by E Racius · Cited by 5 — ISBN 952-10-0490-8 (pdf). ISSN 1458-5359 On the other hand, most of Muslims, much along the lines of the Dar al-Islam and Dar al-harb and would invariably clad their “jihad”-dubbed armed struggles in religious termi- nology. They
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Egdunas RaciusTHE MULTIPLE NATURE OF THE ISLAMICDA‚WA ACADEMIC DISSERTATION To be publicly discussed, by due permission of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Helsinki in auditorium XII, Unioninkatu 34, on the 23rdof October, 2004 at 10 o’clock brought to you by COREView metadata, citation and similar papers at core.ac.ukprovided by Helsingin yliopiston digitaalinen arkisto
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3CONTENTSIntroduction .5 Previous research on da‚wa ..12 The location of the present study 18 Part IIslamic da‚wa: the term and its sources 29 1. The da‚wa in the Quran and Sunna 31 Scope of da‚wa meanings ..34 Da‚wa as invitation to Islam .37 Conclusion .47 2. Da‚wa versus jihad.49 Jihad in the Quran and Hadith collections .49 Jihad in historical-theoretical perspective ..54 ﬁNo coercion in religionﬂ 63 Conclusion ..70 Part II Islamic da‚wa: the theological and practical considerations ..73 3. Contents and methodologies of da‚wa .75 Underlying the need for da‚wa 75 Qualities and character of da‚is 81 Da‚wa manuals .88 ﬁNatural religionﬂ 95 Conclusion .96 4. Institutionalization of da‚wa ..99 Formalization of da‚wa education ..104 Conclusion ..107
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4Part III Extra-ummaic da‚wa 109 5. Da‚wa toward non-Muslims..111 Historical assessment .111 Muslims and the ﬁWestﬂ and in the ﬁWestﬂ 115 Conclusion ..131 6. Christian missions and da‚wa .133 Christianity and Christians in the eyes of Muslim propagandists 133 Christian missions and da‚wa 136 Da‚wa as dialogue 140 Conclusion 145 Part IV Intra-ummaic da‚wa ..147 7. Da‚wa within the Umma: a historical perspective 149 Specificities of early intra- ummaic da‚wa 150 The Isma‚ilida‚wa ..151 Recent developments .155 Developments on the Indian subcontinent from the turn of the 20 th century .157 A note on the Ahmadiyya Movement: da‚wa or anti- da‚wa ? 158 Tablighi Jama‚at ..160 Conclusion 164 8. Blending of politics and da‚wa ..167 State policies of reislamization .167 Non-governmental political intra- ummaic da‚wa 171 Hasan al-Banna and Jama‚at al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin ..174 Conclusion ..183 Concluding remarks ..185 Appendices ..191 Bibliography ..197
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5INTRODUCTION The word ﬁ da‚wa ﬂ (Arabic ) is basic to a study of Islam. The word commonly appears in the Quran, its commentaries, classical Muslim texts, and contemporary theological or ideological texts, written and spoken. Through mass media and other channels of communication, even non-academic non-Muslims are increasingly familiar with the term and its diverse connotations. Muslims have known and used the word ﬁ da‚wa ﬂ throughout the history of Islam. The multiple perceptions, as it will be shown in this study, of what da‚wa means have been elaborated upon since the early centuries of Islam. Muslims have applied the term to various specific activities of theirs. The broadly known explanation in Europe and North America for da‚wa is that it constitutes activities which, in the Christian context, fall under the terms ‚missions™ or ‚missionary activities™. Virtually all students of Islam, as well as Muslims themselves, acknowledge that Islam is a missionary religion. Indeed, Islam fits the definition of a missionary religion provided by Max Müller in 1873. According to Müller, a missionary religion is one ﬁin which the spreading of the truth and the conversion of unbelievers are raised to the rank of a sacred duty by the founder or his immediate successorsﬂ (Arnold: 1). This is the case of Islam, for Muhammad™s very