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A Dawah Lesson from NYDawah: The Grave and Beyond

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Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaah,

Alhamdulillaah, after a grueling week of non-stop work, I had the blessed opportunity to attend a one day event with New York Da’wah event entitled The Grave and Beyond. There were only four lectures, back to back, but subhanAllah, the program went above and beyond my expectations. The event featured everyone’s favorite Shaykh Yasir Qadhi and Shaykh Kamal alMekki, and a few new du’aat (callers), namely, Br. Muhammad ElShinawy and Br. Abu Yousuf. SubhanAllah I believe there were about 400 brothers and sisters in attendance… the room was literally PACKED, and no one thought there would be a need for AC given the still somewhat chilly weather outside! (One speaker commented that the temperature in the room fit well with the theme… the Hereafter.) The event was actually structured quite nicely, with the talks in the following order: The Grave (Muhammad ElShinawy), The Day of Judgment (Sh. Yasir), Paradise and Hellfire (Sh. Kamal), and Preparing Yourself for the Hereafter (Abu Yousuf).

Well, the brothers from Massachusetts met up at 6:30 am, we ate a nice breakfast, and hit the road at about 8. We were 14 strong (AlMaghrib Expansion committee, TAKE NOTE! :) ) and even had two non-Muslims come along with us (will expand on this soon bi idhnillah!). Arriving in NYC at around noon (and the event not starting till 3 pm), our first stop was none other than Al-Mat’am al-Yemeni As-Sa’eed on Brooklyn’s infamous Atlantic Ave. (a.k.a. Islamic wonderland). If you haven’t tried the H.aneeth (extremely slowly cooked lamb) at this place, you have truly been missing one of this dunya’s halal treats.

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Anyways, on to the important business. We unfortunately greatly underestimated NYC traffic, and the trek from Brooklyn to Manhattan took more than an hour (although the GPS said 10 minutes), and subhanAllah, we arrived at about 4:30, just in time for the second talk, by our very own Shaykh Yasir, who gave a powerful talk on the events of Yawm ul-Qiyaamah (the Day of Resurrection). Two things really hit me hard from this talk: Firstly, the complete and utter abandonment of friends and family that will occur on the Day of Judgment. Everyone will only have concern for his own state on this day, to the point that a nursing mother will completely abandon her infant and even the Prophets, the best of men, will be crying “nafsee, nafsee,” save the Seal of the Prophets, sall Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, who will intercede for his ummah (which also demonstrates his superiority over the other anbiyaa’). The second thing that hit me was the reaction of the one who will be given his book in his right hand and the despair of the one who will be given his book in his left:

Then, as for him who is given his record in his right hand, he will say: Take, read my book!
Surely I knew that I should have to meet my reckoning.
Then he will be in blissful state

But as for him who is given his record in his left hand, he will say: Oh, would that I had not been given my book
And knew not what my reckoning!
Oh, would that it had been death!

–Surat Al-Haaqqah

As mentioned, the third lecture, by Sh. Kamal, was on Hellfire and Paradise. When you HEAR the description of the torment of those to be punished by the fire BY ALLAH, you realize that you have NEVER heard of a more fearful punishment… it shakes you to your bones to hear this description, and you VOW that you NEVER want to even glimpse at such a horrible place. I cannot remember the exact details of the portion of the speech on Hellfire, but I do remember feeling extremely shaken and horrified. The one detail of the talk I remember vividly is that the people of the hellfire will be crying for so long out of agony, that eventually they will cry tears of blood, so much so that the ground will be flooding with blood.

MAY ALLAH SUBHANAHU WA TA’ALA PROTECT US FROM EVEN HAVING TO GLIMPSE AT THE HELLFIRE. AAMEEN.

The most amazing portion of the 3rd lecture was learning about the meeting of Allah with His slaves, where He, subhanahu wa ta’ala, will allow them to see His Face (without tamtheel or tashbeeh). I could describe what I heard, but I direct you to a beautiful recitation of a scholarly piece by Imam ibn ul-Qayyim where he describes this very event (thanks to Br. Amad for the link).

The fourth and final lecture by Br. Abu Yousuf was absolutely amazing. After being nearly scared out of our skins from the punishment of the Hereafter as well as overwhelmed with hope for reward from our Rabb, the final lecture instructed us on how to prepare for such a serious series of trials and events. Main points:

(1) Iman in the Aakhirah is NOT simply acknowledging that it and its events exist and will come to pass. Even Shaytan knows this. Iman entails preparing one’s self to pass these great tests.

