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Dawah and Interfaith

Dawah: You missed a spot!


A few days ago, I was in a bookstore doing some research and I overheard some guys discussing the existence of God. It was clear that one was an atheist and the other was a struggling Christian.

“Do you believe in God or not?” demanded the atheist customer, “and which book do you recommend to prove that God does not exist?”

“I can’t recommend a book since I don’t exactly not believe in God,” the Christian salesman stammered, “I can’t say that I believe in God or not, although I believe much of what is in the Bible.”

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The two men went back and forth with the atheist pressuring the salesman into taking a stance, meanwhile, I went back to reading my book. Then an elderly lady came and took a book from the table in front of me, I offered her my seat but she declined but commented that she liked my thobe (she didn’t use that word, just said that shirt thing you’re wearing) and asked me where I got it from. I told her I got it from Dubai, she then went on her way and I returned to my book.

After I had finished reading, while I was driving home, my heart was suddenly filled with regret. “You missed a spot!” I told myself, two good Dawah opportunities presented themselves to me but I did not take advantage of them because I was too busy with my book!

How many times do we pass by these opportunities to share our views and beliefs with others? Generally, I try my best never to miss a Dawah opportunity. If I am sitting on a train, bus or airplane, then you should expect the person seated next to me to receive a dose of Dawah.

Islam is a universal message and as carriers of this message, we are duty-bound to share the message of Islam with everyone we meet. If the right occasion presents itself to you, do not hesitate to share the message of Islam with anyone. Do not repeat my mistake, seize every opportunity and spread the word of Islam!

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Shaykh Ismail Kamdar is the Books PO at Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research. He is also the founder of Islamic Self Help and Izzah Academy. He completed the Alimiyyah Program in 2006, and a BA in Islamic Studies in 2014, specializing in Fiqh, Tafsir, and History. He is the author of over a dozen books in the fields of Islamic Studies and personal development.



  1. alhamdulillah

    March 25, 2010 at 12:14 AM

    Jazakum Allah khaire for the reminder..and ouch…it hurts to miss an opportunity like that

  2. Umm Bilqis

    March 25, 2010 at 12:30 AM

    Masha’Allah nice post, and yes it is good to know that I’m not the only one who feels bad when I miss a spot.
    Join mom’s play groups and book groups and women’s (if you are a woman)only communal kitchens because you end up sharing more than food and play. They observe and ask you sooner or later about your way of life.
    Put Islamic literature on any place with tables that promote anything (i.e why limit yourself to dawah tables )place leaflets or booklets where others have placed them and be creative what do you have to lose.
    I once gave a Chinese women whose forefathers where Muslim a Quraan with Chinese translation I would not have met her unless I made the choice to join this woman’s only communal kitchen. May Allah give us many blessed days for the propagation of His blessed message.
    Dawah is compassion to your fellow beings in humanity and a desire to usher them towards glad tidings and Allah’s beautiful paradise!
    Let us invite towards a renewed inner life and an spiritual wakening that leads to gratitude towards our creator and salvation for ourselves. As opposed to an excessive focus on the relaxation and beautification of the outer shell, a misguided worldly life and a fire whose fuel is men and stones.

  3. Saber Ahmed Jazbhay

    March 25, 2010 at 2:56 AM

    I seem to attract them quite often. They don’t buy the explanation from the Quran and Hadith as well as salient literature that is in abundance. So I simply ask them if they in their scientific enquiry can replicate any of the miracles in the Quran or disprove any verse that enshrine the existence of Allah and they shy away with spurious stuff like visible proof etc.

    • Muhammad Elijah

      March 31, 2010 at 12:06 AM

      Assalamu ‘Alaikum brother Saber,
      Your said:So I simply ask them if they in their scientific enquiry can replicate any of the miracles in the Quran . by brother Hamza is about the nature of I’jaaz(Miraculousness)of Qur’aan which is more of a linguistic and literary nature than our “simplistic” understanding of I’jaaz. You can offer them the book by brother Hamza. I repeat that the biggest obstacles for non-Muslims towards Islam are Western science and Western philosophy which developed unfortunately in aopposition to the so-called Christianity and it abandoned the true Christian beliefs and morality in its course.

