Once a man questioned 'Ali, who gave him an answer. Then the man said, "It is not like that, 0 Leader of the Faithful; but it is such and such."
So 'All said, "You are right; I am. wrong. Above every one who possesses knowledge there is some one very learned."
Ibn Mas'ud corrected (something which) Abu iusa al--Ash-176
'ari (said). Then Abu Mesa said, "loo not ask me anything,
while this learned man is in your midst." That was when
Abu -iusa was asked about a man who was killed while waging war in the cause of Allah, and he said, "He is in the Garden
So Ibn Mas'ud said, "I say that, if he were killed when he
had the right desire, then he is in the Garden." 177
Then Abu Musa said, "What he said is true."
Such is the impartiality of one who seeks the truth.
If something like this were mentioned at the present time
to the least canon lawyer, he would deny it and consider it far-fetched and say, "There is no need to say, 'had the right desire', for that is well known to everyone."
Then observe the present day debaters (and see) how the face of one of them becomes black, when the truth is made clear on the tongue of his opponent, and how he is put to shame by it, and how he strives to deny to the limit of his
Then Ibn "Repeat (your understand."
He did so (three times) and
He (Abu MUsa) was an Ami.r of Yufa.
Mas'ud stood up and said (to the questionner), question) to the Am1r, for perhaps he did not
received the same answer.
power and how all life long he blames the one who silenced him in argument. Then he is not ashamed to liken himself to the Companions in their cooperative quest for truth!
7. The seventh stipulation is that he is not to prevent his assistant --(who takes the form of an opponent)-in the quest (for truth) from changing from one proof to another ana from one difficult to another, for such were the debates of the Fathers. And he excludes from his speech
all the novel refinements of dialectics. Then what right
does he have to say, "I do not need to mention this", and "This contradicts your former words. So they are not accepted from you", for to return to the truth (certainly) contradicts the untrue, and it is necessary to accept it.
You see that all the assemblies pass their time in defend
ing and arguing so that one who seeks some indication of
a general principle judges by means of a cause which he considers preferable. Then someone says to him, "What is the proof that the rule in this general principle is effected by this cause?"
So he says, "This is the way it seems to me. If something clearer and more suitable appears to you, mention it so that I might reflect on it."
Then the opponent persists and says, "There are other ideas about it (in addition to) those which I mentioned and,
although I know them, I shall not mention them; for it is not incumbent on me to do so."
The one who is seeking a demonstration says, "It is for you to show what you pretend (to know) beyond this."
His opponent (however) persists that it is incumbent
on him, and the assembly of debate expends itself in this kind of problem and its like, while this poor fellow does
not know that his saying, "I know it, but I shall not mention it, for it is not incumbent upon mefl, gives the lie to the divine law. In fact, if he does not know its meaning and he pretends (to know) it for the sake of weak6ning his opponent, he is a vicious liar who is disobedient to Allah and is exposed to His displeasure by his pretence of knowing something of which he knows nothing. If' he were strong, he would return to him; if he were weak, he would show him his weakness and lead him out of the darkness of his ignorance to the light of knowledge. It is an incontrovertible fact
that it is a necessary duty to clarify what one knows of the religious sciences after questions are asked about them.
Then the meaning of his saying, "It is not incumbent upon me", (may be true) according to the law of dialectics
which we invented in accordance with strong craving and a desire to trick and wrestle with words such as "It is not
incumbent upon me", (but) even if it is not (incumbent according to the law of dialectics), it is so according to divine law. For, in refusing to mention (it), he is either a liar (in his speech) or disobedient (in his action).
Then scrutinize the consultations of the Companions and the conferences of the Fathers. Did you. ever hear anything about them that resembles this kind? Was anyone ever prohibited to change over from one proof to another and from analogy to a tradition (athar) (of the Companions) and from a tradition (of the Prophet) (khabar) to an evidential verse (of the Qur'an)? Rather all their debates were of this kind: they used to mention everything that was wont to come to their minds just as it occurred, and they used to reflect on it.
8. The eighth stipulation is to debate with one who is engaged in knowledge from whom one expects some benefits, while they (the debaters of thsi time) usually avoid debates with the illustrious and the notables lest the truth should appear on their tongues, and they want(to debate with) those beneath them, desiring to put what is false into circulation.
Beyond these there are many detailed stipulations, but in these eight stipulations there is something which will guide you to (see the difference between) one who debates for Allah and one who debates for a (worldly) cause.
