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Dawah and Interfaith

Dawah to Those Who Don’t Share our Islamic Faith, One at a Time

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*The Audio of the event is linked at the bottom of this post*

I started writing this piece in the last few days of October, so it relates to events from just over a month ago.

Two days ago, I was invited to give a talk on “Prophets of Islam” at the Moraine Valley Community College in Chicago Land. It was hosted by the MSA via the public educational program at the campus’s library. I liked the idea of hosting these events at the library since it was open and readily accessible to the general public.

The hosts, both the MSA and the library administration, were gracious and welcoming. Oddly enough, I was given a friendly heads-up that some people in the audience might not necessarily be there to listen, but rather to argue and debate, so that I was fully aware and prepared for such a turn of events. I politely answered jokingly with a smile, “I just moved here from Texas, so don’t worry about it. I always carry my guns on me.”  Seriously though, I am used to discussions and debates like these, alhamdulillah.

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In my career as an Imam and religious leader, most of my work has been in the dawah arena. It is in this area that I have had the opportunity to deal and interact with people of different faiths and at different levels of education and devotion. I have spoken in churches and temples, colleges and universities, schools and libraries and an assortment of other places. I have discussed matters of faith and religion with priests and pastors, with laymen and missionaries, and all those who are in between. I always find these discussions interesting and engaging.

Not all these discussion conclude with someone’s conversion to Islam, but for sure many people have left more enlightened than when they came first. Many have even expressed their appreciation for new insights into faith and religion that they acquired from my presentation or discussions. In my talks I encourage people to ask the most pressing questions that they have about Islam. I let them know my own limits but at the same time giving them what could be a once in a lifetime opportunity to discuss the topic of Islam with someone who claims to be an adherent to it, even in a position of leadership. There have been some incidents in which people have come after a long time, on one occasion after 3 years, to give their Shahada and become Muslim. These people took their time to conduct their own research, which was triggered by a casual discussion on Islam and faith.

Back to the Moraine Valley event then, many people showed up: Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Many were there to listen to the subject of “The Prophets of Islam”, while many others just gathered there out of curiosity. The presentation went smooth, but to my surprise no one wanted to ask any questions after it. I started wondering where the hostile crowd went, but sure enough after some encouragement, people started asking few questions here and there.

There was one group that remained silent while diligently taking notes– a group of middle-aged men and women. I felt that they were church members and were attending to listen and learn. But none from the group asked any question and I was eager to engage them. After I was done talking to the people, I headed towards them and I was addressed immediately by a seemingly well-educated and eloquent lady, who asked,

“You said you believed in the original book of Jesus.”

I replied, “Yes, Ma’am.”

“Where is it then? I want read it”

To this I replied, “You tell me, where is it? I want to read it too.”

Then we delved into a discussion over the origins of the bible and the difference between versions and the original text, and many other relevant topics. At the end, I could feel that the discussion shook the lady a little bit, and her eyes were filled with tears tears.

She said,”Why has no one ever told us this before?” I didn’t really have much to say at this point except inviting her to study Islam more.

Suddenly, a man from the group told her, “So what do you want? If you’re ready, why don’t you become a Muslim?”

She said: “All what I want is peace.”

“And that is Islam,” I said.

Then I turned to the man who called out to her to become a Muslim and said to him: “What about you? Why don’t YOU become a Muslim?”

To this he raised his hands and said: “I submit to the will of God.”

I said: “Well, that is Islam too.”

We exchanged phone numbers and emails, and I wished them the best in their pursuit for the truth.

Couple of weeks later I received an email. The lady gave her shahada. Alhamdulillah.

Yaser Birjas

AUDIO

[audio:http://muslimmatters.org/audio/prophetsofislam_oct2709.mp3]

Download

Image courtesy http://www.morainevalley.edu/

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Sh. Yaser Birjas is originally from Palestine. He received his Bachelors degree from Islamic University of Madinah in 1996 in Fiqh & Usool, graduating as the class valedictorian. After graduating, he went on to work as a youth counselor and relief program aide in war-torn Bosnia. Thereafter, he immigrated to the U.S. and currently resides in Dallas, Texas. He is also an instructor at AlMaghrib Institute, where he teaches popular seminars such as Fiqh of Love, The Code Evolved, and Heavenly Hues. He is currently serving as an Imam at Valley Ranch Islamic Center, Irving, Texas. Sh. Yaser continues to enhance his knowledge in various arenas and most recently obtained a Masters of Adult Education and Training from the University of Phoenix, Class of 2013. In addition to his responsibilities as an Imam, Sh. Yaser is a father of four children, he’s an instructor at AlMaghrib Institute, and a national speaker appearing at many conventions and conferences around the country. He is very popular for his classes and workshops covering a wide range of topics related to the youth, marriage, parenting and family life among other social matters related to the Muslim community. His counseling services, in office and online, include providing pre-marital training, marriage coaching and conflict resolution for Muslims living in the West.

