I Begin With The Name Of Allah, The Most Merciful, The One Who Bestows Mercy
Alhumdulillah. Indeed, all praise is due to Allah. We praise Him and seek His Help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from our soul’s evils and our wrong doings. He whom Allah guides, no one can misguide; and he whom He misguides, no one can guide.
I bear witness that there is no god except Allah – alone without any partners. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger.
O Allah, send prayers upon Muhammad and the followers of Muhammad, just as You sent prayers upon Ibrahim and upon the followers of Ibrahim, verily you are full of praise and majesty. O Allah, send blessings upon Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad, just as You sent blessings upon Ibrahim and upon the family of Ibrahim, verily, You are full of praise and majesty.
Respected Brothers and Sisters! Unnecessary Arguments over issues in the religion of Islam should be avoided as much as possible. Disputing and debating theological, legal, or historical matters will often lead to the hardening of hearts, bad feelings, and even hatred. As such, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) has warned us that the nations before us went astray due to their indulgence in argumentation.
Dear Brothers and Sisters! In sessions, forums and dialogue, it is easy to observe people engaged in arguments, debate and disputes that may arouse discord and hostility. This is an evil and incurable characteristic that occupies many people.
– Dispute Is Part Of Man’s Nature!
The Qur’an clearly states that man is naturally argumentative, despite the evidence, arguments, proofs, clear signs and varied examples that he sees. Allah the Almighty says:
“And We have certainly diversified in this Qur’an for the people from every (kind of) example; but man has ever been, most of anything, (prone to) dispute.” [Qur’an, 18:54]
* Two Types Of Dispute:
Disputes are either disliked or laudable. They can be commendable when they are intended to show the truth, to direct others or to call them to it. This is what Allah ordered the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to adopt. Allah the Most High says:
“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is Most Knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is (rightly) guided.” [Qur’an, 16:125]
And He says:
“And do not argue with the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them, and say, We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. And our Lord and your Lord is One; and we are Muslims (in submission) to Him.“‘ [Qur’an, 29:46]
Abdullah Ibn Abbas debated with the Khawarij, extremists at the time of Ali Ibn Abi Talib in compliance with the latter’s order. Ibn Abbas and his father, informed and educated them beyond the excuse of ignorance and then renounced them. Consequently, many of them renounced their religious innovations. That was an example of a praiseworthy argument that helps to show the truth with corroborative evidence.
Another kind of dispute, which is the subject of our discussion, depends on falsehood, and it has many forms:
* Dispute To Conceal The Truth
Dispute may be used to suppress the light of truth and to distract people from it. Allah the Almighty says:
“And indeed do the devils inspire their allies (among men) to dispute with you. And if you were to obey them, indeed, you would be associators (of others with Him).” [Qur’an, 6:121]
And He the Most High said:
“They disputed by (using) falsehood to (attempt to) invalidate thereby the truth. So I seized them, and how (terrible) was My Penalty.” [Qur’an, 40:5]
“And among them are those who listen to you, but We have placed over their hearts coverings, lest they understand it, and in their ears deafness. And if they should see every sign, they will not believe in it. Even when they come to you arguing with you, those who disbelieve say, “This is not but legends of the former peoples.”” [Qur’an, 6:25]
Respected Servants of Allah! Arrogance is the motivation behind this sort of dispute – the arrogance that prevents people from accepting the truth and acting upon it. Allah the Most High says:
“Indeed, those who dispute concerning the Signs of Allah without (any) authority having come to them – there is not within their breasts except pride, (the extent of) which they cannot reach. So seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, it is He who is The Hearing, The Seeing.” [Qur’an, 40:56]
This sort of dispute destroys, misleads, blinds and makes those who practice it losers on the Day of Resurrection. Allah the Almighty says:
“And of the people is he who disputes about Allah without knowledge and follows every rebellious devil. It has been decreed for every devil that whoever turns to him – he will misguide him and will lead him to the punishment of the Blaze.” [Qur’an, 22:3-4]
And He says:
“And of the people is he who disputes about Allah without knowledge or guidance or an enlightening book [from Him], twisting his neck [in arrogance] to mislead [people] from the way of Allah. For him in the world is disgrace, and We will make him taste on the Day of Resurrection the punishment of the Burning Fire.” [Qur’an, 22:8-9]
* Dispute In Showing One’s Merit And Belittling Others!
