Odense is the third-largest city in Denmark with a growing population of around 10,000 Muslims. After a successful programme in 2014 with the then Head of Research, Hamza Tzortzis, iERA were invited once again by Muslimsk Ungdom i Danmark to work with the local Muslim community to continue the Prophetic Mission.
iERA Outreach Specialists Murtaza Chaudhary and Nadeem Ashraf travelled to Denmark to deliver a weekend of reminders and outreach training.
At Det Islamiske Trossamfund – Fyn, 60 local Muslims were trained on how to convey the call with compassion and reason. Murtaza worked through the essentials of Dawah — purifying one’s intention — so that dawah is solely for Allah alone, some of the motivating factors to doing dawah, the immense rewards, and characteristics of the caller. Nadeem then followed up with iERA’s ‘GORAP’ methodology. To give the attendees confidence in conveying the call, Nadeem imparted tips gained over his many years in dawah.
Following the training, a small team from the Mosque went into the busy shopping area of Odense accompanied by the iERA Specialists to engage with their local community about Islam.
They set up a table for books along with a book stand to further showcase pamphlets and similar items. In preparation for this weekend of activity, the main organiser, Emir Selman, had translated iERA’s ‘Convey One Verse’ flyers into Danish, ready to be distributed.
Being many people’s first time actively initiating dawah conversations, there was a mix of emotions: from excitement to anxiousness During the training, Murtaza deliberately set the ‘bar’ very low by saying (especially to the first timers) that the target would be just to hand out five flyers. The aim was to make people internalise an often misunderstood misconception — dawah is easy!
During their time there, the team got into a number of engaging conversations supported by the iERA Specialists.
One such conversation was with a Greek Danish citizen, Dimitrius. His story was fascinating in that he was already very close to a Muslim — his neighbour, and thinks of him as a close friend. Their bond is so tight that they venture out on holidays together and Dimitrius said that they are like blood relatives. With his already positive perception of Islam, it was easy to converse with him. He understood that Muslims stand for peace and that Islam is a religion of peace. All that was done was to instil further positive conceptions of the true way of life. Simple sound bites were given, kindness and love were shown and Dimitrius left overjoyed with his brief encounter.
Another positive encounter was with a young Dane named Gustav. What drew Gustave in was when iERA Outreach Specialist Nadeem Ashraf offered him a free cup of coffee. This was a great ice breaker and within an instant, Gustav was in a full blown conversation with him.. Nadeem asked Gustav “what do you think the purpose of life is?” He answered that he works in construction and that his purpose in life is to become highly successful in that field. Nadeem and Gustav both shared details about their backgrounds e.g. where they were born, where they live etc. This is an essential stage of dawah, as it builds up a good rapport between people.
Gustav mentioned he was an atheist, which prompted Nadeem to ask; “how do you explain the origins of the universe?” Gustav turned the tables and passed the question back to Nadeem. Nadeem went through the GORAP structure briefly and asked Gustav what he thought of the Islamic view.
Gustav pondered for a moment before asking a question which was essentially about the problem of evil? He had previously asked his sister (a Christian) about the same thing but did not get a satisfactory answer. If there is a God then why doesn’t he intervene to stop suffering and evil? Nadeem discussed the beautiful names and attributes of Allah, including that he is the All-Wise (“Al-Hakeem”). In short, Nadeem’s answer was that Allah has the ‘complete picture’ whereas we have just the ‘pixel’. Hence there are (valid) reasons/wisdom for perceived suffering and evil.
Nadeem asked Gustav if he ever gets sad to which Gustav replied yes. He said one source of relieving the sadness was reading books. Nadeem then cleverly mentioned would you like to try reading the Qur’an. Gustav answered in the affirmative and replied: “I would like to buy one now!” Of course, we do not charge non-Muslims for the Qur’an, so Nadeem gifted him one free of charge. Gustav was overjoyed. Yet another Odense citizen left with a clearer understanding of the beauty of Islam.
All in all, the trip built on the foundations laid back in 2014 with the crucial difference of there now being an official ‘dawah leader’ for Odense, Emir Selman who iERA will continue to work with and develop with future training and activities.
Are you interested in conveying the call in your city? Get in touch with an iERA Outreach Specialist today at www.iera.org/request.