Riba in Arabic translates to mean growth, increase, addition, excess, expansion, or surplus. Riba denotes an addition to or an increase of any commodity over and above its original size or amount. Riba is often translated to the English word usury. Usury in the English language refers to the illegal action or practice of lending money at unreasonably high rates of interest. Whereas usury is understood as the lending of money at a high rate of interest, the word Riba—as stated in Islam and the terminology of the Holy Quran--is the lending of money on interest regardless of the rate of interest, whether low or high. Amongst the most common types of Riba is the act of lending out money and loans with the condition that the principle is returned with an additional, pre-specified quantity of funds, known today as interest.
“O you who have believed, do not consume usury, doubled and multiplied, but fear Allah that you may be successful” (Quran 3:130)
The Holy Quran mentions the word Riba or usury in eight separate instances. The Quran condemns the taking of and profiting from Riba, considering this practice a foul and filthy act. A very forceful and condemning mode of language is used in the Holy Qur’an to describe those that accept interest. Riba counts in fact amongst the most destructive sins in the religion of Islam, ranking amongst the seven deadly sins mentioned by Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him; a severe list of sins that also includes murder.
Riba is considered an unnatural growth of wealth; an unjust transfer of wealth; an unethical and harmful act, and a means of devouring the wealth of others. Riba is considered economic slavery, which makes the poor poorer, and the rich richer; a practice that prevents the poor from overcoming their weakened financial conditions and prospering. The one lending the money is not providing a service, instead solely profiting from the lending of money. This practice denies the poor the opportunity to get out of their situation. The one with the capital will remain rich for life since they eliminate the possibility of suffering losses and expanding their wealth as they extract funds from one borrowing money.
The act of Riba prevents wealth from circulating in the economy. The taking of Riba or usury is a very selfish act; one which allows wealthy people to become wealthier. When money is loaned on interest, the loan is made without any involvement of labor or effort, and without the assumption of any risk which would increase over time. Interest was often used in history as a form of oppression, where the rich lend to the poor knowing that the borrower can’t pay back the loan. So ultimately, they were forced to sell themselves, their wives, and their property to return the funds.
Consuming Riba is the only crime that God the Almighty declared and waged war against those who consume it.
“And if you do not, then be informed of a war [against you] from Allah and His Messenger. But if you repent, you may have your principal - [thus] you do no wrong, nor are you wronged” (Quran 2:279)
The two main types of Riba are ‘Riba an Nasiyah’ and ‘Riba al Fadl.’
‘Riba an Nasiyah,’ is also known as compound interest and Riba Al-Quran, because the Holy Quran has specifically prohibited this form of Riba; one commonly practiced in pre-Islamic Arabia at the time. This type of Riba is a loan contract; a credit transaction with a pre-determined or pre-agreed increase or interest which a lender receives over and above the original principle. This Riba involves growth in the loan amount over time. An example of this is the parable in which Peter lends Adam a loan for $100, with the agreement he will get $120 back. This also includes modern lending methods such as card cards, home mortgages, automotive loans, a personal loan from a bank, student loans, and Bank certificate of deposits (CD).
Riba al Fadl, also known as Riba al-Hadith because it was classified as Riba in a narration of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, is an immediate sale or exchange of a commodity such as gold, silver, wheat, barley, dates, salt, oil, sugar, or cotton of unequal quantities of the same commodity. When an exchange is made of the same commodity but in a different amount of quantity, the extra amount would be considered Riba. Two main criteria qualify this sale or transaction as Riba: the delay in time, so the exchange of both parties must happen at the same time, and the difference in quality in an exchange of the same commodity. Both commodities must be equal in quantity. An example of this Riba will occur if Peter gives Adam 100 kg of dates for 50 kilograms of better-quality in a single lending session. Our Prophet peace be upon him narrated: ‘Gold for gold, silver for silver, wheat for wheat, barley for barley, a date for date, salt for salt, must be equal on both sides and hand to hand. Whoever pays more or demands more (on either side) indulges in Riba’.
God states that the one who consumes Riba will not stand up on the Day of Resurrection, except as they stand like those who have been touched and beaten by the devil leading him to insanity; which means that they won’t be able to think right on that Day, acting as if he or she were possessed.
