Giving up arguing

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وعلى آله وصحبه، أما بعـد

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Abu Umamah al-Bahili رضي الله عنه narrated that the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

أنا زعيم بيت في رَبَضِ الجنة لمن ترك المراء وإن كان مُحِقَّا، وبيت في وسط الجنة لمن ترك الكذب وإن كان مازحًا، وبيت في أعلى الجنة لمن حَسُن خلقه

“I am the leader of a house in Paradise. I guarantee a house in Jannah for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right; and I guarantee a home in the middle of Jannah for one who abandons lying even if he is joking; and I guarantee a house in the highest part of Jannah for one who has good manners.”

[Abu Da’wud, 4800; also found in ‘Tahdhib al-Kamal’, 3/498; ‘Mu’jam al-Kabeer’, 7488; ‘al-Bayhaqi’, 10/249 and others – graded as Hasan by al-Albani in ‘Saheeh al-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb’, 6/3; and Ibn Baz in ‘Khashiyah Buloogh al-Maraam’, 810]

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1. Despite its conciseness, this hadeeth contains huge amounts of guidance and goodness in directing people towards building sublime characters and in dealing with people; along with the respective rewards attached to that.

2. As for the aspect of arguing mentioned therein, the type of arguing which is criticised and blameworthy is the one in which one is abusive, wants to win over or disparage the opponent – or where one argues just for the sake of argument and wrangling etc.

3. To argue in order to demonstrate what the truth is however, and to refute falsehood – then that is a commendable act that the Shari’ah orders us with, so long as it is within reason and set-boundaries. From this are the Ayaat of the Qur’an:

وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ

“…and argue with them in a way that is better.” [An-Nahl: 125]

وَلَا تُجَادِلُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ إِلَّا بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ

“And argue not with the people of the Scripture, unless it be in (a way) that is better…” [Al-Ankaboot: 46]

وَلَا تُجَادِلْ عَنِ الَّذِينَ يَخْتَانُونَ أَنفُسَهُمْ

“And argue not on behalf of those who deceive themselves…” [An-Nisaa’: 107]

4. In regards to explaining or clarifying the Sunnah, Imam Ahmad was asked: “I sometimes find myself in a gathering where the Sunnah is mentioned, and I have more knowledge of it. Shall I speak up and say something?’ Imam Ahmad replied: ‘State what the Sunnah is, but do not argue over it’. The man then repeated his statement and so Imam Ahmad said: ‘I only see you to be an argumentative man!”

And this is what Imam Malik meant in his saying (after one has informed the people of the Sunnah), “And if they don’t accept it from you, then be silent.” [‘Al-Adab al-Shar’iyyah’, Ibn Muflih, p. 307]

5. Ma’n ibn Eesa narrated:

انصرف مالك بن أنس رضي الله عنه يوماً من المسجد ، وهو متكىء على يدي ، فلحقه رجل يقال له : أبو الحورية ، كان يتهم بالإرجاء ، فقال : يا عبد الله ، اسمع مني شيئاً ، أكلمك به ، وأحاجك ، وأخبرك برأي ، قال : فإن غلبتني ؟ قال : إن غلبتك اتبعني ، قال : فإن جاء رجل آخر ، فكلمنا فغلبنا ؟ قال : نتبعه ، فقال مالك رحمه الله تعالى : ياعبد الله : بعث الله عز وجل محمداً صلى الله عليه وسلم بدين واحد ، وأراك تنتقل من دين إلى دين ، قال عمر بن عبد العزيز : من جعل دينه غرضاً للخصومات أكثر التنقل

“(Imam) Malik ibn Anas was once returning from the masjid, leaning on my arm, when a man called Abu al-Huwayriyah who was accused of Irja` caught up with him. He said. ‘O servant of Allaah, listen to something I have to say and debate with me and let me tell you my opinion.’ (Imam) Malik said, ‘And what if you overcome me?’ The man replied, ‘If I defeat you, you follow me.’ Malik asked, ‘And what if another man comes and defeats us (both)?’ He replied, ‘Then we follow him.’ To this, Malik رحمه الله تعالى said, ‘O servant of Allaah, Allaah sent Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم with a single Deen, but I see you moving from religion to religion. ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd Al-‘Azeez said: ‘Whoever makes his Deen the object of argumentation will frequently change it.'” [Al-Aajoori, ‘Kitab Al-Shari’ah’, vol.1, p. 128]

6. We should (where possible) advise people of the correct sunnah, creed and manners of conduct etc – but must not push people to the point of anger and arguments as this is counter-productive. Mu’tamir ibn Sulayman said: ‘I heard my father say, ‘You can never get a man to listen to you when you have just angered him.’ [ibid]

7. It is equally important not to delve into matters in which one does not have knowledge – nor chase conjecture and thus risk falling into misguidance himself. As Allaah سبحانه و تعالى Said:

وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ

“And follow not that of which you have no knowledge….” [Al-Israa’: 36]

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Wahb ibn al-Munabbih (the great Tabi’i) gave some profound words of advice to his son, thus:

يا بني لا تجادلن العلماء فتهون عليهم فيرفضوك ولا تمارين السفهاء فيجهلوا عليك ويشتموك فإنه يلحق بالعلماء من صبر ورأى رأيهم وينجو من السفهاء من صمت وسكت عنهم ولا تحسبن أنك إذا ماريت الفقيه إلا زدته غيظا دائبا ولا تحمين من قليل تسمعه فيوقعك في كثير تكرهه ولا تفضح نفسك لتشفى غيظك فإن جهل عليك جاهل فلينفعن إياك حلمك وإنك إذا لم تحسن حتى يحسن إليك فما أجرك وما فضلك على غيرك فإذا أردت الفضيلة فأحسن الى من أساء اليك واعف عمن ظلمك وانفع من لم ينفعك وانتظر ثواب ذلك من قبل الله فإن الحسنة الكاملة التي لا يريد صاحبها عليها ثوابا في الدنيا

“O my son, do not argue with the learned ones such lest you become lowly in their sight and thus neglected. And do not dispute with the foolish lest they in turn harm (insult) you (in ignorance). Indeed, the one who reaches the rank of the scholars is through patience and by seeing their point of view. And indeed, the one who is saved from the foolish is he who holds his tongue and remains silent from them. Think not that by arguing with the faqih, you will gain anything except increasing his anger and making him accustomed to that. Do not let your attempt to protect yourself from small matters that you hear, then lead you to fall into great matters which you dislike.

Do not expose yourself for the sake of gratifying your anger, and if an ignorant person harms you then let your forbearance benefit you. If you are someone who does good only when good is done to him, then what is your reward, and what is your virtue over others? Surely, if you wish for reward and virtue, then do good to the one who does you harm, forgive the one who has wronged you, benefit the one who brings you no benefit and wait for the reward of all that from Allah, for that is surely the complete righteous good deed which a person would not want to be merely rewarded for in this lowly world (i.e. he would want his reward to be in the Hereafter).”

[Ibn Hibban, Rawdhat al-’Uqala’, p.196]

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In a profound hadeeth, the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

ما ضل قوم بعد هدى كانوا عليه إلا أوتوا الجدل
“No people fall into misguidance after having been guided except when they are given to constant dispute (among themselves).” [Sunan Tirmidhi, 3253, who graded it as hasan saheeh – graded as hasan by al-Mundiri, Ibn Hajar and others (see ‘Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5633)]

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May Allaah سبحانه و تعالى Help us to perfect our characters.

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