With regard to the question, Sheikh Yusuf Estes, answers:
For Muslims who endeavor to give Da’wah for Allah’s sake, they may consider the following tips:
First of all, be confident that it is Allah, Most High, who provides the right words and only He is the one who guides people to the straight path. You will do fine, Insha’Allah, but you need to put your trust in Allah the Almighty.
I highly recommend presenting the essential basics to those people and let them know about some of the good web sites (such as this one (http://www.islam-online.net and http://www.islamtoday.com) for more details, insha’Allah.
Use the first 12 to 15 minutes presenting the most prized and wonderful part of Islam: Focus on the fact that the whole universe is full of evidence indicating that there is Allah (God) and that He is the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists. We can prove this by acknowledging that all this did not occur by accident in space. So if there is a creation, it logically follows that there is a Creator. As such it is up to Him to determine what the purpose of this creation is all about. God, in His Infinite Wisdom, has chosen to reveal this purpose and plan to us through the system of messengers and books.
Establish the fact that we are not in opposition with the belief in God, but rather we are only bringing about a clarification and return to the more original concepts with Islam. You might even let them know that we are all brothers in humanity as well as acknowledging that we come from Adam. The idea of being a Muslim brother or sister is that we are “brothers in faith.” So make them feel comfortable that we are not trying to deny God, His Books, His Angels and His Messengers, not at all. Islam is only making clear what the concept and relationship of Allah is to us.
Then try to shed light on the concept of Allah by stating that:
He is the Creator, but not created;
He Sustains, but is not sustained;
He exists, but never within what He created;
He has Divine Attributes, but they are the epitome or ultimate of that characteristic;
He has features, but they are not to be compared to what is in His creation. While He is Perfect in every aspect, His creatures (us) are not.
You must also emphasize that Allah is far Exalted above His creation and as such we should never try to make Him manifest somehow inside of anything or anyone. Regarding the status of angels, they are perfect. They obey every single command of Allah and never falter in their duties. The idea of the devil being a “fallen angel” is totally alien to Islam. The devil was elevated to worship Allah along with the angels, but he was not one of them. This is usually a good starting point for making things clear for them.
Another point is to let them know about Adam and Eve. Adam is created from clay, Eve is created from his rib (same as the Bible). The subject of the “sin of the forbidden fruit” is that both sinned. They repented and Allah accepted their repentance and forgave them. Sending them down out of Paradise to the earth was not a punishment from Allah for what they did. Rather, it was something that Allah had destined for them before He ever created them. All of this is a part of the Divine Plan of Allah to make the world a “testing ground” as it were, for them and all the humans that came after them.
This would lead you into the subject of Islam’s stance on the purpose of this life. We are only in this existence for a short period of time to see if we will do one of two things: worship Allah as He has ordered, or worship something that He created. If we fulfill our obligation to Allah in worship and exert our efforts in offering Him sincere devotion, then He will forgive the other minor sins upon repenting to Him, and we would then be admitted to His Paradise insha’Allah. On the other hand, if we do not fulfill our duty to Allah, then we would be thrown into total ruin by our own choice.
How can we know what Allah wants for us and how can we best achieve our goal, which is Paradise?
We cannot begin to guess the answer to this anymore than we can create ourselves in the first place.
We need guidance for this. Where do we obtain it? The only way possible is if Allah the Almighty reveals something to us. This will bring you to the subject of the Glorious Qur’an about half way through your talk. Then explain that the Qur’an is the final revelation in a long series of revelations from Almighty Allah to mankind. It supercedes the previous revelations and as such replaces whatever might remain of them. So, in simple terms you might say that, as the Bible is understood to be the “Old Testament” and “New Testament” then the Qur’an would be the “Final Testament” according to this type of labeling.
Part of the essential belief for the Muslim is to have firm faith in the fact that Allah, the Exalted, sent down the original revelations in the past. They include:
•Scrolls of Abraham
•Torah of Moses
•Psalms of David
•Gospel of Jesus
•The Glorious Qur’an to Muhammad
Each Prophet, peace be upon all of them, came only to bring the simple message of “There is no deity to worship throughout the entire creation, except Allah Who is the Creator but never in His Creation.”
I know that this is very wordy and seems too long to say… but trust me, many people came to a better understanding of Islam through this explanation – and by the way, many also made Shahadah (declaration of faith) as well.
You can now move to the subject of prophethood in Islam. Muslims are taught to elevate all the Prophets to a level of high honor and respect. We do not associate them with major sins and crimes. While we take all the Prophets to such a high degree in Islam, we do not make them as gods or demi-gods. So, Islam clears Prophet Lot of the crime of incest and Prophet David from committing adultery, and so on. Additionally, while taking these Prophets to such lofty status, Islam simply never approves of the status Jesus, peace be upon him, is held in Christianity, rather it returns him to the level that he mentioned about himself as being subject to the authority of Almighty Allah (God).
By now, you should be close to 30 minutes in your speech. Wrap it up by saying that we must make a clear distinction between Islam and what some Muslims do. Islam is a verbal noun. It is an action, something that you do. It means to surrender, submit, and obey Allah in sincerity and peace in all that we do while here on the earth. If someone does this, then he or she is a Muslim whether or not they know it. “Muslim” simply means the one who is performing the verb or action of “Islam.” Some people have the name “Muslim” while not actually fulfilling the title. So, we would separate the two words and understand that while “Islam” is perfect, those who try to do it (Muslims) are not perfect.
After many these final conclusions you are ready for your questions and answers. But be ready for the hard part…
They may ask you questions that you are not prepared for. For instance they might ask about current events in various countries, treatment of women, behavior of some Muslims, etc.
A simple default answer prepared by you ahead of time is a wise investment in time. You might like to say something like:
“This is a good question, but it refers to a deeper level of understanding of Allah, Islam and the Muslims. So perhaps I might have another opportunity to speak on these topics in detail.”
Or you might answer the ones that are difficult or confusing in their nature by saying: “As such, according to the wisdom of Islam, I should not try to answer questions that I do not have enough information on.”
We congratulate you on your opportunity to serve Islam and to represent all of us as good Muslims. Remember to pray to Allah for success in this event. Make the Du`a’ of Moses when he asked Allah to open his chest, make it easy for him, and to untie his tongue and to make people understand his message (or words to this affect).
Be sure to be early for the event, set up any recording equipment (if you plan to record it) well in advance. Start on time. And just be yourself as a good Muslim. Afterwards, remember to make Du`a’ for them later that night, so that Allah will guide them to the truth.