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Ruling on Holding Debates – by Different Scholars

The Messenger of Allah [صلى اللّٰه عليه وسلم] said:

“No people have deviated after the guidance they were upon except they have held debates”

Then he [صلى اللّٰه عليه وسلم] recited:

مَا ضَرَبُوهُ لَكَ إِلاَّ جَدَلاً بَلْ هُمْ قَوْمٌ خَصِمُونَ

“They quoted not the above example except for argument. Nay! But they are a quarrelsome people.”

(Translation by Mohsin Khan & Al-Hilali)

Source: [At-Tirmidhi, Authenticated by Al-Albani, Translation by THIQA Administration]

Past Scholar Hammad b. Abi Hanifa narrated an incident with his father, Imam Abu Hanifa [رحمهما اللّٰه]:

“My father, may Allah have mercy upon him, he entered upon me one day while a group from the People of Kalam were with me and we were debating in a matter and our voices then raised so when I heard his voice in the house I exited and went to him and then he said to me “Oh Hammad who’s with you? So I said ‘So and so and so’, I named who were with me, he then said ‘What are you on about?’ so I said ‘On the matter of such and such’ so he then said ‘Oh Hammad, leave Kalam’ and I did not believe my father to be one who changes and one who commands a thing and then forbids it so I said to him ‘Oh father did you not command me with this?’ so he said ‘Yes my son and today I forbid you’ so I said ‘And why that?’ so he said ‘My son indeed they differ in the matters of Kalam from those you see, they were upon one word and one religion until Shaytdan caused them to dispute and casted enmity and differing so they contrasted.’”

Source: [Manaqib Abi Hanifah by Al-Makki 184 – 183]

When Past Scholar, Imam Malik [رحمه اللّٰه] was approached by a man who said to him:

“I want to debate with you.” He (Imam Malik) said “I know my religion. I don’t doubt like you do. So go find someone who doubts like you do, and you two debate.”

Source: [Hilyatul-Awliya of Al-Hafidh Abu Nu’aym Al-Asfahani 9/112 Translation Verified]

He [رحمه اللّٰه] was asked by Al-Haytham b. Jamil [رحمه اللّٰه]

“Does a scholar of the Sunnah debate on it (the Sunnah)”

So he (Malik) replied:

“No rather he informs the Sunnah, and if it is not accepted he keeps quiet”

Source: [Jami’ Bayanil-‘Ilm by Ibn ‘Abdil-Bir, Translation by THIQA Administration]

He [رحمه اللّٰه] also said:

“Debates aren’t a thing from the religion.”

Source: [Siyar I’lam An-Nubala. Translation by THIQA Administration]

Past Jurist, Imām Ash-Shāfi’i [رحمه اللّٰه] said:

“I never debated anyone whom I knew to be established upon innovation.”

Source: [Manāqibush-Shāfi’i 1/175, Translation Verified]

He [رحمه اللّٰه] also said:

“Disputing in knowledge hardens the heart and inherits grudges”

Source: [Shu’bul-Iman, Translation by THIQA Administration]

Also he [رحمه اللّٰه] said:

“I did not debate with the People of Kalam except once and I seek Allah’s forgiveness from that”

Source: [Al-Adab Ash-Shar’iah by Ibn Muflih, Translation by THIQA Administration]

And he [رحمه اللّٰه] said:

“If the idiot addresses you then don’t answer him for silence is better than answering him and if you do speak to him then you have aided him, and if you leave him (with no response) then in grief he dies.”

And

“”The foolish addresses me with all that’s disgraceful, but I hate to respond to him. The more ignorant he proves, the more patient I become. Just like the incense, the more it burns, the more it’s fragrant.”

Source: [Ad-Diwan by Ash-Shafi’i, Translation by THIQA Administration]

Past Jurist, Imam Ahmad [رحمه اللّٰه] said:

“The foundations of the Sunnah with us is holding on to what the Companions of the Messenger of Allah [صلى اللّٰه عليه وسلم] are upon and following them and leaving innovation and that every innovation is a deviation and leaving disputes, debates and arguing in the religion.”

Source: [Tdabaqatul-Hanabil, Translation by THIQA Administration]

He [رحمه اللّٰه] was once asked by someone:

“If I was in a sitting where no one but me knows the sunnah and then an innovator begins to speak in it, do I answer him?”

So he replied “Ignore him and explain the Sunnah and do not debate.”

So I repeated my statement to him so he said

“I don’t see you except as one who debates!”

Source: [Tdabaqatul-Hanabilah, Translation by THIQA Administration]

Past Jurist, Imam Al-Layth b. Sa’d [رحمه اللّٰه] said:

“I reached eighty and I never debated with a follower of a desires ever.”

Source: [Dhammul-Kalam Wa Ahlih by Al-Muqri, Translation by THIQA Administration]

Past Jurist, Imam Al-Hasan Al-Basri [رحمه اللّٰه] said:

“Don’t sit with the People of Desires, don’t debate with them and don’t listen to them.”

& He [رحمه اللّٰه] was once approached by a man who said:

“I’m willing to debate you in the religion.”

So he [رحمه اللّٰه] said:

“I indeed know my religion so if your religion is lost then go look for it.”

Source: [Al-Ibanah by Ibn Batdah & Tdabaqatul-Hanabilah by Ibn Abi Ya’la Translation by THIQA Administration]

Past Jurist, Imam Al-Awza’i [رحمه اللّٰه] said:

“When Allah wants bad for a people, he causes them to debate and prevents them from (beneficial & good) actions.”

Source: [Al-Adab Ash-Shar’ah by Ibn Muflih]

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