There are a few people in my life who I talk to the most often. If you were to ask them which subjects I talk about the most, they would probably tell you: Politics/World Affairs and Islam--specifically da'wah. Aren't politics and religion the two topics that are not welcome in polite conversation? Perhaps.
So I'm going to talk about what I've been doing lately. :-)
First of all, thanks to the brother who helped ease me into Islam, da'wah has been important to me since I embraced the religion. I have been attending meetings of the da'wah committee at my masjid for a while now, and without taking a formal position I have tried to contribute. Last year I attended a seminar for ING and eventually became certified to present for them, so since last spring I have had the opportunity to give a number of presentations about Islam.
I have also given presentations on behalf of the da'wah committee--which until just recently had a remarkably similar presentation. More recently, I have developed another new presentation for the da'wah committee with the help of the sheikh, which I've been able to deliver a few times as well.
But a few months ago, probably November or early December, the committee discussed in a meeting that they wanted more speakers, they wanted a more active presentation group, people to give presentations about Islam. I and another sister were charged with creating a program to train volunteers in speaking. We decided to start in the new year because she was going on hajj.
So she gets back and I start trying to push to get this done. We began with just the two of us and then got another brother involved. We met with the sheikh and started to toss around ideas of what we needed to teach people, and how, and we developed something of a higher quality than I originally had in mind, but also with a smaller scope than my partner had in mind.
Her idea was to have a long-range program with several levels, certification, advanced levels of learning. The problem I had with it is that first we only need a few people immediately and while I want to see more people involved, we aren't qualified to teach several levels and we'd have to put ourselves through it first. Also, weeks and months of required training would put people off of the idea, I think, and also waste their time.
Yet originally we had a 6 week program, but decided that we needed to include a foundational session on aqeedah--which meant having the imam instruct part of it. Then I worked out the rest of what we wanted to cover, we at another time worked on scheduling and blah blah blah, we came up with a 4-session course, with 4-hour sessions meeting once a week. Now it's exciting to do advertising and recruiting people--alhamdulillah people are definitely showing interest in it.
But now I have to ask the question--if they come, what are they getting out of it, really? I don't think someone having only taken this course would be quite ready to go out giving presentations about Islam--though they might be close. I would hope, though, that it would give them enough basic knowledge to encourage them, embolden them to talk to people about Islam.
I really think that people only have a couple of excuses for not giving da'wah. I certainly see it as an obligation on the Muslims--after all, it is commanded in the Qur'an to invite people to the way of their Lord. This is what the prophets have done, conveyed the message to the people. And in the farewell khutbah Muhammad saws said for those present to convey to those who were absent. How could Islam spread if we keep it to ourselves? Won't we be held accountable for that? As Muslims we not only need to live righteously but bring righteousness--encourage it in others.
But some people are shy--and they think that calling to Islam means handing out brochures on the street. Or maybe they think that it's okay for them to just be a "good example" and then keep to themselves. But that's not enough.
So I hope that these Muslims who hear about the program, that they will see how they are asked about Islam--because Muslims are asked about Islam all the time! And I hope they will see how people want to learn about Islam, and why they shouldn't be afraid to talk about it. And that if they know how to answer, they won't be afraid of the questions. And ultimately I'm hoping to see a larger group of people available for da'wah activities like an open house or fair booths etc. A larger group of people reaching out, proud of their Islam instead of trying to hide it.
Anyway, just some thoughts so you don't have to look at the moon anymore. :-)