The Methods of Propagation and Missionary Work

Necessity of Propagation

"And nor is it for the faithful that they should go forth (to war) all together; why should not then a company from every party of them go forth that they may acquire (proper) unders-tanding in religion, and that they may warn their people when they return unto them, so that they may be cautious?" Holy Qur'an (Tawba 9: 122)

"And that there should be among you a group who call (mankind) unto virtue and enjoin what is good and forbid wrong; and these are they who shall be successful." Holy Qur'an (Al-e-Imran 3: 103)

Since the dawn of human history, Allah, the Glorious, has sent messengers and prophets (a.s.) as guiders and reformers for the salvation of mankind, solving their social problems, resolving their ideologi-cal conflicts and calling them to the unity of Allah and worshiping Him alone. The Holy Qur'an has recorded this fact:

"…and there is not a people but a warner has gone among them." Holy Qur'an (Fatir 35:24)

This was necessary because, to know Allah, the Glorious, to worship Him and to reform mankind cannot be achieved except by way of the messengers and the divine call. And it is not possible to know the hereafter, which is related to this world, nor is it possible to know the path of bliss and deliverance in the next world, except by divine guidance and explanation.

The consequence of the relationship between knowing Allah and worshipping Him, on the one hand, and the coming of the divine guidance and explanation of the reward that man deserves in the next world, on the other, is the principle of divine justice. This is because entitlement to reward is connected with faith and deeds and, likewise, faith and deeds are related to knowing and depending on Allah. As a result of these, the Qur'an established the principle of divine justice and makes clear that there is responsibility and no recompense, sending of messengers and making the message, unless fater revelation reaches mankind.

Allah, the Most High said:

"…and We chastise not (any people) until We raise an apostle (among them)." Holy Qur'an (Bani-Israel 17: 15)

Then He addresses man, charging him with the responsibility of his destiny after the explanation and revelation has reached him, saying: "And indeed We caused the Word (of guid-ance) to come unto them continuosly, that they may be admonished." Holy Qur'an (Qasas 28: 51)

Therefore, Allah, the Most High, introduced Himself to His servants, sent messengers to them, revealed messages and presented proofs and miracles: "…that there may remain any argument for people against Allah, after (the coming of ) these apostle,…" Holy Qur'an (Nisa' 4:165)

From the foregoing, we can understand that the propagation of the Divine Message is among the most important and sacred obligations on this earth. And its tasks are shared by the Sender of the message (Allah, the Most High), the Messenger and the one to whom the message is addressed i.e., man. Thus, it is clear that the call to Allah is initially the responsibility of the messengers and the prophets. Thus, Allah addresses His Prophet, saying:

"And call you unto the way of your Lord with wisdom and kindly exhortation and dispute with them in the manner which is the best; verily you Lord knows better of him who has gone astray from His path; and He knows best of those guided aright." Holy Qur'an (Nahil 166: 125)

Just as the responsibility of propagation (or Tabligh) is initially that of the Messenger (s.a.w.), the Message of Islam has subsequently made it an obligation on every Muslim who believes in the Prophet (s.a.w.) and follows his guidance and footsteps. It is the responsibility of every Muslim; not only the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) alone.

Allah, the Almighty, says:

"Say you (O Our Apostle Muhammad): `This is my way, I invite ((you call) unto Allah; with clear sight, (which) I and he who follows me (possesses); and glory be to Allah, and I am not of the polytheists.'" Holy Qur'an (Yusuf 12: 108)

However, the Holy Qur'an confirms that the responsibility of calling people to Allah is a joint venture between the Prophet and his followers, those who believe in Him down the Day of Re-surrection. Therefore, the Muslims, after the demise of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), upheld the banner of Islam by word and thought and by Jihad (striving in the cause of Allah) and power, smashing the fortresses of the tyrants and remov-ing the obstacles in the way of the Divine Message so that it could march its way to enlightened intellects and the pure nature of man. Thus, Islam spread and its banner of monotheisim flew high, over great distances, in different parts of the world.

