Da'wah in the West: Muslim's Missionary Activity
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...
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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.
"This is a fine book, worth reading by those interested in Islam and the dynamics of religion in the Western world."--Review & Expositor "A well-written and an exceptionally informative work. It is certainly a must for anyone interested in Islam and late 20th-century developments in the American religious scene."--Choice "A valuable resource....very readable and informative."--Islam and Christian Muslim Relations "This is a serious work on an important subject....The book represents a valuable piece of research....I hope to see future scholarly contributions about Islam among the Americans of a similar calibre to Poston's work."--Journal of Islamic Studies "This thoughtful book about the activities of Muslims in North America comes at a very timely moment."--The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion
This book explains the concept of Islamic "da'wah," or missionary activity, as it has developed in contemporary Western contexts. Poston traces the transition from the early "external-institutional" missionary approach impracticable in modern Western society, to an "internal-personal" approach which aims at the conversion of individuals and seeks to influence society from the bottom upwards. Poston also combines the results of a questionnaire-survey with an analysis of published testimonies to identify significant traits that distinguish converts to Islam.
Poston has a Ph.D. in History and Literature of Religions from Northwestern University. His career includes ministry with Greater Europe Mission, director of the Institute for Muslim Studies and associate professor of Religion at Wheaton College Graduate School, and chairman of the Department of Missiology and Religion and professor of Religion at Nyack College.