Dawah: How to Speak to People of Other Faiths

Transcript Details

Event Name: Dawah: How to Speak to People of Other Faiths
Description: I`m not sure where this was found
Transcription Date:Transcription Modified Date: 3/29/2019 8:40:57 PM
Transcript Version: 1

Transcript Text











This is an invaluable talk for anyone interested in effectively communicating the teachings of Islam to people of other faiths. Hamza Yusuf describes the gentle style of the Prophet, peace be upon him, when speaking to people about Islam and his emphasis on talking to people at a level they can comprehend according to their own state. Hamza Yusuf reminds us to look at people of other faiths with the eye of mercy, to be tolerant and respectful of people’s views, and to remember that being a good example to others speaks more than a thousand words. An excellent speech for Muslims who want to share the beauty of Islam with other people of other beliefs.

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem


That was an interesting inroad what was just said to what I wanted to talk about, talking to people. That introduction was actually for non muslims, not for muslims. The reason for that is non muslims have a different criteria that muslims have for instance if I was talking to a non muslim a person is given credibility based on his prominence in a society often for muslims a person loses credibility based on his prominence in a society so these are very different ways of looking at a person. If somebody in the West met with a leader of a state that would be seen often as a sign of credibility. In the muslim world, it is often seen as a loss of credibility. That is very important in understanding the psychology of the people you are dealing with. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said “the best of kings are those who are at the doors of the scholars and the worst of scholars are those who are at the doors of kings” so it is actually the Islamic tradition that it is seen as a negative and not a plus. That again relates to criteria and how we assess things. That was an interesting sidenote but what I wanted to talk about today was looking at two aspects of dawah.


Dawah is misunderstood by many muslims to include muslims. The idea that we make dawah to muslims. There is no such things as dawah to muslims if we use dawah in the technical term that scholars use it in terms of calling people to Islam because muslims are already muslim so they do not need to be invited to Islam. The term that is used for dealing with muslims who are wereward and need to be reminded and that includes the majority of us is called “commanding to good and forbidding evil” or forbidding what is wrong. So that is what a muslim does with another muslim. That has conditions and that is what Shaykh Yusuf was talking about.  This idea of knowledge before you actually engage in dawah or in enjoining good and forbidding evil in calling people to Islam and in commanding to what is right and forbidding evil. There are many people who do not know what is right or wrong. An added nuance to that is what is called in Western civilisation “situational ethics” because there are things that are wrong in certain situations, they are not wrong in other situations. So we are not Kantian, if people have studied Western philosophy, they know something about the categorical imperative which is an ethical theory in Western society.


To tell a lie is always wrong and in any situation. That is not true in Islam. There are actually times when it is not only permissible to prevaricate it is actually considered an obligation. That would be if a tyrant is trying to unjustly kill or persecute somebody, it is actually permitted for you to divert that tyrant away from that innocent person through a lie and there are many examples of that, it can be looked at in the books of fiqh. But generally lying is a heinous wrong in Islam.  One of the things about lying is that it relates very much to dawah. The muslims in many ways, before I get into that, what I want to talk about is two aspects of dawah because I would say in many ways dawah does apply to muslims today and the reason I would say that is that there are many muslims that have deviated so far from Islam that even at the basic rudimentary beliefs of Islam that make you a muslim have been lost on many muslims so that in a more traditional period of time many muslims would actually be considered non muslims because of the erroneous beliefs that they hold. Now time is always taken into consideration and that is something very important in Shariah.


The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) during his early period, the way that he treated people was very different to his later period not because he changed but because the level of consciousness of the people had changed. For instance there are many hadith in which the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) excused the most gross breaches of courtesy. During the time of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) there was somebody who yanked his coat. He was a bedouin man, he literally yanked his coat. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was light skinned and because of that a red mark appeared on his neck and the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) dealt with this man in a very beautiful way partly because he understood that he was a bedouin and the bedouin are very rough in their behaviour. Also partly because the man was ignorant and when people are ignorant, there is a different level of understanding.


