Sunday, June 03, 2007

Da'wah Via Powerpoint

Yes, yes, one of the first steps for a group committed to educating the non-Muslim population about Islam is to devise a powerpoint presentation, a script and slides to match, as a guide for novice presenters to give a little speech explaining the highlights of Islam.

The da'wah committee at my masjid, a committee I'm now apparently on, has been meeting recently to do just that. The only thing is, there is already the presentation, we're simply fine-tuning it. It has some issues, largely cosmetic to be honest, but for the most part the content is fine--assuming, of course, that the person presenting actually knows what they are talking about, and what they are supposed to be talking about.

The problem we have then, as we "fine-tune" the presentation, is people disagreeing about what should be said, what should be on the slide, etc... To start with, there is the existing presentation that has been in use for a while now, designed years ago by someone else who is not even much into giving it any more. The two current heads of the committee are well-rehearsed on the presentation and what they say, and what is good to say (i.e., helpful) and what is not (i.e., confusing.) But there are some people in the room who I imagine plan to give this presentation one day, who have completely different ideas. Of the two current chairs, one is born Muslim, and the other is his wife, a convert. I for one think they do a fabulous job, and more fabulous the more I learn about what they've done. But... everyone's entitled to their opinion.

A week or so ago we were discussing which bullets to put on a slide about salaat. Should we say wudu? Should we say purification but not wudu? Should we (this is one of the later slides, by the way) eliminate all Arabic transliterated words from the presentation now!? Should we not mention this aspect of purification at all?

It was then that I realized people are getting tired. I've done this once before, learned the presentation, learned the script. I have an opinion on what should be on the slide too. But what I didn't exactly understand was the reasons people wanted to keep things off the slide. This is a generic presentation, multi-purpose.

Sometimes, it will be given to a 7th grade class studying eastern religions and cultures. They will probably be familiar with practices if not beliefs. Sometimes it will be given to law enforcement--they will not know anything, probably, and will be most helped by learning some useful information about the practices of worship. It might be given to a church group, who would probably be most intrigued and benefited by examining the beliefs.

So everyone had to say--should wudu be on the slide or not? I say yes--I consider it an essential part of the prayer that at least deserves mention, and I think ought to be on the slide because, quite simply, it is essential, it is commonly observed and is worth explaining briefly when mentioning the prayer. I'm not picky what word they use, but I think it's a concept to mention to many of the different audiences. Yet another position was that we should not mention at all how Muslims pray (i.e., that we recite Qur'an and bow and so forth) but only why. Now that's a point which needs to be emphasized... that's why 80% of the presentation is spent discussing beliefs, what Muslims believe. Why do we pray? Because Allah told us to. And that point may be elaborated, I suppose, the value of stopping during the day to remember one's faith. But also, the "how" is pertinent information. Especially since in many cases we are trying to explain that it's not harmless, it's a quite simple and benign act which Western culture might not actually understand (since prayer is no longer a common thing.) So what it looks like, the purification beforehand, the call to prayer... I think it's worthwhile to mention, when explaining salaat. I guess that's my opinion but... if they are entitled to one, so am I.

Yet I know, that when I give the presentation, I'm the one who can say what's important. And hope that what I say is taken with as much or more weight than a silly slide.


Aviator said...

Ohhh Amy, please change the title of this blog immediately!!!

"Usbat Al-Huda, or the Daughter of Guidance, claims to be a group of female fighters loyal to Sadr who are willing to carry out suicide attacks."

( )

I found this by chance while was googling.


lol, Da'wah via powerpoint and flashes are excellent.

However, not every person is valid to make Da'wah with non-muslims.

This is because some muslims hurt Islam when they make Da'wah without being qualified for this issue.

An idea: is to stick with a good scholar, may be a muslim professor and learn to practise Da'wah from her/her.
That is to help her/him by doing the slides. Also, train under the supervision of qualified persons who can give real and valuable information, not just people who have no ....

Amy said...

An idea: is to stick with a good scholar, may be a muslim professor and learn to practise Da'wah from her/her.
That is to help her/him by doing the slides. Also, train under the supervision of qualified persons who can give real and valuable information, not just people who have no ....
Now I think you're being clueless again. You might not have noticed it, but there is a very disappointing shortage of scholars of Islam in the USA. You can't count on a scholar to do all the work, there aren't enough scholars and their hands are full as it is. The professors? They apologize more than give da'wah. Usually they aren't interested in being Muslim, much less other people becoming Muslim.

What we don't have are people qualified to teach Islam. SO we train ourselves. And yeah, we take the advice of scholars whenever possible.

At the same time training people is very important because most people (especially immigrants, I hate to say) do not understand how to talk to an audience in a friendly and open way without have to offend or defend anything. That's what takes training. And alhamdulillah people stand up to be trained.

That is what we're doing. Training.

Aviator said...

Well, i did not mean professor in enigeering or sciece. I meann professors of islamic studies and islamic principles...., who are muslims and who are wishing to explian islam well.