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Etiquette of Debate

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  • Etiquette of Debate

    I have previously discussed the Maqasid of Dawah. I will now discuss the etiquette of debate and argumentation.

    The first thing we must realise is that an effective debate is not just simple contradiction where you disagree with the opponents points.

    e.g. Watch the following:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpAv...=youtu.be&t=87
    Last edited by Muhammad Hasan; 08-05-20, 10:08 PM.

  • #2
    Skip to 1:27.

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    • #3
      'If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]'

      Surah Ibrahim (14:7)

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      • #4
        So the first principle we must realise is that we must actually bring statements and evidence/points against our opponents. Simply stating the opposite of them or stating that you reject their view is simple contradiction and is pointless.

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        • #5
          The next etiquette of debate we must discuss is our adab during the debate. In a debate it is very easy to lose your temper and start making ad hominem (meaning "against the person") attacks against the other side. We must never fall for this - always maintain adab and make it clear that your problems are with the interlocutor's arguments not they themself.
          Last edited by Muhammad Hasan; 09-05-20, 12:31 AM.

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          • #6
            The third principle I would introduce is the crucial principle of listening to and responding to the interlocutor.

            Listen to this (it is quite long but after 30 or so minutes you will catch on to what the issue is):

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhvMRsdaUY8

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            • #7
              Where did you get these principles from? I'm not saying I disagree, just wonder about the source. That is, if these are Islamic based.

              Argumentation and debate is not something good, Islamic wise. It's usually blameworthy and even impermissible in other situations. I'd like to share some sayings of the Salaf on it if that's ok in shaa Allaah.

              It is reported that Bilāl b. Saʿd – Allāh have mercy on him – said: If you see a man being obstinate, argumentative and impressed with his own opinion, then his loss is complete. Abū Nuʿaym, ʿHilyatu Al-Awliyāʾ 5:228

              It is reported that Ma’rūf Al-Karkhī – Allāh have mercy on him – said: When Allāh chooses good for a person He opens the door to action for him, and closes the door to argumentation; and when Allāh chooses evil for a person he opens the door of argumentation and closes the door to action. Al-Khaṭīb Al-Baghdādī, Iqtḍā Al-‘Ilm Al-‘Amal, article 123.


              Ma’n b. ‘Īsā reports
              Mālik b. Anas was once returning from the mosque, leaning on my arm, when a man called Abū Al-Juwayrīyah who was accused of Al-Irjā` caught up with him. He said. “O Abū ʿAbdullāh, listen to something I have to say and debate with me and let me tell you my opinion.” [Imām] Mālik said, “And what if you overcome me?” The man replied, “If I defeat you, you follow me.” Mālik asked, “And what if another man comes and defeats us?” He replied, “Then we follow him.” To this, Mālik – Allāh’s mercy be upon him – said, “O servant of Allāh, Allāh sent Muḥammad – Allāh’s peace and blessings be upon him – with a single religion, but I see you moving from religion to religion. ʿUmar b. ʿAbd Al-‘Azīz said, ‘Whoever makes his religion the object of argumentation will frequently change it.’” Al-Ājurrī, Ktāb Al-Sharī’ah Vol.1 p128.

              Yūnus reports: Maymūn b. Mihrān once wrote to me saying: Beware of dispute and argumentation about the religion, and do not argue with a scholar nor an ignoramus. As for the scholar, he will withhold his knowledge from you, and will not be concerned with what you do. As for the ignorant person, he will only cause roughness in your heart and he will not obey you [anyway]. Al-Dārimī, Al-Sunan no. 302.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Muhammad Hasan View Post
                So the first principle we must realise is that we must actually bring statements and evidence/points against our opponents. Simply stating the opposite of them or stating that you reject their view is simple contradiction and is pointless.
                Agree, evidence is key in an Islamic debate. Anything else (mere opinions) is futile and Islamicly rejected.

                Mālik b. Mighwal said: Al-Sha’bī once said to me, “When these [people] report to you from Allāh’s Messenger – praise and peace of Allāh be upon him, adhere to it; but when they merely opine, throw it in the trash.” Al-Dārimī, Al-Sunan 1:78.

                ‘Umar b. Al-Khattāb – Allāh be pleased with him – said: Verily, the followers of opinion are the enemies of the Sunan (the teachings of Allāh’s Messenger as passed down in hadith): they were unable to preserve them and their meanings escaped them, and when asked [questions] they were too embarrassed to say ‘We don’t know,’ so they opposed the Sunan with their opinions. Ibn Abī Zamanīn, Uūl Al-Sunnah article 8; Al-Lālakā`ī, Shar Uūl I’tiqād Ahl Al-Sunnah article 201 et al.

