In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
"Do not spy one another,
nor let any of you backbite others..." (Hujurat 49: 12)
THE call to prayer (azan) was on air. Instead of listening attentively to the ‘azan’ and readying themselves to perform the ‘zuhur’ (afternoon) ‘jemaah’ (mass) prayers, some workers attending to wiring works at a masjid near my house choose to rest including sleeping on the masjid’s verandah.
After entering the masjid with a ‘salam’ (greeting), as I passed the workers, I said quietly to them; “Jom solat’ (let’s pray). I realized only one worker responded; he quickly stood and went to take ablution, but the other workers continued lying lazily on the carpeted floor.
After the mass prayer, I went back to the group of workers; and ‘Alhamdulillah’ (all praise to Allah SWT) I had the courage to talk to them about the important of performing one’s religious obligations such as ‘solat’. I began with telling them an idiom “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink” which means I could only give them advice but cannot force them to do it.
“Listen, brothers; Westerners such as Yvonne Ridley (former Taliban captive), Cat Stevens (Yusof Islam) and Lauren Booth (Tony Blair’s sister in law) had to travel years and to far away lands searching for the truth before they converted to Islam but what do we have here? You are born Muslim and are now in a masjid yet you are not moved to perform your ‘solat’. Why it is so?
“An ‘ustaz’ (religious teacher) had told me bricks and steel are no hurdle to some workers but to perform one’s ablution is a very heavy task. Only a few could stop work, take ablution and perform prayers.
“Allah SWT is very generous. Your tummy must be full after taking your lunch. Allah gives you all those food – ‘nasi’ (rice), ‘ayam’ (chicken) and so on. The animal had to die to be on your table. So why not you say ‘thank you’ to the Provider who is Allah SWT. To say ‘thank you’ to Allah SWT is by performing your ‘solat’ (prayer)-lah.”
Alhamdulillah, their faces showed they were interested so I kept on telling them the importance of being a practicing Muslim. “Now you are alive it is okay, but who knows one day you fall from the masjid’s ceiling and died, what will happened to you in your grave without you having any preparation?”
After speaking my mind to them, I gave oppourtunity for them to ask me question. Only one guy spoke up. Among others, he told me: “Thank you uncle for your concern. But you are not the first person to tell us what to do when we are in this masjid.
“But their ways put us off. One person said in a harsh manner, ‘Hey boys, why you all do not pray? You want to go to hell?’ Please ‘pakcik’ we are not primary school children to be treated that way. Couldn’t he tell us in a polite manner?
He said many of his friends had improper upbringing at home. Some had never said their prayers at home; their parents too did not ‘solat’.
“If our parents do not care if we ‘solat’ or not, then why should we bother with other’s people concerns? Telling us that our place is in hell only made us more rebellious and hated those so called ‘religious’ people.
“By the way, I like your approach ‘pakcik’. You sit with us and talk nicely to us. We listened to you and now it is up to us to accept or trash it.”
As I slowly moved away from the group after delivering my ‘words’, I could not believed myself that I could da'wah ‘those guys’. ‘Alhamdulillah’, God gave me the strength, I knew on ‘normal circumstances’ I would not be able to do it, but on that particular time, He gave me the courage to speak to those ‘tough guys’ who could climb ceilings and do hard work.
And ‘alhamdulillah’, during Asar (late afternoon) prayers, I noticed a few of the workers joined the congregators in ‘solat’. Allah had moved their hearts, insya-Allah (God willing) they would be guided to the straight path as we asked every time we perform solat when we read ‘ih-di-nasw-swi-ra-twal-mus-ta-qiim’ (from Surah al-Fatihah) which means, ‘do guide us along the right path’.
Yes, it needs wisdom in da'wah. In Malay, it is call ‘berhikmah’. In the Qur’an, there are many ‘ayats’ suggesting to do the da'wah work with wisdom. Among them in ayat 83 Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow): “…And speak to people good (words)…” (Qur’an 2:83); ayat 148 of Surah an-Nisa (Woman): “Allah does not like the public mention of evil except by one who has been wronged…” (Qur’an 4:148); ayat 3 of Surah Ali Imran (Family of Imran): “…And if you had been rude (in speech) and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you…” (Qur’an 3: 159).
Then Allah SWT mentioned in ayat 53 of Surah al-Isra’ (The Night Journey): “And tell My servants to say that which is best. Indeed, Satan induces (dissension) among them. Indeed Satan is ever, to mankind, a clear enemy.” (Qur’an 17:53); ayat 44 of Surah Taha: “And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear (Allah).” (Qur’an 20:44); and ayat 25 of Surah of Surah al-Furqan (The Criterian): “And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them (harshly), the say (words of) peace.” (Qur’an 25:63)
Regarding wisdom in da'wah, it is not restricted to Muslims only. Da'wah to the non Muslim should be done professionally in a ‘beautiful’ way. In the Qur’an (ayat 125 Surah An-Nahl, The Bee), Allah SWT says: “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.” (Qur’an, 16:125)
And as the result after doing ‘good da'wah work’ I was interested to quote comments from the Guest Book at Masjid Negara extracted from a phamphelet entitled ‘Mosque Tour Guide Programme by Islamic Outreach ABIM’ which I received recently.
“We learnt a lot about Islam that we didn’t know before.” – Linda & Ken Gulbrandsen, Norway
“I received a wealth of truths in this time of untruths.” – Vinay Kala, India
“My interest in Islam has grown.” – Misaa Makinchi, Japan
“All our questions were answered fully and in a friendly way.’ - Carly Bliss, England
“I feel truly blessed to receive the goodness and kindness of your religion.” – Milena Langd, Germany
“Open my eyes.” – Smonia; India
“Thanks so much for introducing me to Islam. Islam was really impressive.” – Sanne Kersken, Holland
“Good conversation with an awesome person.” – Lois Enrique, Mexico
“Very good, very, very super volunteer guide. Excellent.” – Ying, China
Finally, to all, I included, I quote this from ‘The Light of Revelation’ by Islamic Outreach-ABIM; “If you seek HIM, you will surely find HIM!”