Differentiating between “Da’wah”, “Islah” and “Apologetics”

In order for us to begin on this journey of responding to the critics of Islam, we need to understand the discipline we intend to study. Are we engaging in da’wah, islah or apologetics? Do we know what either of these things are? These are very important questions and it’s important that we understand what these terms mean and how they differ.

  • Da’wah refers to the inviting of non-Muslims to Islam.
  • Islah refers to the reforming of Muslims, so that they may practise Islam on a more consistent and active basis. Some Muslims refer to Islah as Tabligh.
  • Apologetics refers to the defending of Islam from criticisms leveled against the faith.

These three fields sometimes compliment each other, or are independent of each other. For example, in inviting a non-Muslim to Islam, which is doing da’wah, they may raise a point of contention in which you’d have to respond to that criticism, which is engaging in apologetics. Similarly, you might be doing islah towards a Muslim, they may raise a doubt or difficulty they’ve read somewhere and so you’d have to respond to that criticism and clarify that doubt for them, this is engaging in apologetics.

The main differences between these three fields, focuses on their end purpose. In da’wah, it is to invite someone to the faith of Islam. You’d learn how to explain Islamic beliefs, or how to initiate a conversation with a non-Muslim so that they can learn about Islam. In islah, its purpose is to revive a Muslim’s iman (level of belief) so that they can attain higher levels of taqwa, tawfeeq and ihsan. You’d learn how to encourage a Muslim to perform their salaah or prayer more often, or how to encourage them to fast properly, in essence, to make Muslims practise their Islam properly. Apologetics’ main goal is to defend Islam against criticisms, to study the sciences of Islam, so that we may defend the faith. Along the way, in engaging in apologetics, it includes doing da’wah since we’re removing the inaccuracies and doubts about Islam so that non-Muslims may accept Islam. Similarly, we would be engaging in islah, as it includes removing doubts and difficulties Muslims may have about Islam and so enforcing their beliefs.

While these three fields may sometimes interact with each other, they have three very distinct purposes. This website’s main purpose and this guide, is to engage in apologetics. That doesn’t mean however, that its contents won’t be suitable for da’wah or islah, it may just be but that is not to say it’s the sites purpose or end goal.

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