By Jinan Bastaki and Noha Salem | Originally Published October 2009
We now live a global village; whether on the internet, in one’s own country, or by traveling, people of all different backgrounds are meeting and interacting in a variety of venues. This is a crucial thing for Muslims as it gives us the opportunity, and indeed also tests us, to represent Islam and call people to Islam.
Unfortunately, da’wah (inviting people to Islam) is not as easy as one imagines. Ibn Al Qayyim stated that da’wah has the highest maqam (or station) because that was the role of the Prophets ﷺ (peace be upon him). We constantly read in the Qur’an how the Prophets `alayhum as-salaam (peace be upon them) were patient with their people, with Nuh (as) (Noah) only praying against them after 950 years of calling them to worship the One God. Nowadays, however, we are quick to condemn people eternally to kufr (disbelief), when even in the Qur’an Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) tell us that a person has until just before his death to believe. We do this either by looking down on others instead of loving for our brothers what we love for ourselves – which includes loving Islam for the disbeliever as we love it for ourselves (an-Nawawi’s commentary on the hadith, record of the words of the Prophet ﷺ) - or by giving up on them after failing to see the fruits of our call.
This is why it is crucial to return to the Prophet’s ﷺ example. When he was in Makkah, we know that he was attacked brutally for his message. But there were certain ringleaders: Abu Jahal, Abu Lahab, Al Walid bin Mugheera and Abu Sufyan. After almost 20 years of the Prophet’s ﷺ calling, after fighting numerous wars against the Muslims, and after the conquest of Makkah, Abu Sufyan accepted Islam. He then fought for Islam and even lost his eye in one of the battles. Who would have thought that a man like Abu Sufyan would finally accept Islam? He could have apostated as many tribes did after the Prophet’s ﷺ death, but he did not.
Let us not forget the story of the city of Ta’if – when the Prophet ﷺ went there to call the people, they sent their children and those whom they considered lowly to throw stones and taunt the Messenger ﷺ. The Prophet ﷺ left Ta’if, bleeding, with no human support – his two closest relatives, his wife Khadija radi allahu `anha (may God have mercy on her) and his uncle Abu Talib, had passed away. Jibreel came to him afterwards, telling him that there were angels ready to destroy those people if the Prophet ﷺ requested it. By the Prophet’s own admission, this was his hardest day. But his response was, “Maybe Allah will produce from their offspring ones who will worship Him alone” (Bukhari). Would we still have hope in such people?
It was the beloved Prophet’s nature never to give up. Allah had given him a role which he was to fulfill regardless of the results. His uncle, Abu Talib, protected the Prophet ﷺ, and until his moment of death the Prophet ﷺ called him to the truth. And then Allah revealed “You [Prophet] cannot guide everyone you love to the truth; it is God who guides whoever He will: He knows best those who will follow guidance.” (Qur’an, 28:56)
No matter how horrible a person seems to us, we should not assume that this person will never accept Islam – look at the example of Umar (radiAllahu `anhu – May Allah be pleased with him), who would beat female slaves when he found out they converted. But Allah guides whom He pleases – Umar (ra) became one of the Prophet’s ﷺ closest companions, one of ten promised Paradise, and the second of the rightly-guided khulafaa’ (caliphs).
This is in reference purely to da’wah; it does not mean we do not stand up for the rights of our brothers and sisters where they are suffering on the pretext of da’wah, but our reactions should, as with all situations, be tempered with the example of the Beloved ﷺ.
Because of the Prophet’s ﷺ perseverance and Allah’s Will, we are Muslim today. Let us be grateful for that very fact by being persistent in our own quest to tell people about Islam, by supporting our rhetoric with action – by following in the footsteps of the Prophet ﷺ.