Discussions and Arguments: In light of the Sunnah

Anger

It is very easy to get angered, annoyed or even heated when you know what you are saying is right. Even more so when the opposing side, is seemingly wearing blinkers and cannot take a step back to view ‘the bigger picture.’

How did the prophet (peace be upon him) deal with arguments? Did he raise his voice? Or argue until the other person was disconcerted or had no choice but to remain silent?

It is in human nature to be argumentative, Allah makes mention of this is the Qur’an, “…but man has ever been, most of anything [prone to] dispute.” (Surah Kahf 18:54) And more than often we find the Qur’an reasoning and proving the existence of One Supreme Creator to those who refuse to ‘step back and see the bigger picture.’ Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean being argumentative in nature permits us, or gives us an excuse to argue about every little thing. After all this life is a test, it is up to us to control our tongues and restrain them.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) on several occasions warned against the evil of the tongue. He cautioned Muadh ibn Jabal, “will people be thrown into hell fire on their noses for other than what their tongues reap!?” (Bukhari)

Our tongues will either be for us or against us on the Day of Resurrection, it can be a means of our entry into hell fire if we are not careful. We have to use it wisely if we want it to be in our favour. On the night journey of Al-Miraaj the Prophet (peace be upon him) witnessed some punishments of hell fire, including punishments for what people’s tongues have said, including lies, spreading false rumours etc… We have to hold our tongues, perhaps sometimes it is better to not say anything at all. The Prophet said, “whoever believes in Allah and the last day should speak a good word or remain silent.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Back to the topic of arguments; the Prophet advised us not to get angry, an instruction which he repeated three times to emphasise its importance. He also said, “do not have ikhtilaaf, for the nations before you had ikhtilaaf and they were destroyed.” (Bukhari)

But he didn’t stop there, he even gave us tips on how to calm down. His mission was to teach us a complete way of life. Bukhari and Muslim related that a person who is angry should say “a’uthu billah mina shaytaan ar-rajeem.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) also advised that one who is standing should sit down, and if his anger does not subside, he should lie down, as collected in Abu Dawud. In addition to this, he recommended that an angry person should remain silent (as reported by Ahmad) or make wudhu (Abu Dawud). That is the Sunnah of arguments; to calm down first. In anger, things are said and done which a person may later regret. It is not worth getting worked up only to calm down and regret your actions. When a person is calm they can think logically.

Another Sunnah is to back down, to give in, even if you are right. As hard and damaging to the human ego as this may seem, it is what we are taught as muslims. Back down to prevent the Shaytaan creating a rift between you and your brother or sister. The Prophet said,

“I guarantee a house in paradise for one who gives up arguing, even if he is right.” (Abu Dawud)

Would we not like a house in paradise? For many of us, we get this opportunity almost every day, yet we continue arguing and let this opportunity pass by without a care. Next time you are in an argument, think straight and follow the Sunnah. Admit defeat if you are wrong, or if you have been corrected. Some people find it hard to acknowledge their mistakes. And even if you are not wrong, avoid the argument, and give it up; is not an everlasting abode in Jannah more valuable than a few minutes spent in anger?!

From the prophetic way, is also to make up with the person you argued with. Ask for their forgiveness and forgive them. “Let them forgive and overlook. Would you not love for Allah to forgive you? Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”(An-Nur 24:22) We as muslims are not supposed to cut the ties of kinship. The bond that binds us as muslims is thicker than that of blood, so can we really cut those ties? Moreover, in the Hadith Qudsi narrated by Muslim, the deeds of two who have argued are not taken up until they have mended their relationship.

This is a reminder to myself before any of you. It is so easy and approved of to ‘stand up for what we believe in,’ a slogan which we are brainwashed with. It so interwoven into the fabric of our society, that to back down from an argument, be it major or minor, to accept defeat or remain silent in the face of a quarrel is to be weak and cowardly, even if it is a simple discussion. To back down from your point of view is seen as something wrong, when in reality to persist in arguments is ‘unislamic’ and unethical. Remember “the strong one is not one who wrestles well, but the strong one is the one who controls himself when he is angry” (Muslim).

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