life constituted this sacred duty Müller speaks of. The question, though, remains whether this sacred duty extends, and in what capacity, to Muhammad™s followers. Peter Heine argues that, from a historical perspective, ﬁthe Islamic missionﬂ was composed of two consecutive phases. The first was the spreading of Muslim supremacy through conquest, which Heine identifies with jihad. The second, to supplant the first once conquests ceased, was missionary activities, which themselves were born of a reaction to Christian missionary activities in Muslim lands, with only marginal Muslim quasi-missionary activities carried out by traders taking place between the two phases (Heine, 2: 527). Though Heine correctly points to the relation between jihad and missionary activities of Muslims, his presentation of da‚wa development is oversimplified. First of all, Heine underestimates Quranic pronouncements regarding missionary activities. Secondly, his portrayal of da‚wa
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6ignores the fact that Muslims employed da‚wa as much toward fellow Muslims as to non-Muslims. Thirdly, peaceful ﬁnon-jihadicﬂ da‚wa was practiced by Muslims as early as the 9 th and 10th centuries. Recently, moreover, there has been much discussion whether da‚wa at all can be rendered as ﬁmissionary activity,ﬂ for it is argued by some Muslims as well as non- Muslim scholars that da‚wa distinctly differs from what, in the Christian tradition, missions have encompassed. ( Christian Mission , 1982) Among other things, it is pointed out that da‚wa has, at least until quite recently, lacked authoritative centralized institutions such as Christian missions had. Frequently, Christian missions are seen by Muslims (and not only them) as a tool of imperialism and colonialism, something the Islamic da‚wa arguably has never been. Therefore, it has been argued that since the relation between the two is a highly dense issue, though the ultimate aim of both the Islamic da‚wa and Christian missions has been spreading of the message of their respective faith and subsequent conversion of people to that faith, it is only with caution that terms like ﬁmissionary activity,ﬂ ﬁmissionariesﬂ and similar can be applied to denote the Islamic da‚wa and those engaged in it. Kate Zebiri approaches da‚wa from a completely opposite perspective as Heine does. She holds that ﬁwhile in the past da‚wah has most often been directed at lax or heterodox Muslims, it now increasingly targets non-Muslims, especially in the Western context.ﬂ (Zebiri, 1997: 29) This observation is only partially true Œ Muslims have since long been practicing da‚wa toward non-Muslims, though, it is true, their efforts have not always been concerted or institutionalized. The fourteen-centuries- long history of da‚wa has been much more multifaceted than Zebiri seems to imply. First of all, the Islamic da‚wa was first formulated as a principle of inviting non- Muslims to embrace Islam; this is how it is found in the Quran. Soon afterwards, however, it became a key term for forming organized sectarian structures for propagation of tenets of given parties (e.g., ‚Abbasid da‚wa ) and sects (e.g., Fatimid Isma‚ili da‚wa ) within the Muslim Umma.1 In the Middle Ages, Muslim missionary activities towards non-Muslims proliferated beyond the borders of the Muslim world (especially the Sufi kind in Africa and South East Asia). Although the specific term ﬁda‚wa ﬂ was not always used, it was, however, used as a term denoting religio- political ideology of separate Muslim groups. And only in recent history, much in 1 I use the term Umma in accordance with the Islamic tradition, which holds that all Muslims make an exclusive entity, called Umma . Though many Muslims themselves have questioned the existence of such an entity in the history of Islam, I abstain from discussion of the ideal versus the historic Umma and use the word rather as a generic term.
