ʿAqīl المُصْطَفَوِي

ʿAqīl المُصْطَفَوِي



The need for du'āt to understand the meaning of da’wah bil-hikmah, i.e. when should one be gentle and when should one be firm, is needed now more than ever, in my opinion. We are dealing with people who, as Dostoevsky put it in his novel Demons,

“it was not you who ate the idea, but the idea that ate you”. The novel is a critique of ideologies that ‘possess’ individuals (hence the title Demons) to the point where it is impossible to distinguish thought from persons.

The two have always been inseparable (since ideologies are a human product) but it hasn’t always been indistinguishable to the point where people become personifications of their ideologies (like how Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov personified atheism).

The differentiation between the two has been a guide on how to make da’wah. In Usūl al-Da’wah, Shaykh Abd al-Karīm Zaydān listed al-rahmah (mercy, gentleness) as one of the necessary akhlāq of the dā’ī. It is clear that gentleness is in interacting with people and in...

relations with them. He also wrote that one of the rights of the mad’ū (the one who is made da’wah on) is the right to have da’wah made upon them. The dā’ī, in doing so, must not belittle their condition and must not take them for granted.

Of course, I’m talking in generalities here and there are further exceptions. On the other hand, in the chapter of asālīb al-da’wah(methods of da’wah), the concept of al-dā’ wa al-dawā’ is explained. al-dā’ means sickness and the origin of the sickness here is from the...

ignorance of the people about their Lord, them straying away from Him, their disbelief in Him and their rejection to enter complete submission. al-dawā’ means cure and the cure here is in belief in Allāh as the Rabb and as the Ilāh, and so on.

The Shaykh writes that what is needed here is al-ta’kīd(emphasis) on the meanings of the Islamic ‘aqīdah as the means for the cure. The explanation of its meanings and fundamentals and persistence in it is the asās (basis) of da’wah.

It is clear that this section is dealing with principles and beliefs(or disbeliefs) and not on human interactions per se. Overall, what this means is that firmness and gentleness are not mutually exclusive, neither are they contradictory.

Rather, we must *always* be firm in our beliefs of Islamic principles and we should generally be gentle in dealing with people (with exceptions in certain circumstances, like those hostile towards Islām). The problem that we see nowadays is the conflation between the two.

Since people become personifications of their ideologies, it becomes unclear to the dā’ī when one should be firm and when should one be gentle since the line between principles and individuals have become blurred. That is also why you find certain du’āt who distort Islām...

in both ways, either sugarcoating clear teachings of Islām or being unnecessarily harsh towards people. It is also impossible for someone to criticise an ideology nowadays without someone making it personal.

While someone might argue that the same can be said about Islām (that Islām and the Prophet ﷺ cannot be criticised without making a fuss), that is only true because of what Islām requires from Muslims, as per the definition of Islām: complete and total submission.

What we also nowadays is a reversal of some sorts: Islām, a religion that requires full submission, is only taken in parts (either only in matters of worship without laws, or matters of belief without practice, etc), while ideologies are fully submitted to by some people.

Therefore, in these circumstances, the dā’ī truly is in need of hikmah to navigate themselves through this problem. Wallāhu a’lam. Correct me if I’m wrong.

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