The Major Task
In this booklet, Maulana Sahib explains various terms associated with this mission, such as shahadah (or ‘witnessing’), dawah (calling people towards God) and tabligh (to preach).
Dawah: The Mission of Muslim Ummah
Author: Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Goodword Books, Noida
email: [email protected]
Reviewed by Rohail Khan
Right through history God has sent prophets to the world to call human beings to remember Him and walk on the right path. This task of inviting people to God, we learn from this slim but eye-opening booklet by noted New Delhi-based Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, is what the mission of Muslims ought to be. After the Prophet Muhammad, the Maulana says, God’s message must continue to be conveyed to humanity in every age and generation, till the Day of Judgment. This task is for the followers of the Prophet Muhammad to undertake. This witnessing is a continuation of the Prophet’s mission after his leaving this world. This responsibility of the ummah of the Prophet Muhammad is explained in the Quran (2:143) as follows: Thus We have made you a middle nation, so that you may act as witnesses for mankind, and the Messenger may be a witness for you.
In this booklet, Maulana Sahib explains various terms associated with this mission, such as shahadah (or ‘witnessing’), dawah (calling people towards God) and tabligh (to preach). This mission is about conveying, in a peaceful manner, God’s message to humankind, explaining the reality of life to people in a mode that is intelligible to them. It aims, the Maulana says, to enable seekers of Truth to learn about God’s Creation Plan.
Besides underlining the centrality of dawah or inviting people to God as the task of God’s devotees, a major concern of this booklet is to correct certain wrong interpretations of shahadah among a sizeable section of Muslims. The Maulana says that in the Quran, the word shahadah appears, in different forms, 160 times, and in every place it appears in the sense of witness, and not in any other sense. But, despite this, many Muslims hold wrong understandings of shahadah. One such misinterpretation is considering shahadah to be synonymous with martyrdom. In the early period of Islam, the Maulana says, the word shahadah was used in the sense of witnessing to Truth. But later, a change gradually emerged in the use of the term shahadah, so much so that Muslims almost forgot that the term shahadah meant dawah and instead began to use the word as synonymous with martyrdom. This, the Maulana believes, is not Islamic and reflects the phenomenon of Muslims abandoning their mission of dawah and instead, wrongly considering others as their foes. The Maulana calls upon Muslims to abandon this un-Islamic attitude and appeals to them to look at people of other faiths with genuine well-wishing, seeing them not as their foes but as their madus, or those whom their task is to invite to God. The Maulana writes, “Muslims must not regard anybody as their enemies. Instead, without discriminating against anyone, they should try to make everyone their friend. It is this that is the dawah spirit, and it is this that is called dawah, or calling people towards God.” He further stresses, “Today, it has become a duty binding on Muslims to develop positive thinking. They must completely stop thinking of other communities as their enemies. They must be reminded of the fact that their status is not that of a community, but, rather, that of an ideological group, one that has just one mission and that is, peaceful dawah, or calling people towards God. This task they must engage in with unilateral well-wishing for others. Even if, according to their thinking, others are oppressing or mistreating them, they must ignore it and remain their well-wishers and convey to them God’s message, which is preserved in the form of the Quran and the Sunnah or the practice of the Prophet. Other than this, no action is going to save them from punishment in the Hereafter […] They must completely renounce violence, and, instead, get engaged in peaceful dawah work. This is the only way that can make them deserving of God’s blessings.”
The world, the Maulana says, is Dar ud-Dawah, an abode or domain of dawah, and nothing else. Accordingly, he explains, the relationship between the ummah of the Prophet Muhammad and others is that between dai (those who engage in dawah) and madu. In the divine task of inviting people to God, he says, it is not at all permissible to include any political, communal or materialistic aims and objectives.
The task of inviting people to God dawah, we learn, has to be engaged in continuously and in every age and generation. The essential message of this mission will always remain the same, but, the Maulana says, in line with changes in the times there could be changes in the manner in which it is carried out. To make this task of witnessing effective, it must be done in a manner that successfully addresses the minds of people in every age. The 21st century is considered to be the Age of Reason, and the Maulana says it is now essential to present the message of God with adequate rational proofs and logic in order to address the modern mind. That is precisely the major task that devotees of God should be focussing on, we learn from this valuable booklet.
Like many other writings of Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, this booklet can be freely downloaded from the Internet. To do so, click on https://cpsglobal.org/content/dawah-mission-muslim-ummah