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Da'wah Bil Hal Conference

30-31 March 1997

Sydney, Australia


A successful two-day international Da'wah bil Hal (Da'wah through community service) Conference was held in Sydney at Sydney University on March 30 and 31, 1997. The conference was sponsored by Regional Islamic Council for Southeast Asia and the Pacific (RISEAP) and hosted by Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC). Australian Islamic Cultural centre (AICC) and Muslim Women's National Network of Australia (MWNNA). It was coordinated by Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers.

Da'wah bil Hal is da'wah (call to Islam) through community services and development programmes. It is a passive call to Islam in that there is no active teaching of Islam or conversion to Islam taking place. The programme is meant to build trust and gain the respect of the people of the community through teaching necessary skills, building schools, roads, clinics, mosques, etc.

The first day of the conference started with Quran recitation and keynote address by Tan Sri Dr Taib Mahmoud, President of RISEAP and Chief Minister of Sarawak, Malaysia. This was followed by four talks: Da'wah bil Hal: Concepts and Methodology by Dr Muhammad Yusuf Hussain, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM); Mobilisation of Resources in Support of Da'wah bil Hal by Dr Syed Othman Al-Habshi, Deputy Director General, Institute of Islamic Understanding, Malaysia; Development from an Islamic Perspective: the role of Muslimah in Development by Zeenath Kauser, IIUM; and Da'wah Work in Australia by Sr Shifa Mustapha, Australia.

These talks were meant to give a solid basis and understanding of Da'wah bil Hal for the workshop and panel sessions on the second day of the conference.

The second day started with the Panel Session issues which were presented by six speakers: Dr Daud Batchelor, Br Zaid Al Dakkan, Br Asif Saleem, Sheikh Abdul Quddus Al-Azhari, Br Salahuddin Ahmad, Sr Maha Abdo and Sr Aziza Abdel Haleem. The topics were: What is Da'wah, Present Da'wah Activities in Australia, Critical Appraisal of the existing Situation, and, Suggestions for Future.

Eight panelists presented their reports followed by questions and answers and discussions. Subsequently, workshops were conducted where the participants split into groups of 10-15 people with a leader. These groups then discussed thoroughly the most important issues regarding Da'wah and submitted their recommendations, outcomes and resolutions in writing. These are presented in the Recommendations section further.

PANEL REPORTS

1. What is Da'wah?

2. Present Da'wah Activities in Australia

3. Critical Appraisal of the Existing Situation

4. Suggestions for Future


Outcome of the Workshops

Suggestions and Recommendations

A. GENERAL

1. Issues dividing Muslims and their Solutions

Problems

Remedies

Lack of good leadership proper training programme, proper training of the members, proper mechanism of the election and selection
Differences between culture and schools of thought proper communication between schools, avoid unnecessary differences, need for ijtehad, more emphasis on the basics
Misconceptions about the fundamentals of Islam Proper teaching of fardu'ain, raise the awareness of fardukifaya, raise the awareness of the people about the fundamentals

2. Threats and Challenges from Inside

Problems

Remedies

  • Racial discrimination within community
  • Lack of financial resources and support structures available to facilitate smooth adjustment of Muslims to host society.
  • Competition/struggle for power/status; lack of cooperation between and within organisations.
  • Acts of hypocrisy threatens internal fabric of our community
  • People not willing to pool resources for the benefit and development of the community.
  • Rigid views and attitudes towards host society and lack of utilisation of services and programs of benefit; Lack of objectivity and acceptance of Australian society.
  • Raising Islamic awareness to avoid ethnic bias and prejudice
  • Distribution of resources according to demographical breakdown
  • Developing a system of selecting a consultative committee at community level
  • Mandatory collection of financial contribution by all Muslims
  • Educational programmes designed to train Muslims
  • Establishing Islamic media institutions
  • Formation of sub-committee for implementation and follow-up of recommendations

3. Threats and Challenges from Outside

Problems

Remedies

  • Media ­ electronic, print
  • Exploiting disunity of Muslims
  • Self-centred society
  • Materialism/ 'freedom'
  • Proselytising (Evangelic) Christians
  • Educate non-Muslims about Islam
  • Actively monitor the media
  • Present attractive Islamic material in English
  • Have a Muslim representative at local, state and federal level

4. Resource Development

Resources

What RISEAP can offer

  • AFIC on the internet, linked to all bodies, societies, each Islamic centre, libraries
  • Media watchdog
  • Maximising use of scholars - weekly meetings
  • Learn and teach personal skills, develop scholarships
  • Informal visits and conferences
  • Visits to cover all major centres in Australia
  • Scholarships
  • RISEAP officials to be involved as consultants to Australian organisations


