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In Daawah: Violence begets no good

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Using gentleness with those who are hoped to embrace Islam is a desirable thing, in order to attract their hearts to it. This is with regards to the disbelievers; what then should the attitude be towards someone who is hoped to make repentance while he is a Muslim who believes in Allah and His Messenger? Is he not worthier of gentleness than the disbeliever who is hoped to embrace Islam?

In Daawah (calling to Islam), gentleness is a form of kind treatment that opens the heart of the recipient. This is one of the established principles of Daawah in Islam that is uniformly mirrored in the Quranic discourse and the practices of all Messengers of Allah with their peoples. It is more evident in the story of Prophet Ibraheem (Abraham) when he was inviting his father to believe in Allah. He repeatedly called him O my father, thereby hoping to appeal to him through this firm father-son bond. It is also quite clear in the story of Prophet Moosa (Moses) with Pharaoh (Firawn), who claimed to be God. Allah the Exalted commanded Moosa and Haroon (Aaron), may Allah exalt their mention, to invite Pharaoh to believe in Him with kindness; He the Almighty Says (what means): {And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear [Allah].”} [Quran 20:44] There is no doubt that gentle speech is more likely to be responded to positively.

Islam preaches this same general attitude when calling people to Allah the Exalted. Rather, the Quran emphasized it and the Prophet implemented it; Allah the Exalted Says (what means): {And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter.} [Quran 3:159]
Contemplating the Quran, we notice that harshness is not mentioned except in the context of fighting the enemies in battlefields. Here, there is no room for gentle speech as no sound is louder than that of the sword and spear. The rules of efficiency in combat dictate toughness when confronting the enemy until the battle comes to an end. However, even in this context, Islam preaches kindness by establishing the refined etiquette of Jihad (struggle for the cause of Allah) in this glorious religion. There should be no fighting before conducting Daawah. In fact, the object of Jihad in Islam is to usher people to guidance; the Prophet said: If a single person is guided by Allah through you, it will be better for you than a whole lot of red camels. In Islam, the purpose of Jihad is not killing people and taking captives and war booty; rather, it is prompted by mercy in all its aspects.

The Prophet used to instruct his Companions to observe the Islamic etiquette of war, saying: Set out with the blessing of Allah. Do not kill a decrepit old man, or a child, or a woman; do not steal (from the booty) or act treacherously, and do right and act kindly, for Allah loves those who act kindly.
If Islam preaches kindness and gentleness in the context of war, how about that of Daawah?

Violence yields no good
Violence in the context of Daawah begets no good. Nothing mars Daawah more than violence, because the caller to Allah (Daee) hopes that his call delves into the depths of the recipient to make him a person of God in his conceptions, feelings, perceptions, and attitude. It alters his whole being and transforms him to another person in terms of thought, feeling and willpower. It also targets the community to change its inherited beliefs, deeply rooted traditions, and prevailing moral and social systems that do not conform with the laws of Allah or the tenets of faith and the concepts of truth.
It is thus a substitution at the intellectual, ideological, and emotional levels. It is well known that beliefs and ideologies can never be changed through violence, force, or coercion. Being harbored by the hearts and minds, there is no way to force beliefs and ideas on others. In fact, the only effective means to change beliefs and ideas are persuasion and reasoning.

This can only be achieved by means of wisdom, clever handling of matters, and knowledge of the human nature and man’s innate inclination to hold on to the old norms, while taking into account his inherent inclination to dispute; Allah the Exalted Says (what means): { but man has ever been, most of anything, [prone to] dispute.} [Quran 18:54] This entails adhering to gentleness and skillfully trying to win the heart and mind of the recipient to soften his heart, weaken his persistent clinging to old ideas and practices, and eliminate his prejudice.