A few days ago I met a person who really wants to be a Muslim. I need your help in that please.
There are three key issues about the Islamic faith which should be well addressed and emphatically tackled with those who desire to embrace Islam and equally to Muslims and non Muslims as well.
The first key issue which softens people’s hearts towards Islam is the all encompassing mercy which envelops the Islamic message. God says in the Quran about the Prophet “(O Muhammad) Indeed we have not sent you except as a mercy to the worlds” (21:107). Also the Prophetic hadith of mercy is known among traditionists as the hadith of precedence because it is the first hadith which the Sheikh teaches his students because of its overarching nature and for being the key point to understanding the spirit of the Islamic shari’ah. The hadith was reported by ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al- ‘As that the Prophet said “the merciful ones are bestowed with mercy from God; have mercy on those on earth and the One in the sky will have mercy on you”.
There are two versions of this hadith, the first makes God’s mercy conditional on having mercy on those on earth, whereas the second version makes God’s mercy as a sort of supplication or plead for mercy to descend upon those who have mercy on those on earth.
This haidth is essential in dealing with others as the Arabic proposition of “on” in the term on earth is very powerful as it includes both animate and inanimate objects. Imam al Razi and Imam al Burhan al Bajouri among many other imams stated that we should pay attention to two concepts the first is the community of calling (ummat al da’wah) and the community of acceptance (ummat al Ijabah). The first community which we call to Islam are about 7 billion people on the face of the earth so this community includes all people. As for the second community, it encompasses those who responded to the message of Islam and embraced it.
Therefore we are between brothers in humanity and brothers in religion and it is incumbent upon you to have mercy on those who are on earth. Islam expanded the range of mercy to make it as the broad headline for being a human and for this reason God started the Quran with “in the name of God most Merciful most Gracious” and did not say “in the name of God most Merciful Most vengeful” for example or “In the name of God the vengeful the slayer”. So God incorporated beauty and mercy as titles with which He would be known. God expanded the range of mercy to include animals as well and for this reason the Prophet said “a woman entered hell fire because of a cat which she imprisoned, she neither fed the cat nor let it out to eat from land” and also said “a prostitute woman from the Israelites entered paradise because she offered water for a thirsty dog so God forgave her and granted her paradise”. (al Bukhari).
God further extended his mercy to encompass inanimate objects as well and not only humans and animals. For this reason God informed us that this whole universe which surrounds us is praising and glorifying God. God said in the Quran “The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein, glorify Him and there is not a thing but glorifies His Praise. But you understand not their glorification. Truly, He is Ever Forbearing, Oft-Forgiving” (17:44)
God made this animate object eligible to praise and thus we should deal with them with mercy. The Prophet said to lady ‘Aisha “O ‘Aisha mercy does not encompass anything except it beautifies it and is not extracted from anything except it mars it.”
If we adopted the path of mercy, if we understood that God started his holy Quran with it, that God obliged Himself with it along with understanding the interrelated circles of mercy which encompass the whole universe, we would be able to deal with other people in a way which leads to improving the image of Islam in their eyes and made them experience the beauty and the mercy of Islam first hand. The other party will automatically feel the soft hearts of Muslims and that they have an open heart with which they love all people.
The second essential key point in Islam which should be emphatically addressed is the issue of refined manners and high ethical standards. This issue is a sacramental matter which stems from the root of mercy. God greatly praised Prophet Muhammad in the Quran when He said “and verily (O Muhammad) you are on an exalted standard of ethical manners” (68:4) Therefore, Muslims are expected to follow suit and refine their manners to trace the Prophetic footsteps in the path of perfecting their ethics.
The third key point in Islam has to do with the Islamic doctrine of oneness (al tawhid). This issue is deemed central in the Islamic creed as Muslims surrender their hearts and submit their bodies for the one and only lord of heavens and earth. God has sent messengers for humanity to guide their way back to Him and Prophet Muhammad in this regard is the seal of a long chain of messengers along the history. Messengers are sent with holy books revealed by God to guide humanity in their path towards their divine origin. Quran in this regard is the last testament which is well preserved and was not subjected to any abridgements or distortions.
With these three essential key points: mercy, ethical manners, and the Islamic creed of oneness of God, Quran being the last testament and that Prophet Muhammad was the final connection between heaven and earth, the one who desires to embrace Islam would have a solid base on which he would be able to accept the Islamic teachings which corresponds in nature to these three essential key points.
Once these issues are well understood, the practical aspects of practicing the faith which correspond to the doctrinal framework established above could be gradually taught. The first of these practical aspects is prayer as it is an integral part of the Islamic faith and indicates a divine relationship between the Creator and the created where the worshipper gets to have a personal conversation with his Lord five times a day with no barriers or prior appointments.
The other pillars of Islam such as fasting the month of Ramadan and pilgrimage to Makkah at least once in the life time for those who are physically and financially able along with paying zakah should the money reach certain amount, are issues which can be taught gradually along with the issue of trying to read Quran and learn Arabic. This process could take sometime and Muslims should not be hasten to teach the new converts all the Islamic teachings as one bulk as this would be too much for anyone to take in. The process should be gradual but steady enveloped with mercy and love.