This is a great evil that only few people manage to avoid. It is the habit of many in their speaking as well as in their sessions and forums. This sort of dispute is aroused by a person’s feeling of superiority and intelligence, and his attempts to deprecate the opinions of others. This is a sign of deviation. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“No people have gone astray after the guidance they used to follow except because of their engagement in disputes.” Then he (Peace be upon him) recited the verse: “They did not present the comparison except for (mere) argument. But, (in fact), they are a people prone to dispute [Qur’an, 43:58].” [Ibn Majah, and Imam Al-Albani declared it to be Hasan]
Allah does not like this kind of people. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“The most hated person in the sight of Allah is the most quarrelsome one.” [Al-Bukhari]
People who build their arguments upon falsehood expose themselves to the wrath of Allah The Exalted. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“If a person engages in a dispute based on falsehood while he knows that it is falsehood, he incurs the wrath of Allah on himself until he stops.” [Abu Dawud, and Imam Al-Albani declared it to be Sahih]
Knowing that this kind of dispute is difficult for people to avoid, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) assured those who abandon it that they would thereby receive a magnificent reward; He (Peace be upon him) said:
“I guarantee a palace on the outskirts of Paradise for a man who avoids quarrelling even if he is right.” [Abu Dawud, and Imam Al-Albani declared it to be Hasan]
These people are in grave danger, and their attitude indicates deviation in their hearts. Allah the Almighty says:
“It is He who has sent down to you, (O Muhammad), the Book; in it are verses (that are) precise – they are the foundation of the Book – and others unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation (from truth), they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation (suitable to them). And no one knows its (true) interpretation except Allah. But those firm in knowledge say, “We believe in it. All (of it) is from our Lord.” And no one will be reminded except those of understanding.” [Qur’an, 2:7]
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) read this verse and said to one of his wives:
“O Aisha, when you see those who dispute concerning the Qur’an, be sure that they are whom Allah intended here; so beware of them.” [Ibn Majah, and Imam Al-Albani declared it to be Sahih]
* Dispute Makes People Lose Out On Good!
This sort of dispute causes the loss of good. Ubadah Ibn As-Samit said:
“The Prophet (Peace be upon him) once came out to inform us about the (date of the) Night of Al-Qadr. However, a quarrel took place between two Muslim men. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: ‘I had come out to inform you about (the date of) the Night of Al-Qadr, but due to the quarrel that occurred between so and so, its knowledge was taken away, and maybe this is better for you. Now, look for it in the seventh, the ninth and the fifth (of the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan).’” [Al-Bukhari]
As it leads to the loss of good and mars acts of worship, such disputes were declared impermissible. Allah the Most High says:
“Pilgrimage is (during) well-known months, so whoever had made Pilgrimage obligatory upon himself therein (by entering the state of Ihram), there is (to be for him) no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during Pilgrimage.” [Qur’an, 2:197]
This form of dispute causes grudges and enmity among people.
* Disputing For Usurping The Rights Of Others!
The most evil form of all is disputing to usurp the rights of others. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“I am merely a human being, and you (disputants) come to me with your cases. Someone may present his case eloquently and in a more convincing way than another. I give my verdict according to what I hear. So if ever I judge (by error) and give the right of a brother to his other (brother), then he (the latter) should not take it, for I am giving him only a piece of the Fire.” [Al-Bukhari]
“A person from Hadhramawt and another from Kindah once came to the Prophet (Peace be upon him). The one who came from Hadhramawt said, “O Messenger of Allah, this man has appropriated a land which belonged to my father.” The one who came from Kindah said, “The land is mine and it is in my possession. I cultivate it and he has no right to it.” The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said to the Hadhramite: “Do you have any evidence [to support you]?” He replied in the negative. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “Your case is then to be decided by his oath.” The Hadhramite said, “O Messenger of Allah, he is a liar and cares not what he swears and has no regard for anything.” The Prophet (Peace be upon him) remarked: “You have no right to demand anything from him except that (which you stated).” The man from Kindah then set out to take an oath. When he left the Messenger (Peace be upon him) said: “If he has taken an oath on his property to consume it unjustly, he will certainly meet Allah while He is turning away from (i.e., shunning) him.” [Al-Bukhari]
* The Righteous Predecessors (Salaf as-Salih) Warned Against Dispute:
As disputes that are based on falsehood or not based on evidence result in such previously-mentioned harms, the righteous predecessors warned against disputes and advised us to avoid them. The following are some reported citations in this regard.
