By Dr. Zakir Naik
Da’wah is a duty. Most Muslims know that Islam is a universal religion, meant for all mankind. Allah is the Lord of the entire Universe, and Muslims have been entrusted with the responsibility of delivering the message of Islam to all human beings. Alas, most Muslims today have become callous towards this duty! While accepting Islam as the best way of life for ourselves, most of us are unwilling to share this knowledge with those to whom the message has not yet been conveyed.
The Arabic word Da’wah means a call or an invitation. In the context of the Islamic movement, it means to strive for the propagation of Islam.
The Glorious Qur’an says: “Who is better in speech than one who calls (men) to Allah, works righteousness and says, ‘I am of those who bow in Islam’?” [Al-Qur’an 41:33]
Twenty Common Questions
* In order to convey the message of Islam, dialogue and debate becomes inevitable. The Glorious Qur’an says: “Invite all to the way of thy Lord, with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious!” [Al-Qur’an 16:125]
In conveying the message of Islam to a non-Muslim, it is sometimes not sufficient to only highlight the positive nature of Islam. Most non-Muslims are not convinced about the truth of Islam because there are a few questions about Islam at the back of their minds that remain unanswered.
They may agree with your contentions about the positive nature of Islam. But, in the same breath, they will say - “Ah! You are the same Muslims who marry more than one woman. You are the same people who keep women under subjugation. You are fundamentalists, etc.”
I personally prefer asking the non-Muslim upfront, what he feels is wrong in Islam. I encourage them to be very frank and open and convince them that I can take criticism about Islam.
In the past few years of my da’wah experience I have realized that there are barely 20 common questions that a non-Muslim has regarding Islam.
Whenever you ask a non-Muslim, “what do you feel is wrong in Islam?”, he poses five or six questions, and these questions invariably fall among the 20 most common questions.
Logical replies can convince the Majority
The twenty common questions about Islam can be answered using the Qur’an and Hadith as the base along with reason, logic and science. Majority of non-Muslims can be convinced with these answers. If a Muslim memorizes or simply remembers these answers, Inshallah he will be successful, if not in convincing non-Muslims about the truth of Islam, in at least removing misconceptions about Islam and neutralizing the negative thinking about Islam and Muslims that the non-Muslim may be having. That is the reason why I have answered the questions in point form, with separate sub-headings which is easier to remember. A few non-Muslims may have counter arguments to these replies for which further information may be required.
Misconceptions due to Media
The common misconceptions about Islam arise in the minds of the common non-Muslims, because they are constantly being bombarded with misinformation about Islam. International media is mainly controlled by the western world, whether it is satellite channels, radio stations, magazines or books. Recently the Internet has become a powerful medium of information. Though it is not controlled by anybody, one finds a large amount of virulent propaganda about Islam on the Internet. Of course, Muslims too are utilizing this tool to portray the right image of Islam and Muslims, but we are a bit slow in countering the attack. I hope such efforts will increase and continue to be pursued.
Misconceptions change with time
The common questions about Islam are different in different periods and eras. These twenty common questions compiled are based on present times. Decades earlier, the questions were different and decades later too, these questions may change depending upon how Islam is projected by the media.
Misconceptions are the same throughout the world
I have interacted with people in different parts of the world and have found these twenty common questions about Islam to be the same everywhere. There may be a couple of additional questions depending upon the locale. For instance in America, the additional common question was: “Why does Islam prohibit taking and giving of interest?”
I have included among these twenty common questions, certain questions more common among the Indian non-Muslims. For instance, “why do Muslims have non-vegetarian food?” The reason for including such questions is that people of Indian origin are spread throughout the world and constitute about 20% i.e. 1/5th of the world population. Thus, their questions are common questions asked by non-Muslims throughout the world.
Misconceptions of non-Muslims who have studied Islam
There are many non-Muslims who have studied Islam. Most of them have only read books on Islam written by biased critics of Islam. These non-Muslims have an additional set of twenty common misconceptions about Islam. For instance, they claim to have found contradictions in the Qur’an, they contend that the Qur’an is unscientific, etc.
Was Islam Spread by The Sword?
Q. How can Islam be called the religion of peace when it was spread by the sword?
Ans: It is a common complaint among many non-Muslims that Islam would not be having millions of adherents all over the world, if it had not been spread by the use of force. The following points will make it clear, that far from being spread by the sword, it was the inherent force of reason and logic that was responsible for the rapid spread of Islam.