More than that, Islam considers the conducting of Jihad with one's wealth, life and word for the sake of inviting people to Allah, establishing the true message, spreading Islam and practicing it, as among the most important and sacred obligations.

Allah, the Most High, says :

"And who is better in speech than be who calls unto Allah and does good and says `verily I am of the Muslims'". Holy Qur'an (Fussilat 41: 33)

"He has prescribed for you the religion what He ordained unto Noah and that which revealed We unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus, That: `Establish you the religion and be you not divided therein;' Hard is it to the disbelievers what you call them unto; Allah chooses unto Himself whomsoever He wills, and guides He unto Himself whosoever turns (to Him).'" Holy Qur'an (Shura 42: 13)

"Go you forth (with) light and heavy equip-ment and strive in the way of Allah with your property and your selves; this is better for you, if you know (it)." Holy Qur'an (Tawba 9: 41)

Similarly, the Holy Qur'an charges the Muslims with the responsibility of inviting people `da'awa' to Islam with their wealth, life and word, and it makes it obligatory upon them, saying:

"Establish you the religion and be you not divided therein;' Hard is it to the disbelievers" Holy Qur'an (Shura 9:13)

"…why should not then a company from every party of them go forth that they may acquire (proper) understanding in religion, and that they may warn their people when they return unto them…" Holy Qur'an (Tawba 9: 122)

In yet another place comes a Qur'anic order on the obligation of da'awa to Islam in clear and emphatic terms: "And that there should be among you a group who call (mankind) unto virtue and enjoin what is good and forbid wrong; and these are they who shall be successful." Holy Qur'an (Al-e-Imran 3: 103)

The exhortation of the Holy Qur'an is that a band of the believers should go forth and that there should be a group from among them inviting people to Islam and introducing it to them. The Qur'an also addresses the believers to conduct Jihad with their wealth and lives. All this presents a proof on the obligatory nature of da'awah to Allah, the type of obligation which is called Wujub al-Kifa'i.

Based on this definition, this type of obligatory duty, in some cases, can be discharged by one person, and in other cases, by a group of individuals with the necessary facilities; material, administrative knowledge, etc., in sufficient amount as needed. In this case, gathering all the necessary facilities in the required amount to discharge this obligation is, itself, an obligatory work.

Therefore, `da'wa' to Islam includes the following:

1- Inviting non-Muslims to believe in Islam and act according to its rules: "And whosoever seeks any religion other than Islam (total resignation unto Allah) never shall it be accepted from him, and in the next world he shall be among the losers."

Holy Qur'an (Al-e-Imran 3: 85)

2- Inviting Muslims themselves to practice Islam, act on its rules and laws, observe its values and morals, as well as spread its concepts and ideas. It also involves educating the Muslims so that they can gain the awareness, understandings the culture of Islam and delivering it as a pure and original way of guiding the course of life, ideology and civilization.

It is also incumbent upon the Islamic society to invite other nations and peoples through its experiences and implementation of the Islamic way of life in the political and social systems.

Whenever the non-Islamic nations and people witness the Islamic society excelling in organiza-tion and values, in civilizational matters, in its ability to solve ideological and spiritual problems, and peace and tranquility reigning in the lives of mankind as a result of applying the Islamic system, then, definitely they will turn to Islam and embrace it. In case the Muslims fail to present a practical model of their message and principles because of their ideological and civilizational backwardness and their misunderstanding of Islam, then, surely they would do a great disservice to the principles and values to which they invite other people to.

Methods of Dialogue

In order to be competent enough and fully prepared, a missionary must be well acquainted with the methods of dialogue and identify the mentality and inclination of those whom he will engage in dialogue; be it ideological and historical, political or belief systems. We are now going to introduce the various methods of dialogue so that they will be clear to any missionary and caller.

1- Method of dialogue with atheists. 2- Method of dialogue with the People of the Book. 3- Method of dialogue with secularist political trends. 4- Method of an Islamic dialogue to invite the Muslims to return to their religion. 5- Method of dialogue with various Islamic trends and jurisprudential approaches.

