All praise is for Allāh, Lord of the Worlds, who ordered us to follow His Messenger (ﷺ) and to call to His Way, and may Allāh send praises and blessings of peace upon our Prophet Muḥammad, and upon his family, his companions, and those who truly follow them until the Day of Judgement. To proceed:
Calling to Allāh (ad-Daʿwah ilAllāh) is the way of the Messenger (ﷺ) and his followers, as Allāh, the Most High, says:
قُلْ هَٰذِهِ سَبِيلِي أَدْعُو إِلَى اللَّهِ ۚ عَلَىٰ بَصِيرَةٍ أَنَا وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِي ۖ وَسُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ وَمَا أَنَا مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ ﴿١٠٨﴾
“Say, O Muḥammad (ﷺ): This is my way, I call to Allāh (i.e. to the testification that none has the right to be worshipped except Allāh, alone, with no partner) upon certain knowledge – I, and those who follow me. I declare Allāh free and far removed from all that they associate as partners with Him, and I am free of those who worship anything else along with Him.”
Indeed calling to Allāh was the mission of all the Messengers and their followers, in order to bring the people out of darkness and into light, from unbelief (kufr) to true Faith (īmān), from shirk to tawḥīd, and from the Fire to Paradise.
This call to Allāh rests upon firm pillars, and is established upon foundations which are absolutely essential. If any of these are missing the daʿwah will not be correct and will not produce the desired results – no matter how much effort is expended and time wasted – and this is the reality which we witness with regard to many of the present day calls which are not supported by those pillars and built upon those foundations. These pillars which support the correct daʿwah are clearly shown in the Book and the Sunnah, and can be summarised as follows:
Since the ignorant person is not suitable to be a caller (daa’ee). Allāh, the Most High, said to His prophet (ﷺ):
قُلْ هَٰذِهِ سَبِيلِي أَدْعُو إِلَى اللَّهِ ۚ عَلَىٰ بَصِيرَةٍ أَنَا وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِي ۖ ﴿١٠٨﴾
“Say, O Muḥammad (ﷺ): This is my way, I call to Allāh (to the testification that none has the right to be worshipped except Allāh, alone, having no partner) upon certain knowledge (baṣīrah). I, and those who follow me.”
‘Basīrah’ is knowledge. So the caller is certain to face those who are scholars of misguidance, those who will attack him with doubts and futile arguments in order to rebut the truth. Allāh, the Most High, says:
وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ ۚ
“And argue with them in a way that is better.”
Furthermore, the Prophet (ﷺ) said to Muʿādh (radhiyAllāhu ʿanhu), “You are going to a people from the People of the Book.” 2 So if the caller is not armed with sufficient knowledge for him to face every doubt and contend with every opponent, then he will be defeated in the first counter, and will be halted at the beginning of the way.
So that he will be a good example – his actions attesting to his words, and leaving no excuse for the opponents of the Truth. Allāh, the Most High, said about His Prophet Shuʿayb that he said to his people:
وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَنْ أُخَالِفَكُمْ إِلَىٰ مَا أَنْهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ ۚ إِنْ أُرِيدُ إِلَّا الْإِصْلَاحَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ ۚ
“I do not wish to forbid you from something and then do it myself. rather I only wish to rectify you as far as I am able.”
Allāh, the Most High, said to His Prophet Muḥammad (ﷺ):
قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿١٦٢﴾ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ ۖ وَبِذَٰلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَا أَوَّلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ ﴿١٦٣﴾
“Say, O Muḥammad (ﷺ): Indeed my Prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are all purely and solely for Allāh, Lord of all the Worlds. There is no share in any of that for other than Him. That is what my Lord ordered me, and I am the first of this nation to submit to Allāh as a Muslim.”
Allāh the Most High, said:
وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلًا مِّمَّن دَعَا إِلَى اللَّهِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا
“Who is better in speech than one who calls the people to Allāh and does righteous deeds?”
Such that the call is made purely and sincerely to seek the Face of Allāh (and seeking His Reward) – not for show, or repute, or status, or leadership, nor desiring worldly goals – since if any of these goals adulterate it, the call will not be for Allāh, rather it would then be a call for oneself or for the attainment of the worldly goal – as Allāh informs that His Prophets said to their people:
لَّا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا ۖ ﴿٩٠﴾
I do not ask you for any reward for conveying this Qurʾān.
وَيَا قَوْمِ لَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ مَالًا ۖ
I do not ask you for any wealth for my admonition.
So firstly he calls to the correction of ʿaqīdah (beliefs and creed), by ordering that all worship is made purely for Allāh, and that shirk is forbidden. Then ordering the establishment of prayer, and the paying of Zakāh, and that the obligatory duties are carried out, and that the forbidden matters are avoided. This was to procedure followed by all the messengers, as Allāh-the Most High-says:
وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولًا أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ ۖ
We sent a Messenger to every nation, ordering them that they should worship Allāh alone, obey Him, and make their worship purely for Him; and that they should avoid everything worshipped besides Allāh.
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدُونِ ﴿٢٥﴾
We did not send any Messenger before you, O Muḥammad, except that We revealed to him that none has the right to be worshipped except Allāh, so make all your worship purely for Allāh.
Furthermore, when the Prophet (ﷺ) sent Muʿādh to Yemen, he said to him: “Indeed you are going to a people from the People of the Book, so let the first thing you call them to be the testification that none has the right to be worshipped excepted Allāh. So if they accept this, then inform them that Allāh has obligated five prayer upon them in every day and night…” 3
Then there is in his (ﷺ) way and method of giving daʿwah, the best example, and the most perfect and complete methodology – in that he (ﷺ) remained in Makkah for thirteen years, calling the people to Tawḥīd and forbidding them from Shirk, before he ordered them with prayer, Zakāh, fasting, and Ḥajj, and before he forbade them from usury, fornication, theft and murder.