“Those who consume interest cannot stand [on the Day of Resurrection] except as one stand who is being beaten by Satan into insanity...” (Quran 2:275)
Then the Verse says:
“...That is because they say, “Trade is [just] like interest.” But Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden interest. So whoever has received an admonition from his Lord and desists may have what is past, and his affair rests with Allah. But whoever returns to [dealing in interest or usury] - those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide eternally therein" (Quran 2:275)
God rendered everything harmful to an individual or society haram (prohibited). There is a crucial difference between business or trade and usury. Riba is detrimental to the economy, whereas business is healthy. Riba is the opposite of business. The administration of business comprises labor, effort, and risk, whereas the act of Riba does not consist of effort, labor, or risk; as the person lending the money with interest is guaranteed to win, whether the person taking the loan prospers or loses money. The gain of the person receiving interest becomes the loss of the person paying it. These transactions do not qualify as business transactions; rather, they are merely rip-off scams. Business transactions ought to take place in a free and fair market, where there is a risk, profit, and loss—not where there is guaranteed profit, without risk and loss, which is unfair and unethical as it corrupts and destroys the free market.
Riba and usury is pure evil because it ‘lends’ itself most literally to a system of economic oppression and injustice. This system has a negative effect, not only individually but also on a societal level. It deprives people of their wealth, businesses, and homes, and causes a lot of pain and suffering; all of which contradicts the core Islamic teachings of social justice. The one that is involved in Riba continually lives in sin as his money his constantly sinning for him or her.
“O you who have believed, do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves [or one another]. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful” (Quran 4:29)
In an instance of Riba, if a family buys a home for $300k with a 5% interest rate on a 30-year mortgage, they will wind up paying more than $520k with interest. In addition, they have to pay the interest first before paying the principle.
The religion of Islam is not the only faith that bans Riba. The prohibition of Riba also has been revealed in the past Scriptures, including the Injeel (Gospel) and the Torah. So both Christians and Jews know the evils and dangers of the illegal act of taking interest and its punishment, as mentioned in their Books. It was only in 1832 that the Catholic Church started to permit usury. According to the Bible:
“If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest" (Exodus 22:25)
‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you’ (Leviticus 25:35-36)
‘He lends at interest and takes a profit. Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he is to be put to death; his blood will be on his own head’ (Ezekiel 18:13)
Unfortunately, today we live in a world whose economy has been immersed in a system of interest; where many countries lend out money to other countries who are desperate to accept it, enslaving them and their people. Even Muslim countries have come into a state of debt with interest to other countries, rendering them slaves to those countries.
Unfortunately, today we live in a world where Riba and usury is sometimes concealed and disguised with the utmost deception--where even certain bankers and experts would not recognize the evil and the oppression that is happening in these situations. Wealth is continuously extracted from the masses through deception and other forms of evils and fraud.
Unfortunately, today we live in a world where the modern Banking system manufactures money out of nothing; which is a form of Riba and can lead to the devouring of wealth through inflation. Throughout history, societies have always used as forms of payment coins made from precious metals, e.g., Gold and Silver, as a basis for trade and store of value; however, the practice of modern banking replaced these traditional asset-based systems with paper-based banknotes.
Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him stated: ‘There are seventy-two types of Riba, the least of which is like a man committing incest with his mother.’ He also stated that the punishment of those who devour usury in the hereafter would involve an act in which God the Almighty would enlarge their bellies like houses, filling them with snakes which can be seen from the outside.
To my dear brother and sister, note the evil and dangers of Riba and usury, and save yourself and your families from this sin. Note that there will be no blessings inherent in money taken from Riba, and God will even make that money vanish.
‘And whatever you give for interest to increase within the wealth of people will not increase with Allah. But what you give in zakah (charity), desiring the countenance of Allah - those are the multipliers’ (Quran 30:39)
If you consume Riba, your life will soon come to destruction. Think about your relationship with your Creator and how to please Him, and do not fall into the footsteps of satan by consuming Riba, thinking it will profit you or provide security for your family. Realize the truth that substance and protection come only from Allah, the Glorious. Buy that only which you can afford, realizing that Allah disallows and prohibits that which harms you or society.
‘O you who have believed, fear Allah and give up what remains [due to you] of interest if you should be believers’ (Quran 2:278)
Throughout history, a single question has plagued humanity since the beginning. An item that has been asked many times. An issue that all Abrahamic religions face. The question that if an All-Powerful God, who is All-Knowing, All-Seeing, All-Hearing, All-Loving, All-Merciful, and All-Just, is in control of All things and matters, does exist, then why do people experience evil, pain, and suffering in this World? Why must we contend with sickness, natural disasters, starvation, war, calamities, corruption, and killings? If God is indeed All-Merciful, All-Loving, All-Good, and All-Just, why does He allow such things to happen?
This very concept is known as the problem of evil. Many have come to the wrong conclusion that because of the existence of evil, God could not possibly exist--or that he is a cruel, unjust God who enjoys seeing people suffer and in pain. A God that is not worth worshipping, who is unaware, uncaring and incapable of removing and controlling elements of evil. The existence of evil ranks amongst the top reasons as to why people reject the concept of religion or the belief in a Higher Power.
