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Dangers of Argumentation in Islam

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Argumentation has been highly discouraged in Islam because it leads to creating ill feelings and hatred amongst the people.  It is a common disease from which many half-baked scholars and students of knowledge suffer from, who acquire knowledge for the sake of showing off.  Since we live in a time when the world is considered as a global village, these debates and disputes do not only affect the people around us but rather it extends to other parts of the world due to the social media platform.  The pious predecessors (al-Salaf al-Salih) would always avoid argumentation despite possessing ocean of knowledge.


“They say this only to have a dispute with you. No doubt, they are very quarrelsome.”[3] (al-Qur’an 43:58)

The great Imam also highlighted the fact that argumentation does not allow beneficial knowledge to take abode in the heart of a scholar and it results in the hardening of the heart and it breeds hatred.
If we were to take the above Qur’anic verses, Prophetic sayings and the saying of Imams we will see that is exactly what we are witnessing in today’s day and age. Whether it is in our community or on social media platforms. The continuous slandering, mocking and labelling has created animosity, friction and disunited the Ummah that is suffering from far greater challenges which require our collective and united effort to address.


 

Man by nature is argumentative and this is one of the characteristics of the lower self which we are commanded to supress, in the Qur’an Almighty Allah states:

“And We have indeed put forth in the Qur’an repeatedly for mankind every kind of example (alternating the styles), but man is far ahead in contention (argumentation) than anything else”[1] (al-Qur’an 18:54)

Argumentation does not lead to any good but rather it indulges everyone in the debate which causes a viral effect. Each group starts to label the other as misguided and deviant which results in friction and animosity. This is precisely what Holy Prophet (Blessing and peace be upon Him) warned His Ummah to stay away from. He (Blessing and peace be upon Him) said:

“No nation go astray after being guided except they indulge in arguments”[2] (Jamia al-Tirmidhi, Hadith No. 3253)

Then the Prophet (Blessings and peace be upon Him) recited:

The above hadith elucidates the fact that through argumentation people and nations are lead astray. People take matters of secondary nature and neglect the obligations upon themselves and start to think we are better than others because of such and such. As a result of this people fall in the trap of the Satan and end up committing the same sin of pride.

Argumentation should be avoided even when one is certain that they are on the truth, this was the way of the pious predecessors. Holy Prophet (Blessing and peace be upon Him) said:

“I guarantee a house in Paradise for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right; and I guarantee a house in the middle of Paradise for one who abandons lying even when joking for the sake of fun; and I guarantee a house in the highest part of the Paradise for the one who had good manners”[4] (Sunan Abu Dawud, Hadith No. 4500)

Therefore those who practice the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (Blessings and peace be upon Him) would avoid arguing even though they knew they were on the truth. The reason for this is clear because when a person indulges in constant argumentation he will go to all extents to prove his point even if he has to lie. This will in turn lead one to display character which is not according the teaching of Qur’an and Sunnah.

The pious predecessors would avoid arguing because it lead to misunderstanding, uncertainties and it would act as an obstacle in their spiritual journey. Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

“Beware of the argumentation in Deen, for indeed it destroys your (good) deeds”[5] (Ibn Abd-ul-Barr, Jamia Bayan-ul-Ilm, Vol. 3 Page. 159)

In another narration it states:

“Beware of argumentation, for indeed it preoccupies the heart and breeds hypocrisy”[6]

Imam Malik (may Allah be pleased with Him) said:

Disputation and arguments about sacred knowledge cause the light of knowledge to extinguish in a man’s heart.”[7] (Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Jamia al-Ulum wal-Hikam, Vol.1 Page. 93)

He also said:

“Disputation about sacred knowledge causes the heart to harden and breeds hatred”[8] (Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Jamia al-Ulum wal-Hikam, Vol.1 Page. 93)

The great Scholar and Gnostic Ma’ruf al-Karkhi (may Allah have mercy upon Him) said:

“When Allah Almighty intends goodness with someone, He opens the door of action (performing good deeds) and closes the door of argumentation. When Allah Almighty does not intend goodness with someone, He closes the door of action and opens the door of argumentation”[9] (Hilyat-ul-Awliya, Vol. 8 Page 361)

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali say’s in Jamia al-Ulumwal-Hikam:

“The refrain of the righteous predecessors and Imams from engaging in excessive disputes and arguments was not due to ignorance or inability, but rather they remained silent due to their knowledge and fear of Allah. Those after them who spoke much and delved deeply into issues did not do so because they had more knowledge than them, but rather due to their love of speaking and lack of scrupulousness”