During the time of Imam Malik, somebody once had a very gross breach of adab or courtesy in his gathering and Imam Malik said something to him indicating that and the man came back with an even grosser breach of courtesy. At that point of a group of Malik’s teachers grabbed this man’s turban. They used to wear a tahneek, they wore a turban and under the neck it had two tails. They grabbed this man’s turban and dragged him out of the majlis or the gathering of Imam Malik. Now obviously in this age that would be unacceptable but in the time of Malik the level of knowledge in Madinah was so high. In this gathering if somebody started screaming or shouting and became violent you would want people to come in and control that person, remove them from the auditorium. That is because that is our level of tolerance. As a society becomes more rarified, the levels of tolerance in terms of breaches of courtesy become lowered which is a sign actually of high civilisation when breaches of courtesy are rejected. That is why if you look at traditional Japenese culture, very slight breaches of courtesy would have been so gross and unacceptable that people would actually have to leave the town or village that it occurred in. This is also occurred in the Arabian peninsula. There is a famous story about a man who once had such a gross breach of adab that he left the town he was in and he missed the town after 30 years of being away. He decided to come back and met a young man at the town. The young man asked the man where he was from. He said “I am from here but I moved away 30 years ago”. The young man said “were you here at that time when so and so did such and such?” and it was his breach.


In those type of cultures, things like that were the earmarks of the year. Muslims today now have distanced themselves so far from some basic teachings that to apply the same hadith that we find in the sunnah of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) that relate to a later time now would be a gross injustice. This is something that takes knowledge and discernment of understanding the situation, the level of the person you are talking to of who is in front of you. There are many people who have tape recorders and have pre-recorded messages that they are going to deliver. It does not matter who you are, it does not matter what your level of education is, this person who is a dai’ee will come, will click and turn on a cassette that is in his brain and the same thing will come out. Then he wonders why he keeps getting the same responses from people because when you are dealing with a human being you are dealing with a very complicated creature.


Each human being is bringing with him or her an entire history. They are bringing with them their childhood. They are bringing with them their relationships with their parents which is the first authoritarian experience and some people have very traumatic experiences with their parents which leads to a certain type of response to any type of authority that they see in the world. There are other people who have very dysfunctional family situations with their siblings, uncles, aunts, there are people who are victims of incest. There are people who are victims of child abuse. There are people that constantly witnessed their parents fighting. There are people that were abandoned by their father. There are children with no legitimacy, they do not even know who their father is which is another type of trauma. There are people that are raised orphans so each one of these human beings that you see out there has an entire biography and if you do not take that into consideration when looking at a person, that is a unique human being that has a unique experience of the world. As human beings we have a common experience in the world in terms of being human of being conscious. We have very particular experiences that give each one of us a nuanced perspective on the world. There are some people that the world has been a wonderful place since they got into it.


There was a cartoon that had three fish, one was a little fish about to be swallowed by a middle fish and then there was a giant fish about to swallow the middle fish. The little fish says “life is terrible” the middle fish says “it is not so bad” and the big fish says “life is great”. So people have very different experiences. If you take for instance this culture, minorities that grow up in certain areas they have a completely different experience of America. If you grow up for instance in Harlem or East Auckland you will have a very different experience of America than if you grow up in Los Gattos or in Auckalnd Hills. If you went to a public school, you will have a different experience of America than if you went to a private school. If you went to a state university you will have a different experience of America than if you went to Yale or Harvard. So we are dealing with many different experiences of the world when we look at people. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) when he looked at people he saw who he was looking at. Musab ibn Umayr who actually was sent to Madinah for the coming of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) learned about everybody in that city. When the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) came, he sat next to him and when people would come into his majlis, he sat next to him and would whisper into his ear “this is so and so, he has this position”.  He would inform the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) of who this man was because the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) did not talk to the sayyid of a people, the noble man of a people in the same way he would talk to another person. This is not because he treated people differently but he said “I was commanded to observe the protocols of people”. And every people have a protocol. So when you go into, for instance a judge, contempt of court, being held in contempt is not the same as if you are in a gathering of a group of people and you start raising your voice because you want to make a point. In a court, you cannot raise your voice like that because the judge will not tolerate it, why? He will not tolerate it because he represents something and if you do not respect what he represents he will fine you, hold you in contempt of court, he will have you arrested if he has to. Every society has these protocols and if they are not understood and observed then you are doing a misjustice to the people you are dealing with. Some of them are fine, Islam accepts them and other ones that if people became muslim they would throw them out of the window because not everything is appropriate and those things that become part of a culture are understood by those people to have a certain input and if they are not honoured by other people they see it as a disrespect. That is why a stranger is often excused for certain things.


