Setting the Objectives:
Every form of da’wah work has its objectives that it strives hard to realize. Given that setting such objectives is of paramount importance, workers must precisely and clearly identify their aims and commit them in writing to ensure that each word and sentence serves to define such aims in terms of accuracy, consistency, necessity and attainability.
Setting the objectives is essential to bring about conducive and tangible positive results of da’wah efforts. As for those individuals or groups who mix up imaginary hopes with reality, their chances of failure will be far greater than those of success. If a mistake made by one individual is considered a disaster, then a mistake made by a group of people is a greater disaster.
One of the criticisms leveled at Islamic workers is that most of their members know “what they do not want,” but they do not know “what they do want exactly.” They mistakenly define themselves in terms of what they reject, rather than defining themselves in terms of what they promote. When workers adopt erroneous objectives or correct yet unattainable objectives, they do a great harm to their cause because they are “running after a mirage.” Those workers will not be excused by their “good intentions.” Good intention constitutes only part of a whole, and the other part to complete the picture is doing the right thing, rightly. Promote the right objective at the right time with the right people using the right methods.
Workers need to know exactly “who they are” and “what they actually want.” Then, in light of this realization, they set their plans and programs. In this way, they will be honest with themselves as well as with those who respond to their call; otherwise failure will be the outcome.
Focus on What is Relevant:
When dealing with the general public, Islamic workers need to present only the indisputable Islamic facts and disregard juristic differences. They should also put aside inconsistent narrations, odd interpretations, elaborate details, and probable and dubious assumptions. These often controversial issues can be discussed by specialists within certain academic environments, according to consistent and strict criteria and only when the need arises. As for the general public, the primary focus should be on practical, beneficial, and relevant matters.
The Logic of Priorities:
All Islamic issues are not on an equal footing in terms of importance, and because of this, setting priorities is essential. The issues of faith (Iman) and monotheism (tawhid), for instance, are far more important than that of ‘removing a harmful object from the road’. By the same token, all da’wah issues do not have the same degree of relevance.
Therefore, we have to understand them all and give each one the attention it deserves. We have to revisit our list of priorities every now and then to update them according to the dynamics of changing circumstances.
Da’wah workers ought to envision and practice their da’wah efforts from within the premise of priorities. It is important to note, however, that prioritization of matters does not contradict the comprehensive nature of the religion, which encompasses every aspect of individual and collective life. It is rather a method that aims to bring about the most tangible and beneficial results effectively.
Prioritization requires us to have the ability to carefully evaluate our options. We have to be able to distinguish between the unpleasant choices that we are confronted with and choose the lesser evil. Conversely, we are required to carefully distinguish between the advantageous choices available and opt for the best one.
Circle of Influence Versus Circle of Concern:
The circle of influence includes those matters that we can change (and thus benefit ourselves and others). This includes improving our health, ensuring means of living, helping our relatives and friends, being a good example to our colleagues, guiding those around us to the truth, developing our skills, supporting our family, and learning the rules that govern work and citizenship.
The circle of concern relates to those things over which one has little or no direct control. One may, for instance, be concerned with local or international issues, such as the value of the US dollar, presidential elections in other countries, pollution and environmental destruction, and world poverty.
Our focus should be on the circle of influence. We need to widen our circle of influence. We are only capable of exercising a positive impact on things and people we can influence, and this falls within the arena of our religious obligations. We may spend time on the circle of concern, but within certain limits. It is good to be aware of current events and stay in touch with a few other people, without letting them take up all our time.
If we choose to focus all our attention on the area outside our influence, we will be wasting our time and energy, and we may become depressed about matters for which we can do nothing. This will in turn cause us to live in a state of anxiety and grief. We may withdraw from social life, make excuses for doing nothing and even blame our inaction on divine decree.
Successful people are those who are good at creating solutions and alternatives, whilst unsuccessful people are good at making excuses.
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