Due to argumentation many indulge in speaking against the Scholars of Islam whether they are alive or have passed away. Slandering and mocking of Scholars can be due to the following reasons:

1. Overwhelming Jealousy

2. Inclination towards the Lower Self

3. Prejudice

4. Hypocrisy

A stern warning has been given to those who adopt this practice of maligning the status of Muslim Scholars, Holy Prophet (Blessing and peace be upon Him) said:

“Whoever respects the following three, pays respect to Allah

1) An aged Muslim

2) One who teaches and preaches the Holy Qur’an (Scholar)

3) A ruler who is just to his people

Holy Prophet (Blessings and peace be upon Him) said:

“He is not among my followers who does not respect our elders, is not merciful to our youngsters and does not pay due reverence to our scholars”[10] (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith No. 22807)

Holy Prophet also stated:

“Whoever belittles the following three is not a (true) Muslim but a hypocrite:

1) A just ruler

2) Teacher of goodness (Scholar)

3) An aged Muslim[11] (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, Hadith No. 32562)

Syedna Umar (may Allah be pleased with Him) said:

“Do not learn knowledge for three things and do not leave it for three things. Do not learn it to dispute over it, to show off with it, or to boast about it. Do not leave seeking it out of shyness, dislike for it, or contending with ignorance in its stead.

It is reported that Imam Abdullâh bin-Mubârak – Allâh have mercy on him – said:It is right that an intelligent person does not undervalue three [types of people]: the scholars, the rulers, and brothers (in humanity). Whoever undervalues the scholars will lose his afterlife, whoever undervalues the rulers will lose his worldly life, and whoever undervalues his brothers loses his good character and conduct. [12] (Al-Dhahabi, Siyar A’lam al-Nubala 17:251)

Ahmed Ibn Athir writes in Jaami'-ul-Usool:

 

"To be contemptuous of the Sufia who follow the Sunnah, destroy the bida, hold knowledge of the Deen and are pious in their actions, and who are the keepers of the esoteric meanings, is a disaster. In Islam, the threat against one who holds hard feelings against them is severe. What a dangerous position, to be in war with Allah. It is bearable if ones ears are cut, eyes gouged, and legs and arms broken in punishment for this heinous crime, because the difficulties and pains of this world will end. If this happened to someone, at least the doors of repentance are still open, but what is one to do if he is corrupted in his Deen?

 

The people who are true scholars or seekers of knowledge will never indulge in cursing, vilifying and slandering the scholars of Islam.  The distinguished historian and Hafiz, Ibn Asakir of Damascus, has cautioned against letting our tongues loose against scholars.  He said, “Know, brother, that the flesh of a scholar is poisonous [i.e. whoever backbites them is liable to poisoning, for the Qur’an likens backbiting to eating the flesh of one’s dead brother], and the way of Allah concerning those who insult then is well-known.  So, whoever insults the scholars of this Ummah by his tongue, Allah will afflict him this [very] world by death of the heart”

The scholars say that aside from these two (Riba and malice towards the Auliya), no other sin has been recorded which incites war with Allah. It indicates the graveness of these two sins and that a person involved in them may die in the state of kufr.”[13]

Therefore, it is imperative to avoid argumentation and slandering and we should fear Allah and constantly monitor our actions to see if they are in accordance to the Qur’an and Sunnah and not let the Satan overpower us.

May Allah Almighty grant us the ability to show respect to our Scholars and to the whole of humanity through the intermediation of Holy Prophet (Blessings and peace be upon Him)

[1] Al-Qur’an 18:54

[2] Jamia al-Tirmidhi, Hadith No. 3253

[3] Al-Quran 43:58

[4] Sunan Abu Dawud, Hadith No. 4500

[5] Ibn Abd-ul-Barr, Jamia Bayan-ul-Ilm, Vol. 3 Page. 159

[6] Sharh Usool Ahl-ul-Sunnah, Vol. 1 Page 216

[7] Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Jamia al-Ulum wal-Hikam, Vol.1 Page. 93

[8] Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Jamia al-Ulum wal-Hikam, Vol.1 Page. 93

[9] Hilyat-ul-Awliya, Vol. 8 Page 361

[10] Musnad Ahmad, Hadith No. 22807

[11] Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, Hadith No. 32562

[12] Al-Dhahabi, Siyar A’lam al-Nubala 17:251)

[13] Mirqat-Commentary on Mishkat