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8a peaceful effort adds to da‚wa , whereas for those who perceive jihad as a physical struggle, it might substitute for da‚wa .Though da‚wa has been known and vastly employed by Muslims throughout the Islamic history, da‚wa as an institutionalized and organized missionary activity for converting non-Muslims (or for bringing back of ﬁlax and heterodoxﬂ Muslims, to use Zebiri™s expression) to Islam is indeed a recent phenomenon. Fatimid Isma‚ili da‚wa could be considered a prototype of contemporary da‚wa due to its having been highly institutionalized and bureaucratized in the Fatimid state of Egypt (and later in Alamut). However, as it is shown in Chapter 7, the contents, means and objectives of the Fatimid da‚wa differed radically from those of the contemporary da‚wa . Thomas W. Arnold, writing at the turn of the 20 thcentury, noticed that ﬁthe formation of societies carrying on propaganda in an organized and systematic manner is a recent development in the missionary history of Islam.ﬂ (Arnold: 443) The institutionalization of contemporary da‚wa developed in great part (though not exclusively) in reaction to Christian missions of the 19 th century, influencing the Muslim perception of missionary activity in general, and of da‚wa in particular. This study touches upon the possible impact of Christian missions on da‚wa development. The second half of the 20 th century has been marked by an ever increasing scope of Muslim missionary activities, ranging from publications, tapes and public seminars to preaching, in mosques and on street corners. Until recently (to be sure, it has continued to the present), a face-to-face meeting was an inevitable initial step in a mission. Those seeking deeper knowledge of Islam and having thoughts of converting to it had to turn to people spreading that knowledge, something that basically meant physically contacting the missionaries. Likewise, missionaries, in order to have longer and more meaningful discussions, had to look for potential converts in places of gathering or in people™s living or working space. Though there are now numerous Islamic missionary institutions in Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia, they were and are still often difficult to reach by travel. However, in the last decade or so things have been changing radically. Now, one needs not leave his or her home or office in order to contact Muslim missionaries and immediately receive information on Islam, while staying in permanent live contact. The Internet has enabled people to obtain enormous amount of information with the least effort. Answers sought to concrete questions can be obtained almost instantaneously by sending an e-mail message at virtually no cost. Online conferences and discussions on Islam have become common and there abounds information on
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9both da‚wa and converting to Islam. In sum, physical contact has been increasingly paralleled by virtual contact. In face of these developments, Muzammil Siddiqi argues that Da`wah in this kind of global exchange medium takes on a whole new flavor. It is no longer sufficient to meet on a one-on-one basis: we are talking about mass appeal and an approach to mass communication. Despite this aspect, da`wah remains a communication between hearts and thus the global information technology is only a door for individuals to introduce themselves to other individuals. (Siddiqi, M., 1998a) The contemporary Muslim missionary activities have not yet been fully appreciated by scholars and students of Islam. The Internet version of the Islamic da‚wa (in this study I shall call the Internet version of Muslim missionary activities ﬁvirtual da‚wa ﬂ) has been left outside scholarly analysis altogether. 5 Yet, it is precisely this sort of Muslim missionary activity, which, in my opinion, is getting impetus and in the near future might become a very fruitful enterprise. The present study includes analysis of the Internet sites, which are specifically designed for spreading Islam, to make a fuller picture of the scope of da‚wa activities in the contemporary world and delineate the tendencies and trends pertaining to these activities. The number of da‚wa sites on the Internet must be around one thousand (with the overall number of ﬁIslamicﬂ sites on the Internet running into tens of thousands). 6These sites serve basically two goals as far as da‚wa is concerned: one, to help those interested in Islam to get more attractive and welcoming information and, two, to give advice to fellow Muslims on how to conduct da‚wa and be proper believers. Most of the sites are in English (with a fair number in French and some in German, Malay, Indonesian, Arabic, Urdu, and other languages). Majority of them are manintained in the United States and Great Britain, but there also are those maintained in the Arab/Muslim lands (though generally in English for communicating to the widest set of potential converts, as well as to the newly converted, who have yet to learn Arabic). Most of the sites have a list of publications either on da‚wa or Islam in general. Some of those publications are distributed freely, whereas others can be purchased online. For those who do not want to wait for hardcopy editions of the 5 The only semi-scholarly inquiry into virtual da‚wa I am aware of was made by Shahid Athar. (Athar, 1998: 25).6 Search engine like Google produces some 15,800 links to sites in which the word da‚wa in relation to Islam is mentioned. Out of these, 5,560 are in English. In another 29,900 sites word da‚wah is present, of which 19,100 are in English. However, in majority of those sites da‚wa is just mentioned in some other context and is not a prioritized subject. (June 14, 2004).
