Giving Dawah and the People of Knowledge


Staff member
by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Sâlih al-’Uthaymîn

Q.1 Is da’wah (calling) to Allâh obligatory upon every Muslim man and woman, or is it to be left for the Scholars and the students of knowledge only? Is it permissible for the lay person to do da’wah to Allâh?

A.1 Shaykh ibn al-’Uthaymîn - hafidhahullâh - replied:
“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 sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam said: Convey from me, even if it is one verse. [1] So it is not a condition upon the dâ’î (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 Allâh, they do not have except a little knowledge. We see them, due to their strong emotions, prohibiting that which Allâh has not prohibited, whilst making obligatory that which Allâh has not made obligatory upon His worshippers. This is a very dangerous matter, since permitting what Allâh has made harâm (unlawful) is like prohibiting what Allâh has made halâl (lawful). So when they begin prohibiting people for making a particular matter then others will rebuke them for making it harâm. Allâh - 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 Allâh. Indeed, those who invent lies against Allâh will never prosper.” [2] As for the lay person, then he must not call to Allâh if he does not have knowledge. Rather, it is essential to have knowledge in accordance with the saying of Allâh - the Most High -: “Say: This is my path. I call to Allâh upon sure knowledge.” [3] So it is a must to call to Allâh 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 Allâh must start with knowledge. Whosoever calls to Allâh 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. [4]

Q.2 What is the difference between a Scholar and a dâ’î?

A.2 “The difference between the Scholar and the dâ’î is clear. The dâ’î is one who strives to convey the message of the Sharî’ah to the servants of Allâh. He calls them to it, sometimes by means of targhîb and tarhîb (persuasion and deterring).

The Scholar is one to whom Allâh has given knowledge and who may or may not be a dâ’î. However, if the Scholar is not a dâ’î., then he is extremely deficient in his knowledge and is not a complete inheritor of the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam. This is because the Prophets - may Allâh’s peace be upon them all - did not bequeath the dirham or dînâr as inheritance, but they bequeathed knowledge - as the Prophet sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam said: “Indeed, the Scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets and indeed the Prophets do not leave behind them the dînâr or the dirham as inheritance, they leave only knowledge behind as inheritance. So whosoever acquires it, acquires a huge fortune. [ 5] Consequently. whosoever acquires knowledge and calls to Allâh. then such a person has truly inherited from the inheritance of the Prophets - in proportion to what he establishes and implements of their prescribed laws.

As for the saying of some of the people that it is permissible to become a dâ’î without knowledge, then if they mean a dâ’î without a huge amount of knowledge, able to give fatâwâ (legal verdicts and judgements), explain and deduce issues from their proofs - then it is possible to accept this saying. However, if they mean a dâ’î not having knowledge what to do da’wah with, nor having knowledge what to do daw’ah too - then there is no doubt that this cannot be. And I warn people from calling to the truth in this manner, since the harm caused is greater than the good achieved - as is witnessed! [6]

Q. 3 Allâh says: And your Lord says: Call upon Me and I will respond to your supplication. So why is it that a person’s du’â (supplication) is sometimes un-answered?
A.3 The honourable Shaykh answered by saying:

“All praise is due to Allâh, Lord of the worlds. The Salâh (prayers) and Salâm (peace) of Allâh be upon our Prophet Muhammad; and upon his Family and Companions. I ask Allâh for the ability to be correct in belief, speech and actions, for myself and for my brothers.
Allâh says: “And your Lord says: call upon Me and I will respond to your call. Verily those who are too arrogant to worship Me will enter Hell in humiliation.” The questioner stated that he did indeed invoke Allâh - the Mighty and Majestic - but was not answered by Allâh. So he is in doubt with respect to this noble verse, in which Allâh promises to answer the one who supplicates to Him, and Allâh - the One free from all imperfections - never breaks His promise.

