Posted by: Dawud Israel | August 23, 2010

Distracted Dawah Litmus Test

Bismillah, alhamdulillah, wa salat wa salam ala Rasulullah

Everybody has some family members or old friends who aren’t quite into the deen, but at the same time aren’t quite against it either. What is all too common is whenever you find yourself explaining something small or simple to them about Islam, or for that matter life but with some Islamic wisdom, something unusual will occur.

If the advice is longer than a few seconds, maybe a minute or more, they will get distracted in the middle of it. It’s really remarkable how often this happens when you are trying to give some sort of nasiha (advice). The rest of the time, they will be totally undistracted, but as soon as the Islamic advice hits, -head swerves to stare at a 7 foot person- “Did you see that?!”

I wouldn’t blame it on the person, but rather on the fact Shaytan is active at that point in distracting them, and our society is full of thousands of distractions, all competing with a measure of sensationalism, that its too easy to be distracted. But you know this now; the next time you give some nasiha, in the back of your mind, you will be thinking that Shaytan is calculating and planning and about to spring his little distraction into action.

The Test

If Shaytan’s distraction swerves them off topic and makes them go off on a tangent (“Whoa a clown! My dad has a big fear of clowns. One time when we were at the circus…”) and then they don’t come back on topic, then chances are your future advice will have minimal impact. You can keep trying and if its a serious enough situation, then maybe tell them directly that Shaytan is distracting them like a 2-year old, but chances are they won’t take advice then from anyone other than a shaykh one-on-one.

But if this time, the distraction distracts them only for a little bit and then doesn’t lead off to another tangent but comes back on topic, (“Oh wait, what were you saying about death?”) or  expresses some interest or reflects on what you just said, (“I know what you mean, ever since my uncle passed away…”) then you know you got Shaytan beat. You can keep giving them nasiha and it will penetrate and motivate them better themselves.

In my experience, I’ve found this to be a helpful rule of thumb (heuristic). That’s as simple as it is, and its a nice litmus test to know whether this person will take more Islamic advice from you or for that matter, start searching on their own.

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.


  1. (: A heuristic approach. Sweet advice.
    I wonder what colour *distraction* would create on the pH scale…


  2. Salam Brother Dawud,

    I totally agree to what you have to say. I’m fortunate or unfortunate, I’m not sure,but I had tried giving nasiha to the girl I wanted to marry,because I had noticed certain things which were against our deen. However, we have now moved on in our life in separate directions.

    She used to pray and even read Quran ,however, there were certain things she didn’t wanted to practice. Most of her non-muslim friends had polluted her mind and she was defensive for small things I used to sure about Islam. She used to straight away tell me not to share such information with her.

    I have made dua for her that she reads Quran with understanding and even reflects the preaching in her life.

  3. Nice one :]

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