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10pamphlets, sites abound with online articles on Islam and da‚wa that can be immediately downloaded locally and/or printed to paper. The creators of virtual da‚wa make use of all available advanced communica- tion means and software. One could say that at least some sites maintained by Muslim da‚is ( da‚i, , means a missionary or propagandist) are above average on the Internet for their technical sophistication. With appropriate software, a visitor to such a site can easily download an audio recitation of the whole Quran, listen to preachers, or watch documentaries. Several Islamic sites have huge databases that can be used by Muslims and students of Islam alike. 7 Additionally, online muftis are at visitor™s disposal. The very existence of virtual da‚wa proves that Muslim missionaries who aim at converting people to Islam (and usually a strict form of it) are not opposed to modern techniques and technologies. 8The virtual da‚wa is mostly intended for European and North American audiences, which the majority of da‚is consider Christian (even if nominal or secularized). Printed da‚wa materials also almost exclusively deal with Christianity. However, in appealing to Christians, da‚is, both in a virtual and physical reality, are posed with a crucial task of how to at once debase Christianity and advance Islam ahead of it. In their approach to Christians, Muslim missionaries employ a vast array of concepts and images of Christianity, Christians, and the so-called Christian cultures. Those images, true and invented, serve the purpose of putting the Christian dogmas, beliefs, traditions, customs, and social practices into opposition to their Islamic polemical counterparts and of conveying these images of Christians and Christianity to fellow Muslims. If da‚wa activists have any impact on general Muslim audiences, their perceived understanding of Christians could serve as a reference point for common believers, maintaining stereotypical images of Christianity, Christians and their cultures. What is Christianity? Is it any ﬁworseﬂ than Islam? How? Has it and how failed in the eyes of da‚wa ideologies? Have modern Christians become un-religious? Is there anything wrong with the present-day social and religious situation of the Christian cultures? What has the secularization done to the Christian world? Is the Christian world doomed if it holds to its perceived un-religiousness? How should Muslims deal with Christians? These and similar questions are being raised by da‚is, who seem to have ready answers to most of them. Therefore, the issue of how Muslim 7 For a list of major virtual da‚wa sites, see Appendix III. 8 In fact, earlier Muslim da‚is had employed audiocassettes, video tapes and other contemporary technologies and techniques.
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11activists engaged in da‚wa have perceived Christianity and ﬁChristianﬂ cultures of Europe and North America is worth a separate analysis, of course within the whole picture of contemporary da‚wa activities. In Chapter 6 attention is paid to perception of Christianity and ﬁWestern/ Christianﬂ cultures among contemporary Muslim activists pursuing da‚wa .Though many da‚is are concerned with spreading Islam among non-Muslims, large numbers of Islamic ﬁworkers,ﬂ as da‚is are sometimes called by Muslims themselves, turn their attention to and devote their work to fellow Muslims. Da‚wa toward fellow Muslims Œ that is, within the Umma Œ seeks to increase religious awareness among the Muslim masses and induce them to comply with the Islamic injunctions extracted, foremost, from the Quran and Sunna of Muhammad. The ultimate goal of such da‚wa is to bring about total Islamization of both public and private spheres of the already existing Muslim societies. This can be achieved only through nurturing individual and social Islamicity Œa conscious all-embracing commitment to Islam. Da‚wa has always been at least partly political. The relationship of da‚wa to politics can be studied on two levels: on the level of non-governmental Muslim organizations engaged in da‚wa and on the level of state-sponsored and -directed activities. Apart from purely religious missionary activities, many da‚wa organizations and individual da‚is have been politically engaged. A discussion of the inseparability between the religious-sacred and socio-political-profane realms in Islam is of relevance in the context of da‚wa analysis: indeed, as the investigations of writings of Muslim activists on da‚wa reveal, da‚wa promulgators consciously fuse these two realms into one idealized frame into which they wish to squeeze any and all human activity. Religion and politics thus are effectively made one, with da‚wa becoming a complex of political activities by way of religion. On the governmental level, a sort of da‚wa is being implemented by states in their various socio-cultural and political projects, which this study has generically termed ﬁcultural reislamization.ﬂ Many Muslim governments (most explicitly the Persian Gulf states, but also Libya, Pakistan, Iran, and the Sudan) have been pursuing reislamization, since the 1970s, through legislation and other means. Though in itself ﬁcultural reislamizationﬂ could hardly be equated to da‚wa , activities of governments pertaining to regulating the Islamicity of citizenry can be studied against the intra- ummaicda‚wa undertaken by Muslim activists first of all in the Muslim world itself, but also around the world. The inter-relatedness between da‚wa organizations in one
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