The Arabic term da‘wah is derived from the verb “da‘aa” which means “to call; to invite; and to supplicate, i.e. to call on God”. It is used to refer to the act of conveying or calling people to the message of Islaam. In that context it is a contraction of the phase ad-da‘ wah ilallaah (calling to Allah) as it is described in the verse of Holy Qur’an:
“Say: This is my way and I invite to Allah with certain knowledge …”
(Qur’an 12: 108)
Da‘wah was the basic mission of the prophets of God. They were raised up among their respective people to call them to the worship of Allah alone and to abandon the worship of the various false gods that they had invented.
“I have sent to every nation a messenger [proclaiming:] Worship Allah and avoid the [worship of] false gods.” (Qur’an 16: 36)
There are numerous verses in the Qur’aan which describe how the former prophets invited their people to Allah. These stories serve as examples to the last Prophet (r) and his followers. Furthermore, there are a number of other verses in which Allah specifically exhorts the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) to convey the message of Islam to people.
“Call to your Lord and do not be among the pagans.”
[Qur’an 28: 87]
Consequently, Allah praises those who engage in this noble endeavor as being the best in speech.
“Who is better in speech than one who calls to Allah, does righteous deeds and says indeed I am among the Muslims.” (Qur’an 41: 33)
The best words that any human being can speak are words of guidance inviting people to the purpose of their creation; the worship of God. This being the case, the reward for giving da‘wah must be tremendous. Thus, it is no surprise to find that the Prophet (r) addressed the great reward for this righteous pursuit saying,
“Whoever directs someone to do good will gain the same reward as the one who does good.”
[Sahih Muslim, vol. 3, p. 1050, no. 4665.]
He was also reported to have said,
“Whoever calls to guidance will receive the same reward as the one who follows him without any decrease in the reward of [his follower].”
(Sahih Muslim, vol. 4, p. 1406, no. 6470.)
A show of divine grace, Allah has promised that every good deed would be rewarded tenfold and more.According to the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) one who guides others to do good deeds gets a reward equivalent to their reward for doing good. Consequently, people guided to righteousness earn, throughout their lives, good deeds for those who guided them. Such an immeasurable reward is specifically granted to those involved in the prophetic mission of da‘wah. As an illustration of the magnitude of the reward for guiding others to Islam, the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) was also reported by Sahl ibn Sa‘d as saying:
“For Allaah to guide someone by your hand is better for you than having red camels.”
(Sahih Al Bukhari, vol. 4, pp. 156-7, no. 253.)
Camels were considered the most valuable property in ancient Arabia and the red variety was the most prized of all. Consequently, the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) here indicates that guiding others to the truth is worth more than our most prized possessions in this world. This fact is further reiterated in Chapter al-‘Asr where Allah declares humankind in a state of loss with the exception of
“those who advise each other with truth.” [Soorah al-‘Asr, 103: 3.]
Allah also hinged the label of honor, “best of humankind,” granted to the Muslim nation on the fulfilment of their da‘wah-duty of calling humankind to righteousness and prohibiting sin among them.
“You are the best nation raised up for humankind. You enjoin righteousness, forbid
corruption and you believe in Allah.” (Qur’an 3 : 110)
Thus, the Muslim nation has been given the status of the best nation because of their belief in Allah, their promotion of morality and their opposition to vice. If they fail to believe in Allah by applying the Sharee‘ah in their governments and promote vice by permitting ribaa based economies, the production of alcohol, and the spread of lewdness, they may sink below the worst of disbelieving nations. Consequently, Muslim nations top the list of the most corrupt nations on earth today.