Methodology Of Islamic Dawa

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Islamic Medicine
Staff member

Prof Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr.


Dawa is conveying the message of Islam to Muslims and non-Muslims. It is a communication process involving the caller, the called, the message, and behavioral change as a result of the message. The change could be accepting or practicing Islam better.

Dawa is an indication of dynamism. Islam is a missionary religion. Whenever Muslims are serious about their religion, they automatically find themselves engaged in dawa. Dawa involves reminding. Human being are not perfect. They forget and transgress and must be brought back to the straight path. Muslims are obliged collectively to undertake dawa (fard kifayah). This however does not make dawa the vocation of professionals. Everybody is required to use any opportunity they get to undertake dawa however small the effort may be. Dawa must be undertaken at all places and times. No occasion should be missed without making dawa. All avenues must be used. You must knock on every door.

Dawa can be at three levels. The first level is calling people to accept the creed and this is accomplished by the pronouncement of the kalima. The second level is calling upon individuals and families to practice and live Islam. The third level is calling upon the whole society to be organized according to the teachings of Islam.

Dawa has impact on the caller, the called, and the society at large. The caller has to live up to certain expectations. You can not give of what you do not have. The called may be guided to the truth now or later. The society at large will learn more about Islam and appreciate its beauty. This will consequently lead to decrease of hostility.

Dawa is ordering good and forbidding the bad which are ordained by the Qur'an. Amr and nahy is fard kifayah. Those who undertake it must be adults, believers, and must have the ability needed for the task. The following stages in nahy must be followed: (1) explain mistake (2) advise (3) use strong words if there is no response (4) take action to bring about a change where this is feasible. The person undertaking amr and nahy must have the following attributes: (1) knowledge (2) taqwa (3) good behavior/character. Nahy is about specific bad actions that are (1) forbidden by shariat (2) that exist now (3) that are obvious (4) that are known without ijtihad.

Included in dawa are efforts at establishment of freedom of choice, of conscience and of religious practice. Any effort to stop oppression and violation of human rights is dawa. Whatever prevents people from free access to the message must be opposed. Once freedom of access and freedom of choice have been established, there is no compulsion to accept Islam. People must be free to choose.


Every adult Muslim is obliged to do dawa to the extent of ability. This is an ummatic duty.

The caller must have the following personality characteristics: patience, wisdom, insight, iman, ‘Ilm, kindness, consideration, firmness, commitment, good personal relations, generosity, practicality, flexibility, humility, zuhd, qana'a, and taqwa.

The following characteristics make a caller more persuasive: Being perceived as honest, personal power, attractiveness, likableness, similarity to the called, being of the same gender as the called, expertise, and Credibility.

Accepting Islam is a favor for the called not the caller. As a caller you have a duty to convey the message. You get rewards for fulfilling the duty. Guidance in the end is from Allah. He gives that gift to whomever he wants.

You do not have to be perfect to start dawa. Dawa will help you get better. Dawa helps you improve yourself. The challenge is that you have to live up to certain standards if you to call others. You are therefore more on your guard than others to avoid making any mistakes. You have to check yourself continously: self-criticism, self-evaluation, looking for mistakes in ideas, methods, and personal life.


The called is the target of dawa. Everybody is targeted, Muslims and non-Muslims, all races and nationalities, all social classes, and all parts of the world. Dawa can be targeted at non-Muslim believers, non-Muslim non-believers (atheists and agnostics), or the general society. Dawa to Muslims involves calling them to practice Islam. Dawa to non-Muslims exposes the truth and positives of Islam while correcting the disinformation by the enemies. It aims at returning them to the natural state of human beings which is Islam. Dawa to the general society involves propagating to the general public with the aim of making them aware or conscious of the presence of Islam. Dawa programs could target special populations such as women, youths, patients in hospitals, prisoners, students, laborers, and workers. They could also target special social classes such as artists and stars, aristocrats, middle class, professionals, and ordinary people. The marginalised and rejected members or classes of society are a special target group for dawa because they are so susceptible. These include: criminals in prisons, drug addicts, the socially deprived, etc. They are looking for an alternative that will take them out of their sad situation.


Dawa may be by direct or indirect approach. It may be by personal or remote contact. In our experience the most effective methods are those that involve personal contact.

