The Meaning of Tabligh

Mohamedarif Suleman

(Nairobi, Kenya)

The time has come when, as Muslims, we should cross the boundaries of our homes and propagate the word of Allah (SWT) to greater audiences. It would be right to say that it is our immediate duty to preach, in any form and substance possible, the message that the Holy Prophet (SAW) left to his Ummah, and the message for which Imam Husain (AS) sacrificed his life.

Unfortunately, one may assert that the above is a very grand statement that has little relevance in our real-life situation today. This is given the fact that we have limited manpower and resources at hand to swerve in the direction of humankind today. On the other hand, one may as well contend that when we talk of propagating, we do not necessarily imply the use of financial power or enormous government lobbying to achieve our goals. Something as small as what we did last Aashura (holding a session of informative talks by prominent speakers in audible and intelligible language), could be regarded as a milestone achieved in terms of crossing our threshold. And inshallah, with renewed zeal, it is hoped that such programmes will prove to be a vital source of tabligh of our religion. History shows us that it was only due to the interaction of the Holy Prophet (SAW) with the communities surrounding him, that his mission attained success. Of course, one indelible mark he left for us to gaze upon was the aspect of his character. It was his character and not any material prowess that saw him succeed. The funds that Janabe Khadija (SA) lent to the entire mission were undoubtedly the means with which the propagation was spearheaded, but it was not the basis.

Christians, too, believe that Jesus Christ (Prophet Isa) was a man who mingled with various kinds of people and eventually influenced them with the power of his character. Hereunder is an interesting excerpt from “Health and Happiness” by E G White, which talks of his presentation with varied peoples:” He attended the great yearly festivals of the nations, and to the multitude absorbed in the outward ceremony, he spoke of heavenly things; he brought treasures from the storehouse of wisdom. He spoke to them in a language so simple that they could not fail of understanding. With tender, courteous grace, he ministered to the sin-sick soul, bringing healing and strength…While he ministered to the poor, Jesus studied also to find ways of reaching the rich. He sought the acquaintance of the wealthy and cultured Pharisees, the Jewish noblemen, and the Roman ruler. He accepted their invitations, attended their feasts made himself familiar with their interests and occupations, that he might gain access to their hearts…”

If anything, the above narrative teaches us to project ourselves outward to touch the various avenues of society, and penetrate them with the objective of influencing its members.

But a question that we must ask ourselves is whether going out to serve the Lord is for us a timely task at this hour. Are we prepared to answer the questions that will arise about our own faith? Is our learning sufficiently helpful in guaranteeing our success? Are we involved in further learning our own faith? Are we passing this knowledge to our offspring? If the answers to all of these questions can be in the affirmative that it would be safe to assume that we are ready for real tabligh. But if due to our own unhealthy and lax attitude towards our religion, we have ourselves lost track, little can be said about the blooming prospect.

When community leaders shout about the much-flagged “youth” slogan, they forget that they are conspicuously absenting the elders from any answerability about the state of these youths. If youths are unresponsive, disobedient and lack the interest to serve in the community, who, one should ask, made these youths? And frightful as this may sound, how do we expect these individuals to father/mother their children, given that they are pretty devoid of religion themselves? Many questions arise. Do we have the answers? Or are we too preoccupied with making a living or a name to really care about the next generation?

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About the author

Mohamedarif is a marketing professional and educationalist with a penchant for writing as a hobby since childhood. As he experimented writing about sporting events at first and then current affairs, he quickly developed a skill for observation of his environment and began to write on reform topics, especially in connection with the community. To further feed his pursuit of writing, he founded several newsletters and bulletins at his school and at the Husayni Madrasah in the 1980's, all the time learning from others already in the field not just about writing, but also about pre-press and production processes. He was also the editor-in-chief of the Knowledge Magazine in 1995–1996. A decade later, importing a flurry of ideas into his new home, Nairobi, he first founded a two page community newspaper then became a regular writer of the Friday Faculty before establishing the Community on Friday, a fully fledged Madrasah magazine in 1996. And while his writing at the community continued, he simultaneously started writing for a business weekly, pairing in with his newfound role as a marketing professional. During his time in Nairobi, he wrote several speeches for sitting chairmen and presidents while also giving some himself, developing his concurrent role as a public speaker and trainer.

With changing times and a decrease in advertising sponsorship, as well as a fall in overall readership, Mohamedarif transformed this publication into an electronic blog. Thus was born the Community on Friday in its present format.

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