When I was in West Africa one of the things that I did not know is that if you are married to somebody’s daughter you never eat or drink in the presence of their parents which is actually a pre-Islamic tradition but the Arabs of Africa still have that tradition. I was on a journey once with a man and we were going to the house of his father in law. He said to me “I am really thirsty” and I agreed. When we got to the house, his father in law was there. Then they brought some milk. I handed it to him and he said “I don’t want any”. I said “you just told me that you were thirsty”. He said no, no I am not thirsty”. I said “Bismillah, just drink”. He said no. Then I heard the women in the back giggling. I didn’t know what was going on. I drank the milk and he explained to me later. So that was a breach of adab or courtesy in that culture that I was not taken to account for but had he taken that, it would have been considered rude and disrespectful. There are immigrants that come to this country that think that the Americans have no traditions, that they have no culture or civilisation and they are wrong. There are many levels of society in America and you might have been introduced to one, two or three but this culture has many levels. You can get into those most rarified circles and there is a completely different set of protocols than you will find in say popular culture which can obviously be very crude and popular culture in most civilisations has been rude. It is a testimony to faith based cultures that often the popular culture has not been a crude culture. It is an indication that real values and virtues have permeated the societies so the people are living at a certain level.


When we look at individuals we have to look at all those backgrounds. I have been in Saudi Arabia in houses where the brother of someone who is married to a woman has never seen his brothers wife face because it would be considered a breach of courtesy and that is in the eastern province and I have been in those houses and never seen any of the women. I have been in Hijaz in houses where the women are dressed like American women and they view no shame and there is nothing wrong in sitting as far as they are concerned and if you told them something was wrong they would be surprised because they were not even raised like that. I was once having dinner and there was some Saudi people there and I said “you know in Saudi I have always eaten on the floor” and this person said to me “do people eat on the floor in Saudi?”. And she grew up her entire life in Saudi and she was not joking. She had been in a certain society that simple that was what the bedouin did. I said “no city people”. She said “city people that eat on the floor?”. There are people in this country that you will find they will be shocked to find out certain types of behaviour in certain areas. So this is something very interesting about all these multiple levels of existence that are happening on the same planet at the same time. Therefore in speaking to people you have to recognise, you have to determine what type of background. Educational background. You have to determine ethnic background. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was concerned about tribes, about knowing which tribe the person came from. If he was a Qalbi or Harbi, it was different in Arabia than being from the Hawazam or from the Qurayshi or Banu Tamim. That is true in every culture. You will always have those demarcations, it is part of human nature.


So in looking at how we are dealing with dawah in terms of muslims and inviting muslims back to Islam we have to understand there are many people who have been so distanced from Islam that you cannot expect them for instance if you meet a woman now in America who grew up, she might be Palestinian or Afghani or an Egyptian or Pakistani woman but she has grown up in a very secular home but she knows she is muslim and if you treat her as if “why aren’t you wearing a hijab? Why don’t you cover your hair? Don’t you know that is haram?”. There was a muslim man who came to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) of Allah who gave him as a gift a bottle of wine. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said “didn’t you know that Allah prohibited wine?”. He said “I did not know that”. Then he whispered to the man who came with him a servant and then the man said “What did you just tell him?”. He said “I told him to go sell it”. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said “the one that prohibited its drinking also prohibited its selling. He said “In that case go dump it out”. Now the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) did not say to him “what is wrong with you, how dare you bring a  bottle of wine as a gift”. There are muslims who would say “A’udoo billah, go to hell or something”. And slam the door on them. That is not what the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) did. That is not how he treated the person because he was looking at the level of a persons knowledge and consciousness.


