It is necessary that we Muslims have a clear understanding of the primary goals of Da’wah, in order to direct our efforts toward the correct ends and achieve the intended effect.
We must know what specifically we intend to bring about and accomplish by understanding Da’wah. Otherwise, we may not be able in ascertaining the priorities that are necessary for achieving what Allah wants from us by calling people to Him.
A clear formulation of the aims of Da’wah can be summarized is as follows:
1. To guide people to the religion of Allah
2. To establish evidence against those who reject or oppose the religion
3. To discharge the duty enjoined on us, the Muslims, by Allah
4. To exalt the word of Allah on earth
The first objective, of guiding people to Allah’s religion and establishing the worship of Allah Alone, was the primary task of the Prophets and Messengers. The Prophets were calling people to the realization and fulfillment of the purpose of creation, which is to worship their Creator. Worship can be defined as “everything that Allah loves and approves of from the apparent and hidden sayings and deeds.” (Ibn Taymiyah) The Qur’an makes it clear that worship is the specific reason why Allah created all objects that exist, animate or inanimate.
“And I (Allah) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone).” (Qur’an, 51:56)
“There is not a thing but glorifies His praise. But you understand not their glorification.” (Qur’an, 17:44)
The aim of Muslims in Da’wah is the same, calling all of mankind to the worship of Allah Alone and submission to Him according to the Religion that He chose for His Prophets to convey. At the same time, it must be realized that the actual results of our efforts in guiding people to Allah’s religion are not in our hands, as it is only Allah who guides. Even the Prophet himself (peace be upon him) was unable to guide his uncle Abu Talib, about which Allah said:
“Verily you (O Muhammad, peace be upon him) guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And he knows best those who are guided.” (Qur’an, 28:56)
Establishing Allah’s proof against the disbelievers and the rebellious is the second goal of Da’wah, and is achieved by our preaching the message in a proper way. Our success in this regard does not depend on whether Allah guides those whom we call or not.
The Prophets themselves were sent as warners to mankind, having as their duty only to convey the message and explain the obligations of the people towards their Creator, and to warn of severe torment for those who rejected the message. Disbelievers are thus left with no excuse that can justify their disobedience to Allah. These concepts are explained in the following Qur’anic verses:
“Messengers are bearers of good news as well as warning in order that mankind should have no plea against Allah after the Messengers. And Allah is All-Powerful, All-Wise.” (Qur’an, 4:165)
“Say: Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, but if you turn away, he is only responsible for the duty placed on him (to convey the Message) and you for that placed on you. If you obey him, you shall be on the right guidance. The Messenger’s duty is only to convey (the Message) in a clear way.” (Qur’an, 24:54)
Calling to Allah will therefore leave those who disbelieve without an excuse before Allah on the Day of Judgment, in case they do not respond to the call of the Messengers. Inviting is our role, and responding is theirs.
“Say (O Muhammad, peace be upon him, to the disbelievers): My Lord pays attention to you only because of your invocation to Him. But now you have indeed denied (Him). So the torment will be yours forever.” (Qur’an, 25:77)
The third goal of Da’wah is to fulfill our duty of calling people to Allah. Our duty is only to convey the message, so our success in realizing this goal is also not dependent on the response of those whom we are calling. Allah says to the Messenger in several places in the Qur’an:
“The Messenger’s duty is but to convey the Message.” (Qur’an, 5:99)
“Whether we show you (O Muhammad) part of what We have promised them or cause you to die, your duty is only to convey (the Message) and unto Us is the reckoning.” (Qur’an, 13:40)
Acquitting ourselves of the duty of Da’wah enjoined upon us by Allah is of particular relevance to those Muslims living in non-Muslim lands, as engaging in Da’wah would Insha Allah justify their stay.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) has also explained that fulfilling our obligations can provide us an excuse before Allah, otherwise, we are bound to perish: “The people will not perish until they have no excuse left for themselves.” (Imam Ahmad in Az-Zuhd, i/86, authentic)
The fourth goal is establishing a Muslim nation and making the word of Allah dominant on earth. Allah explains in the Qur’an: “It is He Who has sent His Messenger (Muhammad) with Guidance and the Religion of Truth, that He may make it (Islam) superior over all religions. And All-Sufficient is Allah as a Witness.” (Qur’an, 48:28)
Allah also says in the Qur’an: “He it is Who sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger (Muhammad) from among themselves, purifying them, and teaching them Book (the Qur’an), and Al-Hikmah (Sunnah). And verily, they had been before in manifest error.” (Qur’an, 62:2)
The Messenger of Allah and the Sahabah established an Islamic society here on earth. Therefore our aim in Da’wah should also be to create a strong Muslim society that would make Allah’s Word uppermost in this world.
This goal, like the first one, is dependent on the response and is therefore in Allah’s Hands. However, Allah has promised Muslims that He will establish them on earth if they believe and do righteous deeds:
“Allah has promised those among you who believe, and do righteous good deeds, that He will certainly grant them succession to (the present rulers) in the earth, as He granted it to those before them, and that He will grant them the authority to practice their religion, that which He has chosen for them (i.e. Islam). And He will surely give them in exchange a safe security after their fear (provided) they (believers) worship Me and do not associate anything (in worship) with Me. But whoever disbelieved after this, they are the Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah).” (Qur’an, 24:55)