(2) The time to repent is NOT when you get older. It is NOT in a year, NOR a month, NOR tomorrow, NOR EVEN in a second! THE TIME TO REPENT IS NOW! NOW! Do not hesitate for even an INSTANT! For delaying tawbah only leads to hardening of one’s heart. If you delay, you never know if you will be able to repent in the future.

(3) You could die at any instant! And you would never want to die without having repented to Allah. Our main aim should be “al-Husn al-Khatima” (a good ending), where our last words on our tongue and on our heart are “La ilaha illa Allah.” And we aim to stay as far as possible from “asSoo’ al-Khatima” (an evil ending), where, although we know we should, we are absoltely unable to utter the words “La ilaha illa Allah” on our deathbeds, since one’s heart was not focused upon Allah. If someone thinks that mere knowledge of La ilaha illa Allah will allow him to make these his last words, he is gravely mistaken. Knowledge is necessary, but it requires living your life by these words and turning back in repentance to your Rabb, before it is too late.

SubhanAllah, you could hear the emotion in the room during the last speech. Allah knows just how many hearts were moved and changed by this event. And, regarding Br. Abu Yousuf, inshaAllah, I pray we see more of him in the coming dawah conferences and events. He is TRULY a powerful and moving daa’iyah. May Allah make him a means for the spread of da’wah in this country. Aameen.

Now, everyone must be thinking… “What was the Dawah lesson mentioned in the title?” Well, remember, I said that two non-Muslims came along with us from Mass. Of course, we probably understand that if a non-Muslim is willing to travel 4 hours just to go to some Islamic function, that he must already have an interest… but I still learned some extremely valuable lessons that I think we should all reflect upon bi idhnillah.

Really, once I found out that non-Muslims were coming along, I thought, “I wonder how they will react to literally fire-brand sermons about the Hereafter (especially since we know, and it wasn’t a secret at the event, that the disbelievers will burn in the fire for eternity…).” Well, they decided to come, and I wasn’t about to stop them. “Let’s see what happens, inshaAllah,” I thought to myself.

After the event, I approached one of the non-Muslims who came with us, and asked him what he thought. His response (I’m paraphrasing), “Man, didn’t you see me in the stairway between the talks?! I was pacing back and forth, freaking out… I didn’t know how to handle everything I heard. I started calling my friends… I just needed someone to talk to after getting as horrified as I did. … That was some VERY powerful stuff I learned today… I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same…” On the car ride back, we discussed Islam and the event more, and he expressed how he wanted nothing more for himself than to die with the “husn al-khaatima” that we learned about. I explained to him the basic aqeedah of Islam, and asked him if he accepted “la ilaha illa Allah,” and subhanAllah, he said that he fully accepted that, and that he knows that Jesus is only a prophet. I then asked him if he believes that the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allaahu alayhi wa sallam) is Allah’s messenger. He said that he knew the Prophet (SAWS) was a good man, but didn’t know if he was a prophet. We discussed this issue, and basically, he left with the conclusion that he must research about the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) and that once he believes that he is indeed a prophet, that he must accept him and accept Islam without delay. SubhanAllah, I don’t know if I have ever given da’wah so easily and directly to a person before this. All of this, because his heart softened so much after hearing about the hereafter and realizing the gravity of the situation he is in.

The other non-Muslim as well was deeply affected by the event. He basically said that he needs a few days to try to swallow and digest everything he learned.

The dawah lesson I took from all this: do NOT be scared to warn non-Muslims about the aakhirah. It won’t scare them away from Islam, unless they are arrogant to begin with… if they are sincere, inshaAllah, this warning will only soften their hearts to the truth of Islam. Of course, we still give da’wah with the best of speech and manners, but this does not entail shying away from facts that non-Muslims need to know. Rather, if we don’t tell them, we may be asked why we hid the reality from them.

SubhanAllah, now that I think of it, nearly every da’wah event for non-Muslims I can think of (with a few exceptions) is watered-down/sugar-coated for easy digestion by the non-Muslims. I have a bold idea :) . Bismillah: From now on, all da’wah events for non-Muslims should be given with the speaker speaking as though he is addressing ignorant Muslims (this should effectively remove the sugar-coating, inshaAllah). Of course, we can still have the topics focusing on what non-Muslims need to hear, i.e. aqeedah (including descriptions of the Hereafter), but the speaker will just pretend he is addressing Muslims that know nothing about their religion. My advice is: try it out, and see what happens bi idhnillah. Neither the Qur’an nor the Sunnah watered down any of these descriptions in the Makki Soorahs, which were the primary “da’wah surahs”, so why should we do so in our da’wah? After all the best way to give da’wah is upon the methodology of the Prophets. Bi idhnillah, following this methodology, the da’wah will prove to be far more effective.