The clarification of this is that there exists certain conditions that must be fulfilled, in order for supplications to be answered. These conditions are:-

Firstly: Sincerity to Allâh - the Mighty and Majestic. That is to say, one must be sincere in his supplication, so he turns to Allâh - the One free from all imperfections - with an attentive heart, being truthful in his turning to Him, knowing that Allâh - the Most Perfect, the Most High - is capable of answering his supplication and hoping to be answered.

Secondly: During supplication, the caller should feel that he is in great need of Allâh - the Most Perfect, the Most High - infact in dire need; and that only Allâh alone answers the supplication of the one in distress and the One who removes evil.

Thirdly: The caller should refrain from unlawful (harâm) matters, since this acts as a barrier between the caller and his supplication being answered - as has been established in the authentic hadîth, from the Prophet sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam who said: Indeed Allâh - the Most High - is good and accepts only that which is good. Allâh has ordered the Believers to do that which He commanded the Messengers. Allâh - the Most High - has said: “O you Messengers! Eat of the good things and do righteous actions. [8] And He - the Most High - says: O you who believe! Eat of the good things wherewith We have provided. [9] Then he mentioned (the case of a man) who, having journeyed far is disheveled and dusty and who spreads out his hands to the sky (saying: O Lord! O Lord! - whilst his food is unlawful, his drink unlawful and he is nourished unlawfully. So how can he be answered! [10]

So the Prophet sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam explained the unlikelihood that this person’s supplication would be answered, even after fulfilling the apparent factors which aid the supplication being answered; which are:-

One: Raising ones’ hands towards the sky - meaning to Allâh, the Mighty and Majestic, since He is above the skies, above His ‘Arsh (throne). Extending the hands out towards Allâh - the Mighty and Majestic - is amongst the causes of response; as is shown in the hadîth related by Imâm Ahmad in his Musnad: “Indeed your Lord is Alive, Most generous. His feels shy that when his servant raises his hands towards Him, calling upon Him, that He should rebuff him empty, having nothing. [11]

Two: This man called upon Allâh - the Most High - using the name Rabb (Lord). Seeking the means of approach (tawassul) to Allâh with this name is also regarded as one of the causes of response to the supplication because the Rabb is the Creator, the Owner, the Governer of all affairs - so the reign of the Heavens and the earth are in His Hands.

References 1. Related by al-Bukhârî (no.3461) from ’Abdullâh ibn ’Amr radiallâhu ’anhu.
2. Sûrah Nahl 16:116-117
3. Sûrah Yûsuf 12:108
4. As-Sahwatul-Islâmiyyah (pp.75-76) of Shaykh lbn al-’Uthaymîn.
5. Hasan: Related by Abû Dâwûd (no.3641), and Ibn Majah (no.223), from Abûd-Darda radiallâhu ’anhu. It was authenticated by Shaykh al-Albânî in his checking to Sharhus-Sunnah (1/276).
6. As-Sahwatul-Islâmiyyah (pp.76-77) of Shaykh Ibn al-’Uthaymîn.
7. Sûrah Ghâfir 40:60
8. Sûrah Mumin 23:51
9. Sûrah Baqarah 2:172
10. Sahîh: Related by Muslim (no.1015) from Abû Hurayrah radiallâhu ’anhu.
11. Sahîh: Related by Ahmad (5/438), Abû Dâwûd (no.1488) and others. It has been authenticated by al-Hâfidh Ibn Hajar in Fathul-Bârî (11/143).
12. Sûrah Âl-’Imrân 3:193-195.
13. Related by Ibn Hibbân (no.1006), Ibn Abî Ya’lâ (no.2071 and others - and the hadîth contains some weakness as al-Haythamî indicated in al-Majma’ (2/253).
14. Sahîh: Related by Muslim - from Abû Hurayrah.
15. From Majû’ Fatâwa war-Rasâ’il (no.155) of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Sâlih al-’Uthaymîn - hafidhahullâh.
16. Sûrah-Nisâ’ 4:115
17. Sûrah Tawbah 9:115
18. Sûrah al-Isrâ 17:15
19. Related by Muslim (no.6611) from Anas radiallâhu ’anhu.
20. Majmû’ Fatâwâ war-Ras’âil (no.341).