Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher
My family and I just underwent a most distressing one-on-one one "da'wa session" by a person who is close to us (a distant relative). This was not the first as we have been through many such experiences with the same person before. Almost all the time instead of giving us a renewed energy in practicing Islam it always left us with a distressed mind. And even worse, I have seen many times him doing the same to our close relatives, immediate friends including non-Muslims! I always thought of his approach as really an ugly way of expositing our beautiful Deen as most of his audience are people who are newcomers in to the Deen. Instead of taking it easy on them his methods are almost always harsh. And are a lot of errors, assumptions, misjudgments about other people, accusations, and false claims in it. He will talk about all the excellent things he did for the sake of Islam and will go on to list all the "haram" things you are doing looking at your face....
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Praise be to Allah.
May Allah's peace and blessings shower upon our beloved Messenger.
I pray this message finds you and your family in good health and iman.
Allah Most High tells us, "It was by the mercy of Allah that thou wast lenient with them (O Muhammad), for if thou hadst been stern and fierce of heart they would have dispersed from round about thee. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult with them upon the conduct of affairs. And when thou art resolved, then put thy trust in Allah. Lo! Allah loveth those who put their trust (in Him)." [Aal-i-Imran, 3:159]
Allah the Exalted also commands us to give da'wah in the best of ways, "Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance." [Al-Nahl, 16:125]
Our Beloved Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, was the epitome of compassion and gentleness, even to his greatest enemies. From the Sunna of our Beloved:
'A'isha, the wife of Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him), reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: 'A'isha, verily Allah is kind and He loves kindness and confers upon kindness which he does not confer upon severity and does not confer upon anything else besides it (kindness). [Sahih Muslim, Book 32, Number 6273]
'A'isha, the wife of Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him), reported Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying: Kindness is not to be found in anything but that it adds to its beauty and it is not withdrawn from anything but it makes it defective. [Sahih Muslim, Book 32, Number 6274]
Perhaps it would be wise to gently remind your relative of these Qura'nic and Prophetic wisdoms.
Remind him that the Prophet, peace be upon him came as a mercy to the worlds. He came to make our deen easy, not difficult. Tell him that you appreciate his commitment and fervor. But also be honest about how some of his remarks make you feel. You may also want to point out that your non-Muslim friends would probably be far more receptive to a positive message.
Alhamdulillah, I've had the opportunity to observe many different dawah styles. I'm not sure if your relative is a convert or born into a Muslim family; however, I have noticed that both groups can become a bit overzealous in making dawah to those they perceive as less-practicing, particular when the da'iya has had to undergo his or her own "rebirth" in Islam.
Insha'Allah, with some age, wisdom, and nasiha, perhaps your relative will learn to tone it down. Many people who've converted to Islam or rediscovered it undergo a long process of growth and change, initially wielding Islam like a weapon, but then beginning to mellow and use hikma. For example, many new Muslims upon entering Islam would immediately cut off all relations with non-Muslim family, leave their jobs, and start condemning "the kuffar," sincerely believing that these actions were Islamic. Alhamdulillah, with time they realized that Islam is the way of moderation, tolerance, and wisdom.
You mentioned that your relative has not had any formal religious training. I don't know what terms you are on right now, but it may be beneficial to encourage him to sign up with you for some courses here at SunniPath, especially those that focus on implementing the spirit of the Sunna.
If you don't think he'd be receptive, why not take the course yourself and talk to the Shaykh (in private) about this problem? You may also want to consider finding a local scholar to talk to. Are there any local study circles you can attend? It might be good to invite your relative in the spirit of brotherhood and friendship.
Last but not least, please be patient with him. Argumentation will only make you more frustrated. You can mention the above points in a firm yet kind way. I encourage you also to read the following articles about the conditions for enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong. Generally, the scholars tell us to only confront someone if we know we won't cause greater harm in doing so:
Commanding the Good & Forbidding the Evil, And The Honor of Scholars
What are the priorities in dawah to non-Muslim family members?
I pray Allah Most High brings everyone's hearts together on iman, taqwa, and love for Allah.
And Allah knows best.
MMVIII © Qibla.
All rights reserved
No part of this article may be reproduced, displayed, modified, or distributed without the express prior written permission of the copyright holder. For permission, please submit a request at our Helpdesk.
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "Knowledge is only through study." While some knowledge can be gained from reading or casually listening to lectures, the best means to gain knowledge is through finding a qualified teacher and then setting up a systematic program of learning. Picking up a book or reading an article and trying to figure things out on our own is no substitute for learning from someone who has a direct link to our living tradition.
Through joining an online class at Qibla, you can benefit from convenient, online courses that will give you access to reliable scholars and our popular curriculum learning tracks. Knowledge gained in these courses will both build your iman and assist you in putting into practice what you learn. Don't give yourself less than you deserve, register today.