What we need as my friend Fuad Nahdi recently said, is convergence of faith not conversion to faith. Shaykh Hamza said in a speech years ago that we need to rescue the concept of Da’wah from the missionaries. This beautiful Quranic concept has been hijacked (certainly not the only concept) by modern day Islamists and transformed into an instrument, not of representation, but of subversion for the purpose of conversion.
The question I would like to ask d’aee oriented scholars and our friends in the so-called “movement” (Ikhwan or Jamaat etc.) is whether the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, acted with ‘Ihsan’ to others because he was inherently good – i.e. good by his Divinely inspired character – or was he good to others because he wanted to win them over to Islam? In other words, when he visited his non-believing neighbors and acted with kindness, justice and generosity towards the Jews and Christians, was conversion his goal or was he acting in a manner pleasing to his Lord? Why then do we put winning hearts and minds on the menu when we exhort Muslims to act well towards others?
If someone in the position of Sudais (a person of spiritual authority) tells non-Muslims not to be afraid of Islam and then tells Muslims to do good to others because it will win them over to Islam, I would say he is recommending soft subversion and who could blame a non-Muslim for being deeply suspicious the next time a smiling Muslim comes knocking on his door. The “don’t be afraid of Islam” message is yet another form of double-speak when you can’t tell people to be good in their conduct because it is the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah. Full stop. He was of the best khuluq and when we emulate him we benefit in ways beyond our intellect could imagine.
And while I am on the topic of the need to rescue core traditional Islamic concepts from those with missionary zeal in their hearts, I am happy that some scholars are beginning to speak up. For example, the Jakarta Globe reported the following:
Said Aqil Siradj, the head of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) called on his own organization not to conduct “sweeps of entertainment venues” on the eve of Ramadan. He offered an explanation which included this: He said NU members must follow the teachings of Prophet Mohammad when he established the state of Madinah. “The concept he used is not for establishing an Islamic state or an Arab state but a civilized state.”
And that’s evident from the name of his adopted city which seized being Yathrib and became “Madinah”…from ‘daana’ to suppress, i.e. one’s nafs, the basis of what makes it possible to live in a civil society. Civil society is not about “me, me, me” but rather about the collective, the community, i.e. others. An idea the Salafis seem to have trouble with. I never expected this from NU much less from its current leader. I believe that from the periphery of the Muslim world will come the ideas that will present Islam to the West as ‘deen’ and not as a political ideology filled to the brim with fear, conspiracies and an obsession with conversion. Who becomes Muslim and who doesn’t is not up to us. It wasn’t even up the Prophet himself, peace and blessings be upon him. The One who guides to His Path does not ask for our opinion even as we must seek His guidance