36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Sami

    December 2, 2009 at 2:45 PM

    subhanAllah, wallahuakbar

  2. Arif

    December 2, 2009 at 2:45 PM

    Masha’Allah, that was very inspirational! You never know who can be guided by what – one of my Qur’an teachers once said that he never really talked to his neighbor and would just give a smile and a wave on his way to work and back. A year or so later, the neighbor knocked on his door and said, “You are one of the only neighbors that smile at me and I was always impressed by your manners. I would like to embrace Islam.” Allahu Akbar…

    • Loga

      December 3, 2009 at 11:08 AM

      MashaAllah. inshaAllah if anyone has time to give dawah some Christians we’ve got a good discussion going on here. BarakAllah fiikum.

  3. Yasir Qadhi

    December 2, 2009 at 4:20 PM

    Alhamdulillah… one person at a time!

    Keep it up ya Shaykh :)

  4. Amatullah

    December 2, 2009 at 4:36 PM

    Alhamdulillah! May Allah ta’ala bless you and increase you and grant her steadfastness upon the deen.

    هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَىٰ وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ

    It is He Who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the Religion of Truth, to proclaim it over all religion, even though the polytheists may detest (it).

  5. Saad

    December 2, 2009 at 5:00 PM

    Salam ya sheikh,
    Mabrook on the wondeful job and may Allah give you the strenght to do more. I wanted to ask your opinion, since this thread is on Dawah, what would be the most effective way to give Dawah to non-Muslims. I have tried talking to some of my friends who are not Muslims either but with not much success. Perhaps, you could give a few pointers.
    Salam

  6. Yus from the Nati

    December 2, 2009 at 5:36 PM

    wow TabarkAllah. All guidance is from Allah!

    jazakAllahukhair for stepping to the plate of which many who are qualified, do not.

  7. Rafa

    December 2, 2009 at 6:54 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum

    Alhamdulillah, that was really amazing and heartwarming to read. :) i have a friend who is non-muslim and i truly believe she’s a great person. i’d like to invite her to Islam, but i’m not sure how to start off or what to introduce her with. any ideas?

    Jazakallah!

    • shaam

      December 6, 2009 at 10:31 AM

      salaam,
      I have a hispanic friend, she is a spiritual person. She doesn’t drink, doesn’t dress unmodestly, and she stopped eating pork. She believes in oneness of God, and she doesn’t beleive that Jesus is son of God. She was raised in a Catholic family, later Jahova’s witness…but never really followed either one. I turely love her, we are friends more than 10 years. I always tell her about my faith, watch video with her when she comes over that relates to basic/mutual belief. I never push her, but never leave her. She comes to me when she needs advice. Recently she got married and her husband feels similar as her when it comes to faith. He is strict Catholic without Trinity belief. His english is limitied, so I can’t have much conversation with him. However, recently I gave them a spanish book about Islam (toward understanding Islam vol1), they are reading together, and he was amazed. He felt that both Christianity and Islam are very close to each other. He felt this is truely amazing as he shares many common belief. InshaAllah, I am hoping to give them the second vol, and spanish Quran together. I want them to understand Islam together, as they are man and wife and they love each other. I know if I push my friend she will become Muslim, but I do want her husband to get an idea about Islam as well.
      So, what I advice you Rafa is that be a good example, know who your friend more, be a friend who can be very supportive, and provide knowledge. Tell your friend about your belief and explain why you believe. But most importantly don’t forget to be a steady practicing Muslim. This to me is very important. And Allah is the ultimate Guide. InshAAllah Sheikh Birjas will answer more effectively. Sorry If I hurt anyone, just wanted to share my story with you.

      Ma Salaama

      • Holly Garza

        December 6, 2009 at 1:06 PM

        Asalaamu alaikum wa ramatulahi wa barakatu

        Op They are on their way MashaAllah they sound like I was. I to have an “Christian like upbringing” later Jehovah Witness turned Muslimah (AlhamduliAllah) Spanish speaker!

        Let me know if you need any assistance InshaAllah I’d be happy to reach out to them.

  8. Ibn AbuAisha

    December 2, 2009 at 9:27 PM

    Masha Allah!

    May Allah preserve you Shaykhana! Beautiful Piece…May Allah grant us knowledge, patience, and wisdom in calling people to Islam.

    Wassalamu ‘Alaikum.

  9. Dawud Israel

    December 2, 2009 at 10:57 PM

    Yup. :)

    Its really not as challenging or as hard as people think…just gotta have some courage and keep your head calm is all.