  4. abu Rumay-s.a.

    March 25, 2010 at 4:21 AM

    you mention a very important point and perhaps all of us at one point or another have been in…

    my comment is that some of us who have much more social personalities will find it much easier to strike a conversation as opposed to those of us who are more reserved and it may be easier for the former as opposed to the latter.

    My thinking is that if the situation allows itself to open a dialog, then alhamdulilah, if not, at least by your presence (manners, actions, appearance), you have already said something.

    case in point, my wife and I were once sitting a bus that was essentially full and these two very elderly couple walked in and there were no seats available, naturally we got up and offered them our seats. I noticed everyone on the bus was looking at us and smiling (hijab/beard) and I pray that Allah ta`ala accept that as a form of da`wa without saying a word.

    point is that da`wa is not necessarily restricted to engaging in a conversation. Wallahu a`lam..

    • Ameera Khan

      March 25, 2010 at 8:42 AM

      SubhanALLAH! That is exactly the kind of Da’wah we need! :) May Allah reward you and inspire us in the same way! Ameen.

  5. Ismail Kamdar

    March 25, 2010 at 4:43 AM

    As Salaam Alaikum

    Jazakallah Khair for the comments. One of the reasons that I wrote this article was as a reminder to myself and others about the importance of Dawah. A few years ago I was a very active Da’ee, always carrying Dawah material (books, pamphlets, DVDs) in my bag, starting a Dawah conversation with anyone I met and of course trying to a good example of Islam.

    Unfortunately as of late, I have become more passive in my dawah. Lately, my dawah is limited to being good to people and being a good example of Islam but it has been a long time since I had a good contructive religious discussion with a person of another faith.

    I believe that both forms of Dawah are important and go hand in hand. A active Da’ee who does not practice what he preaches will do more harm than good, while a good role model who does not speak about Islam will give Islam a good name but not necesasarily give a person reason to change their religion.

    So as Muslims, we need to always carry Islam in our actions and learn how to engage people and explain our beautiful deen to them.

    One tip I would like to share is ALWAYS keep Dawah material on you, be it DVDs, pamphlets or books. You never know when you might find an opportunity to do Dawah and you will need to give them something to follow up on.

    Hope to hear more comments and tips for Dawah. The two good deeds that I’m most passionate about are Dawah and ‘Ilm.


    • Umm Bilqis

      March 25, 2010 at 11:41 AM

      I agree with you, I think that you need at times just to be a pleasant role model especially with chance meetings ecetera, and in other situations that are more long term you might have the ability to strike up a conversation on topics that could lead to dawah.
      Many times especially for sisters as a result of the hijab, people tend to ask us questions about our faith.
      abu Rumay s.a method is also a necessary one as brother Ismail highlighted. For example, a young man who worked at my husband’s job once saw another muslim co-worker pray in the snow and eventually after researching Islam, he accepted the faith. Alhjamdullilah
      I guess everyone is different and has unique gifts and abilities that can be put towards the service of Islam.

    • Muhammad Elijah

      March 25, 2010 at 11:57 AM

      Assalamu ‘Alaikum
      Quote:Unfortunately as of late, I have become more passive in my dawah

      Comment:By remaining in the company of Tableeghi Jamaa’at, I have acquire a persistence in Da’wah, and that is the best solution I can offer.

    • Muhammad Elijah

      March 31, 2010 at 12:36 AM

      Assalamu ‘Alaikum Akhee
      Never stop writing articles. Never stop the foremost form of Da’wah-oral Da’wah-heart-to-heart Da’wah like Anbiyaa from Aadam through Nooh,Moosaa, Eesaa, Muhammad alaihimus salaam.