People are on an evolutionary journey. We believe in evolution in a different way. People in this culture associate evolution with moving from lower order creatures to higher order creatures. But evolution of the soul is something very real. There are people at different levels. There are Arabs that say “the good actions of the righteous are the bad actions of the people in the divine presence” because the evolution is different. So somebody might be a very good muslim but he does not even know that his actual state, there are many muslims, that outwardly everything is fine but there is an inward fiqh and an outward fiqh. There are inward rules for the prayer. You could do a perfect prayer outwardly so your fiqh of the Dhuhr is perfect but your inward fiqh, the khushoo in the prayer, the sakinah in the prayer, the hudoor in the prayer, the presence of mind in prayer, you could be thinking about whether the Giants won the game yesterday. There are muslims in the Bay area that are concerned about that right now. But that might be where the heart is and where your heart is that is where you are. So your body might be in prayer but your heart is in sin. That is Bani Adam.


So you have to look at the level of the persons spiritual evolution in speaking to them and understanding. I have heard people years ago that got into these big arguments with me and then years later they met me and apologised. In fact that just happened to me recently from somebody who just came up to me and apologised. I said “don’t worry about it”. But where that person was, he could not see something that he was not able to see later about something he thought was wrong but later on he realised it was not wrong based on his knowledge and understanding at that age. That is something we all go through. There are things that we think are absolutely wrong and later on were learn they are right or they were at least possible, that there was room for interpretation but people that are hasty to judge, that is a sign of spiritual immaturity. Imam at Mazhari, it was said about him that his knowledge was so vast that he rarely saw anybody do something wrong because he would always find that is so and so’s opinion or maybe he is following so and so’s fatwa. So traditionally the ulema considered it a sign of immaturity for people that were so hasty to condemn other people. It was actually a sign of immaturity. One of the tragedies of the modern muslim condition is that because of mass education which is largely secular, people have been introduced into literacy and that enables them to read books that in previous periods of time they would not have been able to read.


One of the things about reading books without suhbah is that you take rules without realities. You will take the outward but not the inward with it and one of the signs traditionally of an auto didact in the muslim world is that they had a habitual condemnation of others. Ibn Hazam, he was a great scholar and I love his books but he was known for being really fierce with some of the other scholars, attacking them. He was also known for being didact. He was somebody that did not study with a shaykh. He had a brilliant intellect and he studied on his own. There are many scholars in the history of Islam that were like that. They were brilliant and the ulema actually debate whether you can acquire knowledge without a teacher or not and most of the ulema believe you can if you have enough brilliance or intelligence, natural gifts that you but you will always be deficient in tarbiyah that the person will not have those qualities that are associated with taking knowledge from people who have taken knowledge from people who have taken knowledge back to the Messenger of Allah because there is a tahdeeb, polishing of the soul, that goes with the knowledge because as that scholar you are studying with, he is breaking away ignorance because knowledge is already in the soul and what he is doing is sculpting what is already in the soul. You cannot acquire anything that was not already in you. That is what knowledge is. Education in latin means to bring out of. It means to lead out of. Alama means that Allah has already imprinted in the human being knowledge and that is why the Quran is called dhikr. It is the remembrance because what you are doing is you are remembering what was already put in you. If your heart is so encrusted, there is blockage and you are unable to recollect. It is like a person who lived through an event but he cannot remember. What will often prevent you from remembering things is trauma, trauma of the world. There are people who are unable to study or learn.


