I used to tell myself “I’m just not a pamphlet sort of person.” I don’t like giving them out, and I myself don’t even like pamphlet pushers (“yes, I know about Jesus thank you very much”). I considered myself an “opportunistic” type of da`iy that would seize a chance to “plug in” something about Islam when the opportunity arose (like when my boss asked me why I didn’t participate in the office lottery, and I explained the concept of qadr), or would wait for someone to kinda or flat-out ask me about Islam.
In studying Surah Nuh, I realized that this was all an excuse to stay within MY comfort zone – and allow the other person to stay in theirs! But through our teacher’s words, my perspective was corrected: you make da`wah in the way that best suits the CALLED, not the caller. And by “suit,” I’m talking long(eternal)-term.
In studying Surah Nuh, I saw one of the greatest (definitely longest!) known examples of putting yourself out there for the sake of the souls of those around you. It’s NOT about you, and how you are treated. They can belittle and mock you, they can reject your advice and wisdom even if they are your own child, they can even wrap you in a rug and set it on fire! They can do as they will, but the only thing it will change in you, is your tactic, NOT your resolve. You will try another way. And another. And yet another. But you will NOT stop. You will care for their souls more than for your ego. You will seek eternal peace for them, over your own peace of mind now. You will call them even if only a few of them respond …even if it takes centuries.
In studying Surah Nuh, I learned what it means to be a da`iy.
I took my courage in my hands, struck the iron while it was hot, and tried it right away. My taxi driver du jour was a big-bearded bald white man, and he was saying to me how he tries to be nice to everyone, because you can’t treat people on the basis of prejudice (his reason for having been sweet to one of my teacher’s curious kids, while he was getting me into the accessible van, letting them climb onto the ramp – one of the little girls even gave him a flower (dandelion) and he tucked it up on his ear to make her happy). Instead of just letting the opportunity for da`wah pass, I prayed to Allah right then and there to guide the man, and to inspire me as to how to call him to Islam, as to what to say.
I started by agreeing with what he’d said, and then gave him the example of how similarly wrong it would be if people unfairly concluded that every large white big-bearded clean-shaven man was scary and likely a Hell’s Angels member. I figured he could relate to that. Hell’s Angels, by the way, is one of the largest motorcycle clubs in the world, with a very distinct and notorious biker culture.
He said “will you say something if I say something to you?” I replied that I didn’t know till he said it. He then proceeded to tell me how he’d been in the top ranks of the Hell’s Angels (!!!), and eventually left that life, to go into one of service (driving taxis for the disabled). He told me in a roundabout way that God told him to do this, but he couldn’t tell people because they didn’t understand.
I grabbed the chance to agree with him, and proceeded to validate this compelling feeling of his, by saying that there is a word for that impulse to do good, and it is “fitrah.” I gave him a brief intro to the concept of fitrah: it’s that thing that is programmed in all of us to tell us a) that God exists and we should worship Him, and b) the basics of good and evil, so that we know that it’s right to help the old lady cross the road, and wrong to kick the cat.
Later in the conversation (he actually took the highway in the wrong direction, so the trip was much longer than usual!!) I told him about the REAL Hell’s angels (the angels that guard hellfire as per Islam), and how their description is in the Quran.
I also asked him if he’d found the answers he was looking in the drugs and alcohol of his old days, then when he said he hadn’t, explained to him that I had found the answers he was looking for, 23 years ago, in the Quran, and that what I did about it was convert to Islam.
Everytime the conversation would veer away from Islam, I’d find and take an opportunity to bring it back. AND I DIDN’T EVEN FEEL AWKWARD DOING IT!! Al-hamdulillah!
I might not see this man again. Not in this life. But I know that this will have had an impact on him. Just how much of an impact, is up to the Opener, and up to him himself.
It definitely had an impact on me! Once you take that FIRST step of making da`way REALLY about the other person, and not about you, Allah smooths the way for you.
That day was the turning of a new page in the book of my life as a Muslim, the start of a different approach as a da`iy, an upgraded mission, where my focus is not on worrying “what WILL s/he think if I say X?” but rather, what COULD s/he think and become, if I say XYZ?”
I hope this story encourages someone else who might have been staying in their comfort zone/cocoon, to venture out and spread their wings, bi idhnillah.
May Allah keep guiding our souls and our tongues to deliver His Message most purely, sincerely, and powerfully, as It is without doubt, that which is best for all of the worlds.