الحَمْدُ للهِ، الحَمْدُ للهِ الذي خَلَقَ الإِنْسانَ، وجعل له العقل واللسان، وأنطقه وعلّمه الكلام، نَحْمَدُهُ تعالى ونستعينه، ونشكره تعالى ونستغفره ونستغيثه، نعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا، مَنْ يَهْدِ اللهُ فلا مضل له، ومَنْ يُضلِلْ فَلاَ هَادِيَ لَهُ، ونَشْهَدُ أَنْ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لاَ شَرِيكَ لَهُ، له الملك وله الحمد، يحيي ويميت، بيده الخير، وهو على كل شيء قدير، ونشْهَدُ أَنَّ سَيِّدَنَا ومولانا مُحَمَّداً عَبْدُه وَرَسُولُهُ، وحبيبه وصفيه، بلغ الرسالة وأدّى الأمانة ونصح الأمّة، النبي الأمي الذي أرسله الله بالهدى والدين الحقّ، بشيرا ونذيرا بين يدي الساعة، صلى الله عليه وسلم وعَلَى آلِهِ وأَصْحابِهِ ومَنْ تَبِعَهم بإِحْسانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّيْنِ.
أَمَّا بَعْدُ، فَيَا عِبَادَ اللهِ اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون، يا أيها الذين آمنوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا، يُصْلِحْ لَكُم أَعْمَالَكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَمَنْ يُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ فَازَ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا، يا أيها المسلمون اتقوا الله فيما أوصى وأمر، وانتهوا عما نها عنه وزجر.
Personal opinion, ra’y, putting across your own point of view – this is considered an important and fundamental value of modern society, one of the cornerstones upon which it has been built, a basic human right. Everyone must be free to voice an opinion, about anything and everything, no matter how outlandish and no matter how defamatory. “Truth is not absolute, it is in the eye of the beholder, and so validity can be found in every point of view”. This is what many of us have been taught in school, and encouraged to do in university. And now we live in an age where we can make those viewpoints heard on a much larger scale than every more. There is not just TV and radio, but now there is the internet. Anyone can open a blog, and anyone can join an internet forum. Anyone can be on facebook or twitter. Social media has exploded in a way never known before. It is now exceptionally easy to express your view or reject somebody elses. And that ease is seductive – before you realise it, you have posted something inflammatory and ill-conceived, maybe true but often ambiguous, something that leads to argumentation and debate rather than guidance and right action. Even the people of knowledge are guilty of it, such is the nature of the forum. The desire to refute and overcome, spurred on by indignation, swiftly overpowers the desire to guide. Emotion overwhelms good judgement and all that results is an argument and slanging match.
A recent example of this took place in Bradford, England. A young ‘alim posted a few thoughts on facebook on the value of celebrating the mawlid, and another alim, Wahhabi in orientation, posted a refutation in response. So the first scholar responded. And each one continued to respond to the other with their followers joining in, until it became a full-blown argument and slanging match, with insults and accusations flying back and forth. And now, the two groups are even fighting each other on the streets. And all the good work of the scholar has been destroyed, for prior to this exchange he had been having considerable success in pulling young Muslims from the clubs to his youth centre, but no more. All the good will and respect he had built up has largely been eroded, all because of miraa’. One of the salaf said,
من مارى الإخوان قلت مروءته وذهبت كرامته
“He who engages his brothers in argumentation becomes less of a man and loses his nobility.” People’s respect for him diminishes, and his ability to do good in society lessens as a result. The Arabic word used here, miraa’, means argumentation, direct criticism of another’s words to his face, whether that involve finding fault with their meaning or finding fault with their language and the ways the words are expressed, such as pointing out his weak grammar or poor spelling. The purpose of miraa’ is not necessarily to arrive at the truth, but to prove and show up the other party as being wrong. Its consequences are never good, as our story indicates. The Prophet said,
ذروا المراء لقلة خيره وذروا المراء فإن نفعه قليل وإنه يهيج العداوة بين الإخوان
“Leave argumentation for there is little good in it. Leave argumentation for it brings little benefit. Instead, it stirs up enmity among brothers.” Friends swiftly become enemies. and resentment rears its ugly head. Ash-Shafi’i said,
المراء في الدين يقسِّي القلب ويورث الضغائن
“Arguing about the deen hardens the heart and breeds resentment.” This applies even when you are right and are speaking the truth, for argumentation and debate is a slippery slope – even when you start on a sound footing, the back and forth degenerates all too swiftly. The methods of communication do not lend themselves to reflection or deep consideration but rather to personal jibes and attacks. And that is what Shaytan wants. Allah says,
إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَن يُوقِعَ بَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةَ وَالْبَغْضَاء
the translation of which is, “Shaytan wants nothing but for enmity and hatred to come between you.” And so he actively encourages such forms of debate, spurring on his friends and allies to whip you up into a frenzy whereby you forgot yourself, leave aside your knowledge and forget what you represent. Allah says,
وَإِنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَ لَيُوحُونَ إِلَى أَوْلِيَائِهِمْ لِيُجَادِلُوكُمْ
the translation of which is, “Shaytan inspires his friends and allies to engage you in argumentation and debate.” There is a TV programme recently in the UK called ‘Big Questions’. On their most recent episode, they debated the question “Do we need a British Islam?” and invited a number of Muslims to participate. The host, Nicky Campbell, was not however, interested in having a reasoned conversation, but rather wanted to create an atmosphere of mistrust and antagonisim, for that makes better and more exciting television. And so he led his panel there by means of a series of cleverly selected questions and comments. And by the end of the show, the only impression one was left with was that the Muslims were hostile, antagonistic and could not agree with one another about anything. By their participation all they had succeeded in doing was painting Islam in a very negative light. In his article on this show, my father writes, “At the end of the programme Nicky Campbell turned his back on the audience and faced the camera, ostensibly to give the details of the next week’s programme, but as he did so he raised his eyebrows as if to say: ‘If this is British Islam, no thank you!’” This is what results from engaging in such debates that encourage one to toss aside knowledge in favour of personal opinion, You emerge with a puffed-up sense of your own person when all you have succeeded in doing is leading yourself and others astray. Allah says,
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُجَادِلُونَ فِي آيَاتِ اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ سُلْطَانٍ أَتَاهُمْ إِنْ فِي صُدُورِهِمْ إِلاَّ كِبْرٌ
the translation of which is, “Certainly those who argue about the Signs of Allah without any authority having come to them have nothing in their breasts except for pride which they will never be able to vindicate.” And the Prophet said,
ما ضل قوم بعد هدىً كانوا عليه إلا أوتوا الجدل
“People only go astray after having received guidance when they start to resort to argumentation.” If you ever find yourself in such a position, then take care and guard your tongue. And do not allow a response to be elicited from you. Do not allow your emotions to rule you. Do not react, but rather stop and reflect. It is only when your intention is purely for Allah that something good can come from what you say. When Sayyidina Ali was spat on by a man whom he was about to slay on the battlefield, he held off from killing him, saying that he was afraid his intention would then not purely have been for Allah. The same care must be taken with your words. Debate is not for everyone. Do not feel that simply becomes someone says something inflammatory about Islam you must respond. Sometimes, silence is the best response. The Prophet said,
من ترك المراء وهو محق بني له بيت في أعلى الجنة ومن ترك المراء وهو مبطل بني له بيت في ربض الجنة
“He who does not engage in argumentation when he is in the right will have a house built for him in the highest part of the Garden, while he who does not engage in argumentation when he is in the wrong will have a house built for him in the bottom of the Garden.” So hold your tongue and instead of trying to teach by your words, speak by your actions. Al-Awza’i said,
إذا أراد الله بقوم شرًا ألزمهم الجدل ومنعهم العمل
“When Allah wants bad for a people, he makes argumentation feel compulsory for them and prevents them from acting.” We ask our Lord to make us people of action and not just words.
أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين من كل ذنب فاستغفروه إنه هو الغفور الرَّحيم
الحمد لله الحمد لله رب العالمين، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمداً عبده ورسوله، صلى الله وسلم وبارك عليه وعلى آله وصحبه، والتابعين وتابعي التابعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.
أما بعد! فيأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله ما استطعتم واسمعوا وأطيعوا وأنفقوا خيرا لأنفسكم. يا عباد الله أوصيكم وإياي بتقوى الله وطاعته وأحذركم وإياي عن معصيته ومخالفته.