                Al-Awzāʿī reports that Caliph ʿUmar b. ʿAbd Al-ʿAzīz – Allāh have mercy on him – wrote (in his orders): There is no place for anyone’s opinion [when it comes to] what is in the Book (revelation). The opinion of the imāms (great scholars) is only regarding what the Book did not come down with, and regarding which no Sunnah has passed from the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ. And the opinion of no one is counted in the face of a Sunnah from the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ. Al-Ājurrī, Al-Sharīʿah #113 et al.

                It is reported that Al-Awzāʿī said: Follow the narrations [ways] of those who have preceded (the Salaf) even if people reject you; and beware of people’s opinions, even if they beautify them for you.
                Al-Ājurrī, Kitāb Al-Sharīʿah 1:138; Ibn ʿAbd Al-Barr, Jāmiʿ Bayān Al-ʿIlm wa Faḍlihi 3:373.

                It is reported that a man once came to Al-Shaʿbī – Allāh have mercy on him – and asked him about something, so he replied: “Ibn Masʿūd used to say such-and-such [about this issue].” The man asked, “But tell me your opinion.” He replied, “Are you not all astonished by this man? I inform him of what Ibn Masʿūd [said] and he asks me my opinion. My religion is more important to me than that. By Allāh, I would rather sing a song than inform you of my opinion.” Al-Dārimī, Al-Sunan ḥadīth 108.

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                • #9
                  Imām Abu Muhammad Al-Hasan Ibn `Alī Ibn Khalaf Al-Barbahārī (d. 329H) stated:

                  “And know that there would not be heresy, nor disbelief, nor doubts, nor innovation, nor misguidance, nor confusion in the religion except due to rhetoric and the people of rhetoric and due to argumentation, debating and disputation and those amazed by themselves. How can a man embark upon debating, disputation and argumentation whilst Allah, the Most High, stated:

                  مَا يُجَادِلُ فِي آيَاتِ اللَّهِ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا

                  “No one disputes concerning the signs of Allah except those who disbelieve…”

                  So upon you is to submit and be pleased and content with the narrations and to withhold [from debating, etc] and be silent.”

                  Al-`Allāmah Rabee’ Ibn Hādee Al-Madkhalee explained some of these lines as follows:

                  “…and debating…” meaning: debating upon falsehood. That is because debating or reasoned argumentation with knowledge, proof and evidence and with the etiquette laid down in the Islamic Sharī`ah is from the means of calling to Allah, the Blessed and Most High:

                  ادْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ ۖ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ

                  “Invite to the Way of your Lord with wisdom (i.e. upon the Sunnah) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better.” (An-Nahl: 125)

                  So if one’s da`wah reaches the point of disputation, and controversial argumentation and so on, then leave him because he has entered the door of disputing. However, if your companion whom you are arguing with seeks the truth; he is not stubborn and rebellious against the truth, he is not haughty and arrogant, and he does not argue upon falsehood – then this is a good opportunity for you. Reason with him in argumentation with proofs and evidences and with the manners legislated. So this is from the means of da`wah – not [the false means like] play-acting and singing nasheeds – because here you are establishing the proofs and evidences throughout the course of this reasoned debate and discussion. Allah stated:

                  وَلَا تُجَادِلُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ إِلَّا بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ

                  “And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best…” (Al-`Ankaboot: 46)

                  The Christian and the Jew; it is possible that they may aspire to Islam and desire it. Bring to him evidences and proofs – and he may bring to you some doubts, so you respond to him with further proofs and evidences – and he enters into Islam. So there is no harm in this. However if he debates so as to falsify your religion, he becomes haughty, stubborn and rebellious, then no. No not enter into any debate or argumentation with him – this is from the reasons for leaving alone argumentation.

                  Imām Al-Barbahāri said: “And those amazed by themselves. How can a man embark upon debating, disputation and argumentation whilst Allah, the Most High, stated:

                  مَا يُجَادِلُ فِي آيَاتِ اللَّهِ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا

                  “No one disputes concerning the signs of Allah except those who disbelieve…” (Ghāfir: 4)

                  This generalisation requires investigation (and explanation) because Allah has textually legislated reasoned debate upon the truth in two verses that we have already mentioned. And Ibn `Abbās debated the Khawārij – and due to this debate, it is stated by Abdur-Razzāq in an authentic report (Al-Musannaf 10/157-160) that 20,000 returned to the truth. They were 24,000 and from them, 20,000 returned. So he debated them upon knowledge with proofs, and evidence for a people who loved the truth and they desired to embrace it and return to it, so they returned. Then there are those who are stubbornly rebellious, so do not debate them because they want blameworthy debating, and argumentation upon falsehood. So this speech is restricted by that which we have said to you.