      A conversation begins with a single voice. The sound of flutter of a butterfly can create a tornado halfway round the world.Chaos theory

      Da’wah in the day is like a dead body. Du’aa at night gives it life. Ask Allaah for the Hidaayah of the person you are having heart-to-heart with, after Tahajjud.

  6. OMH

    March 25, 2010 at 6:19 AM

    How do you do dawah on the plane? Mosts of the time I have tried to have a conversation with people sitting next to me but they aren’t intersted in religion.

    JazakAllahu Khairan.

    • Ibn Masood

      March 25, 2010 at 7:09 AM

      Just have good character, be pleasant and have a casual conversation with them. InshaAllah be truthful and your Muslim values will show through and eventually the person will be asking “why do you think like that” etc. Or even you could simply talk about your own religious duties that you have to perform (e.g. after a casual conversation you might tell them about how you want to pray on the plane or start reading a book of Knowledge etc). Be creative in opening the door to talking about Islam.

      Allahu Alam but I feel that sometimes we may be too eager to jump into the da’wah and forget that we have to establish a connection with those we are doing da’wah with first.

    • Ismail Kamdar

      March 25, 2010 at 7:15 AM

      I always weigh the situation: If they are friendly or not interested in talking, either way I try to show Islam in my character.

      For example:

      When I sit down, I greet the person next to me and offer them assistance with anything, generally they either need help packing their hand-luggage in the overhead compartment or need help figuring out how to use the TV. Once that is done, they take a liking to me and after learning each other’s names, they ask me what I do for a living.

      My answer, “I teach Islam” :) and from there its non-stop Dawah. Although it only works if the person next to you is friendly also.

      On a flight to India last year, I sat next to an old Christian lady and after helping her figure out how to use her TV, we started talking religion. I explained Islam in detail to her, when we got of the plane she said, “It is nice to know there are young people like you are around, gives us older folks hope,” :)

      Then at Dubai airport, a fellow South African asked me to watch his luggage while he got something to eat, he was very grateful that I did so and while waiting for the next flight, we had a nice Dawah conversation.

      Those are just a few examples, there are no magic tricks to Dawah, you have to adapt to the situation and deal with each person differently. In his Dawah training course, Kamal El-Mekki taught us, “A Da’ee must be malleable” meaning he must able to adapt to dealing with different people and situation.

      Hope that helps :)

  7. ummahmed

    March 25, 2010 at 8:11 AM

    Assalamualykum brother,

    Jazakallahu khairaa for the reminder.I joined a class and I invited almost everyone to take up this Quran class..Alhamdulillah…I missed one and she said if I would have informed her ,she would have joined the class.There it hit me ..Yah Allah , Don`t make me regret like this on the last day..If any one [my neighbors, my mail man, passengers in the train ,my friends ] question me on the day of judgement , Why I didn`t inform them about Allah? what answer do I have? I was too busy myself. May Allah forgive our short comings.


  8. BintKhalil

    March 25, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    Assalamu alaikum

    What are good da’wah materials (books, online articles, youtube videos) you would recommend? I have a Jewish classmate in my Masters program who is very interested in Islam and asked me if there are any lectures, conferences, etc. that he could go to in New York. I myself have lived here for a short time and don’t really have much of a life outside of school, so I didn’t know of any to tell him. If anyone can recommend some to me (and also actual da’wah materials), it would be much appreciated.

    • Ismail Kamdar

      March 26, 2010 at 3:51 AM

      The best Dawah material in terms of DVDs is ‘The Deen Show, vol: 1 and 2″ Great stuff for Non-Muslims and Muslims alike.

      In terms of books, I recommend “The purpose of Creation” by Dr Bilal Philips.

      Of course, it also depends on their religion, background, etc, different books for different blokes!

      But the above seem to have universal appeal. Can’t recommend someone in that area because I have never been there, and can’t recommend pamphlets since every area has their own pamphlets

  9. Mariam E

    March 25, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    Asalamu Alikum warahmatu Allahi wabarakatu

    Jazak Allah khair for this reminder.