1- Method of Dialogue With Atheists:

Ever since the descent of the Divine Messages, part of humanity believed in while others chose to be atheists and rejected the existence of the Creator, revelation and prophet-hood. The Prophets had been engaging the atheists in dialogue and disputation according to the latter's mentality, since the beginning of these conflicts. Their aim was to introduce the Creator of existence and confute whatever obscured the minds of the atheists.

As human intellect evolves and knowledge increases, the subjects of dialogue also become more complex, in a way, and simpler in another. In the first case, the debated issues become more complex as a result of man's arrogance and his ignorance of reality. On the other hand, they become simpler and even aid the divine ideology because science is a way to belief and the intellect speaks on behalf of Allah, the Glorious.

This is why it is incumbent upon a caller to Allah to build his method of dialogue on the following points:

1- The dialogue should start from first principles and axioms acceptable to the intellect and from which it is based when trying to comprehend nature and the sensory world.

2- Defining the way by which man acquires knowledge, pointing out that it rests on inductive reasoning, syllogism, probability and the principl-es of causality.

3- Defining the means by which knowledge is acquired; that they are the senses, experimentation and intellect, which is the final judge and that establishes knowledge.

4- To use the results of scientific and experi-mental discoveries in proving the soundness of divine thought. Such issues include astronomical findings, the beginning of life, medical dis-coveries, the nature of plant life, etc.

5- Explaining the role of religion in meeting the spiritual and social needs of man and fulfilling the religious instinct, as well as, differentiating the true and healthy satisfaction from the corrupted one.

2- Methods of Dialogue With the People of the Book:

The phrase "People of the Book" is a technical term in Islam that refers to the followers of Divine religions which preceded Islam. It solely refers to the Jews, Christians, the Sabeans and the Magians (Zoroastrians). The Jews and the Magians make up a religious minority when we consider the overall world population. Religious ideological tussels critically are focosed on Christian-Muslim conflicts despite the hostile and destructive roles played by both the Jews and Zionism, disguised as atheist and secularist organizations to Islam.

The Holy Qur'an had no doubt entered into ideological, analytical dialogue with the People of the Book, revealed the distortion and forgery inflicted on the Torah and the Bible and exposed places where the messages of Moses and Jesus (a.s.) are manipulated.

From the Qur'anic dialogue with the People of the Book several principles and approaches in discussing with all sects of the people are highlighted. The foundations of this method are:

1- To egin from acknowledging the principle of the existence of a God, revelation, prophethood, the last day, reckoning and reward, as being the principle accepted by all the People of the Book.

2- Adopting the intellectual principles that disapprove of polytheism by taking recourse to the researches conducted by Islamic theologians, disputants and philosophers in which they refuted all forms of fusion, incarnation and plurality with respect to the Divine Being.

3- Adopting the scientific facts which establishe the unity observed in the cosmic order thereby confirming the unity of its Creator; by explaining to the audience, from the People of the Book, the concept of divinity about which the Holy Qur'an discusses and confirms by rational investigations, and differentiating between the nature of a `mumkin al-wujud' (possible being) and wajib al-wujud (necessary being) which leads to the fact that it is impossible to ascribe a son to Allah.

4- To explain and illustrate the instances of forgery in the Bible, which is in circulation today. The fact that there are numerous and contradicting versions of the Bible is enough proof of the existence of forgery, while the Bible, which Jesus (a.s.) received, is a single uncontradictory one. It is necessary to reveal this fact and serve it as a proof.

The phenomenon of forgery and contradiction is further confirmed when we put into view the fact that the earliest version of the Bible was written two hundred years after Jesus (a.s.), therefore, the Injeel of Jesus is not the present Bible used by Christians.

5- To reveal the places where pagan beliefs occur and the roles played by the Popes, especially John, in distorting the Christianity.