People that reject God because they cannot grapple with the problem of evil do not have nor claim to have an understanding of or a solution to the conditions of darkness and pain. The decision to disbelieve the existence of God only adds more confusion to the situation; leading to the emergence of questions as to why we were created, where we are destined to go, etc. They choose to reject God because of their lack of understanding. To understand the problem of evil and as well as many other life concepts, one must have faith—the very belief system which provides wisdom.
The question of evil was asked by the Angels themselves when God the Almighty announced that He was creating a new form of beings called humans.
"And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, ‘Indeed, I will make upon the Earth a successive authority" (Quran 2:30)
The Angels responded with a question:
"...They said, ‘Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and You?" (Quran 2:30)
"…Indeed, I know that which you do not know" (Quran 2:20)
Although God did not explain nor rationalize the answer to their question, the Angels were completely satisfied with this response; this is owing to their complete humility before, trust in, and faith in God's Wisdom and Knowledge, recognizing His Wisdom as Perfect and without flaw. The Angels did not assume God's Wisdom was incorrect simply because they could not understand nor comprehend that Wisdom. We humans never will fully understand the reason behind the World's pain and suffering, as our limited, finite minds cannot comprehend the logic of God. However, the fact that our intellectual capacity cannot understand and evaluate the Wisdom behind pain and suffering in full does not nullify that Wisdom. How can we judge the situation or God Himself without all the information needed to do so? God states in the Quran:
"...And mankind has not been given of knowledge except a little" (Quran 17:85)
We as humans only can understand the Wisdom behind pain and suffering on a general level. We have no right to question our Creator—as everything belongs to Allah, the Glorious including us, and to Him we will return.
Whereas hardship, pain, and suffering do exist in this World, these incidents are the exception and not the rule. Muslims disbelieve the concept of pure evil. All things that God has created are either purely good or possesses a balance of good and evil. Nothing is purely evil with no goodness inherent. Whereas evil can dominate more than the good in some instances, everything holds an element of some good.
Every evil is good in at least some aspects; for instance, while sickness may harm the body temporally from one angle, that same sickness also strengthens the immune system and teaches one patience with the healing process. Similarly, whereas Volcanos can harm, they rejuvenate the ecosystem that facilitates life in the first place. Without Volcanos, we would not be able to grow food; this is because Volcanos spew out minerals resulting in rich fertile soil. Whatever God Wills, the good will always eventually outweigh the bad. Additionally, one person's calamity can be another person's blessing; for instance, when one person loses a job, another person finds a new occupation.
Good and evil need each other to exist. How can a person be generous if no charitable beneficiaries are available? Poor and hungry people need to exist for charity and generosity to occur. How can forgiveness happen when there is no offense to forgive? How can one learn patience without the perception of evil and calamities? Similarly, following natural disasters, humanity tends to show generosity and support by sending medical assistance, food, donations, etc., to those affected. Consequently, a negative occurrence enables positive results to be manifested. God loves the good that is generated from the perception of evil. Pain and suffering are blessings in disguise.
Also, we need the existence of evil to recognize and appreciate good. It's when we are deprived of something valuable that we feel the appreciation and blessings of God. One needs to experience hardship to value the better times. Sometimes one needs to experience illness to appreciate good health, or poverty to appreciate substance. It's only in the darkness that one recognizes and appreciates the light. The perception of evil, pain, and suffering is not a punishment. Allah states in the Quran:
"What would Allah gain from your punishment if you are grateful and believe? And ever is Allah Appreciative and Knowing" (Quran 4:147)
God does not love evil. Amongst the many pearls of Wisdom behind pain and suffering, and probably the most important, is the idea that trials and tribulations lead people back to God. Sometimes it's through tough times that people return and reconnect to their Lord in desperation, and with the utmost sincere prayers and supplications. Any calamity that brings one back to his Lord is not a true disaster; instead, a blessing in disguise. It is in times of tragedy that one increases his expressions of repentance, humility, and supplication, recognizing he needs the Almighty.
"And when affliction touches man, he calls upon Us, whether lying on his side or sitting or standing; but when We remove from him his affliction, he continues [in disobedience] as if he had never called upon Us to [remove] an affliction that touched him. Thus, is made pleasing to the transgressors that which they have been doing" (Quran 10:12)
Amongst the essential reasons behind perceived evil is the idea that life is a test for humanity, filled with many trials and tribulations.
