Islamic Da'wah in the West

Islamic Da'wah in the West : Muslim Missionary Activity and the Dynamics of Conversion to Islam

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Larry Poston explores the reality of da'wah - Islamic evangelism, or the 'call' to Islam - as it has been interpreted and practised by Muslims in the West. Beginning with a brief examination of the expansion of Islam during its early centuries, Poston looks at the concept of da'wah as understood by the earliest followers of Muhammad. He shows how this early paradigm has been adapted to the demands of the Western context, and goes on to discuss the institutionalization of the new missionary strategy in North America.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 230 pages
  • 142.2 x 218.4 x 22.9mm | 453.6g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • line drawings, tables
  • 0195072278
  • 9780195072273
  • 2,127,067

Back cover copy

Early expansion of Islam was predicated upon an "external-institutional" missionary approach which involved the political conquest of nations followed by the establishment of Muslim institutions. Conversion occurred as the masses became enculturated to the new environment. This external-institutional approach proved impracticable in the modern West, however, and Islam effected a transformation in its method of outreach. Poston here explores the concept of dawah--Islamic missionary activity--as it has evolved in contemporary Western societies. As a response to the demands of the Western social context, he shows, Muslims in the West have adopted an "internal-personal" approach, which aims at the conversion of individuals and seeks to influence society from the bottom upwards. Beginning with the teachings of Hasan al-Banna' and Abul A'la Mawdudi, this adaptation has led to the establishment in America and Europe of "para-mosque" organizations. Poston documents the institutionalization of the new missionary strategy in North America, profiling various organizations and institutions established for the propagation of the Muslim faith, and analyzing their missionary philosophies, strategies, and techniques. Turning his attention to those who heed the "call", Poston creates a profile of the "typical" convert to Islam. Examining the experiences of numerous converts, he compares them to a psychological profile of the "typical" religious convert. The results of a questionnaire-survey are combined with an analysis of published testimonies to identify significant traits that distinguish converts to Islam.
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Review quote

'This is a serious work on an important subject ... the book represents a valuable piece of research. An important and valuable part of Poston's work studies conversion to Islam. I hope to see future scholarly contributions about Islam among the Americans of a similar calibre to Poston's work.'
Fathi Osman, Journal of Islamic Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2, '94 'A significant contribution to the study of Islam in the West.'

William Bielefeldt, Hartford Seminary `The main value of Poston's study is the insight it provides into the Muslim community in the USA and Canada, and the diverse ways in which it seeks to communicate the message of Islam ... a valuable resource for further study in this area, with a helpful bibliography which includes an extensive list of testimonies of converts to Islam ... very readable and informative.'
CSIC, Selly Oak Colleges
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