Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Digital Dawah

If you have attended a gathering lately then you would have noticed many people engrossed not in what is happening around them but rather in a different world – a virtual world – by means of their personal digital devices.  The truth is that internet and social media use are growing, especially among the younger generation. They spend a disproportional amount of time on the net. So if you want to grab their attention you need to turn your dawah digital, whether it is through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs or emails. Although I use most of these platforms, in this post I will focus on blogging as a means of digital dawah.

The topic you decide to write about should be something you observed in your life or your social circle that needs to be researched/highlighted/corrected/advised about. Before writing about any topic, it is wise to research it thoroughly. Find out what the Quran and the Sunnah says about it. What is the opinion of scholars? Develop your arguments step by step in a logical manner after deep thought, staying with the implications of the Islamic sources. Quote directly from the sources whenever possible. When you do use your opinion make sure that you clearly state that and mention that it is fallible. Always adopt a polite and professional outlook and language. Never force your audience. Remember, the first person you are doing this work for is yourself. Perhaps the greatest worldly benefit it will provide you is that this exercise will clear up your own thought processes and help you become a discerning individual. It will affect you so that you do not make the mistakes you are preaching against.

More than normal dawah, digital dawah needs good research and writing skills. To be successful one should like to read, reflect and write about a wide variety of issues in one’s life and society. One should be constantly researching and learning. To be effective, one should be also constantly learning his deen in formal courses. By keeping arguments based on the Quran and Sunnah one is not being egotistic about one’s opinion aiming to overcome the opponents in an argument, but rather simply stating the Truth. As the Quran says it is not incumbent on you anything else than to state the clear message. One way to achieve this is to work anonymously. Clearly the issues and ideas are more important than the person who is raising them and this is a means to keep you humble.

As you develop your blog over time, the posts you write about will become a library of wise nuggets of thought about commonly repeating social issues which you have unraveled and treated clearly. In the future, whenever someone tries to argue with you regarding any of them, do not engage them, but just send a link to one of your blog posts. Over time, your blog will contain answers to most common misconceptions about Islam and you will able to eloquently and politely convince your opponents without resorting to arguments. Your audience can also participate in digital dawah by sending the links to your blog. Thus your blog becomes a sadaqa jariah for you, as long as your content exists on the servers somewhere in the internet cloud.

 It is important to keep your posts as general as possible, because your blog can potentially be read from people all over the world. It should appeal to them so if you can avoid any context to a specific region or time, it will benefit a global audience. The more people your blog can reach the more the chances are that you will interact with like-minded people, opening doors to collaboration in future projects globally. As you keep working, you will realize that you are not alone. There is a whole community of people who read and comment about your posts. It does not matter too much where you live as your interactions are global. I have found that digital dawah to be an excellent means of up-keeping ties of kinship. Often keeping ties with relatives who you have not seen for some time and live on the other side of the globe is difficult as you do not know what to talk about except the weather. With your blog posts you can talk about real issues and their solutions rather than back-bite others.

As compared to other dawah efforts, digital dawah does not take many resources.  With just an internet connection and a computer, you are ready to go. Everything can be done from your home. A single individual can potentially bring about change in thought in a global audience. The blog allows the blogger to track how the dawah is progressing by continuously monitoring the blog stats on how its content is being consumed worldwide.

The collection of online content from your blog will unconsciously become part of your belief system and that of your followers. Re-reading it from time to time, will remind you about the issues you care about in life. People will comment and provide feedback on the issues you tackle allowing you to look at them from a different angle. Thus you will constantly refine your perspective of the Truth. It is important to be open to criticism and blog content can always be updated on-the-fly, allowing you to evolve your thinking and dawah.

As a blogger you will become conscience of the issues that crop up in your community and become more sensitive to their resolution. You will constantly be able to think about them from the right context and help others to do so as well. As a knowledgeable Muslim, you will be asked about the opportunities you had in life and how you used them. Whether you conveyed the message of Islam to others or not? Digital dawah is one way in which you can answer that you tried.

There are many benefits of dawah, both for this world and next. In particular, digital dawah allows you to reach out to more and more people globally day by day. It provides a means to keep learning individually and collectively. It can open other opportunities for growth through global collaboration. Blogging, in particular, takes few resources and can be accomplished by an individual from his home. More importantly it can be a means of eternal salvation for the self and others.

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