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Translated by Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
Debates and arguments. Even if you are in the right, refrain from debates and arguments. This is also a great vice from the vices of the tongue. People have a great taste for debates and arguments. Wherever a few people have gathered and a topic has arisen, debates and arguments start. Over useless matters which have no benefit in this world and no benefit in the hereafter. [They are] debates and arguments over such matters.
Bear in mind! These debates and arguments are such that they destroy the inner self of a person. Imam Malik (may Allah have mercy upon him) has a saying. Imam Malik (may Allah have mercy upon him) says, “al-Mira’u yuzhibu bi nur al-‘ilm” – debates and arguments destroy the radiance of knowledge. This debate and argumentation is found more in scholars. Every scholar assumes that they know more. So if somebody else says something, they get ready to debate; hours are being spent. Let this argument be verbal, or penned (written), time is being expended. Imam Malik (may Allah have mercy upon him) says, ‘Arguments destroy the radiance of knowledge’ – the radiance of knowledge does not remain.
Come on, it’s simple! If your view is different from somebody, present your opinion [as in] ‘This is my opinion’. Listen to their point. If you understand their point accept it. If you do not understand their points say, Brother, I have not understood your point. That’s it! Allah, Allah, fine. You act upon what you have understood and I will act upon what I have understood. There will be nothing gained through arguing.
The necessary effect of debates and arguments is that when two people sit to debate each one of them wants that I win, my point prevails and endeavours to undermine the other. Due to this they do not care about the limits of right and wrong. In whatever way they can they want to undermine the other. This is what forms [from debates and arguments].
Often debates and arguments are over useless matters. This [what I am saying] is on those matter if you assume that if it is on the truth. If you are speaking the truth and are absolutely correct [whilst] the other is speaking false even then don’t debate and argue. Mention your standpoint – ‘Brother, if you understand it accept it. If you don’t understand it, do what you please.
The surah, Qul ya ayyuhal kafirun, which we all read in our salahs, was revealed for this very reason. The prophet (peace be upon him) stated that the message of tawhid (oneness of Allah), he explained it clearly to the disbelievers in Makkah, he mentioned it evidences and he did everything. Now came the time of debate and arguments. The people would come and they would debate so upon this the surah was revealed. [Allah almighty] says:
قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُونَ - لَا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ - [وَلَا أَنتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ] - وَلَا أَنَا عَابِدٌ مَّا عَبَدتُّمْ- وَلَا أَنتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ
O disbelievers! Listen! What you worship, I will not worship and you do not worship He who I worship. So now what, “لكم دينكم و لي دين” – Your way is with you and my way is with me. Meaning, I don’t want to debate and argue. The evidences which are of the truth, they have been clarified, announced and explained. If you wish to accept it, accept it for your [own] success and good. Beyond this, wasting time in fruitless debates and arguments is neither in your favour and nor in my favour; “لكم دينكم و لي دين” – Your way is with you and my way is with me. Allah almighty, even in a matter purely about belief and disbelief he says that, Tell them! Tell them! I do not quarrel and do engage in debates and arguments. If this is the case regarding belief and disbelief, in other issues, where debates and arguments continue between us – may Allah protect – are such that only destroy the inner-self.
If you must discuss do it from this aspect that it should be with seeking the truth. As in, speak to another seeking the truth, present your stance, and listen to them. If you understand, accept it, if you do not understand, discard it. That is it! Do not debate!
Originally published in ijtima.org, art. 96 (29 Rabi I 1432 / 31 Jan 2014)