Prophet Sulaiman said to one of his sons:
“Avoid dispute, for it is of little benefit, and it stirs enmity among brothers.”
Ibn Abbas and his father, said:
“What a sinful action it is for you to be disputant.”
Imam Al-Awza‘i said:
“If Allah wants evil to befall some people, He keeps them in continuous dispute and makes them stop doing (good deeds).”
Muhammad Ibn Husain Ibn Ali said:
“Dispute erases one’s religion and implants enmity among people.”
Abdullah Ibn Al-Hasan Ibn Al-Husain was asked:
“What do you think of dispute?” He replied, “It spoils old friendship and severs firm relations. It is at the very least a means of overpowering others in argument, which is the strongest cause for the severance of relations.”
Haitam Ibn Jamil reported that: I said to Imam Malik:
“O servant of Allah, if a man has knowledge of the Prophetic Hadith (Sunnah), should he argue to defend it?” Imam Malik said: No, rather he should convey the Sunnah if they might accept it from him, otherwise he should remain silent.” [Jami’ al-Ulum wal Hikam]
Imam Ash-Shafi’i said:
“Dispute in religion hardens hearts and causes grudges.”
In the past, it was said:
“Do not dispute with either a forbearing or a foolish person – the former will overcome you and the latter will harm you.”
Dear Servants of Allah! Allah the Almighty has told the believers if they indulge in unnecessary dispute and arguments they will lose their unity and power. He the Most High says:
“And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not quarrel with one another lest you should lose courage and your power depart. Be steadfast, surely Allah is with those who remain steadfast.” [Qur’an, 8:46]
* Some Quotes From Wise Men About The Dangers Of Unnecessary Arguments:
“Arguments are to be avoided, they are always vulgar and often convincing.” – Oscar Wilde
“You can’t win an argument. You can’t because if you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it.” – Dale Carnegie
“Sometimes, silence is the best way to win an argument.” – Jorge P. Guerrero
“Discussion is an exchange of knowledge, argument an exchange of ignorance.” – Robert Quillen
“Arguments of convenience lack integrity and inevitably trip you up.” – Donald Rumsfeld
“I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.” – Edward Gibbon
“Arguments are often like melodramas, they have a predictable beginning, middle, and end.” – Gay Hendricks
“The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion.” – G. K. Chesterton
“There’s no winning arguments with your parents.” – Wendelin Van Draanen
“I think the biggest mistake I made was this wretched ability to see both sides of an argument.” – John Major
Therefore, Dear Brothers and Sisters! We should avoid getting into detailed, rancorous and unnecessary arguments with the followers of other religions or sects within Islam. This will only obscure the beauty of Islam and put us in danger of falling into arrogance, showing off, and hypocrisy. Rather, we must invite people to Islam in the best way and with the best manners.
O Allah, keep us away from dispute and the disputant, and help us to be upright, and do not let our hearts deviate after You have guided us. Ameen.
Respected Brothers and Sisters! I ask Allah to assist us in living by the Qur’an and Sunnah. I pray He lets us recognise the truth for what it is and helps us to follow it, and that He lets us see falsehood for what it is and helps us to avoid it.
O Allah! Guide us and protect us from the causes of ignorance and destruction! Save us o Allah from the defects of ourselves! Cause the last of our deeds to be the best and most righteous! And forgive all of us.
Dear Servants of Allah! Anything good I have said in my today’s Sermon is from Allah the Almighty, and any mistakes are my own and I seek refuge in Allah from giving wrong advice and from all forms of calamities and fitnah.
I ask Allah’s forgiveness if I stepped beyond bounds in anything I said or I do.
May Allah be praised; and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and upon his family and Companions.
With this I conclude my today’s Sermon, and I ask Allah, the Almighty and the Sublime, to forgive all of our sins. So seek his forgiveness, He is All-forgiving and Most-Merciful.
Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, writes from Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org or +2348038289761.