Here's some of my notes, delivered on 5/11/10, Warwick University for Jumu'ah:
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, Most Merciful,
As Muslims living in non-Muslim lands, particularly at university where there is continuous exchange with people of other beliefs, it is important to discuss dawah (the propagation of Islam) and its different aspects. I plan to do this by first touching upon what is dawah and its proofs, then move on to the proofs of Islam and then enumerate the methods of dawah.
Dawah is a fardh upon every Muslim as the Prophet (SAW) said "Convey from me, even one verse." And the Qur’an says "Invite to the Way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided." [al-Qur'an, an-Nisa'(16):125]
We see the example of the Prophet (SAW) continuously spreading the truth about Islam and its message, even when undergoing pain and numerous hardships. There is the well-known example of Ta’if about hardship and persistence.
I believe that in this day and age, people should commit themselves to learning the proofs of this Din of Islam so that when they have waswasa, they can answer them insha'Allah but also they are able to engage in dawah.Here's a few points:
1) understanding the Qur'anic miracles- they're many from the historical, to the linguistic, to the scientific. However not all of the acclaimed miracles are exactly miracles and can be stretching the texts(such as the speed of light in the Qur'an) so you need to pick something solid such as the embryological miracles; An example is the prediction of Ibn Barrajan (died in 536 AH) in 522 AH in his tafsir is that the Muslims would conquer Jerusalem from the Christians in 583 AH in Rajab and that came true as narrated by Ibn Kathir and other historians
2) understanding how the Hadiths were transmitted and how they lead to certain knowledge about miracles done at the time of the Holy Prophet(Sallalahu alaihi wa sallam) since the science of the verification of Hadiths is very meticulous and many Hadith scholars dedicated their lives and often travelled thousands of miles just to hear a Hadith. Related to this is the topic of mutawatir Hadiths which are Hadiths narrated through so many narrators at each stage of transmission that it is impossible that the Hadiths be fabricated since all the people could not have come together for a conspiracy, as in the case of water multiplying or the tree that cried;
3) understanding the miracles done by the Awliya and how they have been authentically related and still happen and are witnessed in this day and age. On a related point is the scientific study on "Rapid Wound Healing: A Sufi Perspective" where two American psychologists investigated in a scientific setting the ability of Iraqi Muslims to defy scientific and medical knowledge through the rapid healing of wounds, prevention of blood flow, pain and infection;
Let me tell you about Sheikh Murabit al-Hajj, he’s a famous and pious Sheikh in Mauritania, once he there was a drought and the people came to him asking him to pray to Allah so he prayed and as soon as he finished, it started raining.
Also there is a well known guy (called the Durood sheriff guy) that scholars and laymen know him in Leicester who is known for the Salawat that he reads upon the Best of Creation 10,000 times a day. He often sees the Prophet (Sallalahu alaihi wa sallam) in his dreams so once when he was in the Mosque, a person quietly asked Allah to send salams upon His Prophet and the Durood sheriff guy dozed off and the Prophet came to him in his sleep and told him to give salams to so and so. So when he woke, he told the guy that the Prophet returned his salams, how amazing is that? And he did it with other people in the Mosque too, subhanAllah!
4) understanding the many predictions made in the Qur'an and Hadiths about the future and about phenomena that we know scientificially know). One example is the Hadith predicting burning rain and television, RasulAllah (SAW) said that 'there will appear instruments of music and dancers/songstresses in every home', noting that it says “appear” which is so obvious now.
Further to this is the Hadith about talking shoes which was fulfilled by Nike producing ‘talking’ shoes.
One work on it is Mutabaqat al-Iktira`at al-`Asriyya lima Akhbara bihi Sayyid al-Bariyya SallAllahu `alayhi wa-Sallam ("The Conformity of Contemporary Inventions to What Was Foretold by the Master of Creation upon him peace"). An interesting book on the hadiths announcing modern inventions and scientific discoveries as well as innovations such as zoos, the circus, Communism etc by the famous Hadith scholar Ahmed al-Ghumari.
5) understanding the existence of the cases of jinns and interactions with humans and how they provide testable evidence of many Islamic claims in regards to the other realms. Indeed the cases of jinns are soo numerous and easily verifiable, that to deny they exist is utter stupidity and to explain them all under the name of psychology is also deceit since then how is it that reciting the Qur'an etc cures them when medicines don't?(And it’s not the placebo affect);
6) understanding the miracles associated with relics associated with the Prophets and Awliya such as the Blessed Hairs of the Holy Prophet(sallalahu alaihi wa sallam) or graves. Indeed scholars and those who possess the Hairs have stated that the latter have particular qualities of having no shadow and still growing (without any nutrients) and eventually splitting to create replicas;
Whilst knowing the proofs, certain other things should to be fulfilled for a more fruitful dawah since Iman does not enter just intellectually but also through example and most importantly the Help of Allah Most High.
The first is that a person be sincere in his dawah, doing it purely for Allah whilst wishing the best for people by them attaining the pleasure of Allah Most High. Insha’Allah your path will be made easy through this. Add to this much du’a, salutations upon the Prophet (SAW) and extra vigils.
The second is that the da’i (the person doing the dawah) embody noble character such as being truthful, not swearing, not backbiting, generous, helpful, cheerful and so on since that will set you apart from the majority of people and since it is Islam that inculcates that in you, it will portray a good image of Islam but you should make it clear that it is due to Islam.
The third is to understand who your audience or target is, try to be in their shoes, understand their lifestyles, background and needs. Grab their attention and make them want to look into Islam, perhaps say something controversial. If you find that they prejudge Islam then ask them to research on Islam and read the biography of the Prophet (SAW) to at least know Islam in an open minded way since who rejects a major opinion that can impact one’s life without even researching the view of the other side?
The proofs of Islam are many and enough to guide any fair minded person to Islam, whether a scientist or a layman.