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Invite to the Way of Your Lord with Wisdom and Fair Preaching (Al-Naḥl, 16:125)

Imām ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Nāṣir al-Saʿdī

The correct methodology of calling to Islām and righteousness, as stated in the Qurʾān.

Allāh—the Most High—said:

ادْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ ۖ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ

“Invite (mankind, O Muḥammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم)) to the Way of your Lord (i.e. Islām) with wisdom (i.e. with the Divine Inspiration and the Qurʾān) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better.”
(Al-Naḥl, 16:125)

Imām ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Nāṣir al-Saʿdī comments:

This verse is comprehensive of calling those among the Muslims who have shown carelessness or disregard for some matters of this religion just as it is inclusive of calling the disbelievers to Islām. As for the Muslims, the call is to facilitate their perfection and completion of their religion, while the disbelievers are called towards entering into the religion of Islām with which mankind is able to find goodness and uprightness.

The call must be made with wisdom. Wisdom represents the closest and most successful path which leads to the attainment of goodness or its perfection, removal of evil or its mitigation, in accordance with time, place, personalities, situations, and levels. This must also be done with “fair preaching” which means to clarify and make plainly evident that which represents benefit and harm. Accompanied by bringing attention to the fruits of those benefits that will be granted, both expeditiously and in the hereafter, and the evil—both in this worldly life and the hereafter— attributed to the harm that has been clarified.

Allāh has described this form of preaching as “fair” due to the inherent goodness in it and the path towards it consisting of compassion, empathy, tenderness, forbearance, patience, and adoption of the different styles and methodologies of exhortation. Additionally, if the call requires arguing in order to quell the objections of the one being called, let debate be conducted in an exemplary, upright manner of goodness. Let the debater call to the truth, clarifying the goodness inherent in it and the deleterious effects of that which opposes it, while answering the confusing doubts brought by the opposition. All the while maintaining speech that is both respectful and kind, exemplifying good, righteous manners. He must not show roughness, severity, harshness, rudeness, or be insulting. For indeed the harm that results from such behaviour is great. The Most High said:

فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ لِنتَ لَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ كُنتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لَانفَضُّوا مِنْ حَوْلِكَ ۖ فَاعْفُ عَنْهُمْ

“And by the Mercy of Allāh, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allāh’s) Forgiveness for them.”
(Āli-ʿImrān, 3;159)

Source: Al-Dīn al-Ṣaḥīḥ: 15
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: June 20, 2024
Edited: June 20, 2024

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