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Islamic Advocacy in Practice — 2: Advocating Islam in All Situations

Adil Salahi

Arab News

The Prophet (peace be upon him) provides the best example for us in fulfilling the most important task of delivering God’s message to people and inviting them to accept it and believe in God’s oneness and Muhammad’s message. What few people realize is that delivering God’s message so that people are made aware of what God wants of them was the overriding concern of the Prophet.

He always wanted to make clear to people that he was giving them sound advice as he called on them to believe in God’s oneness.

He asked them no favor in return. He only wanted what would serve them well both in this life and in the life to come.

A most important aspect of the Prophet’s efforts in this regard is that he was keen to inform people of his message and call on them to believe in it in all situations. Even in war, the Prophet did not lose sight of his most important duty, which was the delivery of his message. Here is a very clear example.

The battle of Khybar was a very hard one, because Khybar was a series of forts in which the Jews locked themselves, having stored enough provisions and water to last them for more than a year. The forts were practically impregnable. And to overcome the enemy, the Muslims needed to take one fort at a time. At one stage, the Muslims were making little progress, as the Jews were immune in their besieged fort. A hard slog loomed large. However, the Prophet said to his companions at the end of a very hard and frustrating day: “Tomorrow, I am giving this banner to someone through whom victory will be granted by God. He loves God and His Messenger and is loved by God and His Messenger.”

“People talked much that night about who would get the banner. In the morning, they went to the Prophet; each one of them hoping to have the banner. However, the Prophet said: ‘Where is Ali ibn Abi Talib?’ They said: ‘Here he is, but he has a complaint in his eyes.’ The Prophet sent him a message to come, and he came to him. The Prophet made a gesture of spitting lightly in Ali’s eyes and prayed for his recovery. Soon Ali’s complaint disappeared and his eyes were completely cured. The Prophet handed him the banner. Ali asked: ‘Messenger of God! Do I fight them until they become Muslims like us?’ The Prophet said: ‘Proceed as you are until you have got inside their fort, then call them to Islam, and tell them what their duties to God are according to Islam. By God, should God make you the means of guidance for one person, it would be better for you than all good things in this world.” (Related by Al-Bukahri and Muslim)

We should first explain that Islam is averse to war in any situation, but it does not refrain from it when it is inevitable. In this case of Khybar, its Jewish population had attacked the Muslim community, joining other enemies, in more than one battle.

They were preparing for another attack when the Prophet wrested the initiative and moved against them. However, here we see him making the first priority clear to his cousin who was to be the commander. The priority is providing guidance so that people could respond to God’s message and conduct their life in accordance with His law. Hence, when Ali overpowered the enemy and was in their midst, he should first of all call upon those people to consider God’s message and make their response to His call. To emphasize the importance of this task, the Prophet explains to Ali that when he was the means of guidance even for one person, his gain is better than this whole world and all it contains.

It should be said that had the Jews in Khybar responded to Ali’s call on them to embrace the divine faith, as they were required to do in their own holy books, they would have spared themselves the battle in which they suffered heavy losses. The Muslims would have welcomed them with open arms. But the war did not aim to convert them, as they were indeed left free to practice their own religion after the war.

The Prophet did not disdain to speak to anyone about Islam, calling every individual, group or tribe to accept God’s message. One example is reported by Al-Miqdad ibn Amr, who says: “I took Al-Hakam ibn Kaysan prisoner.

Our commander wanted to put him to death. I said to him: ‘Keep him until we have delivered him to God’s Messenger (peace be upon him), so that he may invite him to accept Islam.’ When we arrived, the Prophet spoke to him at length about Islam. Umar said to him: “Messenger of God! Why would you speak to someone like him. By God, this person will never be a Muslim. Let me chop his head off so that he would go to hell.’ The Prophet did not pay any attention to Umar and continued until Al-Hakam declared his acceptance of Islam. Umar said: ‘When I saw the man has become a Muslim, I was so distressed at what I had said. I thought: how could I speak to the Prophet objecting to something which he knew better than I?

How could I claim that I only wanted what was good in submission to God and love of Him and His Messenger? By God, the man became a good Muslim and fought for God’s cause until he was killed as a martyr at Bir Maounah. The Prophet was certainly pleased with him and he was certain to be in heaven.’” (Related by Ibn Saad) In this instance, the Prophet was speaking to a man who was known to be hardened in his hostile attitude to Islam. Even when he was a prisoner in the hands of the Muslims, he did not show any indication that he would accept Islam. This is the reason for Umar’s remark, as he must have seen lacking any interest in Islam. But the Prophet never despaired of anyone becoming a Muslim, because he knew that the truth had a particular appeal to the human mind and heart. When a person’s receptive faculties are open, and he listens to the message of Islam, he is bound to be affected by its strong logic and irrefutable argument. We also note how Umar felt about suggesting that the Prophet should not waste his time with someone like Al-Hakam because to him he was a lost case. His feelings were based on close observation of the man’s reaction as the Prophet spoke to him.

However, he felt that he should not have made any suggestion to the Prophet in a matter like this, because the Prophet was only discharging his mission as God’s Messenger.



Earth, a planet hungry for peace


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers (Ran Cohen, pmc, 5/24/03).


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, like a Python. (Alquds,10/25/03).

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