Dawah and Knowledge
Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (May Allaah have Mercy on him) says:
“When a person has knowledge and insight into that which he is calling to, then there is no difference between the one who has a great amount of knowledge, or a student of knowledge who has recently started in pursuit of knowledge or a lay person – as long as he has certain knowledge of the issue at hand.
The Prophet sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam said: “Convey from me, even if it is one verse.” [al-Bukhaaree]
So it is not a condition upon the daee (the one calling) to attain a great amount of knowledge, but the condition is that one must have knowledge of what one is calling to. If this calling is established upon ignorance and built upon emotion and passion, then it is not permissible.
Thus, we see that some of the brothers who call to Allaah, they do not have except a little knowledge. We see them, due to their strong emotions, prohibiting that which Allaah has not prohibited, whilst making obligatory that which Allaah has not made obligatory upon His worshippers. This is a very dangerous matter, since permitting what Allaah has made haraam (unlawful) is like prohibiting what Allaah has made halaal (lawful). So when they begin prohibiting people for making a particular matter then others will rebuke them for making it haraam.
Allaah – the Most High – says: “And do not say, concerning that which your tongues falsely put forward, ‘This is lawful and this is forbidden,’ so as to invent lies against Allaah. Indeed, those who invent lies against Allaah will never prosper.” [an-Nahl 16:116-117]
As for the lay person, then he must not call to Allaah if he does not have knowledge. Rather, it is essential to have knowledge in accordance with the saying of Allaah – the Most High -: “Say: This is my path. I call to Allaah upon sure knowledge.” [Yoosuf 12:108]
So it is a must to call to Allaah upon knowledge. However, if a matter is clearly known to be evil or good, then one can command it – if it is good, or forbid it – if it is evil.
So the callers to Allaah must start with knowledge. Whosoever calls to Allaah without knowledge, then such a person will cause greater harm than good – as is evident. So it is obligatory for a person to first acquire knowledge, then to do da’wah. As for the clear evils and that which is clearly good, then the good is enjoined and the evil prohibited.” End quote.
[Source: As-Sahwatul-Islaamiyyah (pp.75-76) of Shaykh lbn al-’Uthaymeen.]
Shaikh Salih ibn Fawzan al-Fawzan (May Allaah have Mercy on him) explained that it is a condition of Dawah that one is knowledgeable about that which he is calling to, in light of the verse,
“Say (O Muhammad ), This is my way. I invite unto Allah (the Oneness of Allah) with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me with sure knowledge. And Glorified and Exalted be Allah. And I am not of the Mushrikoon.“ [Soorah Yunus (12): 108]
“(In this verse) The meaning of Baseerah is knowledge. The caller to Islam must be equipped with beneficial knowledge concerning beliefs, the permissible and the prohibited, and the knowledge about the Book and the Sunnah. And he should have the knowledge of the texts of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah such that he can distinguish to the people, what is correct and incorrect.
(the caller must be equipped with knowledge) because if he was ignorant, he does not know the wrong and he does not know the correct. Perhaps, he calls to the wrong while he does not know and perhaps, he warns against the good while he is unaware because ignorance is a fatal disease.
(the caller must be equipped with knowledge) because the one who calls to Allah will be exposed to doubts from the Shayateen amongst the jinn and mankind – doubts in Aqeedah and doubts concerning Halaal and Haraam. And if he does not posses the knowledge to refute these doubts, then he be will confused and perhaps he will be overpowered by the people of misguidance, which will be a great loss. So, the one who calls to Allah must be equipped with the beneficial knowledge and means to combat the opponents, and therefore the Prophet said to Mu’adh , “You are going to a people from the Ahlul-Kitab.” Meaning beware.
The people of the Book are learned; they have misinterpretations and they have doubts and they have false arguments. The one who approaches them must be aware of their conditions.
In this (narration) is a proof that it is obligatory upon the caller to learn about the society in which he is doing Dawah, he should know their troubles and their nature; and he should know their level of knowledge such that he is prepared to face them – otherwise, they will confuse him and perhaps overpower him and this will be a loss for the Dawah to Allah and this will be a failure before the opponents and the foes.
It is not appropriate to enter the field of Dawah until one learns and achieves comprehension and understanding through beneficial knowledge. If one has some knowledge or a part of knowledge, then he should call in accordance to the limit of his knowledge and he should stop at the matters which he does not know. And he should not engage with the people in issue of confusion that he in unacquainted with.
This is a very important matter and it is that one should be a caller in accordance with the level of his knowledge with which he can confront those whom he is calling to and solve their problems…
“Glorified and Exalted be Allah. And I am not of the Mushrikoon (those who set up rivals with Allah).” [Soorah Yusuf (12): 108]
(in this part of the verse is) glorifying Allah from that which does not befit Him from shirk, imperfection and defects. In this is safeguarding the correct Aqeedah from that which does not befit Him from Shirk and defects which Shaytan from the Jinn and mankind utter.
The caller must be knowledgeable about this great knowledge and he cannot glorify Allah from that which does not befit Him until he learns the correct Aqeedah and learns that which opposes it from Shirk and doubts in such a way that he can glorify Allah.
“I am not of the Mushrikoon.” In this (part of the verse) is declaring oneself free from the Mushrikeen (those who associate partners with Allah). A caller must declare himself free from shirk and the Musrikeen for the sake of Allah…
There are people who do not disassociate themselves from the people of the false religions, rather they say, ‘People are free in their Aqeedah (beliefs) and in their religion.’ Perhaps, some of them even call to bringing the religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) together – and they claim that they are the Duat (caller to Allah) while they do not disassociate themselves from the Mushikeen and do not consider what they (the Mushrikeen) are upon as falsehood. This is clear misguidance. How can there be a Dai (caller to Allah) and he neither declares himself free from Shirk nor the Mushrikeen and calls it ‘freedom of religion’?
There is no freedom in religion. Deen (religion) in one and it is the Deen of Allah, with which He sent His Messenger and He revealed His Book concerning it – It is one religion. Allah says, “Verily, this is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His Path.” [Soorah al-An’aam (6): 153]
Religion is one and it is the Deen of Islam. And whatever is apart from it, is falsehood, Allah says, “Truly, the religion with Allah is Islam.” “Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.” [Soorah aal-Imran (3): 85]”
[Source: Muntaqa Fatawa and Muhadhiraat Fil-Aqeedah wad-Dawah of Shaikh Salih ibn Fawzan al-Fawzan (p.601)]