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IN RETROSPECT

The Asia Pacific Muslim Community

Da'wah Approach

Daud Batchelor


1. INTRODUCTION

It is only 6 months ago that the Asia Pacific Muslim Community (APMC) Da'wah Committee was established in Brisbane. Our concern is particularly towards da'wah to the non-Muslims - but da'wah is a holistic concept and it needs to be accompanied by a strong stable Muslim community. APMC thank the Organisers for their invitation to our organisation to attend the Conference, and for the opportunity to increase our understanding in the da'wah field.

The APMC was initially formed to organise the Ahmed Deedat Public lecture in Brisbane. Late in 1996, a Da'wah Committee was formed and is committed to:

  1. developing outreach projects to non-Muslims
  2. providing social/welfare support to new Muslims
  3. educating and supporting the Muslim Community to carry out da'wah using methods which are effective in the Australian environment.

In Brisbane we are seeing a much closer spirit of unity and togetherness than has been seen for many years. With the Islamic School of Brisbane we are satisfying some of the basic needs of our community in educating our children in an Islamic environment. Now that the Muslim community are satisfying basic needs, and coming together in a more supportive environment, we can focus more closely on calling the non-Muslims to Islam.

2. GENERAL PRINCIPLES of DA'WAH

The following are a few of the general principles of da'wah.

2.1 Every Muslim is a Da'i

An important principle stressed by the group is that all Muslims are da'is whether we are conscious of it or not. The Prophet (s) was sent as as a Witness, and as a Mercy to mankind. Muslim are also witnesses:

Thus We have made of you an Ummat justly balanced that you may be witnesses over the nations, And the Apostle a witness over yourselves.

(Quran, 2:143)

Although all Muslims are da'is, there is a clear gradation from:

2.2 Based on Qur'an and Sunnah

The success of the da'wah is not necessarily measured in terms of conversions to Islam. The success of the da'wah is related to how well the da'wah was based on the principles of Islam - on the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet. Workers must strive to emulate the akhlaq of the Prophet (s).

According to Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, apart from knowledge and learning, the most important ingredient is sincerity and an earnest urge to persuade others.

One should not be over-confident or assume that with one's mind or speaking ability one will win the day. Success depends solely on Divine Will.

While carrying out the da'wah work, da'is need to improve their knowledge and practice of Islam themselves, through attending a regular majlis-e-ta'limi.

2.3 Da'wah is a Holistic Concept

The Muslim community needs to be stable in itself and confident. If there is not enough love and brotherhood (muhabbah), a convert is likely to go out of the fold of Islam and be lost. Also Born Muslims need to know the value of a new convert and respect him or her for making the right choice to become a Muslim. If the convert is not given due respect then he is being given a difficult trial and may question himself whether he made the right choice. So the Muslim Community must be receptive to converts.

2.4 Increase Contact with non-Muslims

Some examples may include:

3. PROJECTS IN PROCESS

Our organisation is developed based on the concept that we are all da'is, that many of us have good ideas for da'wah projects. In a group we can assist each other in developing each others projects.

Da'wah projects are many; each individual in the group directs his own project, and brings in his friends and other people he trusts to support him. Eventually through this pyramidal system we can involve the whole Muslim community.

For instance, we have a brother who has strong information technology skills. He has himself created a home page for our organisation on the internet, linked it to other world wide web sites, to provide an abundance of information to any person wanting answers to frequently asked questions about Islam. Another brother would like to hold a high profile Da'wah Conference in Brisbane with Australian converts giving their stories on how they embraced Islam and what it is like to become a Muslim.

Other brothers and sisters are keen to make contact with Converts and through questionnaires, identify the important causes why converts embrace Islam, as a means to develop effective da'wah strategies in Australia. Sisters are more advanced in this activity and report a very good response from the female converts they have contacted.

Other projects that have been implemented or are in the process of implementation are:

a) Library Books - Brisbane City Council accepted our request to place a selection of 12 important Islamic books into four key libraries in Brisbane. If there is sufficient lending demand for these books, BCC will purchase additional Islamic books for its libraries around Brisbane.

b) Distribution of the Ahmed Deedat Book "The Choice" and Video Cassette.

c) Facilitating Visit of President of ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America) , Brother Abdul Malik Mujahid (also President, Islamic Multimedia Group Sound Vision). ICNA is the largest grass roots organisation in North America.

4. CRITICAL APPRAISAL OF EXISTING STRATEGY

a) Not focussed.

Islamic groups have been active over the past 15 years carrying out the work of calling Muslims back to Deen and uplifting the level of Islamic practice. However, da'wah to the non-Muslims has generally been a peripheral or incidental activity without proper planning.

b) Not integrated

In Australia some groups are carrying out da'wah efforts, and they are represented here today. However, the numbers involved are still small. They can be more effective if they work more closely together.

c) Need to Regularly Review Effectiveness of Methodologies

Be self critical and not afraid to accept criticism from members.

5. HOW TO APPLY DA'WAH BIL HAL IN AUSTRALIA

* Objectives - clear (refer Al Qur'an).

* Methodology - General methodology is clear but not the specific approach appropriate for Australians

* Psychology of Australians

In Indonesia people are very respectful of their leaders; so if a paramount Leader suddenly becomes a strong practising Muslim, millions will be affected. Not so in Australia where we don't generally hold politicians in very high regard.

In Australia the young tend to 'idolise' sports heroes, so if a sportsmen converts to Islam then it is an important event. Alhamdulillah in Brisbane a former Brisbane Bullets basketball star (Br. Bilal Andre Moore) embraced Islam during Ramadan.

* Geography of Australia

Vast country with Muslims mainly in the cities; there is an important need for effective communications between workers.

Our current strategic plans involve:

a) making contact with Muslim converts, determining their needs, and trying to satisfy these needs (partly through development of a buddy system/counsellors and courses on Islamic fundamentals)

b) motivating and educating the Brisbane Muslim community on da'wah principles and methodology based on references in Qur'an and the Seerat, while

c) embarking on a da'wah campaign in the larger community targeted at non-Muslims.

The results of our efforts are in the hands of Allah (SWT). Proposals for an action plan, originally prepared for this paper, have been amended and are provided in "A Proposal: Development of Da'wah Efforts in Australia".

May Allah accept our humble efforts, and forgive us our mistakes and guide us to success in this life and the hereafter. Wabillahi tawfik wal hidaya. Assalamu'alaikum Wr. Wb.


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