Answered by Sayyidi al-Ḥabīb `Umar bin Hafīẓ (may Allāh preserve him and benefit us by him).
Do we need permission to call people to Allāh?
We have been given general permission by Allāh and His Messenger to call people to Allāh. This is understood from the following ḥadīths: “Convey (the message) on my behalf even if it is only one verse”; “The one who calls people to guidance will have a reward like the reward of all those who follow him”; “Let the one present among you convey (the message) to those absent”; “May Allāh illuminate the face of a person who hears my words and understands them and then conveys them to others exactly as he heard them.”
These hadiths give anyone the general permission to call to Allāh but such a person must do so with awareness and they must do so in the best way. Their efforts must not lead to evil or bring about the opposite outcome.1
Beyond this there is the special permission to call to Allāh which is given to someone by the possessors of sacred and divine knowledge. This special permission has a specific effect and benefit and is accompanied by extra light. It is alluded to in the ḥadīth: “Convey (the message) on my behalf even if it is only one verse.” His saying “on my behalf” alludes to the fact that callers should not rely on themselves or on their own efforts but should be focused on fully following the Messenger and calling to Allāh on his behalf.
Translator’s Note – by virtue of our connection to our teachers we have a portion of this special permission to call to Allah. When the opportunity arises, however, we should ask our teachers for this special permission. We will thus receive it with a direct chain of transmission to the Prophet (may Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and our efforts in calling to Allāh will be more blessed.
1Meaning that instead of bringing people closer to Allāh, that person’s calling drives them further away from Him.