Reflection No. 200 on Q 18:54 – Arguing Reasonably
Walaqad sarrafnā fī hadhal-Qur’āni linnāsi min kulli mathal.
Wa kānal-insānu akthara shay’in jadala
Surely, We have made this Quran replete with every kind of parable for human being.
But man is, in most things, disputative.
(Sūratul Kahf, No.18, Āyat 54)
The Holy Quran has many beautiful examples and lessons for people. Despite this there are those who persist in arguing and disputing the Truth. The last part of the verse above talks about those who refuse to listen to the truth, arguing stubbornly about their own ideas and whims.
On the other hand, arguing with others to convince them of the truth is liked and encouraged in Islam when it is done in the right way. The Holy Quran says, and dispute with them in a manner that is best (Q 16:125). It should be done with the right intention, in defense and support of the Truth, to remove doubts and misconceptions, and at the same time be respectful of the other party. A successful argument overlooks the issue of perceived loss of power or dignity. It is not to overpower the other person and emerge as the winner. Rather it is an exercise in bringing another to see the truth.
Arguing is a common part of daily life. Most relationships will have an argument sometimes. A healthy argument is a good way of resolving conflict. The following points are given by Islam as a successful method of argument:
- Appeal to reason. When the Almighty tells the Prophet (s) to argue with the polytheists, He mentions things about which they should think about. Is He who created the heavens and the earth, and sends down for you water from the sky, whereby We grow delightful gardens, whose trees you could never cause to grow? What! Is there a god besides Allah? . . . Is He who made the earth an abode [for you], and made rivers [flowing] through it, and set firm mountains for it, and set a barrier between the two seas? What! Is there a god besides Allah? (Q 27:60-61). The polytheists are told to ponder for themselves and then decide who is right.
- Do not offend. Says the Holy Quran: And do not abuse those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest exceeding the limits they should abuse Allah out of ignorance (Q 6:109). When abusive things are said to a person it is natural for him to react accordingly. Hurtful things are hurled back and forth, leading to more bitterness and anger.
- Be fair. Acknowledge what is right so the other party does not think you are hiding and covering the truth. The Holy Quran states beautifully: they ask you about wine and gambling. Say, ‘There is a great sin in both of them, and some profits for the people, but their sinfulness outweighs their profit’ (Q 2:219).
- Repel evil with good. To be able to return evil with good shows great strength of character and can often yield surprising results. Allah says: Repel [evil] with what is best. [If you do so,] behold, he between whom and you was enmity, will be as though he were a sympathetic friend (Q 41:34).
When getting into an argument remember the verse above. Ask the Almighty for help to stay away from the wrong ways of arguing. Keep in mind the above points and help that strengthen your relationship.
Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (ed.),Tafsīre Namune;
and the article http://rasekhoon.net/article/show/165595