Personal contact methods may be one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-one, and many-to-many. Direct contact and oral discussion are effective because of the personal rapport and immediate feed-back. Occasions for direct contact for purposes of dawa include: the street, the work-place, the mosque, the market, the theater, public celebrations. Story tellers and griots in rural areas are a resource that has not been used. Public adhan over the loudspeaker has an impact by daily reminding listeners, Muslim and non-Muslim about Allah. The methods of dawa used in direct contact include: good personal relations to influence by example, teaching and tarbiyyat, preaching (wa'dh, khutbat), lectures, seminars, conferences, debates, discussions, providing social services, material assistance to the muallafat qulubuhum, treating people with justice, telling people to do good and forbidding the bad, telling stories and proverbs, and poetry. It is better to start dawa with people you already know or with whom you have some sort of relationship. This is easier than complete strangers. Do not preach too much to people. Avoid being a nuisance. Do not impose yourself on people. Make sure that when talking to them they are indeed interested. It is better to talk to people briefly but repeat the process than bore them with a long presentation.

Indirect/remote contacts include: letters (personal and circulars), books, newsletters, newspapers, flyers, the public library, artistic works, cartoons, films and videos, radio and TV, audio cassettes. Try to talk to people in the language they understand. By language is meant not only English, French, or German. You must use idioms, examples, expressions, and concepts that they understand. You must gear your communication to the cultural and educational background of the called. The biggest mistake is to talk to everybody alike. There are differences that must be respected.


Dawa approaches could be defensive and reactive or aggressive and pro-active. It is better to take the initiative to take the message to the people rather than wait to defend it from attacks and distortions. When attacked, you should not take a defensive stance. Do not waste time in warding off ill-meant attacks and you fail to present the positives and strength of your message.

A phased approach must be used. The prophet started dawa in secret. He called relatives first before addressing the public. He called Arabs before calling the rest of the world. The strategy is to gradually expand the circle of truth by defections from the circle of falsehood and ignorance. Start by calling people to tauhid and to worship of the creator. Emphasize aqida because it is the basis of the Ummah. People enter and leave the Ummah on the basis of aqidah. Present only the basics that are agreed on by everybody. Avoid any matters of differences or unclear issues.

Foot in the door approach is to present a weak point that will be accepted easily then present the stronger one later. The door in the foot strategy is to present a strong argument at the start and after it is rejected you present a weak one that is accepted as a concession

Iman is not only intellectual conviction or acquisition of knowledge. It also includes emotional attachment and practical application. Dawa will have a permanent impact only when it is followed by tarbiyyah.

You must be wise in your approach. Do not antagonize or provoke people. Your arguments should be polite. They should aim at convincing and not defeating people and making them feel bad about themselves. There is a human tendency to be argumentative. Some people will argue for the sake of argument. Watch out for such people. They will waste your time and you will get nowhere with them. Do not attack or criticize. Provide the alternative. Always concentrate on presenting the truth. Truth automatically displaces falsehood. You need not attack the falsehood in all cases. Attack provokes counter attacks and may become a psychological barrier to the conveyance of the message.

Remember that influence by example is the most powerful tool; your character and behavior must be impeccable even in the face of hostile attacks. You must mix and socialize with the people called.

You should never seek to convince people with your message by offering them material incentives. They will return to wherever they came from as soon as the material benefits stop. It however helps to offer some help to people in need as a way of establishing relationships and closeness which as was said above is a positive preliminary step to dawa. Material help strengthens the new Muslim against temptations of being diverted from the new faith. Living with the called and getting to understand them as well as sharing their happiness and sorrows helps a lot. Acts of kindness however shall open up peoples's hearts.


Conversion can be intellectual, emotional or both. Every body comes to Islam through a different sequence. Some people start by reading and getting intellectually convinced. Then they make contact with Muslims and get emotionally and cultural involved. Some people live with Muslims, see their behavior and get attracted to their religion and way of life. They accept Islam and study to get the intellectual dimension. Calibrate the content and method of the message to the appropriate stage of conversion. Philosophical understanding of the faith is not a condition for conversion and is not an obligation. It will come with time. Moral transformation is individual. The aim should be to raise the level of the individual. The message should therefore be individualized and customized as much as possible to the intellectual and emotional state of the target. The message conveyed is simple and direct; keep it so. Do not complicate it at all. Ideas are powerful and are infectious. True ideas are the most powerful. We have to continue propagating even if there are no tangible results. People are always infected but the manifestation of changed attitudes, convictions, and beliefs may be delayed.


