom He knows why this is being repeated in the same ãyah. So if we adhere to the orders given to us then we can consider ourselves as believing and following the Messenger of Allãh as this part of the ãyah states.

The Arabic word man is a particle that is general. It is not restricted to any place or time. Whether one is a companion of the Prophet , or is born of Slavic descent, or lives in 17th century Salem, or emerges from the pre-historic Flintstone age, or plays golf on the moon, the whomever, wherever, and whenever does not make any difference - as long as he is following the Prophet he is abiding by the dictates of Allãh. "Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allãh" (4:80).

The Da`wah of Islãm has three aspectsto it: Tawheed(monotheism),Ittibã` ar-Rasool (following the Messenger: Sunnah), and Tazkeeyah (sanctification of the heart: the result of believing in Tawheed and following the Sunnah).

Wa Subhãnallãh

"and glorified is Allãh" This Dhikr is usually translated into English as such but the denotative meaning of this phrase is "Allãh is far above and removed from any indignities, deficiencies, limitations, and lies that are attributed to Him", which connotes that He is hallowed/glorified. Included in this He's far above having any partners, peers, equals, companions, mate, or offspring.

Wa Mã Anã Minal-Mushrikeen

"and I am not of the polytheists." This means that the Prophet and all those who follow him are not of the deen of the disbelievers.

Usool ad-Da'wah/Conclusion

The foundation or rudiments of inviting people to Allãh (there is none worthy of worship except Allãh) is given to us in this ãyah and other ãyãt. What we must do is learn them, understand them, and apply them. This is the methodology of Da`wah of all the prophets: Muhammad , Yoosuf (AS), Aadam (AS), et al. What these righteous individuals did was call the people to Tawheed with proofs.

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