We are the followers of the sunnah which is based on the customs and habits of Rasulullah SAW. A Muslim following the sunnah should aim to imitate the actions of Rasulullah SAW as far as possible. The highest level of sunnah is imitating his way thinking and what he was striving for.
Islam imposes certain duties and obligations on us. The basic obligations are the daily prayer, fasting during Ramadhan, performing the hajj and giving zakah. These are the pillars or minimum requirements of Islamic worship to remain within the fold of Islam. Above that, Muslims have a duty to invite others towards Allah.
Allah granted Muhammad SAW great manner and character, and did not send him to earth except as a mercy to mankind. As followers of the Prophet SAW, we have to be merciful to mankind and spread the mercy of Allah.
If someone is generous to you, you will praise him and talk about his qualities to others. We however, undermine Allah’s generosity and in fact take it for granted. If we ponder the extent of Allah’s generosity, does it not also deserve the highest praise?
Indeed, We have sent you, [O Muhammad], with the truth as a bringer of good tidings and a warner, and you will not be asked about the companions of Hellfire.(Al Baqarah 119).
O Prophet, indeed We have sent you as a witness and a bringer of good tidings and a warner. And one who invites to Allah, by His permission, and an illuminating lamp. And give good tidings to the believers that they will have from Allah great bounty. (Al Ahzab 45 – 47)
The message is a light. Allah sent Jibril AS who is made of light, the Qur’an which is light, and Muhammad SAW, who is the light of mankind. Muhammad SAW was sent to mankind as an inviter, with the light from Allah, to lead mankind out of their darknesses into the light, to command what is right, forbid what is wrong and to command others to Allah.
Our goal in Islam is not simply ritualistic worship, because part of the main worship is to invite others to the worship of Allah. This depends on how much we value the message of Allah.
The more we value something, the more it occupies our minds and features in our conversations. For example, some people are obsessed about their jobs, or their children, and this is their main talking point. Rasulullah SAW and the Companions loved Allah, and they constantly conversed about Allah. Some of them loved Allah so much that they even forgot about their own wives!
Our environment is powerful, and we are too occupied with our circumstances, family and children, to the extent that we forget about Allah. Once we develop our addiction to the material life, we become selfish and think about only the needs of ourselves and sometimes, those closest to us. We do not spare any thought to others, because our priorities are positioned according to what we want for ourselves.
For example, when a Muslim marries a non-Muslim, the Muslim spouse is concerned about the religious upbringing of the children only, but not about the spiritual well-being of the spouse. Take a look at the many marriages which take place in order for one spouse to obtain the passport status and citizenship of the other spouse, but in return for the comforts of dunia, he or she is too selfish to explain how to lead the non-Muslim spouse to jannah.
We willingly give shelter and food to someone in need, but what about the shelter from the fire, and safe passage to Paradise by inviting that needy person towards Paradise? Which is the greater deed, providing one meal, or feeding someone the roadmap for all infinity in Paradise? A contented belly in this life is unparalelled to everlasting jannah.
Understanding the essentials of da’wah
Invitation towards Allah in general is a duty for all Muslims, regardless of the person’s station in life. You do not have to be a king or a CEO to invite others. This task is for all Muslims.
To work for Allah, you need to cultivate the desire for it first. Allah will only allow you to work for Him if your heart is sincere. Desire and sincerity cannot be faked, and Allah can see the contents of your heart at any time.
When we deeply desire something for ourselves, we think about it daily and do whatever it takes to get it. This is the power of sincerity: the persistence of thought and action. If a child desires a toy, he will ask for it day and night until he receives it. It should be the same determination for Allah, to constantly ache to work for Him day and night, to the preference of all the other things in life, followed by the perseverance of action.
If you claim to be sincere, Allah will then test if you are willing deny your own needs in order to work for Him. Allah does not need your knowledge, for He is the All Knowing, nor your wealth for He owns all of the
creation and is self-sufficient. What Allah asks from you is your desire and zeal to work for Him to the exclusion of all your other personal wishes.
The outcome of your da’wah lies with Allah. How does your message penetrate someone’s heart? It was reported that when a person talks, Allah sends an angel to check the status of the heart and the tongue. Allah will ask the angel whether what the speaker has in his heart is consistent with what is on his tongue. If the person is insincere, the words will float above the ears of the listener but not enter his heart. If the person is sincere, Allah will ask the words of his servant to be lodged within the heart of the listener. The tongue can articulate anything, but the effect, weight and power come from the sincerity of the heart.
How can a word come from your heart? It cannot happen unless and until you are sincere. The first step is to make your actions consistent with your words, and by asking Allah to give you steadfastness. After that, Allah will test you and if you pass the test, Allah will give you the effectiveness of the message.