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Discussion and Debate

Posted by Ibn Khattab on July 2, 2009


Salam Alaikum,


Because of the increasing number of spam comments and insults this past few days I have had to change the blog so that all comments need approval. In future comments which insult, use bad language, spam or attack personalities will not be accepted.


As this is an Islamic blog we would ask people to adhere to Islamic manners and etiquettes. Despite this having been stated before very few people are doing so, despite their claim of being Muslims. As Muslims we should be seeking the truth rather than trying to prove our point is correct and in doing so we should refer to the Quran and Sunnah because this is what is important, not our own subjective opinions.


While saying this I know that I sometimes go outside this myself and Insha’Allah that will not occur in the future. Let us all act like Muslims and discuss these issues rather than descending into heated debates as has happened on a few occasions.


The following two short pieces are of benefit on this issue:


Impartial Search For Truth, Avoiding Bias And Observing The Accepted Ethics Of Debate

by Shaykh Saleh Abdullah bin Humaid

Source: Islamic Principles and Rules of Debate


What ensures a straightforward and fruitful debate is a resolute search for truth, not allowing one’s own desires or the public’s to take control. A sensible person, Muslim or non-Muslim, is expected to seek truth and to avoid error sincerely.


Most of the well-known Muslim scholars were very careful in this regard. Al-Imam al- Shafi`i, for instance, used to say: “I never talked with someone but sincerely wished that Allah keep him, protect him from sin and misdeed and guide him; and I never debated with someone but sincerely wished that we would come upon truth, regardless of whether

he or I should be the one to think of it first.”


Abu Hamed al-Ghazali says also in this connection: “Cooperation in seeking truth is inherent to religion, but sincerity in the pursuit of truth can be distinguished by certain conditions and signs. A diligent seeker of truth may be compared to one who is looking for his lost camel. It would be immaterial for him if he or another person should be the one to find it. Likewise, a sincere truth-seeker would perceive his partner as a helper rather than an adversary, and would be grateful to him if he should guide him to truth.”


In another place of Volume 1 of Al-Ihya al-Ghazali says: “Over-enthusiasm is a mark of corrupted scholars, even when the case they are defending is true. By showing excessive enthusiasm for truth and their contempt of their opponents, the latter would be stimulated to retaliate and react in the same manner. They would be driven to stand for falsehood

and to be true to the label attributed to them. If the champions of truth had spoken kindly to them avoiding publicity and humiliation they would have succeeded in winning them over. But as it is, a person who enjoys a place of prestige is strongly inclined to preserve his position by attracting followers, and the only way to that is to boast and to attack or

Curse adversaries.”


To conclude, a debate must be conducted fairly and calmly, without showing any excitement or roughness, and without compromising the chances of arriving at the truth. Debaters should avoid spiteful argumentation and word play; as such behaviour poisons the atmosphere, arouses hostile attitudes and may well end in deadlock.


Prohibition of Disputation in Religion

Imam al-Barbahaaree


…If someone comes to debate with you, beware of him. For debating involves argumentation, disputing, seeking to overcome, wrangling and anger. You have been forbidden from all of this. It diverts you both away from the truth. It has not reached us that any of our scholars or people of knowledge argued, debated or disputed. Al-Hasan (al-Basree) said, “The wise man does not argue or seek to overcome with stratagem rather he propagates his wisdom. If it is accepted he praises Allaah and if it is rejected he praises Allaah.”

[Reported by Abu Nu`aim ibn Hammaad in his Zawaa'id `alaz-Zuhd libnil Mubaarak (no. 30) and Ibn Battah in Ibaanatul-Kubraa (no. 611). Its isnaad is weak, since it contains an unnamed narrator.]

A man came to al-Hasan (al-Basree) and said, “I wish to debate with you about the Religion.” Al- Hasan replied, “I know my Religion. If you have lost your Religion go out and look for it.” [Reported by al-Aajurree in ash-Sharee`ah (p. 57), al-Laalikaa'ee in as-Sunnah (no. 215) and Ibn Battah (no. 586) and it is saheeh.]


The Messenger of Allaah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) heard some people arguing outside his apartment, one of them saying, ‘Did not Allaah say so and so?’ and the other saying, ‘Did not Allaah say so and so?’ So he came out angry and said, “Is this what I have ordered you, or is this what I was sent with, that you should set one part of the Book of Allaah against some other parts?” [Reported by Ahmad (2/178, 181 and 196), Ibn Maajah (no. 85), `Abdullaah ibn Ahmad in as- Sunnah (no. 86) and al-Baghawee in Sharhus-Sunnah (1/260). Al-Boosayree declared it saheeh in Zawaa'id Ibn Maajah (1/4) as did al-Albaanee in Sharh `Aqeedah at-Tahaawiyyah (p. 218)] So he forbade them from argumentation.


Ibn `Umar used to hate disputation as did Maalik ibn Anas and those greater and lesser than him right up to this day. The Sayings of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, is greater than the sayings of His creation. Allaah, the Most High says:

“None dispute in the Aayaat (signs, proofs) of Allaah except those who disbelieve.” [Soorah Ghaafir (40):4]


A man asked `Umar ibn al-Khattaab: What is “Those (angels) who gently take out (the souls of the believers)?” [Soorah an-Naazi`aat (79):2] He said, “If your head were shaved, I would have beheaded you.” [Shaving his head was the sign of the Khawaarij. The man who asked `Umar was called Sabeegh. His story is well-known and authentic. It is reported by ad-Daarimee (1/51), Ibn Waddah in al-Bida`h (p.56), al-Aajurree in ash-Sharee`ah (p. 73), al-Laalikaa’ee in as-Sunnah (pp. 634-636) and Ibn Battan (1/414-415)


The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “The Believer does not dispute and I will not intercede on the Day of Resurrection for those who dispute, so leave arguing for its lack of good.” [This hadeeth is very weak, as declared by al-Haithumee in Majma` uz-Zawaa’id (1/156, 725). Reported by at-Tabaraanee in al-Kabeer (8/178-179) and al-Aajurree in ash-Sharee`ah (pp. 55-56).


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