Dawa has its own dynamics. It is very difficult at the beginning. Once you start getting some success with some people accepting the call, things get easier. Success leads to more success. People tend to get convinced if they see others like themselves being convinced.

Planning dawa is very important in the complicated society of today. Planning basically helps use available resources in the most efficient way. The main elements that a dawa plan covers are: the caller, the called, the time dimension, resources (money, material), and program control.

Dawa requires funding. It however can never succeed if it is fully professionalized. Volunteers will always be needed to do the leg work. Blessings are in the motivation and enthusiasm of the volunteers.

Dawa must be coordinated to avoid unnecessary duplication and competition. Individual initiative should never be curtailed or suppressed in the name of unity and coordination. What you should aim at is unity of purpose and not necessarily one dawa organization. Dawa programs must be evaluated for effectiveness; the results of evaluation being used to improve the program.

Lack of immediate success should not be a reason for giving up. Continue and persevere. All dawa workers whether full-time of part-time must be trained. The training program must answer the following questions: Why train? Who trains? What is the content of training?. The training program should be tailored to the local situation.

Most evaluation is that of the process. Outcome evaluation is very difficult and unreliable in dawa. Results of dawa are long-term and are difficult to quantify. Never forget to pray to Allah to guide the called. You may do all what is humanly possible and not succeed. It is Allah who guides. Opposition should never tempt you to consider a violent approach. Dawa is a peaceful process that targets the hearts of men and not their bodies.


It is true you will not be able to guide every one whom you loves; but Allah guides those whom He will and He knows best those who receives guidance. Qur'an 28:56


It is true you will not be able to guide every one whom you love; but Allah guides those whom He will and He knows best those who receive guidance.Qisas: 56


Invite ( all ) to the way of the Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious for thy Lord knows best, who have strayed from his path and who receive guidance. And if you do catch them out,catch them out no worse than they catch you out: but if you show patience, that is indeed the best ( course ) for those who are patient. And do you be patient, for your patience is but from Allah; nor grieve over them: and distress not yourself because of their plots. For Allah is with those who restrain themselves, and those who do good. Qur'an 16:125-128


Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds; " Be speak to him mildly; perchance he may take warning or fear ( Allah ) .Qur'an: 43-44


When some of them said: " Why do ye preach to a people whom Allah will destroy or visit with a terrible punishment?" Said the preachers: " To discharge our duty to your Lord, and perchance they may fear Him. Qur'an 7:164


"Narrated Ibn Abbas: One day the Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) ascended Safa mountain and said, " Oh Sabahah! All the Quraish gathered round him and said, " What is the matter?" He said, look, if I told you that an enemy is going to attack you in the morning or in the evening, would you not believe me?" They said, " Yes, we will believe you." He said, " I am a warner to you in face of a terrible punishment." On that Abu Lahab said, " May you perish! Is it for this thing that you have gathered us?" So Allah revealed: Perish the hands of Abu Lahab!" Qur'an 111:1. Bukhari 6:307, hadith # 325


"Narrated ibn Abbas: When the Verse:- And warn your tribe of near kindred, was revealed, the Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) ascended the Safa ( mountain ) and started calling, " O Bani Fihr! O Bani Adi!" addressing various tribes of Quraish till they were assembled. Those who could not come themselves, sent their messengers to see what was there. Abu Lahab and other people from Quraish came and the Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) then said, " Suppose I told you that there is an ( enemy ) cavalry in the valley intending to attack you, would you believe me?" They said, " Yes, for we have not found you telling anything other than the truth." He then said, " I am a warner to you in face of a terrific punishment." Abu Lahab said ( to the Prophet may peace be upon him ) " May your hands perish all this day. Is it for this purpose you have gathered us?" Then it was revealed:- Perish the hands of Abu Lahab ( one of the Prophet's uncle ) and perish he! His wealth and his children will not profit him". Bukhari 6:276, hadith # 293


"Narrated Ikrima: Ibn Abbas said, " Preach to the people once a week, and if you won't then preach them twice, but if you want to preach more, then let it be three times ( a week only ) and do not make the people fed-up with this Qur'an. If you come to some people who are engaged in a talk, don't start interrupting their talk by preaching, lest you should cause them to be bored. You should rather keep quiet, and if they ask you, then preach to them at the time when they are eager to hear what you say. And avoid the use of rhymed prose in invocation for I noticed that Allah's Apostle ( may peace be upon him ) and his companions always avoided it". Bukhari 8:234-235, hadith # 349
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