In short you should know that one who does not contend against the Shaitan---who is ruling over his heart and who is his chiefest enemy, who never stops urging him to his destruction---then occupies himself in debating someone else about problems which a learned doctor (al-mujtahid) is rightly solving or sharing in the reward of one who is right, he (such a one) is the laughing-stock of the devils and a byword to the saved. For that reason the Shai~an rejoices on account of some' of the dark evils whichh he has immersed him in and which we shall enumerate and. mention in detail. We ask Allah for help and success-bringing aid.
A. An Exposition of the Defects of Debating and Some of the Things Growing out of It Which Destroy Character
You should know for a certainty that a debate which is arranged for the purpose of overcoming and silencing (a rival) and showing excellence, honor, and fluency in speech before people and for the purpose of rivalry, stubborn opposition, and trying to gain the favour of people, such a debate is the source of all character which is blameworthy with Allah and praiseworthy with His enemy, namely Iblis.
Its relationship to internal evils such as pride, vanity, envy, self-seeking, self-justification, love of fame, and
others is like the relationship of drinking wine to exter
nal evils such as adultery, abuse, murder, and theft. It is
just as if someone, being asked to choose between drinking and the rest of the abominable sins, would consider it insignificant and would eagerly take it up which would motivate him to commit the rest of the abominable sins in his drunkenness. So is one who is ruled by a desire to silence and overcome (his opponent) in debate and who seeks reputation and competition. That motivates him to conceal all the infamous actions in himself and to stir up all kinds of blameworthy characteristics in him.
In the quarter on Things that Destroy there will come proofs of the blameworthiness of these characteristics taken from the traditions and evidential verses, but for the present we shall point out the sum total of that which debates stir up.
1. Among them is envy. Allah's prophet said, "Envy eats up good deeds just as a fire eats up wood."
A debater does not cease envying, for sometimes he overcomes (his rival) and sometimes he is overcome. Sometimes his words are praised, while again another's words are praised. As long as he remains in the present world, one is mentioned for the strength of his knowledge and speculation; or it is thought that (this one) is better than (that one)
in respect to theology and stronger in respect to speculation. Thus one will necessarily envy the other and desire that his blessings should cease and that affection and favour should be turned from his opponent to h-'Lmself. (In reality) envy is a consuming fire; and one who is afflicted by it is in torment in the present world, while (you may be sure that) the punishment of the next abode is of much greater severity. Therefore Ibn 'Abbess said, "Take knowledge wherever you find it, and do not accept the words of certain jurisconsults about others, for they are as jealous of one another as ;oats in a fold."
2. Then there is pride and exalting; one's self over peo
ple, for the Prophet has said, "Allah will humble one who magnifies himself and elevate one who humbles himself."
He quoted from Allah, "Majesty is my veil, and greatness
The debater persists in magnifying himself over his contemporaries and equals and elevating himself above his ability until they (the debaters) fi ht for a certain seat in the assembly. Over this they vie with one another as to (who is to) go higher or lower, be near or far from the chief seat, and have precedence in entering (the assembly),
when the roads are straitened. Many a time one of their
is my cloak. Whoever deprives me of them, 178
I will break in
number who is stupid as well as one who is a wily trickster will make the excuse that he aims at guarding the prestige of knowledge and that a believer is prevented from abasing himself.
He terms "humility" (tawaqu'), which Allah and all His prophets praised, "baseness" (dhull); and the pride (takabbur)which is hated by Allah, "the prestige (fizz) of religion" by means of garbling the name and. leading people astray with it just as he did with the word "wisdom" (hikmah) and "knowledge" ('ilm) and others.
3. Among them (i.e. the evils of debate) there is spite of which a debater is hardly ever free, while Mu.iammad said, "A believer is not spiteful."
Something that is obvious has been related about the blameworthiness of spite. You do not see a debater who is able to keep from concealing malice in his breast towards anyone who nods in favour of his opponent's speech. He hesitates in his speech. Then he does not give him full attention; but when he sees that, he is obliged to conceal his malice and establish it in his heart.
Without doubt the object of his restraint is to conceal his lie while,`..in-most cases, it oozes out of him to the exterior. How can he keep away from that and not perceive that all the listeners (around him agree in preferring
his speech and approving all his circumstances both when
he starts and stops. But if, there emanates from his rival some slight disrespect for his speech some spite is planted in his breast which the hand of time cannot uproot.