"[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed - and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving" (Quran 67:2)
Through these tests, a person's faith in and loyalty to God is revealed. God states:
"Do the people think that they will be left to say, ‘We believe’ and they will not be tried? But We have certainly tried those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars" (Quran 29:2-3)
In another verse, God states:
"Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger, and those who believed with him said, 'When is the help of Allah?' Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near" (Quran 2:214)
In another Verse, God states:
"And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient" (Quran 2:155)
God can create any World He desires, including a World with no evil and suffering. However, God, the Glorious, chose to give humanity the freedom of choice and free will. If He did not allow harm to occur, He would be depriving mankind of freedom and free will. Since life is a test, this test would be meaningless without a degree of free will being given to humanity. Sometimes humanity chooses to act in evil ways. God is not the direct cause of these acts of evil. Instead, He is the One who Allows and Wills it to happen for the greater good--and for reasons we may or may not understand.
According to the Holy Quran, evil deeds performed by mankind also result in punishments on this Earth. Every suffering in this World is a fraction of a bit of what mankind has afflicted on this Earth.
"Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness]" (Quran 30:41)
God references the fact that many past nations have been destroyed due to their evil actions and disobedience.
"So, We took retribution from them, and We drowned them in the sea because they denied Our signs and were heedless of them" (Quran 7:136)
Amongst the many wisdoms inherent in the perception of evil is the fact, God loves to forgive--as He is the All-Merciful, the All-Forgiving. But for forgiveness to take place, there must exist sins and sinners to forgive.
The protestation of human pain, suffering, misfortune, and hardship faced by innocent people, and the claim that 'life is unfair,' are legitimate complaints; but only if belief in the Hereafter is denied and neglected. Indeed, we all must face an afterlife; a Judgment day in which justice will be served and everyone will be compensated for their life actions. The evildoers will be punished for their sins, and the oppressed will be compensated and rewarded for their patience.
"And never think that Allah is unaware of what the wrongdoers do. He only delays them for a Day when eyes will stare [in horror]" (Quran 14:42)
Indeed, with great trials and patience come great rewards. If one were to measure the suffering of this World against the blessings of the Hereafter, what is 20, 40, 60 years of suffering against an eternity of bliss?
"And this worldly life is not but diversion and amusement. And indeed, the home of the Hereafter - that is the [eternal] life, if only they knew" (Quran 29:64)
This World was never meant to be a perfect place devoid of hardship. Muslims believe that an ideal life without pain and suffering awaits them in the next World, not this World. This World is a stepping stone to the afterlife, that will lead you either to Paradise or the Hellfire.
It's through the passing of test trials and tribulations that God raises one's rankings. It is for this very reason that God tests those He Loves. Additionally, when any calamity befalls a Muslim, God expiates some of his sins. When a patient person sees his misfortunes on the Day of Judgment and receives the reward he derived from his patience, he would wish that a more major calamity had struck him.
The Holy Qur'an offers different remedies of coping with hardship, such as faith, prayer, patience, trust, and reliance, which God will give in the hopes of guaranteeing contentment and surety. It's essential that one recognizes that God will not place them in a situation where they cannot manage.
"Allah does not burden a soul except [with that within] its capacity…" (Quran 2:286)
Realize, in every hardship that one faces, God has given them the requirements to handle the situation and pass the test associated with it. He knows that one can cope with the situation, or he would not have placed that person in that difficulty in the first place. And realize that no harm can befall anyone except by the Permission and Will of the Almighty. God states:
"Say, 'Never will we be struck except by what Allah has decreed for us; He is our protector’ And upon Allah let the believers rely upon" (Quran 9:51)
A person of faith has a different attitude than others regarding calamities. He has surety and contentment in his or her heart, knowing that life is full of tests and trials; and that with time and patience, things will improve, and he will be rewarded. And remember my dear brother or sister, what your Lord has promised:
"For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease" (Quran 94:5-6)
Belief in the Holy Quran and All of God’s past Scriptures, that God has sent down to serve humanity as delivered through His Prophets, is an article of faith in Islam; one in which every Muslim is obligated to believe. Muslims believe in all of God’s Inspired Books. The Holy Quran states:
Say, [O believers], "We have believed in Allah and what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Descendants and what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him" (Quran 2:136)
Prophet Muhammad reported that more than 124,000 Prophets and 315 Messengers were sent to humanity over time. Inspiration or Revelation comes to God’s Human Prophets either directly or through an intermediary of Angel Gabriel who brings the revelation to them. Every Prophet received Inspiration from God. Some of the Revelations later were compiled to form the content of larger Books. Some of these Books were named to us by God; others were not.
God states that He has sent previous scriptures before the Holy Quran. Among these Divine Books is the Injeel (Gospel), Torah, the Zabur (Psalms of David), and the Scripture revealed to Prophet Abraham. Every religion that believes in God believes in Revelation. These Books seek to guide man through every aspect of life. God’s Books as a whole act as a guide, an instructional manual regarding the manner in which one’s life should be lived.
