5 June 2008

Adab of Discussions and Debates

When it comes to discussions and debates, many of us fail to see far beyond our own opinions, ideas and beliefs. Through our inability to attentively listen, or our lack of patience we fail to maintain the correct adab in discussions and debates, hastening in arguing and fighting instead.
One should be aware that it is only when a speaker has finished speaking that one should pose questions on things they may not have understood. Gently, politely and with a proper introduction one should ask for clarification. One should never interrupt another's speech, raise one's voice with a question or in any other way attract attention to oneself. This is contrary to the correct adab of listening and may initiate contempt. This however is not the rule if the meeting is for studying or learning.
When studying or learning, one should ask questions and initiate discussion in a respectful and tactful manner, yet only after the speaker has finished. The Khalifa al-Mamun said,
"Discussion entrenches knowledge much more than agreement."
Al-Haytham ibn 'Adi, a scholar, historian and a member of the court of four Caliphs - Abu Ja'far al-Mnsur, al-Mahdi, al-Hadi and al-Rashid said,
"It is ill mannered to overwhelm someone while speaking and to interrupt him before he ends his talk".
If a colleague did not understand an issue and asked a scholar or an elder to explain, one should listen attentively to what is being said. It may be that the repeated explanation may give you an additional insight to what you already know. Never utter any word, belittling your colleague; nor allow your face to portray such an attitude.
Perhaps due to some illness or disease in the heart, some look to catch out a speaker, or look for a fault or mistake with which they can fuel an arguement; not realising they are simply playing into the hands of shaytaan. hen an elder or a scholar speaks, listen attentively. Never busy yourself with private talk and discussion with your colleagues. Do not let your mind wander elsewhere, keep it focussed on what is being said. Today many think because they have a small amount of knowledge they are a mufti, shaykh, or alim in their own right. Few of us realise that even if someone is repeating something we have heard before, this repetition may be the difference between knowledge and deeper penetration of that knowledge into one's life, emaan, and actions.
Never interrupt a speaker.
Never rush to answer if you are not very confident of your answer.
Never argue about something you do not know.
Never argue for the sake of arguing.
Never show arrogance with your counterparts, especially if they hold a different opinion.
Do not switch the arguement to belittle your oponents views.
If their misunderstanding becomes evident do not rebuke or scold.
Be modest and kind.

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