In one of your articles regarding the method of Da`wah, you relate that, at the common human level, we (I suppose Muslims only?) are responsible for mutual admonition and encouragement in the way of God. I have a number of queries that arise from this directive:
Does such admonition and encouragement apply only to one’s circle of authority? In which case, friends and acquaintances are to be excluded?
Perhaps providing a real-life example may highlight the subtle difficulty of this task. I have non-Muslim friends who drink. You have already clarified that it would not be required of me to snatch the liquor from their hands. However, the last thing I would want to do is make the situation worse or turn my friends against me (in which case there is no hope for success, in terms of admonition and encouragement, and bonds of friendship could potentially be severed). How exactly is one supposed to go about propagation in such circumstances? Would my own abstinence from alcohol, in addition to sharing with my friends my reasons for not drinking, be sufficient in the way of da`wah? If not, what more would you recommend I do?
There is also the fear of hypocrisy. From time to time, our teenage conversations degenerate into rumor-mongering and backbiting, which are heinous sins in the sight of God. I must confess that I have, regrettably, fallen into these traps myself. Although it would seem consistent with ‘admonition and encouragement’ to warn others of the sin entailed in backbiting and slander, yet if I have indulged in the sin myself, would it not be hypocritical on my part to even open my mouth? I know the Qur’an condemns hypocrisy perhaps even more strongly than backbiting, stating that not practicing that which we preach is ‘grievously odious’ in God’s sight. What would you recommend?
I await your advice.
My answers to your questions follow:
The referred admonition relates to one’s social circle, including one’s family, relatives, friends, associates and acquaintances. However, the style and method of this admonition and encouragement will naturally be different in one’s circle of moral and legal authority and responsibility;
Yes. I would agree that sharing your reasons for not drinking may be a right thing to do. However, I will not recommend that you make “drinking” your primary emphasis, as doing so may not be met with a very positive response. For my recommendations on the topic I would request you to take a look at a couple of my earlier responses to similar questions, titled: ‘About Propagating Islam to Interested People‘ and ‘Teaching Islam.
We are always prone to forgetfulness and mistake. At times when we do forget and err, we should immediately correct our behavior as soon as we realize or are reminded of our mistake. Nevertheless, we should never lose hope in God’s mercy and forgiveness. We must keep trying. We must always remember that it is not “perfection” that is required from us. What is required from us is a repenting heart, a soul that is oft-returning to God and a spirit, which never loses hope in God’s mercy.
I hope this helps.
March 11, 2002