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What is the Ruling on Disputation Concerning Religious Matters?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: Is it haraam to argue with someone about or correct someone in matters of Deen (i.e. fiqh, spirituality, etc.) when one’s intention is only tahqeer or to dominate the person in speech?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum warahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith.

The short answer is yes, arguing with someone with such an intention would be unlawful.

The criteria for disputation and its permissibility is discussed by the 20th century Hanafi jurist Imam Nahlawi, who states:

“Disputation (jidal) deals with explaining and supporting legal or theological positions. If one intends thereby embarrasing one’s opponent or displaying one’s prowess, then it is unlawful (haram)…
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘No people have gone astray after having been guided except that the reason for their going astray was that they were given to disputation.’ He (Allah bless him and grant him peace) then recited, ‘They set forth nothing except argumentation. Nay! They are a contentious people.’ (43:58) [Tirmidhi]

If, however, one intends to make manifest the truth—which is rare—then disputation is permissible and, in fact, recommended.

Allah Most High states, ‘And dispute with them with that which is better’ (16:125), that is, as Imam Baydawi mentions: in the best and most beautiful of ways of reasoning, with gentleness and calmness, in the easiest manner and using the most familiar premises; for that is certainly more beneficial and more effective in extinguishing their rage and exposing their provocation of discord.”

[Nahlawi, Durar Mubaha fil Hazar wal Ibaha]

And Allah knows best.

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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