"He has sent down upon you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming what was before it. And He revealed the Torah and the Gospel" (Quran 3:3)
All of the preceding Prophets and Books were sent to specific past nations that lived before us, and do not apply to us. Only the final Prophet and the final testament, the Holy Quran is meant for our nation, the last nation, and are meant to be followed to the last day.
Whenever a Revelation was sent from God, that Revelation would contain a prediction of another Revelation to come after it. When the new Revelation arrives, it becomes mandatory for the one that believed in the previous Scripture to believe in the next One. One has to believe in All of God’s Revelations and the rejection to any one of them is equal to the rejection of All of them.
Past nations that received Divine Books were entrusted to protect them, also being told to draw guidance through them; empowering them to live righteous lives and become closer to God. However, throughout time, this trust was betrayed. These Books were distorted, changed, corrupted, and edited with manmade additions and subtractions. Once altered, these Books no longer contained the True Words of God. When previous Holy Scriptures were altered and corrupted by the human hand, due to the Mercy of God, He sent new Scriptures so as not to leave mankind in darkness—without the benefit of light and Guidance.
Eventually, God sent his final Testament: the Holy Quran. He did not entrust a nation to preserve this book; rather, God Himself assumed the responsibility to preserve, safeguard and protect His final Book, to ensure that it does not get modified by men in the same manner as the past Scriptures. The final nation, our nation, was entrusted to follow only this Book, the Holy Quran, that would guide them to the right path. God made an explicit Promise in the Holy Quran to preserve His final Book to the end of time.
"Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur'an and indeed, We will be its guardian" (Quran 15:9)
The Quran is now a widely known and much-memorized document. In fact, the Qu’ran is the only book that is memorized by millions of people of all ages around the world, of all languages and backgrounds, from one end to the other. Even if all copies of the Holy Qu’ran were burned, this Book could not possibly get modified—this owing to the fact that it has been memorized by millions of people across the globe by the letter. Due to the fact that the Holy Quran will never be distorted or modified by the hands of men, no need ever will exist for a new Revelation to be sent from God. The Holy Quran is the only scripture in existence today that exists in its original language and words. Not one letter of the Holy Qu’ran has been changed since its revelation.
Whereas Muslims believe in and respect the past Scriptures, the current modern-day Old Testament and the New Testament--which modern Christians call the Bible--are not published in their original, God-given form. Whereas these Books still contain some remaining traces of truth, they do not stand in their original revealed form. They now contain man-made ideas and innovations that corrupt their current state. God states in the Holy Quran:
"And indeed, there is among them a party who alter the Scripture with their tongues so you may think it is from the Scripture, but it is not from the Scripture. And they say, "This is from Allah," but it is not from Allah. And they speak untruth about Allah while they know." (Quran 3:78)
The modern-day new testament was authored by individuals after the departure of Prophet Jesus, including the gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke, Paul, and the current Psalms of David. These words were authored by individuals, including representatives of the house of Asaph and the sons of Korah, and more.
The Injeel (Gospel) in which Muslims believe in is that which was brought by Prophet Jesus from God the Al-Mighty Himself. Christians do not believe in the existence of a Book (Injeel) sent from God and given to Jesus; nor do they believe Jesus Christ wrote the Bible, rather, they acknowledge that the Bible was written by men of all walks of life over of the years. The current day Bible is polluted with the ideas of a number of different authors, some of whom are anonymous. The modern-day Bible also contains myths, words of men, superstitions, irrational philosophical ideologies, and idol worship. God stated in the Holy Quran:
"So woe to those who write the ‘scripture’ with their own hands, then say, "This is from Allah," in order to exchange it for a small price. Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earn." (Quran 2:79)
Due to the fact that previous Scriptures were meant for past nations, God the Almighty did not find it fit to preserve them. They no longer exist today, in their original form. Muslims believe that the Holy Quran has abrogated all previous scriptures before it; meaning that it cancels the rulings of the previous scriptures and renders them inapplicable going forward.
The term Da’wah in Arabic translates to mean, ‘to call or to invite’. In the Islamic context, the word refers to the process of calling, conveying, inviting people towards the Message of Islam, towards God, towards the Truth, towards the right path prescribed by the Almighty for all of mankind. The call of Da’wah invites, inclines, and encourages people to voluntarily submit to the Will of Allah, by worshipping Him alone and following His commandments.
