“… the peculiar air of Oxford—the air of liberty to care for the things of the mind assured and secured by machinery which is in itself a satisfaction to sense.”
Henry James, English Hours
The description of the surroundings, air and atmosphere portrayed in the above quote aptly resonated with the iERA team consisting of Nadeem Ashraf, Murtaza Chaudhary, Imran Hussein and Gerry Coghlan. It was another wonderful day in which the Lord of the heavens and the Earth gave us an opportunity to carry out the Prophetic Mission in the historic city of Oxford.
Below is a selection of the dawah conversations the team got into:
Chinese Tourist Google Translates the Qur’an
Murtaza Chaudhary spoke to Lee, a tourist from mainland China visiting the UK, more specifically, he was previously in London for two weeks and now has been enjoying the sights of Oxford for just under a week.
Murtaza found it difficult communicating with Lee, as he had a limited understanding and command of the English language. As an icebreaker, Murtaza offered him a translated copy of the Qur’an, Lee was bemused by the approach and was not sure what was being offered. Mistakenly, Lee at first initially understood that Murtaza was offering him a crown, as in something King would wear. Acknowledging the confusion taking place, Murtaza directed Lee towards the table and showed him a copy of the iERA publication The Eternal Challenge which has the word Qur’an written on the front, (ET PIC) Lee used his initiative and sought help from Google translate on his mobile device, and discovered that Qur’an means ‘the book of the Muslims’ in his mother tongue – Mandarin.
Lee explained to Murtaza that he does not have any background religious beliefs but can be best described as agnostic where did believe in a higher power a being which as he put it, “runs the whole show.” Murtaza conveyed the message of Islam the best he could to the tourist and drip fed the core components of the faith; God, paradise and the afterlife. Lee already understood that the majority of Muslims are peaceful, loving and friendly people, he was not swayed by the negative notion purported by the mainstream media. He even remarked that it was only a small minority of so-called Muslims which committed such heinous acts, wrongly in the name of Islam. Lee drew from his own personal experiences, where he knew that Islam is a peaceful religion as his own home nation has approximately 40 million Muslim nationals and there are rare occurrences of incidents. Lee and Murtaza ended their conversation with a hug and took a copy of the Eternal Challenge.
From Agnostic To Theist!
Nadeem Ashraf got into a conversation with Kyle, who was in his late teens. After some lighthearted banter between the pair, Nadeem redirected the conversation to a more sincere tone and asked what his beliefs are and whether he believes in a creator. He replied in the affirmative and was sure of the existence of a God but strangely enough, Kyle held the contention that God could not be all powerful. Nadeem appreciated Kyle’s candidness but replied: “it does make sense to him that the Almighty is all-powerful by his very nature.” They spoke at length about the vastness of the Universe, galaxies, supernovas and so on and so forth; Kyle was swayed by Nadeem’s concluding retort on this topic “Surely the one who made all this, has to be powerful beyond imagination!” After a while, Kyle exclaimed: “Ok I’m sold!” Alhamdulillah!
The second half of the conversation consisted of the existence of evil and why a merciful God would allow such malicious acts occur. Nadeem explained the Islamic concept of the hereafter to Kyle and that on the Judgement day, ultimate justice will prevail. Nadeem mentioned the Hadith: “The claimants would get their claims on the Day of Resurrection so much so that the hornless sheep would get its claim from the horned sheep.” [Sahih Muslim 2582]
After hearing this, Kyle was visibly shaken, saying: “this is profound!” He left impressed with the Islamic concept of the afterlife fresh in his mind and requested iERA materials making a commitment to research further Islam on iERA’s One Reason website to further understand the concept of Islam. May Allah guide him!
Iranian Takes on the Eternal Challenge
The other conversation of note was with Ervin, of Iranian descent, he spoke of his parents being Muslim but he himself had no beliefs. The Eternal Challenge book was displayed on the dawah table and this is what caught his eye, therefore initiating the conversation. Nadeem opened the discussion upon the miraculous nature of the Qur’an, which Ervin strongly disagreed with. To avoid a polemical discussion, Nadeem then took the conversation a step back to discuss the topic of who the Qur’an was revealed to – the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him.
The topic of Prophet Muhammad’s peace be upon him prophecies invited very little protest from Ervin. Nadeem was able to effectively convey the call and proved to uncloud the fitrah by utilising iERA’s GORAP™ conversation framework. Ervin conceded that he had never viewed Islam from such a perspective. Before moving on, he took away a free copy of the Eternal Challenge, as well as other materials to continue his learning on the topic of Islam.
Spirituality within Islam? Does that even Exist!
The last conversation Nadeem had was with Nancy, who described herself as being very spiritual. Nancy mentioned the Buddha and other figures as her spiritual inspiration. When Nadeem prompted Nancy to reveal her thoughts on Islam, she obliged, by replying: “Don’t be offended but it’s all the laws and regulations, which make me not very fond of it.” Nadeem sensing her austere impressions of Islam spoke with passion and conviction about the deep spiritual tradition of the faith by mentioning figures such as Hasan Al Basri, Ibn Qayyim and Al Ghazali. Nadeem pointed out these great classical scholars wrote about in great depth about the spiritual aspects of the deen, such as; how Islam discussed the heart, the love of God and so on. Nancy visibly astonished about this new knowledge she just received and continued to ask further questions.
From the last conversation, it is clear that many people in the West, view Islam as a set of rigid laws and regulations. Of course, from the surface, Islam can be viewed in such a manner but it is of paramount importance that we talk about our faith’s spiritual tradition. If duaat in the UK and beyond speak about Islam as a whole, especially it’s emotional and spiritual traits combined with our intellectual history and tradition. Only then can we begin to make effective inroads informing the masses about Islam and it’s wide spectrum of beliefs which attracts different personality traits to the religion.
May Allah accept the efforts of the brothers and guide everyone to the truth!