Evils of Debates

>> Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Today we find ourselves constantly arguing with people, let it be about Islam or worldly affairs. And we get so deep into the argument we tend to fall into evils. Imam Ghazzali describes these evils in his Ihya Ulum-Id-Din.
Before I continue I would like to add that Imam Ghazzali divided the topic of debate into two. One topic was the "Rules of Debate" and the other the "Evils of Debates." This post is about the "Evils of Debates." In his work it came after the "Rules of Debates" but I decided for this blog it would be more beneficial that I publish this first, InshAllah.

In The Words of Imam Ghazzali

The following evils arise out of modem debates.

(1) Envy. The Prophet said: Envy consumes good deeds as fire consumes fuels. A debater is never free from envy and hatred. Envy is a burning fire. One who falls in it gets punishment in the world. Hazrat Ibn Abbas said: Acquire knowledge wherever it is found and don't obey the devils who are prone to disputes.

(2) Pride. The Prophet said: A believer cannot have pride in him. There is a Hadis Qudsi in which God said: Grandeur is My cloak and pride is My mantle. I destroy one who snatches anything of these two from Me.

(3) Rancour A debater is seldom free from the evil of rancour. The Prophet said: A believer has got no rancour.

(4) Back-biting which is likened by God to the eating of carrion (49:12). A debater ascribes to his opponent foolishness, ignorance and stupidity.

(5) Declaration of self-purity. God says : Don't attribute purity to yourself. He knows best who fears Him (53 : 33).

(6) Spying and prying into the secrets of adversary. God says: Pry not (49: 12).

(7) Hypocrisy. A debater expresses his friendship for his adversary outwardly but he cherishes hatred for him inwardly. The Prophet said: When the learned men do not translate their learning into action, when they profess love for one another with their tongue and nurse hatred in their hearts, when they sever the ties of relationship. God sends curse upon them, makes their tongues mute and their eyes blind.

(8) To turn away from truth. The most hateful thing to a debater is to reject the truth revealed to his adversary and thus he takes to deception and deceit. The Prophet prohibited dispute about, useless things. He said: If a man gives up disputation in matters of unlawful things, a garden will be built for him in Paradise. If a man gives up disputations in matters of truth, a house will be built up for him in the highest Paradise. God said: He is more wrongful than one who devises a lie against God and calls the truth a lie when it comes to him 29 : 68. God said: Who is more wrongful than he who lies against God and treats the truth when it comes to him as a lie.(39:33)

(9) Another fault of debate is show and Battering the people in an effort to win their favour and to mislead them.

Hypocrisy is the greatest disease with which a debater is attacked and it is a major sin.

(10) Deception. Debaters are compelled to deception. These ten evils are the secret major sins arising out of debates and disputations. Besides these major offences, there arise many other guilts out of controversies leading to blows, kicks, boxing, tearing of garments etc.

The learned men are of three classes. One class comprise those who ruin themselves and also ruin others. Another class make themselves fortunate and make others also fortunate. Such learned men call others towards good. The third class of learned men call ruin to themselves but make others fortunate.