“â€¦; why should not then a company from every party of them go forth that they may acquire (proper) unders-tanding in religion, and that they may warn their people when they return unto themâ€¦” Holy Qur’an (Tawba 9: 122)
This verse discusses about the obligation of acquiring religious knowledge, as well as, spreading it to others. It establishes the connection between the imperative nature of studying Islam, being aware of its thoughts and concepts and assimilating its culture, on the one hand, and inviting to it, propagating it and presenting it to others, on the other hand. This is because acquiring knowledge `tafaqquh’, which is mentioned in the verse, means understanding, ideological and intellectual awareness, as well as, grasping the Islamic rules, aims and objectives.
This is how this holy verse made it compulsory upon all Muslims to acquire knowledge, as well as, calling people to Allah. Allah, the Most High says:
“Say (O Our Apostle Muhammad): `This is my way, I invite (you all) unto Allah; with clear sight, (which) I and he who follows me (possesses); anad glory be to Allah, and I am not of the polytheists.” Holy Qur’an (Yusuf 12: 108)
Indeed, if this Qur’anic exposition talks on acquiring religious knowledge in its capacity as a collective responsibility which must be discharged to the level of sufficiency, and that the propagator should invite others with clear awareness, comprehension and insight, then, other verses teach the missionaries and propagators the method to be used in calling people to Islam. For instance, His saying:
“And call unto the way of you r Lord with wisdom and kindly exhortation and dispute with them in the manner which is the best.” Holy Qur’an (Nahl 16: 125)
“â€¦Repel you (evil) with what is the best, when lo! He between whom and you was enimty, shall be as though he were a warm friend.” Holy Qur’an (Fussilat 41: 34)
We can see that learning the methods and knowing the means by which to invite people to Islam is part of acquiring religious knowledge and grasping its content and purposes.
If the Qur’an requires those propagating Allah’s word to dispute with their opponent scientifically and with the best and most effective methods, then, it means that the Qur’an requires the callers to be more acquainted with the thoughts, culture, beliefs and ideology of the opponent. This will empower them to enter into disputation and dialogue with the opponent with full power and strength.
Thus, it is imperative that a propagator should be acquainted with the culture of his time and grasp the ideas, theories and concepts of the civilization which prevails in the world, for the ideological battle is similar, to a large extent to, the armed one. To explore the forces of the enemy and his capabilities is surely a precondition for engaging him in the battle. It makes no difference whether these forces and capabilities are human, economic, information and publicity, arms, technology, planning or other factors, such as, natural conditions and political set up. Likewise, the Muslims cannot enter the battle field of ideology without first ascertaining the nature of thought of the enemy or opponent or the others’ view, as a preparation for ideological warfare.
From the Qur’anic exposition, investigation and practical experience of the course of the missionaries and propagators over the ages, we can highlight on the culture and education that is necessary for them to acquire and the level of that education in terms of comprehension, differentiation and constructing the ideal form of education.
A. Ideological Education: It is necessary for a Muslim missionary to study a complete course on beliefs which covers the fundamentals of Islamic belief and the important issues thereof. Such issues as Monotheisim (the oneness of Allah), prophethood, the next world, fate and destiny, determinism `jabr’ and the free choice `ikhtiyar’…etc. Along the way he must grasp the most prominent views of Islamic sects and schools of thoughts, philosophers and the people of hadith to such a level as to furnish him with a clear picture of the main areas of ideological conflicts between the different Islamic approaches.
It is also required of the caller to distinguish himself by being conscious and objective and accept the onerous responsibility of inviting people to the right opinion and pure understanding. He must in no way be a bigot nor surrender to wrong understanding, for he is answerable to Allah, the Almighty, should he engage in calling people towards the wrong way and distort Islam.
A successful propagator should be able to present the Islamic views in a scientific and comparat-ive way without prejudice or bigotry. His duty is to explore the way of uniting the Muslims, call for a scientific investigation and refrain from denouncing his opponent as a renegade or maltreating him or insulting his ideology and understanding, so long as the other party believes in the fundamentals of faiths and testifies with the two testifications. On the other hand, the missionary should always expose perverted ideas and make the Muslims cognizant of them by presenting facts, scientifically.
B. Jurisprudential Education: This is among the fundamental elements of Islamic education. Knowing Islamic legislation, both the principles and the details, open up the ideological horizons before the Muslim. It will help him in propagating the Shari’a, teaching the society, comparing the Islamic legislation with other forms of positive legislation and to illustrate the greatness of the former and its ability to organize the society and develop it. Because of all this, the missionary has to study a course on jurisprudence `fiqh’ and the basics in principles of jurisprudence `usul al-Fiqh’ so as to empower his ability of undestanding.
C. Studying the Prophetic Biography: A full study of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) biography, especially the section of his da’awa and jihad, and a grasp of Islamic history, plays a great role in educating a Muslim, developing his ability to carry the message and understanding its methods and problems. Therefore, a missionary must read a complete course on the prophetic biography and at least a summary of Islamic history so that he can appreciate the historical experience and comprehend the biography of the Messenger (s.a.w.).
D. Social and Political Education: To understand the society and have enough awareness politically and socially, is a fundamental element in educating a Muslim missionary. Studying the society through reading the specialized social, political and psychologi-cal subjects will definitely furnish him with the required knowledge. Cultural awareness in the political and social fields can also be improved by following up the news, political analyses and societal studies concerned with social issues. This follow up will make the propagator be always in touch with the events and happenings especially that which affects the Muslims and the Islamic question world wide.
E. Methodological Education: The missionary needs the knowledge of means, methods and ways of executing his work. He can find these in the experiences of other Islamic workers and the experiences of a propagator of other ideologies, also. Another source of this form of education is psychological studies, writings about world famous figures, leadership and administration. It must be mentioned that the caller must be heedful and exercise caution concerning the experiences of non-Muslims, by observing the values and yardstick of Islam. A noble hadith states: “It is not possible to obey Allah by disobeying him.”
Adapted from: “The Methods Of Propagation and Missionary Work” by: “Sayyid Bahashti”