بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
والصلاة والسلام على نبيه الامين
وعلى اهل بيته الطيبين الطاهرين المظلومين
والعاقبة للمتقينAllah جلّ جلاله says:
وَلْتَكُن مِّنكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ ۚ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
And let there be among you a people inviting to the good, enjoining the right and forbidding from the wrong. And those – they are the successful.
قُلْ هَـٰذِهِ سَبِيلِي أَدْعُو إِلَى اللَّـهِ ۚ عَلَىٰ بَصِيرَةٍ أَنَا وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِي
Say, ‘This is my way; I invite to Allah upon insight, I and whoever follows me.’
ادْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ ۖ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ
Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good admonition and argue with them with that which is best
وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلًا مِّمَّن دَعَا إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا وَقَالَ إِنَّنِي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ
And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah and does righteous deeds and says, ‘Indeed, I am one of the Muslims.’
These Ayât of the Qurân are the basis for the establishment of the institution of da’wat ila Allâh and tablîgh, i.e., evangelism, proselytism and conveying the message of Allah. They not only mention the virtues of the missionaries and preachers of Islam, but also the correct method of calling the people to believe in and worship Allah, i.e., the use of wisdom, insight, good admonition and the best argumentation. Additionally, the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم said:
بَلِّغُوا عَنِّي وَلَوْ آيَةً
“Convey from me, even if it is a single sign”
Islam places a great deal of emphasis on the effort of proselytism and outreach. The Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم is the last and final Apostle of God raised up and sent to humanity with divine revelation. Nevertheless, after him, it is his followers who shall carry on his ministry of calling the people to worship Allah (Sura 12:108), and in doing so, shall enjoy the help and blessing of Allah. These days there are several well known organizations, departments and movements within the Muslim world which are actively engaged in the effort of da’wa and tablîgh. Perhaps the most well known is Jamâ’at ut-Tablîgh (Tablîghî Jamâ’at). This movement was started in the 1920s by Ilyas Kandhelwi, initially as a reaction to the Shuddhi Tehrik – a Hindu movement which aimed to reconvert rural, illiterate Muslims of north India back to their ancestral religion of Hinduism. Recently, this relatively successful movement, which admittedly has been the vehicle for the rectification of millions of Muslims worldwide, fractured into two camps. One camp is based near Delhi, India (Nizamuddin) under the system of imâra led by Sa’d Kandhelwi, it’s amîr, while the other is based near Lahore, Pakistan (Raiwind) under the system of shûra, without a single amîr. The celebrity preacher, Tariq Jamil, is associated with the latter camp. In my view, it is the camp of Sa’d Kandhelwi which is superior, because of its reformist tendency. For example, they have decided to place more emphasis on the use of the text ‘Muntakhab Ahadith’ rather than the controversial ‘Fada’il al-A’mal’, which is full of fabricated tales which stink of polytheism and grave worship. Another well known group, particularly in the Indian subcontinent, is Da’wate Islâmî of Ilyas Attar Qadiri. This group, formerly known for their trademark green turbans and white scarves, is Barelawi, and invites people to call upon and supplicate the deceased in their graves. Unlike Tablighi Jama’at, the Dawate Islami group has successfully taken advantage of modern media in the form of its Madani Channel. Then there are various smaller organizations and departments, and certain celebrity preachers and callers to Islam, such as Dr. Zakir Naik. Some of these groups focus their efforts on rectifying the Muslims or calling the Muslims to their particular sect, while others focus on inviting non-Muslims to embrace Islam. Our Religion does not specify the effort of da’wat ila Allâh for non-Muslims only. If and when the Muslims themselves become corrupt and far away from their own professed Religion, it is necessary for Muslim preachers and missionaries to expend effort for the purpose of revivalism and outreach. There is also the institution of amr bil-ma’rûf and nahî anil-munkar (promotion of virtue and prevention of vice), which is directed at Muslims and non-Muslims alike. In our time, it is vital to invite the general mass of Muslims to the maslak of Tawhid. This is the effort of purifying the faith from polytheism, polytheistic rituals, customs and ideas. Because grave veneration, supplicating the deceased, and certain superstitions like fortune telling, hanging amulets, etc., are so rife among the Muslims, those who dedicate themselves to the effort of preaching Tawhid are doing the most important work and effort that can be done. Other groups may be calling the people to observe the Sunna, or to moral rectification, or to implement the Shari’a, or to establish the system of Khilafa, or to acquire religious knowledge, etc. But none of these efforts or ministries is as critical as the ministry of preaching Tawhid, as this was the ministry of the Prophets of Allah – peace be upon them. They preached with fire against the abomination of idolatry. Tablighi Jama’at, for instance, intentionally avoids preaching against the shirk of grave worship and other polytheistic customs that are widespread among the Muslims. It purposefully restricts itself to a non-controversial message in order to achieve greater numbers in its assemblies and circles. The same is true with the Ikhwan al-Muslimun (Muslim Brotherhood), which purposefully does not preach the message of Tawhîd al-Ulûhiya in order to gather greater numbers and collect more donations from the public. At this time, it is the Ishaate Tawhid wa-Sunna, led by Qari Kalim Ullah Multani and led by Muhammad Tayyab Tahiri in Panjpir, which is solely dedicated to preaching the pure message of Tawhid. They are the inheritors of the legacy and ministry of Sayyid Ahmad of Rai Barailly and Shah Ismail of Delhi (may Allah have mercy on them both), the two ardent zealots of Tawhid who sacrificed their very lives in the cause of Allah in the early 19th century CE. As for the so-called ‘Salafi’ da’wa, while it too occassionally preaches Tawhid al-Uluhiya, its narrow, sectarian mindset results in a lot of its effort being consumed by jurisprudential arguments, such as the issues of Raf al-Yadain in Salât, Taqlîd, Bid’ât, weak Hadîth, etc. Focusing on these issues has sidetracked the Salafis from the da’wa of the great revivalist Shaikh Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab (rahimahullah), through whose effort Allah Most High cleansed Arabia from the polytheism of grave veneration and calling upon the deceased. Furthermore, the Salafi methodology is not firmly based on Tawhid. It’s most important standard is the technical authenticity of the Hadith – the chain of narrators. Consequently, the Salafis blindly accept certain narrations which are quite objectionable and even contrary to the well known principles of Tawhid that were taught to us by the Prophets of Allah. For example, many Salafis accept the validity of hanging amulets which contain verses of the Qurân. They also believe sihr (magic) to be real, and that a Jewish sorcerer cast a magic spell on the Prophet Muhammad – God forbid. Typically, a Salafi will criticize a non-Salafi for not repeatedly raising his hands in the Salat, or practicing the ‘innovation’ of counting the Names of Allah on a rosary, while totally neglecting warning against shirk – the calling upon the deceased and venerating of tombs. Do you really think that if there was a living Prophet among us today he would focus his preaching and prophesy on warning against not touching the feet together in the Salat or saying ‘Amin’ loudly after the recitation of the Fateha? Rather, if there was a living Prophet among us today, undoubtedly he would be preaching and prophesying against the grave worship that has become so prevalent among the so-called ‘Muslims’.