Should we call for Islamic values: A debate between Wael and leaW?

While the discussion about moderation was taking place, we wanted to add some discussion about calling our society to moderation. An interesting question came about: Should we really do that? What if the society does not accept our definition of moderation? The majority of the society are not Muslims and they do not necessarily agree with many of our Muslim views. Probably, we should focus our effort with the society on calling them to Islam first and then we can call those who accept it to those values. Otherwise it is a waste of time. We wanted to put this out for discussion but I had the discussion already with my virtual friend leaW who is (as his name shows) the opposite of me 🙂 (Alhamdu lellah, no mental illness here. Well, I think!). So, he argues that we should not call people to Islamic values unless they are Muslims and I argue that we should. Both of us aren’t scholars (well, maybe he is) so read with care.

leaW’s view: We should not call people to Islamic values; call them to Islam first

  • This is pretty straight forward! How do I call them to values that stem from something they do not believe in in the first place. It is a waste of time. Their reference is not Islam and the Qur’an does not represent any thing for them
  • Every messenger would come with this message to his people, “… worship God you have no god except Him …”
  • The prophet came to a society with a lot of bad values and many of the good values were completely missing. He did not waste his time calling for those values. He just focused on the main message, “worship God and God alone.” When people started believing in him, he started calling to other values.
  • Even for Muslims, God did not burden them with many obligations until it was sure they digested “no god except God.” How about non-Muslims? For 23 years, Islam was focusing on this very issue.
  • When the prophet used to give advise to those he sent to other tribes (like Moaz going to Yemen), the advice was clear. “Call them to bear witness that there is no god but God and Muhammad is his messenger. If they accept it, tell them that God obligates them with 5 prayers, …” Said the prophet to Moaz. It was clear to call for Islam first, then its details.
  • Sins and insignificant if compared to the sin of worshipping other than Allah. Therefore, fixing all the society’s problem is worthless compared to calling people to Islam. Embracing Islam is what will fix all the society’s problems

Wael’s view: We should call people to Islamic values along with calling them for Islam itself

  • It is an intrinsic value of the believing men and women, the community of believers to enjoin what is right and forbid what is evil. Yes, on top of the list of “good or right” that  we call people for is Islam itself but the list is much longer
  • Many of the messengers come with the basic message but with it there was a call for a value or values, something that the society has a problem with. For example, Lut was calling them away from homosexuality and Shu’aib was calling his people away from corrupt business transactions and so on.
  • The prophet was ready to join hands in the confederation of virtues where he would support good values without having people necessarily believing in him or in Islam.
  • The prophet in Medina called the people of Medina to the value of “good citizenship” when they fought against each other due to a problem Mecca made. He did not end the anticipated civil war by calling them to Islam. He did so by calling them to good citizenship. And they were Muslims and non-Muslims.
  • Many of the values Islam promotes are agreed upon by many people and can be explained in simple terms. People can agree to these values EVEN without being Muslims. This applies to the majority of values Islam call for
  • Calling people to Islam is effective ONLY when people see the values Islam bring to their lives. When Ja’far was asked by the Christian king al-Najashi about this “new” religion, Ja’far responded by explaining that the Prophet (pbuh) called them for Allah and not to kill one another and to be kind to their kinship, and listed many of the Islamic values. If the society of al-Najashi did not appreciate those values, Ja’far’s comments would have not been convincing. Therefore, it is very important that we promote those good values, not only because they are good or beneficial to the society but also because they will get people closer to Islam.
  • A virtuous society is a society that is closer to God and the farthest from his punishment. Many societies in the past were punished not because they disbelieved but because they transgressed, oppressed, and exceeded the limits. Therefore, it is extremely importnat to keep our society away from transgression or oppression and all the society’s illnesses that will put our society subject to God’s punishment.
  • When the prophet dealt with people (non-Muslims) he used to make comments such as, “this person is a truthful person” and “this person is religious and appreciates rituals.” or “This person is easy going.” He was making those comments in praise and in hope that good would come from them  (for example, he was hoping that Muslims can reach a peace treaty in al-Hudaibiyyah and he would make such comments about people who came to negotiate). If these values are praised in non-Muslims by the prophet, don’t you think we should promote them and call people do them?
  • When Muslims got oppressed in Mecca, the prophet asked them to go to Abyssinia, for it has a king who is just. Don’t you think promoting justice in the land is desirable? Don’t you think the more justice there is the better opportunity it is for people to live peacefully and to find home away from oppression? Do you want us to just rely on “other” kings to establish justice for us to enjoy?
  • All the advice the prophet gave to start by “no god but God” and then details are tactical advice and are suitable for the people he is sending his companions to. You should also learn not to confuse people by so many details
  • There are actually several verses that describe the ignorant society and people who live in it by “those who associate partners with God and NOT giving charity.” There was also calls to people who do not believe in God to “feed the hungry.” That is calling for Islam and its values at the same time.

Now that you know Wael’s opinion and leaW’s opinion. Which one you think is right? Any comments? Any argument for either one?

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