    One Da’yah that is really to be admired in his keenness to take on da’wah opportunities is Shaykh Muhammad Al-’Areefy (may Allah protect him). He has an amazing story that he has repeated in many lectures:

    This story occurred when he was on a trip to New Zealand. One day, he was standing and talking with some Muslim youth outside of their school. There was a big, old church near the school, and outside the church, a young man was standing and reading loudly from the Bible. So the Shaykh asked the youth what he was doing. And they explained to him that he always stands and reads as a method of calling people to Christianity. So the Shaykh approached the young man, who was also standing with 2 priests, one male and the other, female.

    He greeted them and shook the young man’s hand, praised his voice, and began asking him about what he was doing. He asked to look at the Bible, then he asked the young man to tell him about Christianity, and he did. But the Shaykh would stop him and ask them questions, which they would not be able to answer and they would only look at one another in confusion.

    Then the Shaykh asked them if they knew any Arabic or if they had heard it before, to which they replied negatively. And they did not know where he was from either. Then he asked them to listen to him.

    They listened and he began reciting 4 or 5 ayat (in Arabic) from Surat Maryam:

    “(This is) a mention of the mercy of your Lord to His slave Zakariya (Zachariah).
    When he called out his Lord (Allah) a call in secret,
    Saying: “My Lord! Indeed my bones have grown feeble, and grey hair has spread on my head, And I have never been unblest in my invocation to You, O my Lord!
    “And Verily! I fear my relatives after me, since my wife is barren. So give me from Yourself an heir,
    “Who shall inherit me, and inherit (also) the posterity of Yaqoob (Jacob) (inheritance of the religious knowledge and Prophethood, not the wealth, etc.). And make him, my Lord, one with whom You are Well-pleased!”. (Maryam 19:2-6).

    Then he stopped and looked up at their faces, which he found had changed.

    Then he began making up a story in Arabic, and ‘reciting’ it in the similar manner;

    ‘Ahmad went to the store and bought an apple…………….’

    Then he asked them if they felt a difference between the two recitations. The female priest replied that the first one was different. When he asked her how, she said because her heart felt it differently…she felt it affecting her heart. She said:

    ‘It is from God…The first one is from God.’

    He asked her about the second one, and she replied, ‘I don’t know, maybe it is an Arabic song or poetry….I don’t know.’

    Then she lifted her finger pointing to the sky and proclaimed:

    ‘But the first one is from God!’


    • Mariam E

      March 25, 2010 at 3:02 PM

      you can watch him practicing the same da’wah method with an Italian in Germany, who also admitted that he felt tranquility in his heart with the first recitation (Quran).
      (About 2:30 min. into the video):

    • Ismail Kamdar

      March 26, 2010 at 3:52 AM

      Subhanallah! What a beautiful story, and what a brilliant Da’ee.

      May Allah bless him

      • Sister

        March 26, 2010 at 4:17 AM

        What about sisters–I guess they can recite for women to practice this dawah method?

      • Amad

        March 26, 2010 at 4:59 AM

        Shaykh al-Areefi is a BRILLIANT man… I went to his halaqat after Tarawih prayers and even with my limited Arabic, I could understand nearly 90% of what he was saying… Don’t ask how…

        • Muhammad Elijah

          March 30, 2010 at 11:57 PM

          Assalaamu ‘Alaikum Amad
          We should avoid using our pictures because it is unanimously Haraam according to Fuqahaa. Rasool
          (sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) told us that most extreme ‘Azaab in Naar would be given to the
          Musawwiroon. Compare it with how Rasool (sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) forgave those who stoned
          Him in Taaif, to show the seriousness of this Haraam. I hope that you would be happy to listen to my Nahi ‘anil Munkar, beacuse people with Eemaan are the ones who are happy to listen to Nahi ‘anil Munkar,.

