A Self Program for Da`wah: How to Expand the Islamic Spirit
If you have never thought of giving da`wah to yourself before, this is a basic program for expanding the Islamic spirit through realize that Islam is total in its application…
1- Approach the Islamic way of life with a desire
A person has to want to be spiritually and emotionally at peace in order to succeed. The Islamic term for improving the soul is known as tazkiyah (literally, purifying and elevating or uplifting). (Tazkiyah is related to the third pillar of Islam, Zakah, in that by giving up a part of the world for the sake of Allah, one is uplifting oneself to a new level of being).
Allah has declared:
But any who repent, have faith and do what is right, they shall have the hope of salvation. (Al-Qasas 28:67)
Repentance (tawbah) is recognizing that Allah has created us with the ability to choose, and that sometimes we select what we know to be wrong. We become remorseful and truly seek the forgiveness of our Lord.
Once the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked, “What is faith?” And he replied, “When doing good makes you feel pleasure and doing wrong makes you feel terrible, then you are a believer.” Then someone asked, “What is a sin?” To which he responded, “When something bothers your conscience, give it up.” (Ahmad)
Faith (iman) means that one believes in Allah, the Author of destiny and Creative Will behind all that exists.
One elevates one’s mind above infatuations and false allegiances to anything material and refocuses thoughts upon our short existence and the greater significance of the permanent afterlife.
“Be in the world as though you were a stranger or drifter.” (Al-Bukhari)
Finally, doing what is right connects each one of us to the mutually beneficial web of which all plants, animals and humans are a part. Allah created the earth to be an ordered, self-sustaining unit. Humans were placed upon her to be her stewards. Righteous action is the basis of good stewardship.
2- Realize that Allah has granted humans the ability to learn and the intellect to understand
With the guidance of Allah, then, one may make progress in advancing in faith. Guidance (hidaya) is granted by Allah upon those who seek it.
The recipients of guidance become surrendered (Muslim) and they in turn blossom into believers (mu’min). Islam is the state of being which brings us into a harmonious balance with the universal way.
3- Prepare for learning by finding suitable materials
If there is a translation that is difficult to decipher, find an easier one. If you have questions, find understanding and knowledgeable people who can assist. If there is a shortage of information, look for it “even if you have to go to China.”
If we don’t find absolute contentment in our first effort, does this mean that we are a failure, or that it is impossible to live or feel Islam in our soul? Of course not! Remember that our level of faith is tied to the roller-coaster of life. Sometimes we will be strong, other times, not so strong. Learn to trust in Allah and in the Destiny placed for each one of us. surat Ar-Rahman (the 55th chapter of the Qur’an) is a good place to start for insight.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once said, “Hearts can corrode just like metal.” Someone asked him, “Is there any way to prevent it?” And he replied, “By constantly remembering that you will die one day and by reading the Qur’an.” (Al-Bayhaqi)
4- Attend the masjid often
Become involved with Islamically oriented activities whenever you can. Avoid the danger of participating for worldly benefits, for it is only the intention that Allah considers, not the actions.
People are influenced by their environments and whom they associate with. If we surround our lives with good people and good things, then we may learn and improve by default.
And keep your soul content with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His countenance. And don’t let your eyes pass beyond them, seeking the pomp and glitter of this life, nor obey any whose heart we have allowed to neglect Our remembrance. One who follows his own desires has gone outside all bounds. (Al-Kahf 18:27)
5- Avoid negative habits
Such habits as smoking, listening to popular music or watching television deaden the senses and desensitize the mind.
6- Practice physical fitness regularly
There are martial arts, aerobics, team sports- any type of consistent, dynamic activity will keep the Muslim community in a state of physical preparedness.
The Prophet emphasized, for example, that Muslims learn swimming, archery (or sharp-shooting) and horseback riding.
7- Maintain a healthy diet
Consume fruit, vegetables and unbleached grains in preference over meat and fat-concentrated products. The Prophet Muhammad, may he be blessed, subsisted principally on a vegetarian diet (bread, dates, etc. …) and rarely ate meat.
8- Make frequent excursions alone to think and reflect
Walk in the forest or desert, sit by the side of lakes or streams, or even retreat to an unoccupied area of a house in the early light of day or late in the evening. Allah does not call our attention to meditating upon the meaning of life in natural settings for nothing!
It is perhaps the only way we can clear our minds and really begin to notice the real world around us which is so often blurred by our daily hassles and challenges.
9- Practice a generous variety of Islamic `ibadat (worship methods)
Increase prayers, form study circles, make dhikr, go on Hajj, retreat to the masjid in Ramadan, give secret charity whenever you can, etc. …
In fact, by reading the collections of hadith, one may find innumerable suggestions for enhancing his or her life.
This is a basic program for expanding the Islamic spirit. If you have never thought of giving da`wah to yourself before, realize that Islam is total in its application. It is not limited to dusty tomes or hushed lecture halls.
Islam is the wind in the trees, children at play, friends shaking hands and the exploration of space. Islam is in everything you do and in everything that happens around you. Experience the wholeness of Islam and let its healing balance remove the stress and strain of this material world.
Then, and only then, may you look beyond yourself.
Indeed, Islamic knowledge is not an end in itself. It is the beginning of a spiritual journey that can lead us to a higher state of human consciousness. For example, let us examine some things the
The Prophet said:
“By Allah, this world compared to the next is like dipping your fingertip into the sea. Consider what you bring out.”
“The successful person is one who has accepted Islam, been provided with enough to live on and has been made content by Allah for what He has given him.” (Muslim)
“The most enviable of my friends in my understanding is the believer with few possessions who finds his pleasure in prayer, who performs well in the service of his Lord and obeys Him in secret, who is anonymous among people and is not pointed out by them, and whose supply is just enough which contents him.”
He then snapped his fingers and said, “His death will come quickly, few will mourn him and he will leave only a little.” (Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi & Ibn Majah)
That’s quite a lot right there! But now you can see that we must embody this spirit of faith (iman) to be a truly effective da’wah worker and a good Muslim as well. Only when a Muslim has truly surrendered to the will of Allah can he direct others to the same path.
The article is an excerpt from the book “How to Tell Others About Islam”, 1994 by Yahiya Emerick.
Yahiya Emerick is a former President of the Islamic Foundation of North America, vice-principal at an Islamic school, and a Muslim author. A prolific author, he has written several articles and works of fiction that have been published in North America and abroad.