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Lesson Twenty Eight: Indirect Obedience ( Part II) G
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The Message of the Book May Remain Locked in its Pages

Example 7 – Debating

Debating is popular in schools and that is fine. However, we should understand how we can benefit from debating, and how it can lead us astray. After all, according to a hadith narrated by Aisha (A.S) ,"The person Allah (S.W.A) hates most is an argumentative debater or a quarrelsome person "(Bukhari, vol.3,bk 43,no. 637) . There are two ways of debating; one way is to debate and advance truth, and another way is to debate to win an argument. Those who debate to advance truth view each other as partners in pursuing truth. Those who contend to win an argument assume an adversarial stance. Muslims can only argue to advance truth and justice. We are seekers of truth. Therefore, we must remain open to all view points-absorbing those that guide to truth and justice and rejecting those that deviate.To argue to advance truth and justice is encouraged by Allah (S.W.A), and here is His guidance to us:

“ Invite (all) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best: for your Lord knows best who has strayed from his path and who receives guidance. (16:125)”

“And if you do catch them out, catch them out no worse than they caught you out: but if you show patience that is indeed the best (course) for those who are patient. (16:126)”

“And do you be patient, for your patience is but from Allah; nor grieve over them: and distress not yourself because of their plots. (16:127)”

“For Allah is with those who restrain themselves, and those who do good. (16:128)”

“ And dispute you not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury), but say, ‘We believe in the revelation which came down to you; Our God and your God is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)."

T o debate to win an argument is what we must watch out for. It is meant to grow seeds of contention in us. Being argumentative is a weakness. Argumentative people normally lack depth. They  almost always win the short term, superficial and apparent benefits of the argument, but they lose the core and the long term benefits that are embeded in the truth and justice of the argument. When we argue or debate to gain a personal win, we are self serving and our work is devoid of blessings. When we debate for the best idea or ideas to emerge and prevail, then we argue for truth, and therefore for Allah (S.W.A). We must never open our hearts to argumentative debates. We must remember that in a debate or an argument or a confrontation of some sort, our aim firmly remains seeking to gain a deep understanding of the argument and construe truth. Inability to listen attentively and to appreciate the opponent’s ideas when deserving, leads to polemic debates.

Debates may be fun in schools with adrenalin raised by occasional wins. Unfortunately, if these debates manage to teach us to look only at the superficial part of the argument to be able to win, while neglecting the depth and truth underlying the argument, we are in trouble. Argumentative debates cause disagreements, and disagreements cause bitterness and ruin relationships. In the real world, people who live together and enjoy satisfying relationships as bosses and workers, husbands and wives, parents and children, friends and neighbors, cannot afford being contentious; they must be those who seek to understand and make better the situation by adopting what is best of the argument. If you have learned to argue for the sake of arguing and winning, you should consider unlearning it. It will ruin your future relationships with people who will matter a lot to you.

Incessant questioning and arguing go hand in hand. Allah (S.W.A) already warned us that such attitude and behavior will most certainly lead us away from truth and justice.

Arguments are not good for the soul. Apart from the elation of winning, arguments can be accompanied by disappointments of defeat,  feelings of hollowness, and they are a drain on our energy. Here is  Allah (S.W.A)'s counsel: 

“Oh you who believe! When you met a force, be firm, and call Allah in remembrance much (And often); that you may prosper: (

“And obey Allah and His Messenger; and fall into no disputes, lest you lose heart and your power depart; and be patient and persevering: for Allah is with those who patiently persevere. (

How do we know we have become argumentative debaters? Our ideas become shallow; our questions attack rather than explore other people’s ideas; our ideas do not produce anything new, but aim at destroying the opponent’s ideas; our ideas and questions annoy other people. People may not tell us that we are annoying, but they normally avoid conversing with us, and in most cases, they walk away from us in the middle of a conversation. Argumentative debaters teach nothing and learn nothing. If all these elements are present in you, then you are it and you have to unlearn it. On the contrary, we must learn to inquire and explore ideas, seeking to understand, to learn and to improve our knowledge bases and ourselves as people. If ever you are to argue, argue for truth; argue for justice.