  10. Anonymous

    December 2, 2009 at 11:04 PM

    Masha’Allah TabaarakAllah!

    May Allah protect her and keep her steadfast on Islam, and may Allah make this a means to increase your hasanaat, Ameen.

    (I was wondering about something along the lines of da’wah and it’s strange that this post was exactly what I was looking for to help me decide on it, Jazak Allahu Khaira.)

  11. Brother from Sri Lanka

    December 3, 2009 at 12:13 AM

    checkout http://www.dawahcorner.org/

    this organisation is doing a good dawah job in sri lanka…

    • hUddi

      December 3, 2009 at 8:44 AM

      awesomeness, mA

  12. hUddi

    December 3, 2009 at 9:42 AM

    oh wow, i didnt see the podcast, coolio.

  13. shirtman

    December 3, 2009 at 9:58 AM

    Yay!

  14. darthvaider

    December 3, 2009 at 10:30 AM

    jazak Allah khayr shaykhanaa :)

    We mentioned setting limits – what type of limits are set?
    Also, from my experiences, dawah presentations can be difficult as they end up focusing more on ethical issues and less on creed and whats important (akhira, tawheed, etc)…how were you able to keep the discussion focused? (sorry didnt know if putting that in a ‘we’ format would make as much sense)

  15. abi

    December 3, 2009 at 11:15 AM

    Alhamdulillah..
    May Allah Blessing on You All

  16. Stinger

    December 3, 2009 at 7:22 PM

    Mashallah,

    Excellent post, May Allah give all of us the wisdom to correctly present Islam both to Muslims and non-Muslims. Islam spread around the world based on the love and humanity that it teaches, it was sent to bring the best out of human beings; to truly bring us at peace within ourselves as well as our place in the universe. I hope that many, many more Muslims will actively live this true form of Islam and dispel all the hatred and misrepresentation of our deen not through more hatred but through Justice, Kindness, and the Best of Speech.

  17. Holly Garza

    December 4, 2009 at 1:23 AM

    AlhamduliAllah!! AlhamduliAllah another sister has entered our beautiful Deen.

  18. ubaida

    December 4, 2009 at 9:15 AM

    WHY IS MUSLIMS AFFAIRS OR MATTERS IN SOMALIA NOT COVERED IN MUSLIMMATTERS WEBSITE? iTS AMAZING. mAY ALLAH HAVE MERCY UPON THOSE MEDICAL STUDENT GRADUATES AND PROFESSORS AND TEACHERS AND PARENTS. AND THE 3 CABINET MEMBERS.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3ldCaCJV8I

    • Ahmed

      December 4, 2009 at 12:22 PM

      SubhanAllah. Inni lilahi wa ilahi wajioon. And ameen to your du’a.

      Just do a google search for “somalia site:muslimmatters.org“…though I haven’t seen this particular event yet mentioned, Somalia is indeed mentioned on MM.

    • Qas

      December 4, 2009 at 1:36 PM

      Why don’t you write something about it and send it to MM?

  19. Omer

    December 4, 2009 at 11:41 AM

    MashaAllah that is a nice story. Shaikh Birjas, how did you learn to handle these situation when people approach you with a tough question and then reply with a proper answer in the heat of the moment? Was it mostly experience or did you also study certain books on this topic as well?

    jazzakallahu khair

  20. abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    December 5, 2009 at 12:01 AM

    MashaAllah! That’s a great post, Shaykh Yaser. We miss you in Houston, but we’re glad they treat you well in Chicago. May Allah be pleased with the sister and fill her book with good deeds. :) Yes, I know that’s dua for you in the same breath, and for your teachers, alhamdolillah. Your article’s title is “Dawah to Those Who Don’t Share our Islamic Faith, One at a Time,” and the subtitle should be “Reward multiplied by multitudes, one person at a time.” :)

    When I first read your title, I already knew that part of this comment would have to be: so when will you write the companion piece: “Dawah to Those Who Already Share our Islamic Faith, One at a Time”? ;)

    • Amatullah

      December 6, 2009 at 8:36 PM

      …hmmmm…to Muslims it’s iblagh

  21. Safa'a I.

    December 7, 2009 at 9:24 AM

    I LOVE dawah stories..

    I’m actually meeting up with a Protestant Christian soon insha Allah to discuss the authenticity of the Bible/Qur’an! Can someone suggest something for me to read/listen to before doing that? I’d really like to read something DETAILED about the origins of the bible and the difference between versions and the original text.

    • Brooke

      March 3, 2010 at 12:27 PM

      I know this reply is a bit late but in case you’re still interested, I was a Protestant Christian and studied extensively regarding the authenticity of the Bible/Quran before converting to Islam. I wrote quite a bit about it in my blog: http://www.fearlovehope.blogspot.com/

      Also, one of the leading scholars today in Biblical textual criticism is Bart Ehrman who wrote “Misquoting Jesus” and a few other good books. I would recommend those.

