‘Conquest through Da’wa [proselytizing] that is what we hope for. We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America! Not through sword but through Da’wa.’ -- Yousef al-Qaradawi , Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader
The Arabic word ‘Da’wa’ means the “call to Islam.” But do not think that Da’wa is the same thing as an invitation to an optional holiday event. The classical Islamic doctrine of jihad mandates that enemies must be given the opportunity to convert to Islam or pay the jizya tax before it is permissible to attack them. This obligation is compulsory because it is written in the Qur’an as a divine order.
‘Invite all to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious.’ -- Q 16:125
So, too, the inevitable consequences for those who refuse the Da’wa call to Islam are spelled out in the Qur’an:
‘Who receiveth guidance, receiveth it for his own benefit; who goeth astray doth so to his own loss…When We decide to destroy a population, We first send a definite order to those among them who are given the good things of this life and yet transgress; so that the word is proved true against them: then it is We destroy them utterly.’
-- Q 17:15-16
From these Qur’anic citations, then, it can be seen that Da’wa, the invitation to convert or submit, is preliminary to jihad. Jihad will inevitably follow Da’wa if the call to convert or submit is ignored. But only after due warning has been given are Muslim forces free to launch attacks of military conquest. It is written that Muhammad, the Muslim prophet, preached for some thirteen years in Mecca without much success before making the hijra to Medina, from where he launched his first military raids. The Islamic doctrine of Progressive Revelation, as explained in detail by the Muslim Brotherhood theoretician Sayyed Qutb as well as modern-day spiritual leader, Yousef al-Qaradawi, teaches that, today just as with the early Muslims, shariah Islam is to be revealed and implemented in stages, gradually. This is so that those non-Muslim kuffar (infidels) in the cross-hairs don’t get alarmed too soon, before the campaign is fully ready to overwhelm them.
The obligation to issue the Da’wa call to Islam before striking is why Usama bin Laden issued not just one, but two separate declarations of war in 1996 and 1998 (which are widely mischaracterized to this day as fatwas). It is why Maj. Nidal Hassan screamed “Allahu Akbar” just before he opened fire on his fellow soldiers at Ft. Hood in 2009. And it is why the Imam Faisal Rauf wrote a book whose original title was “A Call to Prayer from the World Trade Center Rubble: Islamic Dawa in the Heart of America Post-9/11 ” even as he worked to raise a triumphalist mosque overlooking Ground Zero. Supposing Americans were too deficient in Islamic history to notice that his mosque project was part of something Rauf mockingly called “The Cordoba Initiative ,” he was only stopped after a few alert fact-checkers pointed out that Cordoba was the seat of the Iberian Peninsula Caliphate for some 800 years.
Faced with decades of harsh repression by successive Egyptian regimes, the Brotherhood provides the modern-day example of persevering patiently with Da’wa. The Brothers kept their heads down, preaching the message of shariah Islam, until the moment was ripe for violence. Al-Qa’eda gave the signal in the July 2010 issue of its online magazine Inspire that it was time for the Ikhwan to turn the page, as it were, from Mecca to Medina. The Supreme Guide of the Brotherhood, Muhammad Badie, responded with an October 2010 declaration of war (jihad) against the U.S., Israel, and Western-influenced Arab rulers. Without even waiting for the January 2011 fatwa on offensive jihad from al-Azhar University, the North African revolts broke out, beginning with Tunisia in December 2010. The long years of Da’wa were over, the calls and warnings had been issued, and the revolutions began.
The objective of both Da’wa and jihad is the establishment of Islamic law (shariah). If a population can be induced to accept shariah through Da’wa alone, then violent jihad is unnecessary. This is what Yousef al-Qaradawi means when he talks about conquering Europe and America by way of Da’wa alone. Never mistake, however, the raw threat that Da’wa represents: it is not just a peaceful call to Islam, but a deadly warning that violent wars of conquest will follow if the targeted population does not convert or submit. Witness the so-called “Arab Spring” if in doubt.
This is the context for looking at the Da’wa activities of imams and preachers in the non-Muslim world, too. Remember that the Islamic term for such lands is Dar al-Harb, the House of War, and it signifies that all such communities are targets, in the Islamic bull’s-eye, for eventual conquest and subjugation to Islamic law. Recall, too, the role that taqiyya (deceit and dissimulation) plays in the Da’wa campaign. Lying to the enemy (the infidel or kuffar) is permitted and even encouraged under shariah if it serves the purpose of advancing the cause of Islam. So, when representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood, including Muslim chaplains in the U.S. military, mosques, prisons, and universities preach that Islam is a religion of peace, or that there is no compulsion in religion, or that shariah is completely compatible with the U.S. Constitution, it’s best to do some independent research. Due diligence invariably will lead to the concepts of Progressive Revelation (telling the whole truth about Islam and jihad gradually), Da’wa as warning before the attack, and ultimately, jihad (warfare to spread Islam).
Clare M. Lopez, a senior fellow at the Clarion Fund, is a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on Middle East, national defense, and counterterrorism issues.