B. DA'WAH BIL HAL AMONG MUSLIMS

1. Converts

a. How to deliver proper guidance ­ eg. living Islamically
  • Meeting/Networking with fellow converts to share experiences
  • Arrangements for converts to mix with Muslims from different ethnic backgrounds ­ not do confuse cultural practices with Islamic practices.
  • Refer to alims for answers to difficult questions.
  • Organise training course
  • Choose right sources of literature
b. Non-uniformity among Da'wah workers of different groups
  • Support focal centre helping to develop da'wah par excellence and exchange.
  • Base da'wah on Quran and Sunnah
  • Central training of daiis
c. Apathetic attitude in solving family problems
  • Opportunity for da'wah: meet the convert's family
d. Lack of mutual embracement between born and converted Muslims
  • Develop true nature of Islamic brotherhood/Sisterhood
  • Break down ethnic barriers between Muslims
  • Interaction between converts
  • suspend judgment ­ give time

2. Women

a. Role in the modern society.
  • First we have to question ourselves: what is the modern society from Islamic perspective? Then redefine modern society from an Islamic perspective.
  • The Quran and Sunnah are for all time.
  • Role of women to be well-equipped with knowledge in Islam and the west, so that they may influence others instead of being influenced by others.
b. Issues of family life and their solutions.
  • Maltreatment, disrespect, exploitation etc.
  • Children become the victims of tense environment in the family.
  • Muslim men do not know the rights of Muslim women.
c. Spouse relationships.
  • Complement each other, not compete against each other.
  • Prophet's example to be emulated.
  • Request for more conferences and seminars on the theme: role of man in the family and relationship between husband and wife
d. Upbringing of children.
  • They are the next generation of Muslims; Education, moral training essential.
  • Let education not be seen to fulfil economic functions alone, but for the performance of vicegerency of Allah (swt).
  • Strongly request the organisers that a section should be opened for children services in all the da'wah organisations here to train them for their future

3. Youth

AIM: Continuous education; Know duties towards others, actions must be good, correct and consistent; knowledge, love, consistency, sincerity
METHODS: Tap into existing activities, eg youth week; act local think global, activities to strengthen identities, and to increase Islamic knowledge, youth counselling


C. DA'WAH BIL HAL AMONG NON-MUSLIMS

1. Aborigines

2. Women

a. The plight of women in the present civilisation.
  • Need of recognition of identity according to different status and background (profile).
  • Physical needs, spiritual, social, educational needs to be recognised.
b. Problems of rape, divorce, single mothers and incest - what solutions does Islam offer?
  • More strict punishment by working among the non-Muslims only, in an organised way. eg. joining appropriate committees.
  • Picking out certain aspects of Islam appropriate to each situation eg. mediation in the case of divorce.
  • Radio programmes - more participation in talk backs.
  • Establish lifeline 24 hour service with appropriate training of counsellors.
  • Introducing more easy-to-understand pamphlets.
  • Organising special seminars and forums that focuses on these problematic issues by somehow involving these people directly or indirectly. This should be done through and in conjunction with an organised non-Muslim community group.
c. Position of women in Islam in theory and practise.
  • Demonstrate to them by example, i.e. real life examples.
  • Use the media to respond to the issues - media training required for women. Identify appropriate spokespeople to tackle these issues. Special radio program such as talk back on those problem issues; Increase of ongoing use of local media for public relations.
  • Women's involvement should be encouraged in all different areas, eg, school, emergency services
  • Open house invitations similar to "open day"
  • Organise seminars and forums in conjunction with a non-Muslim community group.
  • Offering support in various social problems in an indirect manner through pamphlets & cards done through mail drops

3. Youth

a. Dilemma of Present youth 
  • Disillusionment with existing organised religions.
  • The result of disillusionment is that their problems are being projected on Islam and Muslims. Another result of this disillusionment and insecurity are evident in statistics of rape, suicide and drug abuse, and family breakdowns.
b. Working together with non-Muslim youths 
  • Need to work with non-Muslim youths in the age bracket 15 - 25. We need to know how they think to enable us to plan. 
c. Study of different ideologies and evaluating Islam in comparison 
  • Muslim youth must understand the different ideologies prevailing in Australia and they are classified into 2 groups: believers in Allah and non-believers.
  • Muslim Youth have to compare these different ideologies with Islam.
d. Strategies and plans of action. 
  • Muslim youth must organise programs for both Muslims and non-Muslims
  • There must be 3 stages of organisational levels for Muslim youth, being local, state and national.
  • Programs include organising barbeques, sports events, lectures, etc.
  • RISEAP to put pressure on various Islamic organisations in Australia to aid youth organisations.
  • RISEAP has to support FAMSY and other youth organisations.


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