Debate is not always blameworthy. Indeed, it can be the complete opposite – it can be praiseworthy and even necessary. The Prophets were commanded to do it. Allah says, transmitting the words of the people of Nuh,
قَالُوا يَا نُوحُ قَدْ جَادَلْتَنَا فَأَكْثَرْتَ جِدَالَنَا
the translation of which is, “They said, ‘Nuh, you have debated with us and debated much.’” And we are commanded to emulate the Prophets, but in this particular case, we can only emulate them if we fulfil certain requirements and meet certain criteria. And aside from speaking the truth, those are knowledge, wisdom and fine words. And by knowledge, we mean knowledge of the deen, knowledge stemming from the Quran and Sunna, not knowledge based on hawa or humanist ideas of what constitute universal truths. The only real truth comes from the Haqq. Allah says,
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُجَادِلُونَ فِي آيَاتِ اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ سُلْطَانٍ أَتَاهُمْ إِنْ فِي صُدُورِهِمْ إِلاَّ كِبْرٌ مَا هُمْ بِبَالِغِيهِ
the translation of which is, “Certainly those who argue about the Signs of Allah without any authority having come to them have nothing in their breasts except for pride which they will never be able to vindicate.” And Allah says,
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يُجَادِلُ فِي اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّبِعُ كُلَّ شَيْطَانٍ مَرِيدٍ كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ مَنْ تَوَلَّاهُ فَأَنَّهُ يُضِلُّهُ وَيَهْدِيهِ إِلَى عَذَابِ السَّعِيرِ
the translation of which is, “Among people there is one who argues about Allah without knowledge, and follows every rebellious shaytan. It is written of him that if anyone takes him as a friend, he will mislead him and guide him to the punishment of the Searing Blaze.” In other words, if your argument is based on clear knowledge, then none of this applies. And your argumentation then becomes praiseworthy, not blameworthy. Allah says,
فَلَا تُمَارِ فِيهِمْ إِلَّا مِرَاءً ظَاهِرًا
the translation of which is, “So do not enter into any argument concerning them, except in relation to what is clearly known.” but knowledge alone is not enough if it is not accompanied by hikma and speaking fine words. Allah says,
ادْعُ إِلَى سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ وَجَادِلْهُمْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ
the translation of which is, “Call to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and good admonition, and argue with them in the best of ways” In other words, you choose the words to fit the situation and the person, and you avoid antagonism and points-winning. It should not be your aim to show up the other person or belittle them for their viewpoint – it should not be your method to ridicule and insult them, no matter how ridiculous you find their position to be. That will only make matters worse and cause them to become entrenched in their position. That will only breed antagonism. Allah says,
وَلاَ تَسُبُّوا الَّذِيْنَ يَدْعُوْنَ مِنْ دُوْنِ اللهِ فَيَسُبُّوا اللهَ عَدْوًا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ
the translation of which is, “Do not curse those they call on other than Allah, for they will then start to curse Allah out of enmity and without knowledge.” And finally, you should only engage in a debate if you expect there to be benefit. If prior experience has shown you that the forum you are in, or the people you are engaged with, are deaf and unresponsive, then you should desist and use your knowledge and energy for something more constructive. Allah says,
فَذَكِّرِ اِن نَّفَعَتِ الذِّكْرَى
the translation of which is, “Remind when reminding is of benefit.” Debate is not for everyone, it is not even for all the ulama as my story in the first khutba illustrated. It is a tool that can be of benefit when placed in the right hands and used in the right way and the right circumstances, but for the vast majority of us, it is a path to ruin and destruction, a breeding ground for enmity and resentment. Social media is a dangerous platform and we would all do well to give great thought to anything and everything we post therein, especially when we are discussing the deen. Far better to desist than engage. We ask Allah to give us wisdom and discrimination, and make us people of useful action, rather than pointless words. We ask that He place love, respect and brotherhood between us, and make that the basis for all our dealings with one another, and that He protect us from resentment, hatred and enmity. We ask that He join our hearts together in the way that He alone can do.
إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ، يَا أَيُهَا الذِينَ آمَنُواْ صَلُّواْ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً.
اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ وَبَارِكْ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ أَجْمَعِينَ. وَارْضَ اللَّهُمَّ عَنِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ وَعُثْمَانَ وَعَلِيٍّ، وعن أم المومنين عائشة التي أمرنا الله في سورة النور أن ندافع عنها، وَعَنْ سَائِرِ الصَّحَابَةِ أَجْمَعِينَ، خُصُوصاً اِلأَنْصَارَ مِنْهُمْ وَالمُهَاجِرِينَ، وَعَنِ التَّابِعِينَ وَتَابِعِي التَّابِعِينَ وَمَنْ تَبِعَهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّينِ.
اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِ وُلَاةَ أُمُورِ المُسْلِمِينَ لِمَا يُرْضِيكَ وَلِاتِّبَاعِ سُنَّةِ نَبِيِّكَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَهُمْ عَلَى الصِّرَاطِ المُسْتَقِيمِ، وَأَصْلِحْهُمْ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى شَيْخِنَا، وَعَلَى أَمِيرِنَا، وَعَلَى جَمِيعِ أُمَرَاءِ وَزُعَمَاءِ المُسْلِمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى المُسْلِمِينَ فِي هَذِهِ المَدِينَةِ، وَوَفِّقْهُمْ لِمَا تُحِبُّهُ وَتَرْضَاهُ يَا أَكْرَمَ الأَكْرَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ أَعِزَّ الإِسْلَامَ وَالمُسِْلمِينَ، وَاخْذُلِ الْكُفْرَ وَالْكَافِرِينَ، وَانْصُرِ المُجَاهِدِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ. وَاجْعَلْ كَلِمََتَكَ هِيَ العُلْيَا وَكَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ هِيَ السُّفْلَى.
رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقَِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ.
إِنَّ اللهَ يَامُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى، وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ، يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَّكَّرُونَ، وَلَذِكْرُ اللهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ. وَقُومُواْ إِلَى صَلاتِكُمْ يَرْحَمُكُمُ اللهُ.