6- To reveal the great descrepancies existing in the distorted Christianity as a result of adopting their Popes, monks and rabbis as legislators who manipulate the rules and values of Judaism and Christianity that were brought by Moses and Jesus (a.s.), respectively. Secondly, to point out the lack of any scientific and rational yardstick which organises the legislation of rules in measures of Christianity and Judaism. Then examples should be cited to that effect and served as proofs.

7- To stablish the prophethood of Muham-mad (s.a.w.) from the good news of his advent which Torah and the Gospels themselves carry.

8- To compare the religion of Islam, Christianity and Judaism on ideological, belief and legislative platforms and bringing, out the values of the Islamic Message which confirms its originality and divine nature and its great superiority over Christianity, as well as, Judaism.

9- A good look at the methods of dialogue will lead one to come across principles, opinions, theories and thoughts that are used in dialogue and the tendering of proofs.

3- Method of Dialogue with Secularist Political Trends:

The most prominent challenge facing the Muslims today is the wave of secularist political thought whose foundation is to discard all religious dictates in man's social interactions by regarding religion as a personal matter that has nothing to do with the social life of man, organising the society and nation or directing politics, economy and the way of living.

The origin of this trend of thought is no doubt the secularist states, governments, parties, organ-ization, foundations of culture and information disseminating universities. The contemporary war of ideology and political action is waged between the religious missionaries and the secularist currents and the powers protecting them. The suitable method for holding dialogue with these trends is:

1- To present statistical records and documentary evidences of the problems, evils and miseries both psychological and social, that mankind suffers under the guise of secularism in the spheres of human rights, politics, economy, psychological state of affairs, etc.

2- To present Islam as a complete civilizational project which is an alternative in directing human life and a guarantor in solving man's problems; and compare its solutions with those of secularism, and expose its scientific emptiness on one hand, and on the other, establish the scientific value of the Islamic methodology, by way of criticism and comparison.

3- To exhibit the Islamic approach as a strong social movement within the Muslim community which can convince others by integrating the Islamic values and having the zeal to make the Islamic experiment a success, the levels of statehood To reveal the distorted foundations of secular ideology and methodology reform movements and foundations, thereby giving the world a model embodiment of the reality of Islam.

4- To establish cultural foundations and misssionary centers whose responsibility is to convey the message so that it can discharge its duties and face the ideological and propaganda campaign inimical to Islam.

5- To define the most prominent problems faced by man and explain the Islamic view point concerning them.

6- To expand the diverse levels of human society, so that the Islamic view points concerning different classes of society, such as adolescents, youths, adults, women, intellectuals, and the masses, etc., will be well articulated.

4- Method of an Islamic Dialogue to invite the Muslims to Return to their religion (Islam):

The Muslim community or Ummah, is composed of the Muslims who give the two testifications i.e., there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad (s.a.w.) is His Messenger. Among them are Muslims who practise it while others do not. In this regard, the duty of Muslim missionaries, i.e., calling Muslims back to Islam, is centered on the following:

1- One of the greatest problems faced by the Muslims is lack of proper understanding of Islam and mixing it with western, Christian, and their own cultural concepts on religion. This misunder-standing is a result of the sources from which the general public acquire their ideas on Islam: Secular parties, information dissemination sources and the universities which are custodians of ideology and culture.

Therefore, the first step in any discourse with the practicing Muslim, who understands Islam, is to make him comprehend the reality of Islam as a system of belief, legislation and a way of life, know that Islam is a method of building a civilization, the state and a way of thinking and to strengthen his relationship with Allah, the Glorious.

2- Making them conscious of their social condition and the causes of their backwardness, solving their problems and presenting Islam in a scientific way and showing how it is the only solution to the problems of mankind and supporting this presentation with statistical data and economic, historical, political and social conditions. This will make the dialogue forceful and lead to conviction and satisfaction.

3- Making the audience feel the religious responsibility regarding his ummah, belief and society, deepen his sense of responsibility and explain its relationship with the reward in the next world. To also explain the importance of enjoining the good and forbidding the abominable, and Shirk from social duties and installing the religion of Islam as a state and a way of life is no less a misdeed than non-observance of personal worship. All these assertions must be backed by relevant proofs from the Shari'a.