In terms of dealing with muslims, the basic premise has to be compassion. We have to have compassion for our brothers and sisters. We have to recognize that all these ayahs and hadith that are brought such as frowning in the face of an innovator, those hadith were all related when the ummah was filled with knowledge and they applied to times when people’s deviancy is clearly unacceptable. When you have times where nobody knows anymore what the truth is, I mean, our books are now being manipulated. Last night I was showing people that I have in my library the same book that was printed in 1970 and it has things in it that were taken out in later editions. The publishing house was purchased by a certain sect that did not want those ideas being disseminated in the ummah so people do not even realise that their books are being manipulated. The tradition of Islam is being changed in computers and things are being blocked out or deleted, just retype set. You read a book and you think you are reading what the author said and people have removed from it. That is one of the things that Allah says “those who change or alter words from their appropriate places”. So people do not even realise that the deen is being changed before their very eyes although the deen is protected and we believe that but that does not mean you cannot have a type of treachery. Historically it has occurred also, in the time of Imam Sharhari who said people put things in their books. There are people on the internet who write things about people that have never happened and then it becomes a lie. One of the hadiths in the sahih, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said “there is coming a time when somebody will tell a lie and it instantaneously it will reach the corners of the earth”. The hadith says a man will speak a lie and he did not say thumma, he said fa, it will immediately thereafter be all over the world.


One of the things about liars in Shariah, you are a liar if you tell something that you have not confirmed its veracity.  A lot of muslims do not know that because they have not studied the rules of the tongue. Kadhab in the Arabic language is somebody that continually tells lies. It is different from Kadhur. In the hadith literature, a person would be declared a liar if he did not verify the sanad. There are people who read the books of hadith now and it says the narrator was a liar and they do not understand that the ulema meant he was not someone who fabricated hadiths, he was somebody that did not verify the truthfulness of the hadith and would relate it as if it were true which is a liar in Shariah. So if somebody tells you something about somebody and you go and tell somebody else and it is not true then you are written as a liar and if you keep doing that you become a liar with God because you can tell a lie in your life but if you do it consistently you become a liar with Allah and a liar is the worst of creatures and the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said “it is enough to consider a man evil that he relates everything he hears”. The Quran says if a fasiq comes to you with some news you should immediately find our whether that is true or not and in a riwayah it says to find out what is being said and to understand it and to find out whether it is really from that person. There are things that you hear and you do not know what they meant by it. So and so said such and such. You do not even know, you have to ask the person what they mean. A qadi does that, even in the rules of apostasy, the qadi has to ask the person, “what did you mean?” because he might have meant something completely different.


There is a hadith that says “if a person drinks wine, he is flogged, if he does it again he is flogged, if he does it again he is flogged, the fourth time it says kill him”. Even though it is a sahih hadith, none of the fuqaha accepted the hadith as a ruling. They leave it on the books because it has a sound sanad but it is not the fiqh of this ummah, it is not the jurisprudence of the Shariah. There are other many hadiths like that. There is a sahih hadith that says “may Allah cure the thief that steals an egg and loses his hand”. So someone who has his Muhsin Khan Bukhari and reads it, so if you steal an egg and you get your hand cut off, none of the fuqaha took that hadith. That is why ibn Abdul Barr in the 6th century was complaining in his age, a man who memorized 100,000 hadiths by heart and is called Hafidh al Maghrib with all the isnae and has a 30 volume book on Maliki fiqh and another 20 volume book on the Muwatta. He said “what a terrible time I am living in, these people memorise the hadith and they do not study fiqh” so he was already complaining about people who were reading books of hadith thinking they knew what they meant.


