Membership, Community, Diversity

Have Muslims traditionally sent out missionaries to convert others?

Islam has been a missionary tradition since its earliest days. Muhammad’s preaching eventually gathered a community of Meccans which in turn grew dramatically after migrating to Medina in the Hijra. Muslims believe in spreading the word whenever possible. Proselytizing is called “inviting” (da’wa, pronounced DA’wah) others to join the community of Islam. Many regard it as a basic religious duty, second only to their fulfillment of the five pillars. Despite perceptions to the contrary, Islam has spread far more often through peaceful means than through the sword. Among the earliest dedicated missionaries were Sufis who traveled with Muslim merchants along the trade routes to establish communities all over Asia and Africa. Some larger mission-oriented organizations have developed and moved into new territory with local or governmental sponsorship in a home country, but Muslim missionary societies are generally fewer and smaller than their Christian counterparts.


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