Dawah: How to Speak to People of Other Faiths

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Event Name: Dawah: How to Speak to People of Other Faiths
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Transcription Date:Transcription Modified Date: 3/29/2019 8:40:57 PM
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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.