Contention & Argumentation

Contention and argumentation are also not allowed. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: ‘Do not wrangle with your brother, do not tease him and do not fail to fulfil your promise to him.’

He, peace be upon him, also said: ‘Whosoever abstains from contention when he is right, a house will be built for him in the highest place in paradise. And whosoever abstains from contention when he is wrong, a house will be built for him in the lower part of paradise. The definition of contention (mirä’) is to oppose what others say by showing the faults in their speech, either in their wording, meaning or intent. To avoid contention one must abstain from indignation and opposition. With regard to any speech you hear, if it is true you ought to believe in it. If it is wrong or it is a lie, and it does not concern the affairs of the din, then keep quiet about it.

As for argumentation (jidül), this is the intent to defeat others and show their weaknesses; to belittle them by attacking what they say and attribute impotence and ignorance to them. What drives to argumentation is haughtiness, by means of showing Off one’s knowledge and virtue, and attacking others by showing their inadequacy.

Contention and argumentation are two strong, inward whims of the soul. Their domain belongs to the section of the refinement of the soul, and they are an indication of haughtiness and pride.

To cure them, a person must break the pride which drives him to show off his virtue, for the cure of any disease consists of removing its cause. It is reported that Abü Manifa said to Däwüd al-Tää: ‘Why do you prefer seclusion?’ ‘So that I struggle with my soul by leaving argumentation,’ came the answer. Abü Wanifa said: Attend to the assemblies, listen to what is said therein but keep silent.’ Däwüd al-Tää [later] said: ‘I did that, and I found that it was the hardest struggle I ever pursued.’

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