Which mediums do you advise us to employ in spreading the correct message of Islam in this country [Britain], for example: TV, newspapers and visiting schools?
Shaykh Sulaymān ibn ʿAbdillah Abā al-Khayl:
You are in a country that has its own laws and systems, and its own customs and practices. So your duty under this kind of circumstance is as follows:
Firstly, you should not engage in any activity of any sort except under the umbrella of an official organisation, and any such activity must receive proper authorisation from the relevant authorities. Like this, a person who is calling to Allāh ﷻ or a student of knowledge would then be proceeding with wisdom and in accordance to what will protect him, his religion, mind and honour, and not expose him to the penalties specified in these kinds of situations.
The second thing, among the issues which must be observed by whom you asked about is that he must arm himself with authentic knowledge – authentic, noble and firmly grounded knowledge. This is because, when a person is like this, he will usually do things the right way and his mistakes will be few. However, if he is not like this, he might enjoin what he should prohibit or prohibit what he should enjoin, and ruin more than reform.
The third issue that must be observed when doing this kind of work is that a person must have full understanding of what he is calling to, the details of the message and the condition of the people he is calling. He must be well aware of how they will respond and their stance on the things he is going to say or spread amongst them. He must call to Allāh ﷻ according to how Allāh commanded in His Book, in His statement:
ادْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ ۖ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ
“Call to the path of your Lord using wisdom and good counsel, and debate with them with the best manners.” [Q 16:125]
He should therefore arm himself with wisdom and good counsel and not go beyond the boundaries of debating in the best manner, because he is calling to what is good and true – and calling to what is good and true must not be done with harshness, aggression, shaming or any such method. It must only be done with knowledge, patience and gentleness.
Shaykh-ul-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah said: “The caller must be learned, gentle, kind and patient. Learned prior to the task, gentle and kind during the task, patient and hopeful of the reward from Allāh after the task in the face of criticism and antagonism that he may receive”.
The fourth code of conduct for anyone wanting to undertake this type of work is to look out for the right opportunities, times and places which are suitable for presenting what he has decided to present of the religion; according to its precise principles. The Prophet ﷺ used to give his companions advice that was timely and equally appropriate in regards to the place, situation and amount. He ﷺ never used to bore them with advice or prolong it, rather it would be to the extent that he saw would not bore them, tire them, or make them abandon it or oppose it. So if the caller is able to do that, success will be his close companion, by Allāh’s permission.
The fifth code of conduct is to have sincerity of devotion to Allāh ﷻ and purity of intention. This means that the student of knowledge or caller should seek, by doing this work, only Allāh’s Face. It is reported that when Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal was asked concerning how to seek knowledge and tread its path, he said: “Seek knowledge to rid yourself and others of ignorance”.
By way of this, it will be easy for a person to utilize the ways and means which will help him be successful in his call.
The sixth code of conduct that must be observed in this line of work is that a person must realise that he is in a country that is different from the Muslim countries, and that interacting with its people has specific ways and methods which, by way of them, it is possible to have an impact on the people. This is why Allāh said in His Noble Book:
وَلَا تُجَادِلُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ إِلَّا بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مِنْهُمْ ۖ
“And debate the people of the book with nothing but the best manners, except the ones who acted unjustly amongst them” [Q 29:46]
Some of the scholars said that the statement of Allāh ﷻ “…apart from those who act unjustly amongst them” means ‘hatta’ [even] the ones who act unjustly amongst them, i.e. and do not debate them except in the best manner even if they are unjust. This is because the religion of these people is different from ours, and their economic and social way of life, as well as their customs, are unlike ours as Muslims.
The seventh code of conduct for following this course of action is that a person must focus on rectifying himself before anyone else, after which he then goes on to rectify his family and his immediate community and relatives. After that, he goes on to rectify the rest of the community. Once a person does this, Allāh will help him achieve things he may not have reckoned, and those who have tried this have witnessed this as a clear fact.