Are Da`wah Camps Bid`ah?

Da`wah camps are a good and modern means for calling others to the right path. It accomplishes one of the aims of Shari ah regarding acquiring and spreading knowledge. There is a Hadith reported in Sahih Muslim about the importance of seeking knowledge and making Dhikr; this Hadith goes: “He who treads a path in search of knowledge, Allah, the Almighty would make the path leading to Paradise easy for him, and those persons who assemble in a house of the houses of Allah (i.e., mosques) and recite the Book of Allah, learning and teaching it (among themselves), tranquility would descend upon them and mercy would cover them and the angels would surround them and Allah would mention them in the presence of those near Him, and he who is slow-paced in doing good deeds, his (high) descent(s) would not make him go ahead (in reward).’’

There is consensus among scholars that the means to good aims are also good. Imam Al-`Izz ibn `Abdus-Salam said in that regard: “Rulings on aims also apply to their means, for he who aims at something noble adopts noble means for this, while he who seeks a base aim follows a mean means.”

According to Al-Furuq by Imam Al-Qarafi, there are methods to be blocked and others to be applied. [Under this general framework], the means of doing things may be obligatory, recommended, permissible, disliked, or forbidden according to the nature of the thing to be done. The means of doing forbidden things, for example, are also forbidden. Likewise, the means of doing something obligatory are also obligatory. A ruling on something is based on two things, the intention behind doing it and the means used to achieve it. The lawfulness or unlawfulness of the means depends on the intention, yet the means is given secondary consideration (after the intention) when it comes to giving rulings. Noble aims are sought by noble means, evil ones are sought by base means, and what is in-between also has its appropriate means.

Allah, the Almighty says:(this is because there afflicts them neither thirst nor fatigue nor hunger in Allah’s way, nor do they tread a path which enrages the unbelievers, nor do they attain from the enemy what they attain, but a good work is written down for them on account of it; surely Allah does not waste the reward of the doers of good.) (At-Tawba 9: 120). According to this verse, Allah, the Almighty rewarded the believers for all that they did, even for the thirst they suffered in the path of fighting Allah’s enemy, for it afflicted them because of their struggle in Allah’s cause, which is the means of defending the religion and protecting the Muslims.

Dr. Khaled ibn `Abdullah Al-Qasem, a professor at King Saud University, states: There is a lot of evidence in Almighty Allah’s Book that proves the merit and worthiness of acquiring knowledge and calling others to the right path. This evidence also applies to Da`wah camps and any similar activity aimed at spreading knowledge and calling to Almighty Allah’s path. Whoever asks the organizers of these Da`wah camps for religious evidence on what they are doing is himself required to provide evidence concerning his claim that they are unlawful. It should be taken into consideration that acquiring and spreading knowledge, calling to the right path, and jihad are all lawful ends in the point of view of Shari ah, and any available means that may achieve any of these ends is also lawful. This applies to establishing schools and universities, giving courses in Shari ah, setting up Da`wah camps, providing libraries, and spreading knowledge through media and the internet. No evidence is required for such activities by name, for they are all categorized under the hadith: ‘He who treads a path in search of knowledge, Allah, the Almighty would make the path leading to Paradise easy for him.’ (Reported by Abu Hurairah)

This can be compared to the means of some acts of worship on which there is no evidence that specify them in particular; they are known to be lawful because of the lawfulness of their ends and because they are the only means available at that time. For instance, there is no evidence that refers to the means of performing Hajj [such as the vehicles that transport the pilgrims, the provisions they take with them, etc], yet there is no doubt that such means are lawful.