May Allah reward all of the shuyookh and all the brothers and sisters that organized this event. May Allah make this event a means of guidance for all those who attended, Muslim and non-Muslim. May Allah protect us from even an instant of the torment of the Hellfire, may He grant us Jannah, and may He allow us to see His Face. Aameen!

Wassalaam.

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. AnonyMouse

    April 4, 2007 at 12:16 AM

    JazakAllahu khair for sharing this with us… the bit about the non-Muslims was indeed interesting – I’ve always had a rather uncomfortable feeling about what to do once a non-Muslim interested in Islam found out that we believe such-and-such about the Hellfire and its inhabitants…

    Subhan’Allah, I wish I was able to attend such an event – I truly need something like that to give me a good reality check! Unfortunately, I find myself falling into the trap of, “Ahhhhhh, insha’Allah I’ll try to make up for whatever sins I’m committing now, later…” – when of course we don’t even know if there IS going to be a ‘later’!!!

    May Allah protect us from ourselves, ameen!!

  2. ibnabeeomar

    April 4, 2007 at 12:30 AM

    mashallah that was a great recap of the event. you know, its amazing that nowadays we muslims shy away from these subjects especially when making dawah, but if we look at the quran, these are exactly the themes that came first. may Allah(swt) guide your companions to islam

  3. Ahmad AlFarsi

    April 4, 2007 at 1:07 AM

    its amazing that nowadays we muslims shy away from these subjects especially when making dawah, but if we look at the quran, these are exactly the themes that came first.

    Very true akhee. I actually just added a paragraph (2nd to last paragraph) to my original post, with my thoughts on this.

  4. Amad

    April 4, 2007 at 9:18 AM

    Br. Ahmad, I am bit torn on this subject. I am not quite sure that giving non-Muslims a view of hell-fire is exactly the best way to give dawah. Especially since we are living in a mostly Christian country, where “Jesus loves everyone” is the bottom-line. So, if anything, wouldn’t you approach them from “Allah does love the believers” and talk about Tawheed and the perfect monotheism of Islam, and leave a discussion of hell-fire for much later?

    This goes back to developing a methodology of dawah for the type of people we are dealing with? The 10-minute shahadah class, for instance, by Kamal Mekki did not delve into details of hell or really any other subject other than basic Islam.

    My 2-cents… what do you think? Hope some of our more knowledgeable brethren can comment as well.

  5. Shakeeb

    April 4, 2007 at 9:37 AM

    Salaamualaikum

    I have seen a similar thing happen on an online forum, where a non-muslim said

    Just read your article on hell fire and it chilled me to the bone. i’m being rebellious? i’ve never seen hell fire described like that. i suppose all i can do is start from somewhere so here goes I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and Mohammed is his last Messenger.

    What the non-muslim read was actually a Khutbah by one of the Imaams of the Harem !!

  6. inexplicabletimelessness

    April 4, 2007 at 10:04 AM

    As salaamu alaikum,

    Allahu akbar, that event sounded really amazing. JazakAllah khair for sharing some insights & ameen to the du’as.

    About telling non-muslims about the Hell fire, I agree that we should focus on tawheed and the Oneness of Allah first and depending on the type of person we are talking to, break it down kind of like Sheikh Khalid Yaseen does:

    (if you haven’t seen this video, you MUST (The Purpose of Life). Please forward it to all the non-Muslims you know:

    http://www.kalamullah.com/videos.html (Way bottom)

    However, if they ask about hell-fire or if they are given the opportunity to attend an event like this one, depending on the person maybe they will be closer to Islam. I think it totally depends though, because people are different: some are sincere, some are arrogant and some are neutral.

    I hope this type of event continues all over North America inshaAllah. May Allah guide us all to Jannat-ul-Firdous, ameen.

  7. ibnabeeomar

    April 4, 2007 at 10:40 AM

    some people do need a wake up call. i have seen comments like “well if there is a God, i guess i will be in trouble later!” or “well if there is a God, He won’t punish me” etc. this type of attitude has really bred a lot of carelessness and apathy towards religion in general, and in turn towards their relationship with Allah. i agree that the focus should be on tawheed first, but don’t discount the benefits of giving people a swift kick in the pants for a wake up call either. i think they all interact, the call to tawheed is our main objective, and ideal, but sometimes it might need to be coupled with something unexpected and emotional to get them thinking. (see my other post on making things stick :) )

    and as for the ‘Jesus loves everyone’ comment, i think some churches have a much bigger rep for their fire and brimstone speeches than any muslims

  8. Ahmad AlFarsi

    April 4, 2007 at 10:41 AM

    Br. Ahmad, I am bit torn on this subject. I am not quite sure that giving non-Muslims a view of hell-fire is exactly the best way to give dawah. Especially since we are living in a mostly Christian country, where “Jesus loves everyone” is the bottom-line. So, if anything, wouldn’t you approach them from “Allah does love the believers” and talk about Tawheed and the perfect monotheism of Islam, and leave a discussion of hell-fire for much later?

