Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hatta Shahrom: Da'wah and Humanitarian Work

I had the pleasure to attend a talk delivered by Prof Hatta Shahrom on a Friday afternoon. It was on Islamic Psychology and Da'wah. He mentioned the characteristics of a good daei. What caught my interest was the discussion on the elements of da'wah. He divided the elements into three parts: the risalah (message), the caller (daei) and the ones being called (du'at).

During the Q&A session, I asked him how to measure the effectiveness of da'wah. He focused his answer to the first two elements. I used to think that an effective da'wah is one that produced changes in the du'at e,g. stopped doing something haram, revert to Islam (people are (more) fascinated with muallaf's stories), the community becomes better, etc.

However, in his answer, Prof Hatta stated that we can measure the effectiveness of the message. His answer reminded me of consumer psychology and advertising. To measure the effective of an advertising campaign, we can measure the company's bottom line: did the advertisement increase sales? If such figures are not reliable (due to many extraneous variables), we can measure the effectiveness of the ads themselves. Measures that can be used include recall (how much info from the ads that the customer can remember?), intention to buy, and attitude change.

The more difficult, and 'scary', measure of effectiveness of da'wah is the one about the daei themselves. How much has the da'wah process changed the daei. This measurement should not be done in a few minutes. Rather, this should be part of the life-long tarbiyyah.

We can't measure the success of da'wah in terms of bottom line like corporate companies. Afterall, the change in du'at is a matter of hidayah, which is at Allah's discretion. In other words, da'wah works are more for the benefits of the advertisers, not the consumers.

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