Perspective from Brazil

Published October 7, 2014

By Bia Kehdy

I would like to share with the reader the wonderful experience I had with the WhyIslam dawah group who came to Brazil during the 2014 World Cup. I am Brazilian and have been a revert for about 12 years. I lived in the US more than ten years and that is where I took my shahada, but I’ve been back in Brazil for a couple years now. Then one day not too long ago I received a Facebook message from a sister (she and I have a common friend), letting me know that she would be coming to Brazil with a dawah group during the World Cup. At that moment I was pretty excited to know that a group of Muslims would be coming to my country. However I really didn’t know anything about them, their mission, theirs plans, or the individuals who would be part of the group. And I never could have imagined how their visit would so deeply impact my life and my reality here in Brazil.

The most inspiring of it all was to see the dedication of the group,  so willing to give of their time and resources,  willing to travel to another part of the world to make dawah,  simply blessed with pure intention, effective printed material, and a nice smile.

My husband and I try to be pretty active with the Brazilian revert community, attending weekly classes which are open to reverts or anyone interested to know about the deen of Islam. In addition, we try to provide support and followup to the newcomers to facilitate their transition into a wonderful new way of life as Muslims. A whole new phase in this blessed journey of discovery in Islam began with the arrival of the first individuals from the WhyIslam group, a sister and her son, at the airport. I was very excited to meet them; in fact, it felt like I was going to see family members that I hadn’t seen for years. Alhamdulillah, because of hijab it was easy to recognize each other. From the very first moment I met this sister and the other WhyIslam brothers and sisters, I instantly felt a tremendous bond of love and great respect among us. It was amazing to see that although we come from different parts of the worlds, with different languages and cultures, we had all come together for a singular purpose – to invite others to the deen of Islam; and with one common intention – to do so for the sake of Allah SWT.

The dawah itinerary consisted of daily visits to various parts of São Paulo including suburbs and slums, as well as designated spots at World Cup venues where large numbers of locals and tourists and World Cup attendees were concentrated. We made dawah by distributing Islamic material and through these blessed activities I found, amazingly, that language wasn’t a barrier even though most of the dawah group didn’t speak Portuguese. Communication took place between hearts as we handed brochures to people, offering them a nice smile and a kind and open demeanor. When someone had a question or comment, the native speakers among our group would engage with them.

I was surprised to see the response of the people. Most of the time they were very open, curious, and very receptive to the message of Islam. Due to a bit of prejudice I have faced with the wearing of hijab, I realized that I had some preconceived notions about Brazilians not being open to hearing about Islam. In the beginning of my time with the WhyIslam group, I was actually a bit nervous to talk to the people, not knowing how to approach them and thinking that it would be challenging to convey the message to them, to total strangers. But slowly I realized that it becomes natural with time and practice. It was so rewarding to be talking to people and sharing with them what I have found to be the most sacred thing in my life. Allah SWT is the best facilitator of all things and capable of transforming us in the most unexpected ways!

Talking to people about Islam was not just rewarding in the sense of inviting them to the truth, but it also strengthened my eman

My experience was that talking to people about Islam was not just rewarding in the sense of inviting them to the truth, but it also strengthened my eman. This dawah experience caused me, in addition, to seek greater knowledge about, and reflect on, points brought up through questions or conversation. Usually some other individual(s) in our group would know the answer to any question that I lacked knowledge about, and each instance of this helped to prepare me more for further dawah interactions and conversations.

I realized through this experience that the use of technology and social media is so effective and you don’t have to be a professional to make a video and upload it to Facebook or YouTube. Whether intending to convey a dawah message or report what is happening on the ground, one can use a smartphone to spread the word. Also I came to appreciate the importance of the group having a good visual identification and we wore very catchy and memorable T-shirts. People in my own community immediately bring to mind Islam when they see the T-shirt.

The most inspiring of it all was to see the dedication of the group, so willing to give of their time and resources, willing to travel to another part of the world to make dawah, simply armed with pure intention, effective printed material, and a nice smile. I actually felt ashamed the moment I realized that I had to wait for others to come across the continent to teach me the importance of dawah and that the most essential tools needed to make dawah are within me. Now I can only thank Allah SWT for giving me this blessed opportunity and the capacity to see how much I can still do here in Brazil, even with the most simple resources. For my husband and me, this visit by WhyIslam was an awakening moment, not only to realize how much we can do here, but to see how much Brazilian people are receptive and in need of the message of Islam.

This awakening is a milestone in our lives. Now we are organizing ourselves to hold at least monthly street dawah events, and if Allah wills, we will make brief videos and post regularly such reports of our events in a variety of media. We hope that slowly we can encourage other Brazilians to join us so that they too can experience the wonderful fulfillment of sharing the blessings of our deen. I ask Allah SWT to continue to bless the amazing work WhyIslam has been doing, and to reward all their efforts for the sake of Allah only. Ameen.

Bia KehdyAuthor Bia Kehdy and her husband reside in Sao Paulo, and are continuing to do regular dawah activities in Brazil.

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