Dawah is an Arabic word which means to ‘invite’ or ‘summon’ someone. This term is often used to describe when Muslims share their faith with others, in order to teach them more about Islam.
With the boom of the internet, I have had to deal with watching dawah men aggressively approaching people on the street and sometimes, down right harassing people. It is a trend that is in North America and in the UK, and is seems to have no clear goal other than convert everyone, even Muslims, to their very narrow and unsophisticated view of Islam. Islam historically has done very well with pluralism; I am reminded of how growing up in Washington D.C, we had masjids and churches on the same street with people from the same families going to different houses of worship. So when these Muslims street preachers talk of Islam as if it is this insecure ideology that must vanquish all others to survive, I am left truly confused.
Imran ibn Mansur, better known as Dawah Man is leading the trend in aggressive dawah on social media. With his videos receiving thousands of views, it seems like he has tapped into a certain audience that are lapping up everything he says. With videos asking atheists if it was moral and ethical for them to drink their father’s semen (he really made a video like this) it seems he will jump through many hurdles to prove his point. There is something more sinister happening here and I wish to string together some of his videos to show my line of thinking.
Dawah Man, made a video about “dressing modestly”, where he approaches three teenage girls, one admitting to be fourteen. He starts off by asking if they enjoy dressing, “sexy” for boys or because they do so for themselves. The girls giggle and say, they can’t help if they dress a certain way and perverts look at them. Dawah Man, then asks if they know anyone who was had been raped. Taking an even more sinister turn towards becoming one of the most uncomfortable video on the internet, he asks what kind of women rapists choose to rape. He proceeds to ask the group of teenagers if they would consider themselves possible rape victims.
I am still unclear on what a “possible rape victim” is but I am even more concerned on why he thought approaching a group of girls on how they dressed was appropriate. There is nothing about this video that is not uncomfortable and disturbing. The fourteen-year-old girl educates Dawah Man and tells him that any women who is wearing anything, at anytime… ANYWHERE, is a possible rape victim. One girl during the “interview,” after being asked for the second time by Dawah Man if they considered themselves possible rape victims, simply said “this is disgusting.” She is right, instead of teaching men to not rape, Dawah Man puts the responsibly of not being raped on women, and in this case, fourteen-year-old girls.
Allow me to draw your attention to another video of his “The Shocking Reality of the Shia.” Starting his video with sounds of thunder and images of fire, it is easy to see where he is going with this. According to Dawah Man, Muharram is a month full of Shia self harm and self mutilation. What Dawah Man does is a classic tactic of taking Shia beliefs from different Shia ideologies, mashing them together and presenting Shia Islam as something different and dangerous. Dawah Man regurgitates the myth that Shia Islam was started by a Jewish man named Al-Yahudi – any serious scholar, secular or not, knows this is a myth. To take is one step further, according to Dawah Man, Shia Muslims are the biggest threat the Muslims have ever faced… EVER. Really, Dawah Man? Ever?
Dawah Man calls Shia Muslims who do not know about these devious plans of the Shia as a minority. He goes, on a nine minute Shia hating rant under the guise of religion. It is simple. Dawah Man is a dangerous individual and the proof is in the comment section of is YouTube channel; they come from Muslims telling him to “keep up the good work,” “Shias are totally non Muslims,” and “Allahu Akbar.”
I can’t stress this enough: Dawah Man is spreading hate; there is no cutting corners when Shia Muslims are dying because of such lies.
Something a little closer to home for me, he did a video titled, “What is the Religion of the African People” and “Questions for Christians,” which he published on Christmas Eve. As a Black Muslim who studies both the religions of Islam and Christianity, his videos are ridiculous. There is no “religion of the African people,” there are simply religious people who are African. For anyone who wishes to learn about African religions, I invite you to read ‘African Religions: A Symposium’ by Newell Booth. Africa and the many indigenous people living there have a rich and complex history of religion. If one wants to learn about religions of the Congo, or religions of the Zulu’s, or Afro-Brazlian religions, this is the book for you. Dawah Man spends almost thirty minutes talking to a black man in an attempt to convince him that Islam is the true religion of the African people. As a black Muslim who studies religions, who works with religion daily, Christian and Islamic theology, Dawah Man as fallen off the deep end.
Lastly, Dawah Man has another video called “Questions for Christians on Christmas.” In it, he asked how can one worship someone who was crucified, buried, and risen? How can you worship someone who had his flesh eaten and covered in dirt? He forgets that those are the exact reasons that Christians are Christian. As someone who grew up in the black church, The Resurrection is something that is sang about and praised, and is at the very heart of that set of beliefs. The crucifixion of Jesus is seen as the ultimate sacrifice.
He does not talk about the Great schism between the Eastern and Western Church in 1045. He does not talk about Ecumenical Councils or the Nicene Creed. Dawah Man has answered is own questions without knowing it, because he does not understand Christian theology or African religious history.
If I was to map out all the ideological beliefs of ISIS, and then map out the beliefs of Dawah Man, I can draw a direct connection between the two. I am not saying Dawah Man is part of ISIS, but this is how our young Muslim community is radicalized. This is how they are taught to devalue women, hate anyone that disagrees and internalize racism and ignorance. I cannot stress this enough, Dawah Man is spreading hatred as nonchalantly as I spread jelly on my toast in the morning.
How can we stop him and those like him?
We have to be willing to compromise and listen to those who are not like us. Initiating a conversation on our differences instead of taking those differences, lying about those differences, and hating those differences is counterproductive. Was it not the Prophet who, when a Jewish funeral procession passed he stood out of respect? When asked why he stood, did he not reply, “Was he not a soul?” If the Prophet could look past differences in religion, surely we can as well. It is within our capacity to reject hate and bigotry, and to embrace understanding and compromise.