          • Muhammad Awais Tahir

            May 7, 2010 at 2:20 AM

            @ Muhammad Elijah

            There is no ‘unanimous’ opinion on photographs. Most of the arab scholars deem it to be allowed and most of the non-arab scholars say that its prohibited.

    • Amad

      March 26, 2010 at 5:04 AM

      This also reminds me of a recent incident… I had my Christian co-worker and neighbor over at my house for dinner… a solid guy. And then I was talking to him about my son’s Quran memorization and took that as an excuse to have my son recite half a page. I could see the guy’s face literally change and tears filling his eyes. If it weren’t for the fact that I knew that he didn’t know a word of Arabic, I might have thought that he was understanding every word!

      This is book, wherein there is no doubt. No doubt about that.

    • Elizabeth

      March 31, 2010 at 6:35 PM

      It makes sense to me that they felt peace after hearing those particular ayats. When I recite ayats about Isa al Masih there is always a stirring in my heart. I know that what the Qur’an says about him is true- he truly is one with whom Allah is well-pleased, and none of my Christian friends would disagree with this. Talking about the similarities between what the Injeel and the Qur’an say about Isa al Masih is a great way to connect with others about the things of Allah. Also, talking about the kingdom of God (the melakut Allah) is a good starting point.

      • Muhammad Elijah

        April 1, 2010 at 1:28 AM

        السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
        Assalamu ‘Alaikum Ukhtanaa fil Islaam/Our sister in Islam

        Are you a born Muslimah like most of us here?

        What you call a stirring in your heart is called Sakeenah سكينة in ‘Arabi.

        There is a subtle difference between Mulk and Malakoot which can be understood by studying the book Mufradaatul Qur’aan by Imaam Raaghib Asfahaani- a classical scholar of Islamic linguistics. Both of them can mean Kingdom. When al Maseeh ‘Eesaa bin Maryam(alaihis salaam, Peace be upon Him) returns with sword to kill Dajjaal/Antichrist he would establish remporal Kingdom of Allaah when righteousness would prevail on earth.Pornography,fornication,adultery, sodomy would end which Dajjaal’s forces are promoting.The historical Christendom is in the total control of the forces of Dajjaal disguised in the DECEPTIVE euphemisms of Western science and Western philosophy. Dajjaal comes from the root Dajl which means DECEPTION.

        • Muhammad Elijah

          April 1, 2010 at 1:53 AM

          I meant Temporal Kingdom of Allaah. Even the name of one of the Soorahs of Qur’aan is Sooratul Mulk which is the 67th Soorah of Qur’aan. رسول الله Rasool of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) (Apostle of Allaah, May Allaah bless Him and grant Him Peace) used to recite
          سورة الملك Sooratul Mulk every night before sleeping. He صلى الله عليه وسلم had said that this Soorah protects from عذاب القبر -the ‘Azaab of Qabr-The Torment in Grave. May Allaah protect us all from عذاب القبر
          Khaleefah ‘Uthmaan(رضي الله عنه ,radi Allaahu ‘anhu,May Allaah be pleased with Him) used to weep so
          much while visiting a Qabr, that His beard would become soked with tears. He (radi Allaahu ‘anhu)
          would say that Qabr is the first Manzil-the first station of all the stations of Aakhirah/Hereafter.

  10. muslimah101

    March 26, 2010 at 12:47 PM

    one of my christian friends wants to revert to Islam. she just dropped it on me out of nowhere and i was like ‘huh what’? she is dating a muslim guy and he wants her to convert. she is already searching for hijabs! idk what to tell her, she says she doesnt believe in Christianity so it doesnt matter if she changed her religion. she told me she always knew she wanted to marry a muslim dude cos they dont drink and sleep around. lol, yeah i wish it were true ( there are muslims who drink and commit zina)- i told her so but she has a very good image of muslim guys. im confused if i should hit her with some d’awah. she only wants to accept islam to please her boyfriend.