    Of course, when proposing a bold idea (though I won’t say its a new idea, just one that is being ‘revived’), it can’t come without controversy :) .

    I certainly agree with you akhee that Tawheed always comes first, and I hope my post wasn’t misunderstood by anyone to think otherwise. However, I think right after the discussion of tawheed, should come the remaining pillars of eman “wa malaa’ikatih (His angels), wa kutubihi (and His books), wa rusulihi (and His messengers), wa al-yawm il-aakhiri (and the Last Day –> that is where basically the entire hereafter talk, including the hellfire, comes in), wa qadri khayrihi wa sharrihi (and Qadr, its good and its evil).”

    So, in my view, once we fully explain Tawheed, the first pillar of eman, we should move on to the rest, and not really gloss over any harsh sounding details in the process. If a non-Muslim is not aware of the hellfire and its horrors, perhaps he will not see the imminent need for him to embrace Islam.

    It is true that in this country, many (not all), are very much into the “Jesus loves everyone” mentality… and I agree that the mentality of the person to whom we are giving da’wah should be taken into consideration, but I also think that there is not really a need to show them how Islam has similarities to their mentality. I know this is not what you meant akhee, but I remember Sh. Muhammad AlShareef saying in his Fiqh adDa’wah series something along the lines of:

    “Muslims giving da’wah in this country always try to focus on how our religion is similar to that of the non-Muslims. We keep hearing people say, ‘Islam believes the same things as Christianity, Islam is democracy, Islam agrees with Christianity, Islam is democracy.’ They keep on hearing this over and over, and finally they say, ‘Then why should I become a Muslim? I’m already a Christian Democrat!” We should be emphasizing how Islam stands out as the truth, not how it is similar to what they already have.

    Again akhee, I know that you weren’t saying what Sh. Muhammad was talking about, but were speaking more about taking their own mentalities into consideration… but I cannot really respond with anything better than the fact that the Qur’an is vividly clear on the punishments in the Hereafter to all its readers. Sometimes the truth hurts… but inshaAllah it is that pain that may soften the hearts of the unbelievers towards Islam.

  9. bintDeen

    April 4, 2007 at 1:34 PM

    Assalaamu Alaykum,

    Masha’Allah, a well written article covering the general aim of the event, giving da’wah by conveying knowledge of al Akhira.

    I just wanted to make a comment on the following,

    This goes back to developing a methodology of dawah for the type of people we are dealing with? The 10-minute shahadah class, for instance, by Kamal Mekki did not delve into details of hell or really any other subject other than basic Islam.

    I actually attended this event when it came to New Jersey a little while back. Shaykh Kamal explained that the horrors of al Akhira and the Hellfire can be mentioned to those people who are extremely stubborn to any da’wah you may try to give them. If you explain Tawheed and the essence of our aqeedah in every possible way and they are still not receptive or are even harsh in rejecting it, then we should warn them in every way possible. And of course we should make statements according to the Qur’an and Sunnah, using the methodology of Allah subhaanahu wa t’ala in the Qur’an as He constantly warns the mushrikoon of a painful punishment.

    And we seek Allah’s guidance to proceed with the utmost wisdom and knowledge in all of our actions. Aameen.

  10. AnonyMouse

    April 4, 2007 at 1:57 PM

    (This is gonna be off-topic, but whatever! :P)

    Sis bintDeen, when I saw your name I nearly had a heart attack! ‘Cuz I know another sister who uses the practically the same name (bintDean)… but she’s not in New Jersey :P

  11. Abul-Hussein

    April 4, 2007 at 4:11 PM

    AS

    Bismillah

    I want to say that I am really proud at the spirit of this “salafi” blog it makes me have hope that there will be a new stage to the da’wah soon. I would advise myself and everyone to keep the spirit of the blog to the atomosphere of students. Don’t argue and don’t talk about other groups it is pretty clear where people stand. Instead, study hard and study nice and show each other the adab of the Salaf and maybe this blog will be a model of the behaivor of the salaf.