Da‘wah, in essence, was the call of all the Messengers and Prophets of God. They were selected by the Almighty to call people to submit and worship Allah, following the path of Islam. They called people out of darkness into light by summoning them to worship the One True God and shun false deities. Prophet Muhammad is the last and final Prophet and Messenger of God sent to mankind. Without any more Prophets to guide us, it becomes a noble obligation for Muslims to convey the Message of God; guiding mankind to the truth. In Prophet Muhammad's final farewell sermon, he ended this powerful message with the words, ‘Let those who are present convey to those who are not present.’ God states in the Quran:
"And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful" (Quran 3:104)
The person who engages in spreading the word of Islam is called a da’ee. However, not all means of spreading the word of Islam would require specialized training to conduct. Whereas the act of preaching to a group of people would require some training, dawah can be given by any Muslim-- simply by living and following the teachings of Islam as an example.
When it comes to dawah by speech, our prophet narrated, ‘Convey (my teachings) to the people even if it were a single sentence’ So, the act of calling people to the path of Allah is not meant only for scholars, rather it’s a general command to everyone to spread the message on a basic level. A Muslim most achieve four requirements to enter paradise, which includes having faith, performing righteous deeds, advising others to the Truth and righteousness, and being consistent and patient while doing so.
Muslims are blessed and honored to possess God’s Revelation and are directed to present this Message to mankind with Hikmah (Wisdom) to clarify the meanings and explanations of this Message in effective ways. They tailor the Message toward the listener, in ways he or she can understand based on his/her individual capacity and background.
"Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction and argue with them in the best manner possible. Indeed, your Lord is Most Knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is Most Knowing of who is [rightly] guided" (Quran 16:125)
The act of giving Dawah or spreading the word of Islam can come in different forms and is not delivered solely via speech, preaching, or passing literature. In fact, the most effective and significant way to demonstrate and teach Islam is by having a good character, strong personality, and kind manners, and by being kind, gentle, honest, truthful, and a good role model and living example. The caller of Islam must possess these characteristics, to effectively convey the Message.
In fact, before a person or a community invites others to join Islam, certain good qualities must be established in them to prove their creditability and strength--like truthfulness, good morals, manners, character, reliability, etc.--so that their Message can hold strong and be taken seriously by others. Without these qualities, the Message one delivers would not carry weight; nor will it be taken seriously by others. One’s message would not be taken seriously if their character or actions is disreputable and not coinciding with their sermons. Listeners would not believe their words, especially if they steal, lie, or cheat. Our Prophet was known as ‘the truthful, the trustworthy’ among his community decades before he started preaching Islam.
Dawah also involves helping and reminding other Muslims who may be lacking in prescribing to certain areas of their religion, by commanding good and forbidding evil.
It should be noted that not everyone is intended to be a scholar or preacher and that dawah comes in many different forms. People can engage in dawah in many ways to benefit people and society. It is the duty of every Muslim to better his or her family, community and society to the best of their ability. A Muslim should be involved in and committed to the forefront of battles and struggles against racism, injustice, poverty, aggression, etc. A Muslim is one that gives back to his community and society and is not one that is selfish and only self-serving.
A Muslim is one that serves something of value to others, making a positive change and impact on others; whether it comes in the form of volunteering, social work, helping local orphanages, helping the poor, counseling, political activism, building schools, or advising one’s peers or community youth. For example, a Muslim doctor should devote one day a week or month to give back to his community, by offering free services to those who do not have health care or volunteering at a free clinic.
One needs to ponder and reflect over his or her own talents, unique skills, strengths, education, background, and personality, discovering those specific qualities that God has gifted them that can be used to benefit others. That gift can come in the form of teaching others, creativity, leadership, knowledge, etc. Our ummah (Islamic community) needs help and services from all angles. God’s last and final prophet stated: ‘The most beloved to Allah are the most beneficial to the people.’
Whereas a Muslim does not perform these deeds with the intention to show off to others, their display in public can become a good means of dawah to non-Muslims--or even, for that matter, to weak or non-practicing Muslims. One can become inspired by and curious about Islam when seeing a female Muslim doctor or nurse--with hijab on--representing Islam by volunteering and offering complimentary services at a free clinic.
The one that engages in the work of da’wa needs to be patient and not surrender or lose hope. One does not know which of one’s words will be planted in the listener’s heart, growing and changing their life. The one that engages in the work of da’wa also needs to realize that he or she does not have the ability to transform anyone’s heart or mind. Rather, guidance can come only from God the Almighty. Allah knows who is worthy of and qualified for His guidance. God tells his Messenger in the Holy Quran:
"Indeed, [O Muhammad], you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the [rightly] guided" (Quran 28:56)
The job and duty of God’s Messengers and Prophets, as well as ours, is to remind others of the Message in clear terms and as kindly as possible. The rest is up to God.