I mean there are people who think ahle dimmah are just the Jews and Christian and they go round telling people if you are not Jew or Christian you cannot live under Islam. That is not true, that is one opinion. That is not a universal opinion. It was not the practiced opinion of the ruling powers of Islam. The Ottomans did not do that, the Hanafis in India did not do that and the Maliks certainly did not do that because Imam Malik accepted jizya even from the idol worshipper and that is learning fiqh. So part of the problem is that we have people running around who have not studied. The problem with literacy is that it empowers ignorant people. They say a little education is a dangerous thing. That is an American proverb. There is another American proverb “beware of the one book man” and that is about fundamentalist Christians who only learn the bible. It is the only book they will ever read and they know it inside out but it is dangerous when all you know is one book. That is all the Khawarij knew, they knew the Quran, they did not know the sunnah, the book of the fuqaha. They knew the Quran inside out and they used to quote from the Quran. The thing about the Quran is whatever you want to find, it is in there. Ali said “If I lost a camel, I would find it in the Quran”. I mean whatever you want to find is in there. Allah says He guides many by it and he leads many astray by it so don’t think that you cannot go astray with this Book. Allah is also Mudhil, people forget that name. People like the name Al Hadi. A lot of people know one name of God but do not know another name of God. That names goes with Al Hadi. People have to be very careful. The Quran can lead you astray and you are quoting it right into hell. Imam al Qaradi said if you interpret the Quran out of ignorance, he considered it kufr, just to say you think you know what the Quran meant. One of the things about modern literacy is that it enables people to read things they would never have read before. Part of the thing about studying with a scholar is that the ulema say “The food of adults is poison for little infants” and was always seen as tadurruj, that when you first begin studying with a teacher he takes you through alif, baa, thaa. You learn the alphabet and then you move on. Now we have people who have a PhD in engineering but they have not gone to kindergarten in Islam and they want to read the PhD books of Islam. If you ask them what are the huroof in tajweed, you ask them basic things about the recitation of the Quran that a 10 year old in madrassah knows they do not know yet they are reading tafseer. This is the type of situation that we find ourselves in so humility after compassion. Having a basic humility about where your level is in the big picture because if you do not know what the Shaykh said earlier, there is a book in Sahih Bukhari called learning knowledge before one speaks and there are people who say the Prophet  (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said “teach an ayah even if that is all you know”. I said that is not what it said, what translation did you read? It says “give news of my message even if it is one ayah”, it does not say even if that is all you know. You might quote the wrong ayah. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) when he called At-Tanuki to Islam, he just talked about paradise. He is bashir before he is nadir. He gives good news before he frightens people but he does have that message as well. Now that is dealing with muslims with muslims.


Going towards dealing with non muslims. One of the basic policies of muslim states was that they did not have conversion policies. The Ummayads actually discouraged conversion to Islam and that is historically documented. They discouraged conversion to Islam. They way they did it was you had to join an Arabian tribe in order to become a muslim. That was stopped by Umar bin Abdul Aziz, the fifth rightly guided caliph. He ended that system. The Abasid who were much more tolerant than the Ummayids and they dropped the total war policy because the Ummayads had a war policy. They believed in this idea that it is historical destiny that Islam has to conquer the entire planet and they basically destroyed their empire in attempting that, it imploded. They just expanded too quickly, too far, too fast and it imploded. The Abasids recognizing the fallacy of that argument adopted a much more tolerant approach and this comes also from the Bar Meccads who were Afghans who came from an extremely tolerant background who were the dominant ministers and they had been Buddhist prior to being muslim. The Bar Meccad family was a famous priestly family in Afghanistan and they adopted a much more tolerant position of dealing with conquered people and that goes all the way until 1258. The Moghals were initially very barabaric but became quite civilized and they also had extremely tolerant policies. The Ottomans taught them all. They did not have a conversion policy. They did not in any way proselytize to non muslims. They literally let them, they had their own court systems and this came from the hadith in which the Prophet  (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was asked by the Jews to judge between them. Allah says “how can they come to you and ask you to judge between them and they have the Torah and what is the rule of Allah?” so Allah in the Quran actually says that the Jews have their Torah and they should not use the Quran as their source of judgment unless they become muslims. For that reason the Ottomans had courts for the Jews in which the Rabbis did their own rulings and the Christians had their own courts. The Otttomans did not get involved unless it was penal.