    Focus on knowledge and adab and have a good opinion of others.

    Your brother in Islam
    Abul-Hussein
    ahl al-hadith.wordpress

  12. Amad

    April 4, 2007 at 4:40 PM

    Abul-Hussein, we love for you the sake of Allah. We use your website quite a bit for resources, and consider it a beacon of light among the many blogs out there.

    One way or the other (unless you are a proggie), we all desire to follow the way of the salaf, whether one calls himself or herself salafi, traditionalist, or whatever label one wishes ascribe to, or as in our case, not ascribe to. For us, because of the diversity of our authors and Shayookh guest-writers, we cannot be wrapped up justifiably in any one label… and that is what makes MuslimMatters unique and exciting.

    Again, jazakAllahkhair, Sh. Yusuf for stopping by. We hope to see some of your knowledge disseminated on this little effort as well.

    waslaam.

  13. inexplicabletimelessness

    April 5, 2007 at 2:45 AM

    As salaamu alaikum,

    “They keep on hearing this over and over, and finally they say, ‘Then why should I become a Muslim? I’m already a Christian Democrat!” We should be emphasizing how Islam stands out as the truth, not how it is similar to what they already have.”

    Excellent point by Sh. Muhammad Alshareef.

    I must say I am guilty of making Islam seem similar to American values/Christianity when I make da’wah to Christians, so my question is:

    How should someone make Islam seem different than Christianity/democracy?

    Can we brainstorm some points please? :D

    I’ll start inshaAllah:

    -Islam offers the perfect JUSTICE. We do justice to Allah by worshipping Him ALONE without any partners. We do justice to our neighbors and society by giving a mandatory zakaat every year, etc. This is one way Islam is a departure from other ideas.

    What more?

  14. K

    April 5, 2007 at 6:18 PM

    Salam everyone,

    Sorry to interrupt your discussion on dawah but I want to comment on the article. I agree with every single word except the encouragement of addressing non-muslims without the sugar-coating. The correct balance between soft and hard talk is very important.

    I think every daayi should realise that a detailed discussion on Hell can have unwanted effects on some people. Take me for example. I always found the soothing hadiths on forgiveness more effective on my heart than the threat of punishment. Of course every muslim needs to be aware of such threat but to actually encourage people to use this method of dawah more often can have negative effects.

    There are unfortunatelly some of us in which mention of detailed punishment scares us so much that our hearts rebel and start asking: what is this all about? is this necessary? aren’t humans weak creatures? so what is so noble about exploiting their fear by describing such horrors?

    In western Europe, where I live, secular humanism and atheism are pretty much the standard. Your reliance on descriptions of hell as a tool to dawah is likely to be met with obstructio n or even arrogance and ridicule.

    We do have an obligation to inform people about the possible consequences of sin but we also have a treasure of powerful and kind hadiths that can do the job with equal effect.

    This is not an interruption, rather you bring up very good points for discussion. jazakAllah khair. -Amad

  15. Yasir Qadhi

    April 5, 2007 at 8:41 PM

    I do not see a problem constructing dawah on a case by case basis – rather I see this as wisdom and perfection. As long as no point is watered down and no reality is distorted, there is no problem emphasizing certain aspects over others depending on the circumstances of the people we are talking to.
    No doubt, tawheed will *always* be the number one topic, but after that one may use one’s better judgment in proceeding to the next issue.

    Thus, for some people/cultures, to emphasize forgiveness would help, and to others, emphasizing punishment would help. But for most, I belive the Quranic methodology should be followed, and that is an emphasis on both. Human nature is prodded by ‘a stick and a carrot’; we need both the incentive of rewards and the fear of repurcussions to really spur us to action. Hence in the Quran Paradise and Hell are typically paired together.

    And Allah knows best…

  16. AmatulWadood

    April 6, 2007 at 5:17 PM

    This is kind of a side note, but shaykh Waleed’s class, Rays of Faith, discusses this topic in amazing detail mashaAllah.

    And in br. Kamal Elmekki’s dawah workshop, he points out that nonmuslims need to feel a sense of urgency with accepting Islam–he told us to remind them that they can die at any moment and if they are willing to take that chance of dying without Islam in their hearts.
    wa Allahu ta’ala ‘alam.

  17. Abdul Samay

    June 2, 2009 at 8:39 AM

    Does anyone know where can I get hold of this lecture? I have been trying to search for it in youtube, but without any luck….Can anyone help? I really want to see or hear this lecture..If anyone knows where I can get hold of this lecture please forward the link to my email. I will be very grateful. Your brother in faith….

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