I am not sure why, but some of us freak out when people ask questions about our faith. It is rather weird when you think about it. We should be happy that there are people out there who are genuinely interested to know more about what we believe in.
Before we educate others, we obviously need to educate ourselves first. Allocate some time to attend classes, read good books, and ask qualified and well-informed teachers. The internet is a good resource, but be extra careful about it. We have no idea where Sheikh Google got his degree from.
I think people would appreciate honesty from our part. Like the saying goes, “Honesty is the best policy”. Explain nicely using wisdom and a language that people can understand, and explain to the extent of our knowledge. If we don’t know something, then say “I’m sorry. I don’t know.”
The important thing is to not make stuff up just to look smart or to impress people. If people don’t understand something, then we should help them understand and not mislead them with made up information because our ego refused to acknowledge that we don’t know everything.
People may or may not agree with us, but at least they understand where we are coming from. At the same time, we should understand where they are coming from as well. As much as they should be sensitive to our faith, we should also be as sensitive to their faith too.
This mutual understanding enables us to live together peacefully – we eliminate any fear of the unknown and create bridges between us. We might have disagreements. However, disagreements don’t necessarily mean that we harbor ill feelings towards each other and become enemies.
Disagreements don’t cause hatred and division, but immature people do – forgive my bluntness. If people can practice a little bit of grace, patience, humility, and open-mindedness when we are dealing with each other, I think we would get along just fine and perhaps become good friends.
We can still be united despite disagreements. We can have mature and civilized dialogues, discussions, and debates – not in the Youtube comment section – and still, be united as one community.
The big question remains: what is the best way to explain Islam?
I think the best explanation lies in who we are and how we are as a person – our characters. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was not sent except to perfect human characters. He was, is and always will be our walking example of embodied beautiful characters.
There is no language more eloquent than beautiful characters. It cuts through all barriers and goes straight to the hearts of people. Intelligent arguments can win the minds, but beautiful characters will win the hearts.