      • Amad

        March 3, 2010 at 11:03 PM

        Mashallah, I read your story… quite amazing. I have been to the Little Rock Masjid a long, long time ago.

      • Safa'a I.

        March 4, 2010 at 8:00 PM

        Salamu 3alaikum,

        Thanks for the suggestions sister. It’s never too late to gain a greater understanding about this subject. I actually just heard about Bart Ehrman three weeks ago, so I’m looking forward to completing his books. And I’m currently in the process of reading your blog. I finished the ‘how’ you converted to Islam part, which let me tell you made my heart stop 50 times. I really hope it’s an easy road from here on out for you, and that Allah continues to guide you + your friends and family. Ameen. I’m going to start reading the ‘why’ part now insha Allah…

        Thanks again!

  22. atheistdebater

    December 11, 2009 at 12:10 AM

    Converting Christians to Islam does not seem very hard. They are already predisposed to believe in the supernatural. Try converting an atheist. Good luck. More likely, he might talk some sense into you, and you might suffer a crisis of faith.

    If you do choose to leave Islam, beware. There are those who make no apologies for the prophet’s command: “Kill those who leave Islam.”

    Does anyone have any advice on how best to convert Muslims to atheism? I am doing the best I can, by engaging in debate on Muslim websites, but I can never be sure if I am actually getting my message across.

    • Amad

      December 11, 2009 at 3:59 AM

      I think atheistdebater, you have ended up on the wrong site based on your objectives.

      See this comment:
      http://muslimmatters.org/2009/11/15/responding-to-the-fort-hood-tragedy-imam-zaid-shakir/#comment-53759

      You can see some other comments on that post from Carlos, who shares your religion of no-religion.

      In general, we are not here to debate about Islam, the religion, or actually religion in general. The site is “MuslimMatters”, so it deals with matters concerning Muslims and Islam. And the site’s objectives and goal is not up for discussion either. Hope that is clear.

    • Phil

      December 14, 2009 at 10:53 PM

      Actually most converts I know were from highly liberal or borderline atheist backgrounds. One of my friends was even an Atheist/anarchist before coming to the fold. I tend to find the opposite, atheists react to the illogical nature of Christianity(and the Christian construction of God) rather than concrete opposition of the idea of God. While Christians tend to retreat to their dogma.

      Oh yeah I was a Christian turned atheist also.

      As Imam Al Ghazali said “there is no faith without certainty”, so I think you will find those with certainty are as likely to have a spiritual crisis because they talked to an atheist as one would have by trying to draw water from a rock.

  23. noon

    February 18, 2010 at 6:36 PM

    I like what Dr. Zakir Naik says about atheists. That is much easier to convert them. His work is half done. Because they already believe half the shahada, and he just has to guide them about the other half. i.e. they already say “there is no god” and he just has to guide them to “except God (Allah).”

  24. Abdullaah

    August 17, 2010 at 12:53 PM

    Reference: http://comparative-religion-points.blogspot.com/

    (Visit the link for more info)

    Comparative religion points for Christianity and Hinduism with respect to Islam:

    (1) Prohibition of Alcohol:- Manu Smriti: 9:235, 11:55; Rig Veda: 8:2:12, 8:21:14; //BIBLE: Proverbs: 20:1, 23:31; Ephesians: 5:18.

    (2) Prohibition of Pork:- //BIBLE: Leviticus 11:7-8; Deuteronomy 14:8.

    (3) Prohibition of Usury (Interest on Money/Loan/Credit):- Manu Smriti: 11:62, 8:152; //BIBLE: Leviticus 25:36-37; Ezekiel 18:13, 22:12; Psalms 15:5.

    (4) Permission for Non-Vegetarian Food:- Ramayana: 2:20:29; Manu Smriti: 5:30, 39; Mahabharata: 13:88.

    (5) Veil/Head Scarf:- Rig Veda: 8:33:19; //BIBLE: 1st Corinthians 11:5.

    (6) Oneness of God & Prohibition of Idol Worship:- VEDA: Yajur Veda 32:3, 40:8-9; Rig Veda 1:164:46, 6:45:16; UPANISHAD: Khandogya: 6:2:1, Shwetashvatara 6:9, 4:20; GEETA: 7:20, 10:3; BRAHMA SUTRA; //BIBLE: Leviticus 26:1; Exodus 20:4.

    (7) Prophet Muhammad’s Description:- Bhavishya Purana: Prati Sarag: Parv III: Khand 3: Aday 3: Shloka 5-8, 10-27; Samveda: Book II: Hymn 6: Verse 8; //BIBLE: Deuteronomy 18:18; John 14:16.

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