By: Jennifer (Sumayah) Fayed

There have been instances that I have noticed that giving dawah not only means speaking about Islam, but demonstrating it by our behavior and actions which is stronger than what we contemplate. Did you ever hear the saying “Actions speak louder than words”?… The truth of the matter is that in actuality our manners and behaviors are the foundations of how we show non-Muslims the true teachings of Islam. The ways we conduct ourselves in our everyday lives is a major factor in how people perceive Islam, in which curiosity might incite some thoughts in their minds.I have met people in my life and others that shows how crucial our behavior is to society. I have a situation that happened in my life which reflects my point of view. I was attending classes in the mosque about the Sunnah of our prophet (pbuh). In these classes I met a sister afterwards that was talking about how she came to Islam. She recognized me and pointed out “You work in Victoria’s Secret, right?” to my dismay she continued to tell me that she noticed me working there and at the time was researching Islam, when she saw that I was the only covered woman working at Victoria’s Secret she was inspired to become Muslim. I was so astonished that a person that I had never seen or come in contact with was inspired to continue studying Islam and becoming Muslim. I never in a million years would have thought that my action to start wearing hijab would have such a strong impact on an individual that I happened to meet by the will of Allah (swt). These were the early stages of me realizing that our actions not only affect ourselves but in a larger spectrum – the society. This is just one proof of many instances that many Muslims and I have encountered just by following something so simple as the dress code that our Lord so Merciful has given us.

Allah (swt) says (Interpretation of meaning): 33:59 “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

It’s the little things like hijab and manners that affect how we as Muslims are perceived by a non-Islamic society. As Muslims it is our responsibility to show by our behavior what Islam truly means and what better method than showing people by our actions. We must understand that if we obey Allah (swt) and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) we will triumph.

Allah (swt) says (Interpretation of meaning): 3:31 Say (O Muhammad to mankind): “If you (really) love Allah, then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Qur’an and the Sunnah), Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.”

Allah (swt) says (Interpretation of meaning): 16:30 “…For those who do good in this world, there is good, and the home of the Hereafter will be better. And excellent indeed will be the home (i.e. Paradise) of the Muttaqun (the pious).”

Non-Muslims have many misunderstandings about Islam. There are plenty of reasons why they misinterpret us. In my opinion, the main source for this misinformation is the media and the way we conduct ourselves around non-Muslims. The truth is that the media doesn’t actually perceive us in the best light. The news, movies and shows characterize us as the enemies to western society. What are we doing that they keep bashing the society with disgraceful images and biased perspectives of Islam? In the news they don’t usually mention the true side of certain conflicts around the world or they just release information on a need to know basis. In the movies and shows we are either portrayed either as second class citizens or menaces to society. In my view, the best ways to change their mindsets are by becoming more involved in our communities and by showing them what our Prophet (pbuh) has taught us. When we see an elderly woman who needs assistance, don’t just pass by her and ignore her ask if she needs help. When non-Muslims look at us with hatred in their eyes instead of avoiding eye contact or returning the hostility why don’t we greet them with a friendly smile? Abu Hurairah may Allah be pleased with him reported: The messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Every day the sun rises, charity (Sadaqah) is due on every joint of a person. Administering justice between two people is a charity; and assisting a man to mount his beast, or helping him load his luggage on it is a charity; and a good word is a charity; and every step that you take (towards the mosque) for Salat (prayer) is a charity; and removing harmful things from the road is charity.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
These are simple deeds that are not only heavy on the scale [(Allah (swt) says interpretation of meaning): 4:40 “Surely, Allah wrongs not even of the weight of an atom (or a small ant), but if there is any good (done), He doubles it, and gives from Him a great reward”)] but it requires little effort on our part in transforming how we are perceived in society. I have noticed that people tend to tune out when they are being preached to without a due cause. The beauty of Islam is that we don’t force people to accept it; this is done by the will of Allah (swt) for He guides whom he wishes. When non-Muslims aren’t inclined to listen to what we have to say and what our beliefs are the next approach would obviously be our behavior and actions towards them. My sisters and brothers in Islam it is crucial for us to be vigilant in how we behave in front of people especially non-Muslims. Think of the good deeds that Allah (swt) will be multiplying on our scales; besides, the most fascinating aspect is that we may not even know when, where, or how we attained those beautiful deeds that will God willing save us from the hellfire and bring us closer to the gardens of paradise. So please let’s ask ourselves are we doing enough to change these point-of-views? What can you do to transform how we are perceived in society? These are very important questions that we should reflect on. May Allah (swt) guide us to the right path and help us in finding resourceful solutions so we can remove the stigma that non-Muslims have about Islam.