“Your duty is only to convey the message; and on Us is the reckoning” (Quran 13:40)
The one that engages in conveying God’s message needs an understanding of the Islamic discourse, as detailed in the Quran and Sunnah, and should be knowledgeable about the issues he addresses. If one is discussing or debating people of other religions, he or she must have an understanding of these faiths; thus, allowing them to build common ground and talk to them about Tawheed (Monotheism—the Oneness of God), which they might be neglecting in their religion. The Quran instructs Muslims to give dawah to people of the Book (Christians and Jews) by emphasizing the similarities between the different faiths and establishing common ground—while reminding them that we should worship None but Allah (the One and Only Creator) and to not associate Any partners with Him.
"Say, "O People of the Scripture, come to common terms between us and you - that we will not worship except Allah and not associate anything with Him and not take one another as lords instead of Allah." But if they turn away, then say, "Bear witness that we are Muslims [submitting to Him]" (Quran 3:64)
When engaging in a dialog with people of the Book, our main goal is to present and invite them to join our beautiful religion; and not to necessarily talk down or prove their faith or book wrong as there is a time and place for that. Our goal is to prove that what we offer is the true word of God and that our religion is the only faith acceptable to God.
The one engaging in dawah dialogue has a goal--not to win the argument--but to win over the person. Sometimes heated arguments serve only to distance a person from Islam. When giving dawah, one should not make the other feel worthless or denounce him. The attitude of the person inviting should be gentle, kind, and beautiful; the same one would offer if they were inviting them to their own home.
It becomes imperative that one conveys the Message with softness and gentleness because an attitude of harshness could discourage and further people from the truth. In fact, God tells Prophet Muhammad in the Quran that if he was harsh and stern in conveying the Message to his companions, known to be the best of people that ever lived, they would disperse from him.
"It was by the mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been stern and harsh (in speech and heart), they would have dispersed from you. So, pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely (upon Him)” (Quran 3:159)
God also instructed Prophet Moses and his Brother, Prophet Aaron (Harun in Arabic), to gently and softly convey the Message of Islam to the Pharaoh—despite his repute as the worst human being that ever lived, who proclaimed himself a god and killed babies and innocent people.
"Go, both of you, to Pharaoh. Indeed, he has transgressed. And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear [Allah]" (Quran 20:43-44)
The success of Dawah is measured by one’s intention and effort, and not necessarily from the number of people they convert. One might give dawah for years and not convert a single soul. In fact, Prophet Noah preached the Message of Islam for about 950 years and witnessed very few conversions. It’s important that one continues to constantly remember the intention of his work, which is all and always for the sake of God.
For those that feel they don’t have the time to spread the word of Islam, they must realize that those currently spreading the word are themselves busy people who make time in their hectic schedules for Dawah; an activity they see as an obligation. This is what God expects from them; something they do in exchange for the great rewards that await them. Additionally, God states that the best manner of speech one can utter in this world is those words of invitation that draw people to God’s religion; inviting others to grasp and comprehend the purpose of their creation. God states:
"And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah and does righteousness and says, "Indeed, I am of the Muslims" (Quran 20:23-24)
Additionally, for the ones that spread the word of Islam and teach others well, our Prophet narrated: 'Indeed Allah, His Angels, the inhabitants of the heavens and the earths - even the ant in his hole, even the fish - pray for blessings upon the ones who teaches the people to do good.' In addition, our Prophet narrated: ‘Whoever directs someone to do good will gain the same reward as the one who does the good.’ So, if someone accepts Islam from you, you will receive great rewards from God for the effort.
On the Day of Judgement, non-Muslims will face Allah, the Ultimate Judge, and will be questioned regarding their faith. Your non-Muslim friends, colleagues, classmates, and neighbors can potentially incriminate you as the person who failed to give them the Message. This is why you must convey the Message of Islam, carrying it out in your daily life in speech and actions. God states in the Quran that He has made us a middle nation, so we can testify to all people. God has honored and chosen us to service humanity, guiding people back to God.
Oh, my dear brother and sister, you need to carry the message of Islam in your daily life. It should show in your character, your dealings with others, your business transactions, and in your everyday tasks; otherwise, our Prophet may serve as a witness against you on the Day of Judgment, and you could potentially get punished for your neglect of this vital and important life task.
The one that converts to Islam embraces the folds of this faith because they chose to voluntarily submit and surrender to the Will of God, in exchange for the ultimate acquisition of peace and contentment in this life and the Hereafter. The one that is converting accepts the Islamic belief that to achieve true peace of mind and surety of the heart, one must submit to the Ultimate Creator, the One True God, and live according to His Divinely revealed Laws. The one that converts comes to the understanding that no one is worthy of his or her worship and veneration except the One True Creator, the ultimate Creator, the Creator of this World and everything in it. He realizes that the only true purpose of his or her life to find God, build a relationship with Him, and follow His commandments.
