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Thursday, March 26, 2009

How Should We Speak to Them about Islam?

As Salaamu Alaikum:

How Should We Speak to Them about Islam?

Muslims going to America and Europe are faced
with a flood of questions about Islam. People have many ways of asking these
question and different motivations for doing so, but their questions are
essentially as follows:

Why does Islam permit polygamy?

Why is a woman counted as half a man in matters of inheritance and when she
gives testimony?

Why does Islam "belittle" women?

Is Islam a religion of terror since it prescribes jihad?

Who should we believe: Sunnis or Shiites?

Questions like these are what occupy their minds when they think about Islam,
since the Western media has actively maligned Islam as a religion of lust and
blood and nothing else. When our Muslim youth goes to their countries, they
often find such questions awkward and try to evade them.

They might say things like: Permission for polygamy is conditional upon justice
between wives and justice between wives is impossible to achieve. Allah says: "You
will not be able to be just between women even if you strive to do so
[Sûrah al-Nisâ': 129]
Whatever is conditional upon something
impossible is impossible itself. Therefore, polygamy is forbidden in Islam.

In many cases, Muslims will come across a strange opinion on a matter and
promote it simply because it is more conciliatory.

When I visited America, I found that many Muslims who did not have correct or
sufficient Islamic knowledge suffered from such difficulties. They really did
not know what to do.

I used to tell them the following: Why should we be on the defensive? Why
don't we adopt a more assertive attitude? If they confront us one question, we
should respond with ten of our own. If they ask us about jihad, we should ask
them about America's openly aggressive policies in many parts of the world,
not to mention all of their covert operations.

If they ask you about polygamy, ask them about the sexual promiscuity that is
rife in their societies that has brought humiliation to so many women and
allowed men to absolve themselves of their responsibilities towards them and
towards their children?

If they ask you about inequalities in inheritance, ask them about the reality in
their own country where a woman earns only 60% of what a man earns for doing the
exact same job.

I do not mean that we should be evasive. However, it is not good for you to
respond when you are in a state of weakness and difficulty where there is a
danger that you might answer falsely and misrepresent Allah's religion in
order to appease someone else.

You can move on to a more advanced level of discourse and demonstrate that
Islamic teachings are the solution to the problems that they are suffering from.
For instance, according to some assessments, there are 119 women to every 100
men in the United States. In some states, the number is more like 160 women to
every 100 men. Polygamy is the solution to the problems that ensue under such
circumstances, since it requires some men to assume responsibility for more than
one woman and to be as just as humanly possible in doing so.

We can stress how Islam teaches equality between all people. There is no
preference for anyone over anyone else except by a person's piety and virtue.
This is the way to do away with the problem of racism that people in the West
suffer from.

The Islamic teachings about jihad are what uproots oppression and guarantees
people the freedom to think and to choose their religion for themselves without
being under any compulsion. Islam seeks to have people freely submit themselves
to their Creator and not be placed under the subjugation of any worldly
dictator, race, tribe, or nationality.

There are a few points that I would like to emphasize:

1. Matters of Islamic law are established by the unambiguous texts of the Qur'ân
and Sunnah. No one, regardless of who he is, has the right to change, add, or
subtract anything to placate anyone's desires or fears. When someone who is
calling others to Islam meddles with Allah's ruling on a matter and misinforms
people, he is doing a disservice to Islam as well as deceiving others. He has no
right to meddle in matters of Islamic Law that are the jurisdiction of Allah

2. Matters that fall within the scope of juristic discretion and allow for
differences of opinion should be presented in a balanced and objective manner by
the person who is calling others to Islam. He should take circumstances into
consideration when doing so. He should not select the most severe and
restrictive opinion on a matter and present it to the people as if it is Islam
itself, especially when he is trying to endear Islam to the people's hearts.

3. Our objective should be to convince others of the correctness of the Islamic
ruling so that they will accept it. We must employ all of our knowledge and
reasoning abilities in achieving this objective. We must provide all the
relevant facts. We can employ to our advantage other aspects of knowledge that
we find to be of benefit in convincing others of Islam, like the scientific
miracles of the Qur'ân, statistical information, circumstances and
experiences, and rational arguments. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact,
this is an integral part of conveying the truth to the people.

4. We must instill in the hearts of our young people complete and total
confidence in every aspect of Islam, from the most general teachings of their
faith to the most specific. We must dispel any sense of weakness or deficiency
that they might possibly feel at the hands of some of those who dispute with

We do a disservice to Islam if we lead the people to believe that Islam is close
to the life that they already living and that the Islamic approach to life is
not much different than their own. This only makes the people feel that Islam is
unnecessary for them and encourages them to turn away from it. They are, in
fact, trying to escape from the hellish aspects of the lives that they are
already leading. They need to be presented with an alternative.

When they ask about Islam or even about something else, they are looking for a
way out. They are looking for something to rescue them. Therefore, we must
present Islam to them with all of its uniqueness and show them clearly how it
differs from their own life experiences. In this way, we encourage them to think
about Islam.

We must present Islam to them in a logical manner with clear and insightful
arguments. Our responsibility ends here. Indeed, this was the extent of the
responsibility of Allah's Messengers (peace be upon them). Allah says to
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

"It is naught your duty but to convey the message."
[Sûrah al-Shûrâ: 48]

"It is your duty only to convey the message. It is
upon Us to take account.
" [Sûrah al-Ra`d: 40]

"So admonish them. You are but one who admonishes.
You do not control their affairs.
" [Sûrah al-Ghâshiyah: 21-22]

It is not necessary for us to fancy that the whole world will convert to Islam
at our hands. However, we must be eager to guide them and we must seek to do so
in every possible and permissible way. We should perfect our way of presenting
Islam to them, taking into account the age, circumstances, and level of
knowledge of those whom we are addressing. We must present to them the noble
Islamic values of freedom, justice, and human dignity and prove to them that
Islam is superior to everything that they already know.

Above and beyond all of this, we must conduct ourselves in the best, moth
ethical manner and present our own lives as a practical example of moral virtue.

Unfortunately, many Muslims call people to Islam with their tongues while
pushing them away from it with their ignoble, contradictory conduct and with
their narrow-mindedness.

Abu Imad Rasheed Ibn Gant



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