In the same that in this country we have what is called people’s courts. If people agree in private arbitration, they can do that and that is a good aspect of this country whereas with penal if you get outside civil code and into criminal code then the state takes it authority and it was similar in the Ottoman empire. As long as it was civil it was left to the milat to decide their own rulings and that is according to some researchers where the West actually got that because Henry Stubbs was an expert on Ottoman policies of toleration of the Ottomans, if the Europeans adopted it, it would solve the problems of religious wars. From Hobbs, you get Locke who invites the famous treaties on toleration which becomes the pillar of American freedom because America probably has the first freedom of religion act which is in the 17th Century in Marilyn. It is quite radical although it is very consistent with the Ottoman tradition. Then obviously the founding fathers were very wary of having any state religion and they felt that all religions including Islam and Thomas Jefferson mentions it very clearly that muslims should have the right to worship and John Aday says not only should they have the right to worship but we should prevent religious tests in order to prevent other religions from actually being in public office so this is a part of early American history.


So where did the spread of Islam come? It usually came from individuals the people who are called muhsinun and particularly from people that were associated with what was later termed the Sufiyah. These people had probably and there is a book called “The Role of Sufis in the Spread of Islam”. Anybody who is from the Indian subcontinent and Pakistan knows that the spread of Islam is directly related to the famous awliya, they call them awliya, who came into that country and just by their presence and by their spiritual states many people became muslim. This is also true like Bosnia. It is very well known that the Ottomans did not have a policy on the Bosnians and it was the Qadri sufi order and the Beshti sufi order that went up into the mountains and began to call these people to Islam because they were always very active in proselytizing Islam. Now one of the things about people of tasawuf traditionally in the muslim world is that they were known for tolerance. They were people that were less condemnatory, less judgmental which is obviously why they were very successful in calling other people to Islam. I will give you an example, Habib Umar bin Mahfooz who is a Yemeni scholar and has a madrassah in Tarim, an American was studying with him and he said if you want to call people in America to Islam, then it is based upon a condition that whoever you talk to, you see them as better than you and he said the reason for that is Allah says “We do not punish people until we send them a messenger” and so those people who have not heard the message of Islam have an excuse with their Lord for whatever they are doing whereas any of your disobedience you have no excuse so that is a different way of looking at it. Instead of looking at people with contempt, you actually look at them with compassion. Instead of seeing them as your enemies you see them as your potential friends and brothers and that is what the Quran says “Perhaps God will put between those that you know feel animosity or enmity towards, put between you and them love and Allah is All Powerful, and Allah is all Forgiving and Merciful”. Allah when He said to the Prophet  (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) you have nothing to do with this, if Allah wants to guide them and forgive them, that is His business. In other words the people who were treating them the worst at that time, when he saw his Uncle Hamza mutilated, he swore an oath he would mutilate 70 people from amongst them because was a Messenger from God but he was also masoom. His nature was impeccable, he was a human being and felt things strongly and he wept when he saw suffering, it caused him to move inside. He wept tears when he saw pain. He visited a sick man once and because the man was suffering he began to weep and when the sahaba saw his weeping they all began to weep. That was from visiting a sick man. So he was a human being. After seeing Hamza mutilated, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said “If Allah wants He will guide them and He did guide both of them” (Hind and Wahshi). The two people who did that, Allah guided them and the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) took shahada from them and sat with them after swearing an oath that he would mutilate 70.


That is not your business and if you have that hatred or animosity in your heart, you are missing something very important about Allah’s creation. So looking at people with compassion. I will tell you another very interesting thing. A lot of muslims do not know this. It is the opinion that makes most sense to me and because it is from an Imam Murshid and it is a valid opinion. It is from Imam al Ghazali from a book that he wrote. He categorises non muslims into three categories and places two of them in paradise so you think about that. He said non muslims fall into three categories:


1) Those who live under the justice of Islam and see the beauty and truth of Islam and reject it. He said these people are for hell. Or they live near the lands of Islam and know the benefits of Islam because in those days Hungarians used to flee from Christian rule to live in the Ottoman empire. Hungarian Christians and this is all documented. There was upward mobility which did not exist in the muslim world. Some of the greatest Ottoman sailors were not Turks, they were Greeks who fled the Greek navies because there was upward mobility in the Ottoman navy. You could actually move up, in the Greek navy if you were a man that just rowed the oars, that was your life because only aristocrats got into positions of authority. In the Ottoman empire, there was meritocracy so if you showed that you had leadership qualities, if you showed that you had that ability, you were upwardly mobile. Murada was a Scottish man who became an admiral in the Ottoman empire. He was a Scottish man, what you call renegados because in Britain a lot of the Scots and the Irish, because there was no upward mobility in England, if you were not born into the sacred caste of the Brahmins or if you were a Shadra stuck being an untouchable, the Dalits, that is it, that is how the world is. If you were born into a bricklayers house, you were a bricklayer whether you liked it or not irrespective of your abilities. Brilliant people are sons of bricklayers. In a meritocracy, you are allowed to be upwardly mobile which is often what the Ottoman empire was.


2) People who live far away from the lands of Islam and have not heard anything about Islam. That is the dominant Maturedi and Ashari opinion about those people. They are ahle-fitrah, they have the same hukm as the people between the messengers like the Arabs before Islam. That is the dominant opinion, there are other opinions but that is the dominant opinion. Ibn Rushid says when you talk about the rahmah of Allah, always try to expand it, do not try to restrict it. He said it is the nature of rahmah. He said the womb expands, it does not contract, it expands in order to accommodate the growth of the foetus. We want to contract it, that is called abortion. So that is the nature of rahmah, it expands to accommodate. A lot of people do not know what hell is and that is why there are so many people that are so quick to put people in hell because if you knew what it was you would not want your worst enemy to go to hell. But people do not know what it is so they just want to send everybody there, the guy who raised his rent, go to hell.


3) People who have been taught since they were little that there was an impostor in the Arabian peninsula named Muhammad ibn Abdullah. He lied and claimed he was a Prophet. They are all terrorists and this and that. That is what they have heard. Imam Ghazali said these people have blocks to the truth because they were already indoctrinated. We know the power of this in modern psychology. The power of what happens when you are a child. When the Prophet emerged in the Arabian peninsula, those people had the opposite, they only had the positive opinions of him. The Quraysh only knew good from him. If you go to a people and all you hear since you are little is that this is a lie like Masonite Christians are taught since they are little children, this is an evil religion, an evil man and many Jewish people grow up with that as well that Islam is bad. So that creates blockages from the truth. Imam Ghazali said that he felt because it was presented to them in a distorted fashion they would not be held accountable for it. He said that in other words that to him seemed most consistent with divine justice.


So when you look at people out there, you should look with the eye of mercy. That is if you want to be effective. Allah says “God does not forgive that you associate with Him, He forgives whatever He wants after that”. That is important for us to remember. Now the other thing important to remember is according to our dominant theologians, shirk that you are taken to account for is the shirk that has been made clear to you because Allah says “do not associate with God once you know” and that is why when a man came to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) he said “Masha’Allah, Allah willed and you willed” (Ibn Majah, Tabarani) but the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) did not call him a mushrik or kafir. He said “say Allah willed and then Muhammad willed”. You see he taught him how to remove that dangerous shirk. That is something very important for people to recognise. It is haram in Shariah according to Abu Bakr ibn Al Arabi, in Ahkam ul Quran, he said it is prohibited to make dua against any specific individual because you do not know their khatimah whereas you can make dua against enemies that are attacking muslims. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) made dua for people to lose battles and things like that because they were persecuting. Persecution is worse than killing. Making dua against individuals specifically is not something you should do and the few hadith in which the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) specifically mentioned individuals is considered to be unique to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) because he knew some people, he was told. There is a hadith in the jariyah where a girl sang “we have a Prophet who knows what is going to happen tomorrow” and the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said “do not say that, just say what you were saying before”. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) did not say haram. We have all these muslims now that are ready to turn 90% of muslims into mushrikeen.