1. Islam means peace
Islam comes from the root word ‘salaam’, which means peace. It also means submitting one’s will to Allah (SWT). Thus Islam is a religion of peace, which is acquired by submitting one’s will to the will of the Supreme Creator, Allah (SWT).
2. Sometimes force has to be used to maintain peace
Each and every human being in this world is not in favour of maintaining peace and harmony. There are many, who would disrupt it for their own vested interests. Sometimes force has to be used to maintain peace. It is precisely for this reason that we have the police who use force against the criminal and anti-social elements to maintain peace in the country. Islam promotes peace. At the same time, Islam exhorts it followers to fight where there is oppression. The fight against oppression may, at times, require the use of force. In Islam force can only be used to promote peace and justice.
3. Historian De Lacy O’Leary’s opinion
De Lacy O’Leary in the book “Islam at the crossroad” (Page 8) gives the best reply to the misconception that Islam was spread by the sword: “History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myth that historians have ever repeated.”
4. Muslims ruled Spain for 800 years
The Muslims ruled Spain for about 800 years. The Muslims never used the sword to force the people to convert. Later the Christian Crusaders came to Spain and wiped out the Muslims. There was not a single Muslim who could openly give the Azan, that is the call for prayers.
5. 14 million Arabs are Coptic Christians
Muslims were the lords of Arabia for 1400 years. For a few years the British ruled, and for a few years the French ruled. Overall, the Muslims ruled Arabia for 1400 years. Yet today, there are 14 million Arabs who are Coptic Christians, i.e. Christians since generations. If the Muslims had used the sword there would not have been a single Arab who would have remained a Christian.
6. More than 80% non-Muslims in India
The Moghuls ruled India for about a thousand years. If they wanted, they had the power of converting each and every non-Muslim of India to Islam. Today more than 80% of the population of India are non-Muslims. All these non-Muslim Indians are bearing witness today that Islam was not spread by the sword.
7. Indonesia and Malaysia
Indonesia is a country that has the maximum number of Muslims in the world. The majority of people in Malaysia are Muslims. May one ask, “Which Muslim army went to Indonesia and Malaysia?”
8. East Coast of Africa
Similarly, Islam has spread rapidly on the East Coast of Africa. One may again ask, if Islam was spread by the sword, “Which Muslim army went to the East Coast of Africa.”
9. Reason for Spread of Islam
Even when Muslims won battles they never forced the non-Muslims to accept Islam. The behaviour, brotherhood, honesty and justice of the Muslims and the universality and practical approach of Islam were the reasons for non-Muslims to accept Islam. Islam spread a great extent by the Muslim traders and businessmen who spread in different parts of the world and whose behaviour impressed the non-Muslims.
10. Thomas Carlyle
The famous historian, Thomas Carlyle, in his book “Heroes and Hero worship”, refers to this misconception about the spread of Islam: “The sword indeed, but where will you get your sword? Every new opinion, at its starting is precisely in a minority of one, in one man’s head alone. There it dwells as yet. One man alone of the whole world believes it; there is one man against all men. That he takes a sword and tries to propagate with that, will do little for him. You must get your sword! On the whole, a thing will propagate itself as it can.’
11. No compulsion in religion
With which sword was Islam spread? Even if Muslims had the sword they could not use it to spread Islam because the Qur’an says: “Let there be no compulsion in religion:
Truth stands out clear from error” [Al-Qur’an: 2:256]
12. Sword of the Intellect
It is the sword of intellect. It is the sword that conquers the hearts and minds of the people. The Qur’an says: “Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious.” [Al-Qur’an:16:125]
13. Increase in the world religions from 1934 - 1984.
An article in Readers digest ‘Almanac’, year book 1986, gave the statistics of the increase of percentage of the major religions of the world in half a century from 1934 to 1984. This article also appeared in ‘The Plain Truth’ magazine. At the top was Islam, which increased by 235%, and Christianity had increased only by 47%. Which war took place in this century, which converted millions of people to Islam?
14. Islam is the fastest growing religion in America and Europe Today the fastest growing religion in America is Islam. The fastest growing religion in Europe is Islam. Which sword is forcing people in the West to accept Islam in such large numbers?
15. Dr. Joseph Adam Pearson
Dr. Joseph Adam Pearson rightly says, “People who worry that nuclear weaponry will one day fall in the hands of the Arabs, fail to realize that the Islamic bomb has been dropped already, “it fell the day MUHAMMAD was born”. (Pbuh)
(to be continued)