And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful. (Ali Imran 3:104)
The perpetual struggle of a Muslim is to become the embodiment of this blessed religion that is so steeped in beauty. Many have failed, and along the way distorts the beautiful and transformed it into something average at best, or horrible at worst. I would argue that sincerity is the key ingredient to internalize the beautiful. Sincerity is the social capital to call people to this beautiful way of life. Sincerity that is methodically translated into beautiful character is very very attractive and very useful for dawah purposes.
Now, why this verse about da’wah? Simply put, Allah commanded us to do it. The following questions that would follow are why do you do it? How do you do it?
I would only discuss the former, because it is an issue that is pertinent to me at this moment.
Whenever presented with an opportunity to call people to enjoin good and share my islam, along with other good deeds, my personal struggle is to constantly have the correct intention. It is a battle of nafs, and a dangerous one to lose, since doing good, lets face it–you do feel good about yourself.
To illustrate, there’s this oxymoronic hashtag going around in twitter called #humblebrag. Essentially its a hashtag used as a caption appropriately for picture of you in a position of doing some kind of charity work. Selfie with the orphans? #humblebrag. A day at the animal shelter? #humblebrag. Tabling for a fundraiser? #humblebrag.
It gained traction for NGO’s to highlight and market serious issues that the public needs to know. Commendable, however we sacrifice on the ikhlas (i would argue ihsaan as well ) since the heart is a vessel that looooves attention. When the heart is filled with attention and admiration, there is little space for Allah. ( Guiltily , the writer admits on being in this position plenty of times but she tries her best )
As a sidenote, Allah knows exactly how human hearts operate , so He even exclaimed this verse in the quran as a mercy towards our ego shortcomings:
If you disclose your charitable expenditures, they are good; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, it is better for you, and He will remove from you some of your misdeeds [thereby]. And Allah , with what you do, is [fully] Acquainted . (Al Baqarah 2:271)
If you are open about what you do and what you give, they are still good. Just not the best of what He expects of us.
Now, back to the da’wah bit. It is easy to think that when somehow a path has shown to you to share with someone else about Islam, then you have definitely thought that you are the chosen one. Let us move away from this narrative, however difficult and agitating to the heart it can be.
See, there’s three people here; you, the individual, and Allah. Among this three people, you are the least significant, just the proxy of this conversation between Allah and the individual who is trying to digest the message of Allah.
We need to have a gut-check on answering the first question above again; why do you do da’wah? Is it about you, disguised as dawah? Or is it because of our sincere, prophetic concern for our brothers and sisters? Was it to answer the call of becoming “a nation inviting to [all that is] good”?
Once one can successfully remove the idea of being special as to have the ability to share the message of is islam, then we can call people into it with more empathy, humility before Allah and more love.
And we need all the love and empathy in this trying world.
P/S: Make dua for a certain friend who is trying his very best to attain hidayah, may God choose him to receive guidance, acknowledge his efforts, and make him steadfast on this path.