Is Dawah for Everyone?
Is Dawah for Everyone?
Why am I so passionate about Dawah you may ask?
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The one who guides to good gets the same reward as the one who performs it.” – [Muslim]
First and foremost what is dawah? What does it mean? Dawah simply means to invite. How many of us wait anxiously for invitations either the traditional way “by mail” or the modern way via an “email or Facebook invitation”? I know I do, I always look forward to them. Invitations, bring people together physically, mentally and often times spiritually. An invitation allows hearts to connect, it can break barriers allowing strangers to become acquaintances then friends and eventually family. An invitation can truly make a difference on so many levels and even change someone’s life forever. Allah subhana wa taa’la instructs us in the holy Qur’an to get to know one another and what better way than through dawah. Don’t y’all think?
Invited my Non Muslim neighbor Mr Keno, his Fiance and my Muslim Sisters to dinner (iftar) at my home this past Ramadan. #InHouseDawah
For me personally dawah begins with my intention which takes place before stepping foot out of my home. As the head of the house and single parent of one, my most important dawah begins at home. I didn’t always look at it this way, it took some time for me to truly understand this simply because dawah over all has become part of my life. After converting to Islam, I lost my job for wanting to practice my new faith by observing the hijab (the veil). I knew early on, it would not be easy but I knew in my heart I had made the best decision for my little family and always put my trust in Allah azzal wa jal. I remember from that day onwards, my dua consisted of 4 crucial things, I remember making this dua after every salat and before going to bed. I raised my hands and often times with tears in my eyes I would say, “Oh Allah, send me a job where I can practice my religion, a job that sees beyond my hijab, a job that does not question my prayers, a job that allows me to serve You and Your Beautiful Creation.” And a couple years later that dua was answered. I began working full time as the National Hispanic Outreach Coordinator for WhyIslam a project of ICNA. And so my dawah journey was born and continues…
This woman, asked for a hug after reading our signs. She thanked us for showing up!
Women’s March in Houston, Texas January 2017 #DawahInAction
Looking back now many years later, I can not find the appropriate words to express the amount of gratitude my heart feels for being chosen by Allah subhana wa taa’la to serve Him and His Creation through dawah. Since my humble dua was answered I have been immensely blessed with varies platforms which have allowed me to live, witness and experience an ocean of opportunities through my travels and dawah efforts. I have been honored to assist the less fortunate in remote areas, most recently during and after the earthquakes in my native Mexico. I have made it my personal mission to impact and motivate both men and women to follow their dreams and goals but always to put Allah azzal wa jal first like I once did and always do. And finally I hope to inspire others with my stories of struggles, trials, experiences and hope wherever I go around the globe, in shaa Allah. So you see, dawah (this invitation) itself can be carried out in so many levels, forms and ways not limiting it to any specific event or activity. Once again my beloved brothers and sisters, dawah begins with us, in order to be able to give our best we must be our best always. Let me ask you, How many of you know your neighbors? Our neighbors play an important roll in our lives. Let’s not forget that in our deen (religion) our neighbors have rights over us, aside from our family, our neighbors are the closest individuals to us. Often times they become part of our families, let’s make sure to get to know them, this in itself is dawah. There are so many ways to give dawah, again don’t limit yourself, part take next time you hear of a rally/protest/parade/carnival, feed the homeless, visit the elder, clean up after yourselves and when someone needs help clean after them too. Don’t forget to simply acknowledge anyone and everyone you come in contact with throughout your day, in other words dawah takes place anywhere, anytime…
We carried a banner in Spanish that read: Somos Musulmanes Hispanos – We are Hispanic Muslim
Annual Hispanic Parade in Union City, New Jersey 2013 – #WalkingDawah
