As a Da’iya

A da’iya is one who calls others to Islam.  As a woman, you are encouraged to do your share and serve Allah and Islam and make a difference in the community and the world; and then again you are told by others that your place is at home regardless of your circumstances and that the best favor you can do the community is to stay away and take care of the little ones. There are those who would convince you that your entire existence is to remain in your job and to continue to help their institution and others adamant that your life should revolve around your husband.  Therefore it is best to withdraw from this war of opinions, get in touch with your own feelings on the subject, do some clear thinking and figure out what Allah wants of you. Indeed it always helps when one is caught in the middle of conflicting advice, to pause, simplify and return to the very stark basics.
‘Why’ is your intention. A deed is not judged by its correctness only, it is judged by the doer’s intention. Da’wa, is a slippery job, no sooner does one get established upon the straight path of helping others for the right reason, than problems arise. Your worst problem is if your intention changes and you begin to bask in your success and enjoy your popularity.
‘When’ is complex and perhaps better presented as a list: Dawa should be given after gaining the knowledge. Dawa should stem from a pleased and supporting home. Dawa should take second seat to finishing duties only you can do. It also should occur after arming yourself with ibadah.  Dawa should also take into consideration when you in particular are needed.
‘How’ is gaining knowledge about those you are making da’wa to, the better you understand those you are helping the more you are able to reach them. How, includes doing it in the best manner, kindly, never judging, or patronizing, patiently and never forgetting who you are to each other. How is also the means, a book, a play, a song or a regular meeting. How also is the proper etiquette of dawa that doesn’t take a teacher/student relationship and turn it into something it isn’t or something that can harm either side.
‘How often’ is the art of spreading your work over two week spans when a week cannot contain it, or forcing yourself to teach once a week when you have little ones and most people will excuse you.
‘Who’ is the people you are reaching out to. The etiquette of interaction between men and women in Islam, puts non-Mahram men outside the circle of those you would influence. In thinking about who to help, the most obvious answer is those who are asking you for help. When the numbers and distant locations make it difficult for you to accommodate all, pick individuals to give your knowledge of a particular subject to. Even better, work on a small group that can benefit from you fully and then can help you carry the load of that community.