                  Ref: `Awnul-Bāree bi-Bayān mā Tadammanahu Sharhus-Sunnah lil-Imām al-Barbahārī by Shaikh Rabee’ Ibn Hādee al-Madkhalee, 2/520-521.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TazkiyyatunNafs View Post
                    Where did you get these principles from? I'm not saying I disagree, just wonder about the source. That is, if these are Islamic based.

                    Argumentation and debate is not something good, Islamic wise. It's usually blameworthy and even impermissible in other situations. I'd like to share some sayings of the Salaf on it if that's ok in shaa Allaah.

                    It is reported that Bilāl b. Saʿd – Allāh have mercy on him – said: If you see a man being obstinate, argumentative and impressed with his own opinion, then his loss is complete. Abū Nuʿaym, ʿHilyatu Al-Awliyāʾ 5:228

                    It is reported that Ma’rūf Al-Karkhī – Allāh have mercy on him – said: When Allāh chooses good for a person He opens the door to action for him, and closes the door to argumentation; and when Allāh chooses evil for a person he opens the door of argumentation and closes the door to action. Al-Khaṭīb Al-Baghdādī, Iqtḍā Al-‘Ilm Al-‘Amal, article 123.


                    Ma’n b. ‘Īsā reports
                    Mālik b. Anas was once returning from the mosque, leaning on my arm, when a man called Abū Al-Juwayrīyah who was accused of Al-Irjā` caught up with him. He said. “O Abū ʿAbdullāh, listen to something I have to say and debate with me and let me tell you my opinion.” [Imām] Mālik said, “And what if you overcome me?” The man replied, “If I defeat you, you follow me.” Mālik asked, “And what if another man comes and defeats us?” He replied, “Then we follow him.” To this, Mālik – Allāh’s mercy be upon him – said, “O servant of Allāh, Allāh sent Muḥammad – Allāh’s peace and blessings be upon him – with a single religion, but I see you moving from religion to religion. ʿUmar b. ʿAbd Al-‘Azīz said, ‘Whoever makes his religion the object of argumentation will frequently change it.’” Al-Ājurrī, Ktāb Al-Sharī’ah Vol.1 p128.

                    Yūnus reports: Maymūn b. Mihrān once wrote to me saying: Beware of dispute and argumentation about the religion, and do not argue with a scholar nor an ignoramus. As for the scholar, he will withhold his knowledge from you, and will not be concerned with what you do. As for the ignorant person, he will only cause roughness in your heart and he will not obey you [anyway]. Al-Dārimī, Al-Sunan no. 302.
                    The three points I have brought so far are quite obvious* - as in if you simply contradict the other person (without evidence) then how is that debating? Having Adab at all times is a Sunnah and there is no reason to not have it during a debate. If you don't listen to the other person you're not really having a debate - you're making a speech and if the other person doesn't listen then its a speech that no human is listening to.

                    Rather than being strict principles that you may find in a book of Ilm al Jadal wal Munazarah, these are just some basic things one must remember to actually begin having a debate in the first place. Detailed principles on burden of proof, level of knowledge of the debaters, structure of the debate, what kind of evidences can be brought as well as the technical terminology etc. are not really what I intended.

                    However I do agree with your point that I should supply Quran/Hadith (interpretation thereof by Ulama) evidences for each of my principles. For example for the first principle, there are Hadith you have brought and hadith we can find in the Muqaddimah of Sahih Muslim, for the second principle, the wording of the Quran, when Allah tells us to reason with Ahl al-Kitab in the best way and for the third point the numerous times Allah implores the reader to understand and listen to his points - how do you reject that which you do not bother to listen to? The first word of the Quran to be revealed is Iqra - meaning read or understand.

                    Nevertheless I do enjoy your direct quoting of evidence although we should be careful in how we quote aHadith - we should always make sure our understanding is backed up by someone more qualified (I'm not saying you aren't doing this, just that this is something we should always remember).

                    *There are some ideas and definitions that are foundational or axiomatic which are understood and used as the basis for understanding further ideas and concepts. If we did not have foundational/basic definitions and ideas, we would go on for eternity reducing concepts into simpler concepts, looking for primary sources (Quran/Sunnah) for these concepts when they are not exactly defined in the Quran and Sunnah in the first place due to them being well understood. Where a definition is not well understood, a dictionary can be used as a starting place, and/or in Arabic we can look at the word root. The statement of the scholars, if available, is of course always in our sanad of understanding such things.
                    Last edited by Muhammad Hasan; 09-05-20, 05:10 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Some people needs to see this.

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