Now that you all know a tab more about my dawah journey and hopefully understand my passion for it. Let me share with y’all some of my most memorable dawah moments and let’s continue talking about some of the biggest misconceptions people have about giving dawah. Often times we see dawah as a job that consists of a table, some chairs, a tablecloth, brochures, cd’s, books and “trained” daees. I hope that by now y’all know from reading the previous paragraphs, dawah begins at home with ourselves and anyone of us can give dawah. My son grew up beside me at a dawah table and learned the physical aspects of giving dawah by handing brochures, smiling and engaging with people he had never met. I remember when he was asked in Sao Paulo, Brazil if he was too young to be out there. At the time he was 8 years old and he replied firmly “NO, I am not, all I am doing is sharing smiles and giving brochures because, A smile can change somebody’s life.” The concept of giving dawah sometimes terrifies us but that need to change, start smiling more, that’s dawah. Now, that my son is a bit older, 12 to be exact, I try to emphasize on the importance of ones character, behavior, actions and most importantly “manners” when it comes to giving dawah. I constantly remind him to remember that over all Allah (God) is watching us and His angles are writing down everything about us. Moreover, we all know our religion has become the main focus for many. I always remind my son, everyone else is watching us too, everything we do and don’t do. Therefore we must represent each other well. That’s right, people might never remember me by my name but they will always remember my hijab (head scarf) which immediately relates me to Islam. Therefore, we must keep in mind that every time we leave our homes we automatically become ambassadors of our Religion. Whether we plan it, hope for it, like it or not, that’s just the way it goes…
TV interview during our walking dawah efforts in Sao Paulo, Brazil during the 2014 World Cup.
One of the many reasons why I love to travel is because it is extremely convenient to give dawah to anyone who crosses my path. By the way when I say anyone I meant it… After washing my hands and grabbing a paper towel I made sure to thank and say hello to this lovely lady in “Spanish” she happened to be cleaning the restroom and after all of us at the #ICNASoutheast2017 Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. Her eyes lid up, she was shocked of course and our greeting overflowed into a fruitful conversation that lasted well over 20 minutes. She asked a zillion questions, she couldn’t believe I was Muslim and not married to an “Arab.” One of the biggest misconceptions out there. During our conversation I focused on explaining the oneness of Allah (tawheed) and focused on our similarities. I also made sure to only speak about things she was interested about knowing such as the veil (hijab), worship (ibadaah) etc. Overall she was pleased to learn more than she initially knew. I learned her name, her origin and the sad reality that NO one had ever approached her. She mentioned how she had always worked during this convention and had questions but was to shy to approach anyone. I apologized on behave of my ummah. She was delighted and smiled during our entire encounter masha’Allah. I was pleased to introduce Angelica to other Spanish speaking Muslimahs from the area (Atlanta). They exchanged numbers and will be following up with her, in shaa Allah. Her interest was beyond a one time hello, she asked for information about our religion and shared with us that a friend of hers had gifted her a Spanish Qur’an some time ago. She knew there were Spanish speaking Muslims but had never ran into us. I hope this story inspires y’all to be more approachable and engaging wherever y’all go. I know I keep repeating myself like a broken record, remember, Allah subhana wa taala created us to get to know one another. We must get out of our comfort zones and practice our deen to the fullest, everywhere we go. #WalkingDawah
Dawah on the go during the annual ICNA-MAS Convention 2017 in Atlanta, GA
So, can you answer the question now? Is Dawah for everyone? The answer is YES. Stop questioning your ability to convey the message of our beautiful way of life called Islam. Remember, the best dawah we can collectively give as an ummah is through our actions, behavior and mannerism. It only took a smile and a thank you to spark this conversation with Angelica in the ladies room. Both of which are major teachings of our deen.
I would like to end with the following…
Normally when I begin packing for any trip whether it is short or long. The first thing I make sure I do is check my intentions, I will give you a quick example when we go to the grocery store we go with the intention to buy food to feed our family this in itself is an act of worship. So why don’t you add on to this by always wearing your best smile, it will allow others to see the beauty of Islam through you. This will project peace and invite warm hellos throughout your trip making dawah part of your daily life.
Let’s recap, always check our intentions (fisibilillah), smiles (sunnah), manners, actions, character, behavior and I almost forgot this one last thing, try to get a hold of some type of dawah material nothing drastic just a few informative cards of some sort or WhyIslam brochures carry them in your purse. It makes it easy when conversation strikes or if you are short on time. Try it, on your next trip. Bonjour Daees!
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