The one that is converting realizes that God the Almighty, would not leave him or her in darkness without guiding and showing them how He wants them to live. So, He (God) chose Messengers and Prophets throughout history to send to different nations at different times to communicate His Message to humanity, to show how one should live, and to teach humanity about Himself. These prophets came with glad tidings, stating that whoever Worships the One God with no partners and lives a righteous life while obeying God’s commands will enter Paradise eternally; and whoever worships other than Allah and does not follow God’s commandments will enter the hellfire.
Islam is not a new religion but embodies the eternal act of submitting to the will of God. It is the only acceptable religion in the sight of God. Islam is the true natural religion and offers the same Message revealed through the ages to all of God’s Prophets and Messengers.
The one that is converting to Islam realizes that Islam will change his or her life for the better and that Islam will provide the light to guide them in their life and grant them true salvation from the eternal hellfire.
The one that searches for his purpose in life, and for his Creator, and is sincere and curious to learn the Truth, that person will eventually be guided to the Truth by the Will of God, and by His Mercy, Love, and Justice. God guides those whom He Wills and Pleases.
My dear brother or sister, if you have the desire to be a Muslim and have a firm conviction and belief that Islam is the true religion of God, then you are ready to embrace the folds of Islam. In Islam, every action begins with one’s intention, so start by setting your intention in your heart to embrace Islam for the sake of God alone. It’s highly recommended that you first take a bath or shower to symbolically purify and cleanse yourself of your past life and your past sins. It’s also recommended that you wear suitable clothes on the day of your conversion.
Unlike other religions, the act of converting to Islam does not involve any rituals, ceremonials, nor baptisms. All one has to do is declare the testimony of faith, which is known as the Shahada in Arabic, or the declaration of faith in English, which is the first of five pillars of Islam. These two statements encapsulate all the beliefs of Islam:
أشهدأن لا إله إلا الله وأشهد أن محمدا عبده ورسوله
‘I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah,
and I bear witness that Muhammad is his servant and messenger.’
You can state this phrase in privacy by yourself or in public with witnesses, which is recommended as you could have help from others with the accuracy of the pronunciation of the wording in Arabic. The testimony of faith is recommended and often done publicly, in a Mosque or gathering.
You testify, acknowledge, and express you are fully convinced that there is no deity worthy of worship and veneration other than Allah. Allah is the unique name of God; the ultimate Creator. You acknowledge that there is Only One God who is the Sustainer, the Creator, who is in control of all matters and all things, who has no partners, no children, nor associates. He is the Most-High, Most-Merciful, All-Knowing, All-Wise, All-Seeing, All-Hearing, He is the First; He is the Last.
You also testify and acknowledge that Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him is the last and final messenger of God, who was sent to relay the same general Message as the prophets before him. He is the best example and role model for humanity, a slave and worshipper of Allah and should not be wrongly worshipped like past Prophets—who were only human messengers of God, and not God himself.
After you complete your testimony of faith, you are now officially Muslim. As a new convert, you do not need to be burdened by your past sins committed before your acceptance, as all of your past sins would be wiped clean, and you would start with a clean slate—as free of sin as a newborn child. Not only that, but all of your past sins would be converted to good deeds. You should attempt to the best of your ability to keep your slate clean as much as possible and do as many good deeds as you can.
As a new convert, make a lot of supplications to God, asking him to continue to guide you to the straight path and lead you to Paradise and everything else you desire—in this world and the Hereafter.
You should gradually continue learning more about Islam and practicing it by performing your five mandatory ritualized prayers that Muslims perform daily. You should not try to learn all aspects of the faith at once, as that might overwhelm you. Instead, continue to learn and grow your faith over an extended period. It's highly recommended that you find a local Mosque or local Islamic community and attend their gatherings, seek Muslim support, and make new friends. You should also give charity and fast in the month of Ramadan, both of which are mandatory upon every Muslim.
For those who are still unsure whether or not they should convert to Islam, they can pray to God without explicitly naming him; praying out and saying, ‘Oh you who created me, please guide me to the truth’ Then continue to research and look further at the overwhelming evidence and proofs that Islam offers to affirm its existence and validity. Do not procrastinate, and do not take this matter of faith lightly, as you are not guaranteed tomorrow! Your test your life, can end at any moment. Realize, my dear brother or sister, that you did not come to this passage by random or chance. Your Creator guided you here.
- Page 1 of 3