In my last post, I mentioned that I had lost an opportunity to give da'wah, when I was seemingly mistaken for an Orthodox Christian woman from Russia. In hindsight, I think about how I should have told him that I was a Muslim, and taken the opportunity to mention something about Islam. And I didn't do that.
That made me remember something I learned at the Shepherd's Path seminar I attended in Maryland. The shaykh told us that the early companions of the Prophet (saws) all felt the responsibility of giving da'wah, the responsibility of working for Islam.
In my time as a Muslim, as I've tried to learn Islam and practice it the best i can, I've heard people comment that converts to Islam seem like "better" Muslims than those born Muslim. I don't really think it's true, but it is interesting that converts to Islam take such an active role in working for Islam that people even have this impression (assuming it's not true, but even if it is, how much more interesting?)
Just this past Friday, I heard the khateeb mention that something like 70% of converts to Islam learned Islam because of another convert. I don't know the source of that statistic, but it just seems even more interesting to me, showing that converts are taking such an active role in spreading Islam.
The analogy that comes to my mind then is that the early Companions, who had to embrace Islam from their previous practices, took up this responsibility of working for Islam. But so many generations later, that feeling of responsibility has dwindled--but so has knowledge about Islam, in the first place.
When a person decides to convert to Islam, in many cases that person has spent a long time studying the religion and deciding whether or not it makes sense, and whether he believes in it. And when he embraces the religion he is accepting its teachings, willfully. Maybe it's true that many people raised in the religion never learn the teachings of Islam, and never make a conscious decision to accept those teachings--so of course they don't feel any responsibility to spread them, or sometimes even adhere to them.
So maybe, if we want to raise a generation that is willing to take up the responsibility of working for Islam, then knowledge is the key?