    • Rifai

      March 26, 2010 at 12:52 PM

      MashAllah , it looks as though u could be in the position to strike while the irons hot, so to speak, by relaying to this person the beauty of Islam. Hopefully , with your efforts and the help of Allah(SWT) she will love Islam and understand as much as she needs to , so that it is no longer for the sake of her boyfriend.

    • Ismail Kamdar

      March 29, 2010 at 2:41 AM

      Let her convert, befriend her and slowly work on her by showing her the beauty and truth of Islam, over time her intentions will change and she will embrace Islam wholeheartedly if Allah wills it.

  11. Sadaf Farooqi

    March 27, 2010 at 5:57 AM

    Wonderful post. Although I appreciate your humility a lot, Brother Ismail, I think you undermine yourself too much.
    The way you were reading that book despite overhearing that discussion between the two men, and the way you offered that lady her seat and answered her question about your dress, was probably very effective da’wah in and of itself. Sometimes, our body language and non-verbal gestures communicate more about Islam to onlookers than we think.
    I think it was wise of you not to get involved in the discussion between the two men. My guess is, they saw you sitting there reading, and you probably obviously looked like a Muslim to them, yet your lack of reaction to their statements about God could have been the very thing that might inspire them to eventually investigate about Islam more!
    Allah knows best.

    • Ismail Kamdar

      March 29, 2010 at 2:40 AM

      Jazakallah Khair for putting things in a positive light, ukhti. I also thought about that, but felt that I could have done more in this situation.

      Yes, insha Allah, my actions were Dawah but I could have done more productive Dawah, but Allah knows best. I try to make my every action a means of indirect Dawah, but I also feel direct Dawah through conversation is necessary, and Allah knows best.

  12. Mombeam

    March 29, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    as-salaamu `alaykum

    I haven’t read the comments yet but I just wanted to say I don’t think you necessariy “missed” anything. As an American myself I can tell you that many Americans do NOT like to be overtly preached to. It turns them off more than anything else. You offered a seat to the woman, that is da`wah! You were THERE, in the library,dressed as you were, acting as a human being. As many people only think of Muslims as crazed lunatics who live “somewhere else”, your mere presence is da`wah. Don’t get trapped into thinking that you must “talk about Islam” to every person you meet. In fact many people who convert do so after years and years of combined small positive experiences with Muslims which slowly plant small seeds of thought that they further investigate. If you turn yourself into a busybody who butts into every conversation with a comment about “religion”, people tend to be turned off. If you had butted into a conversation that was not yours but one that you just overheard, you could also have been a turnoff. You didn’t MISS anything. You did JUST FINE.

  13. Muhammad Elijah

    March 30, 2010 at 11:46 PM

    Assalamu ‘Alaikum waRahmatullaahi waBarakaatuhu

    I don’t agree with those who live in Daarul Kufr with a reason other than Da’wah, but I agree with Mombeam.
    Our silence is better than wrong conversation in a wrong way like being angry/being ill-informed with wrong people like those intent on kufr.

    Science and philosophy, unlike from Muslims, is an obstacle to Deen for non-Muslims. So, Dr. Maurice Bucaille’s Bible,Quran and Science is the best book you can offer as a gift. is the best Muslim philosopher, I have come across. He has published a book:The History of Qur’aan.

  14. ummammaar

    April 10, 2010 at 5:39 PM

    Asalamualikum ww;
    As of what i know is :Dawah means to tell Non muslims abt islam n Islah is used for Muslims!(Do correct me on this)

    My extended family bak in india swims in deep pools of shirk n bidáa, n most of the time when my husband i try to talk abt how imp it is to have correct aqeeda, everyone gets into BIG arguments n sometimes ppl even stop talking abt religion.

    we do have lotts of family gatherings but dare nyone talks abt, Islam. So heart breaking!

    The way they pray is WRONG, like men pray differntly n women different.

    we did pass on booklets abt , bidaa n shirk n Prophet”s way of salah.
    I do see some changes every year i go but its tooooooo slow—-maybe for doing Islah n dawaa work, a person needs to be in constant touch.

    jazakallah khairn

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