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Caller to Islam

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Title: Caller to Islam  
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Subject: Ismailism, Surat, Al-Mustansir Billah, List of Muslim callers, Al Jamea tus Saifiyah, Alamut (1938 novel), Mu'ayyad fi'l-Din al-Shirazi, History of Nizari Ismailism
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Caller to Islam

For other uses, see Dawa.

Da‘wah (Arabic: دعوة‎) or Dawah means the proselytizing or preaching of Islam. Da‘wah literally means "issuing a summons" or "making an invitation", being the active participle of a verb meaning variously "to summon" or "to invite" (whose triconsonantal root is د ع ى). A Muslim who practices da‘wah, either as a religious worker or in a volunteer community effort, is called a dā‘ī (داعي), plural du‘āt (دعاة). A dā‘ī is thus a person who invites people to understand Islam through a dialogical process, and may be categorized in some cases as the Islamic equivalent of a missionary, as one who invites people to the faith, to the prayer, or to Islamic life.[1]

Early Islam

In the Qur'an, the term da'wah has other senses. In Sura 30:25 of the Qur'an, it denotes the call to the dead to rise on the Day of Judgment. When used in the Qur'an it generally refers to Allah's invitation to live according to His will. Thus, when used in the first centuries of Islam, it increasingly referred to the content of that message and was sometimes used interchangeably with sharī‘a and dīn.

Da‘wah is also described as the duty to "actively encourage fellow Muslims in the pursuance of greater piety in all aspects of their lives," a definition which has become central to contemporary Islamic thought.[2]


In Islamic theology, the purpose of Da‘wah is to invite people, both Muslims and non-Muslims, to understand the worship of Allah[3] as expressed in the Qur'an and the sunnah of the Prophet, as well as to inform them about Muhammad.[2] Da‘wah produces converts to Islam, which in turn grows the size of the Muslim Ummah, or community of Muslims.[2]

Da'wah or the Call towards Allah, is the means by which the Islamic Prophet Muhammad spread the message of the Qur'an to mankind. After Muhammad, his followers or Ummah assumed the responsibility of the Dawah to the people of their times.[2] They convey the message of the Qur'an by providing information on why and how the Qur'an preaches monotheism.[4]


The importance of Dawah has been emphasised many times in the Quran, addressing the followers of Muhammad:

Who is better in speech than one who calls to Allah, does righteous deeds and says indeed I am among the Muslims.
—Quran , Sura 41 (Fussilat), ayah 33[5]
You are the best nation raised up for humankind. You enjoin righteousness, forbid corruption and you believe in Allah.
—Quran , Sura 3 (Al-Imran), ayah 110[6]
Let there arise among you a group inviting to all that is good, enjoining righteousness and forbidding evil. Those are the successful ones.
—Quran , Sura 3 (Al-Imran), ayah 104[7]
Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good preaching.
—Quran , Sura 16 (An-Nahl), ayah 125[8]

In the Hadith of Muhammad, dawah has also been mentioned to further emphasise importance and virtues:

"Whoever directs someone to do good will gain the same reward as the one who does good.”[9]

"Whoever calls to guidance will receive the same reward as the one who follows him without any decrease in the reward of his follower."[10]

"For Allah to guide someone by your hand is better for you than having red camels."[11] Camels were considered the most valuable property in ancient Arabia and the red variety was the most prized of all.

“Convey from me, even if it be only a single verse."[12]

Muhammad sent Muadh ibn Jabal to Yemen and told him “You will be going to Christians and Jews, so the first thing you should invite them to is the assertion of the oneness of Allah, Most High. If they realize that, then inform them that Allah has made five daily prayers obligatory on them. If they pray them, then inform them that Allah has made the payment of charity from their wealth obligatory on their rich to be given to their poor. If they accept that, then take it from them and avoid the best part of people’s property.”[13]

Proselytizing methods


With regard to Muhammad's mild nature in preaching Islam, the Quran says:

"And by the mercy of Allah you dealt with them gently. If you were harsh and hard hearted, they would have fled from around you" (Quran 3:159).

The Quran says about Moses and Aaron who preached to Pharaoh, the claimant of God,:

"So speak to him, both of you, mildly in order that he may reflect or fear God." (Quran 20:44).