4- To clarify the nature of his responsibility and train him on the method of change and social reforms and how to bear his responsibility so that he will be a part of the reform movement calling for goodness, guidance and service to the society.

5- The method of inviting a Muslim who does not practice Islam differs from that of a practicing Muslim, because we must, first, understand his personality and the causes of his deviation and sinning. After identifying the conditions and causes of his behavior we then help him realize his problem, solve it and pave the way for his uprightness and good conduct. The dialogue shall start by treating the subject of deviation, its causes and problems in a composed mood so that he can perceive that the co-discussant respects his personality, loves him and is desirous of a blissful destiny for him. It should also be pointed out that deviational behavior threatens his own integrity, while comparing his situation with that of an upright personality.

We must also make him sensitive by drawing examples of obstinate characters who committed all forms of crimes and sins and what befell them, as a result of their misconduct, in this world and what awaits them in the hereafter. We should also acquaint him with what the love Allah has for mankind and that the divine way is truly a way which is based on Allah's love for man and His bestowal of bliss in this world and the hereafter. This should be helpful since the person we talk to is a Muslim, a believer in Allah and the Last Day.

In case the cause of deviation is ignorance, then he must be given the necessary knowledge; present to him the information on beliefs which can solve his problems and remove his mental and spiritual confusions. Here the duty of the prosperous missionary is like that of a psychiatrist and social expert. 5- Method of Dialogue With Various Islamic Trends and Jurisprudential Approaches:

The unity and unification of thought, legislation, leadership and feelings are the foundations on which Islamic thought, society and politics are built. The Ummah enjoyed that unity during the life-time of the Prophet (s.a.w.) because he himself was the caller who espouses the system of beliefs and rules and he was the leader and guardian of the society and the state.

The Messenger (s.a.w.) was the sole authority explaining the rules and delivering judgement in all matters as well as the leader and guardian of the Muslims. The Muslims are unanimous on this issue. After the demise of the holy Prophet (s.a.w.), three candidates for the leadership of the Ummah, Sa'ad bn Ubadah, Abubakr bn Abu Qahafa and Ali bn Abi Talib emerged. That conflict was the beginning of political and ideological differences in the Islamic Ummah.

New developments and conditions cropped up calling for the exposition of the relevant rules pertaining to them. Likewise, the Muslim community was quickly evolving and there was a vigorous quest for learning, exegesis and thought. This gave rise to questions and complications in matters of ideology and legislation that needed explanation. The people resorted to the compan-ions of the holy Prophet (s.a.w.) for clarification. The latter presented their verdicts, exigesis and narrations from the Prophet (s.a.w.) but contradicted one another in many places. This became the origin of the differences in the verdicts, exegesis and narrations issued by different scholars and it is the cause of the existence of various schools of jurisprudence, ideology, hadiths, etc.

The generations after the companions witnessed greater development in Islamic thought in theory, methodology and scientific reasoning. Consequently, the exercising of independent judgement (ijtihad) and deriving rules from the sources (istinbad) started and with it theological sects and schools of jurisprudence, traditions and narrations, theology, principles of jurisprudence and exegesis came into existence based on the theories of the various Islamic scholars.

Unfortunately, the multiple differences in opinion, due to a number of reasons, turned into personal opposition, the denouncement of one another as renegades or having strayed from the right path, and even to clashes, that were sometimes bloody, between the followers of different opinions and schools of thought. The foremost problem in the conflict between Muslims centers on three areas:-

1- The issue of leadership and ideological authority after the Prophet (s.a.w.). 2- The issue of differences in jurisprudence and what relates to it like the sources of jurisprudential opinions and methods of Istinbad. 3- The issue of ideological conflicts such as cases of determinism `jabr', choice `ikhtiyar', changing of decrees in matters of creation `bada'', infallibility of the Prophets (a.s.), the essential attributes of Allah, etc.

Scientific studies in the fields ideology, jurisprudence, exegesis, traditions and history have produced many opinions, convictions, concepts and ideas conflicting with one another.