The following is a comment I wrote to Emmanuel, a Catholic Malaysian blogger, who was responding to a post written by MENJ regarding South Korean missionaries who are being expelled from Afghanistan. After posting this comment, I thought I would cross-post it onto this blog and some others.
Emmanuel: Da’wah, as practiced by Muslims in the West, is almost invisible. I do not say this negatively, merely as a statement of fact. In the US (at least), da’wah to non-Muslims is rarely done face-to-face, unlike, say, the Mormons or JWs. We don’t ride around the neighborhood on bicycles in white shirts and dark ties, asking people to convert. We also don’t pass out cartoon tracts like Jack Chick’s or booklets like the JW’s, leaving them lying around for people to read (although I will say I don’t think badly of the JW booklets). In fact, the only Muslim da’wah group I’ve ever met members of face-to-face were only interested in meeting other Muslims, trying to get lax brothers and sisters to become more devout. Certainly no one ever came up to me and asked me to become Muslim, which is more than the Christians (including some members of my family) can say.
I see by your blog that you’re Catholic (as I was, once, long ago). Muslims are like Catholics in that neither group really needs to do da’wah. If someone is interested in Catholicism, you try to answer their questions and perhaps provide a Bible to help them understand the religion or direct them to other people who are more knowledgeable. That’s how it is in Islam. For many Muslims in the West, the greatest source of Da’wah is the Qur’an itself. It was my study of the Qur’an over a period of four years that ultimately led to my becoming a Muslim. A lot of questions were answered for me by people on the internet, whether in the form of reading articles or by sending e-mails to ask peoplle questions, but in all cases it was I who made the initial contact.
But far too many Christian missionaries use underhanded tactics in trying to convert people. Unlike MENJ, I do think it is constructive, both in the long- and short-term, to ban missionaries. Read the famous article, The Stealth Crusade, published in Mother Jones magazine four years ago, and you’ll begin to understand some of our concerns.