Muhammad was reported by his wife, Aisha to have said “Whenever gentleness is in a thing it beautifies it and whenever it is withdrawn from something it defaces.”[14]

Muhammad was quoted by Jareer as saying,“One deprived of gentleness is deprived of all good."[15]


"Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided ...". Sura An-Nahl, 16: 125

A classical example of diversion in dawah can be seen in the case of Prophet Yusuf in prison when two prisoners asked him to interpret their dreams. Then it occurred to them, after they had seen the proofs to imprison him for a time. And there entered with him two young men in the prison. One of them said: “Indeed, I saw myself pressing wine.” The other said: “Indeed, I saw myself carrying bread on my head and birds were eating from it.” [They asked:] “Inform us of the interpretation of these things. Indeed, we believe you are one of the righteous.” He replied: “Whenever food came to you as your provision, I informed you about it before it came. That is from what my Lord has taught me. Indeed, I have abandoned the religion of a people who did not believe in Allah and the Hereafter. And I have followed the religion of my fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and we would never attribute any partners whatsoever to Allah. This is from the Grace of Allah to us and to humankind, but most people are not thankful. O my two prison companions! Are many different lords better than Allah, the One, the Irresistible? You are only worshiping besides Him names which you and your fathers made up for which no authority was revealed by Allah. Judgment belongs to Allah alone. He has commanded that you worship none besides Him; that is the upright religion, but most people do not know. O my two prison companions! As for one of you, he will pour wine for his lord to drink and as for the other, he will be crucified and birds will eat form his head. This is the case judged concerning which you both inquire.” Sura Yusuf, 12: 35-41

Speaking a Common Language

“I did not send any messenger except that he spoke the language of his people to explain to them.” Sura Ibrahim, 14: 4


Doing Dawah in the right location. For example, Mount Safa in the time of Muhammad was used for announcements. So Muhammad went there to make his point. He chose that particular location because he knew the people who he was inviting to Islam. He knew their nature and characteristics, so he chose Mount Safa. He climbed up to its summit and addressed his people saying: “O people of Quraysh, if I were to tell you there was an army behind this hill would you listen to me?”[16]

Proselytizing movements

Modern Dawah movements are varied in their objectives and activities for example:

  • Muslim Brotherhood has focused on a methodology of building grassroots institutions and funding welfare projects which has helped it survive decades of repression under various dictatorships in many middle eastern countries, with the group and its many off shoots still enjoying popular support and power.[17][18]
  • Jamaat-e-Islami has focused on presenting Islam as a complete way of life and on the methodology of building grassroots institutions and funding welfare projects.
  • Tablighi Jamaat works on trying to bring the Muslims back to the fundamental practises of Islam such as worship, they do this through encouraging members to speak and to teach them the virtues of good actions, the movement has a following of between 100 and 150 million people.[19]
  • Ahmed Deedat was a notable debater who was a revolutionary figure amongst Muslims for his effort in debating Christian polemics, many Muslim debaters from popular debaters to grassroots Dawah campaigners use his books and videos as reference material.[20][21]
  • Zakir Naik was a student of Ahmed Deedat and followed in his teachers footsteps by debating Christian polemics and by holding Q&A sessions with Christians, Zakir Naik is particularly notable for taking the effort of debating Christian polemics to the Muslim mainstream with his popular channel Peace TV.[22]
  • Hizb ut-Tahrir is a movement which focuses on educating the Muslim masses about khilafat and on establishing khilafat.[23]
  • iERA is a research institute based in London which seeks to debate Muslim and non-Muslim intellectuals, help new Muslims, train speakers and produce academic research papers on Dawah issues.[24]

See also

Islam portal



  • Encyclopaedia of Islam, Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, OCLC 399624
  • Hirschkind, Charles (2004). "Civic Virtue and Religious Reason: An Islamic Counter-Public" in Drobnick, Jim Aural Cultures. ISBN 0-920397-80-8.
  • The Multiple Nature of the Islamic Da'wa, Egdūnas Račius, Academic Dissertation, October 2004. University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Institute of Asian and African Studies.
  • Saqr, Abdul B. How to Call People to Islam, Trans. Shakil Ahmed. Riyahd: WAMY.

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