4. Another (of the evils of debate) is backbiting, which Allah has likened to eating that which is dead. (cf. 49:12). A debater does not cease to continue to eat something dead, for he does not cease to quote the words of his opponent and blame him. The object of his consideration is to confirm his trustworthiness, and in reality he is not lying. So, without doubt, he quotes from him that which proves the deficiency of his speech, his inadequacy, and his lack of excellence. That is backbiting.
As for lying, it is falsehood.. Likewise he (the debater) can not restrain his tongue from attacking the reputation of anyone who turns away from his words to listen to his opponent and to receive him kindly. So he ascribes ignorance, foolishness, paucity of understanding, and stupidity to him.
5. Another evil (of debate) is self-justification. Allah said, "Do not justify yourselves. He knows very well who is pious (god-fearing)" (53:33).
# A variant is: The object of his consideration is to be
true in what he quotes about him and not to lie concerning what he quotes from him.
Some one asked a philosopher, "That is ugly veracity?"
So he replied, "A man's praise of himself."
A debater is not void of praising himself for his pow
er (in knowledge), victory (over his opponent), and his superior excellence over his contemporaries as long as during
the debate he continues to say, "I am not one of those from whom things like these are hidden, for I am accomplished in the sciences and have independent authority in the fundamental principles and (I am unique in) memorizing the traditions (of the Prophet)", and other accomplishments in which one glories, sometimes in the way of a braggart and sometimes on account of a need to adorn his speech. And it is well known both self-praise and boasting are blameworthy in respect to the law and reason.
6. Another (evil of debate) is the investigation and thorough study of private affairs. And Allah has said, "Do not spy out or pry into things" (49:12).
The debater does not cease to look for his contemporaries' stumbles and to pry into the private matters of his opponents even to the point that, when he is told that a ,debater is coming to his city, he seeks for someone to tell about his secret circumstances and by means of questions he seeks to draw out his evil deeds in order to prepare them as a reserve for himself in disgracing and humiliating
him, when he is in great need. He even tries to discover
the circumstances of his boyhood and his physical defects.
Then perhaps he may stumble upon a rare fault or a defect in his body such as baldness or something else. Then, if he feels the least bit of superiority in relation to him,
he hints at it; if he restrains himself, that is approved
in him (by those present) and is counted one of the refined means for attaining an end. And he does not refrain from making it clear, if he rejoices in his insolence and derision, as it is related about a group of notable debaters who were considered as being among their eminent ones.
7. Among them(the evils of debate) is joy in what
harms people and sorrow over their joy, whereas one who does not desire (the same good) for his brother Muslim which he
wants for himself, is far from the character of the Believers. As for everyone who seeks to outshine by showing his superiority, certainly that pleases him which harms his contemporaries and their like who vie with him for superiority.. The mutual hatred between them is like that (which exists) between the fellow wives of a man. For just as the muscles of one of them quiver and her color becomes yellow, when she sees her rival from a distance, so in like manner you see one debater's color change and his mind become agitated , when he sees another debater; and he is just like one who
has seen a wilful Shai~En or a ferocious lion.
(Then) where are the friendly relations and ease of
mind which used to take place among the Muslim divines ('ulama' a1-dln), when they used to meet? And (where) is that which was handed down about them: brotherhood, mutual assistance, and sharing in good and in evil so that al--Shafi'i said, "Among the people of excellence and understanding, knowledge is a uniting bond."
I do not know how a group among whom knowledge has become a (source of) devisive enmity (can) pretend to follow his school. How does one imagine that among them friendli
ness ness is strengthened in spite of the quest for victory and
rivalry? That is far-fetched indeed. As an evil it is enough
for you that makesthe character of hypocrites incumbent on
you and it removes you far away from the character of Believers and the god-fearing.
8, Among (the evils of debate) is hypocrisy, and there is no need to mention illustrations of its blameworthiness while they (the debaters) are obliged to use it. They meet their adversaries and those.who like them and their partisans, and they necessarily find no way but friendly speech for them and show ardent longing and esteem for their position and circumstances. However the person addressed as well as
reading SMZ yastatib instead of yansib
the speaker and all who hear them know that that is lying and falsehood and hypocrisy and unglodliness. For (outwardly) they are mutually gentle in speech, while inwardly they are mutually hateful in heart. We seek refuge from it with Allah the Mighty.
Hasan al-Basri related that Muhammad said, "If a people learn knowledge and neglect to follow it, while they love one another in word and mutually hate one another in heart and sever the ties of relationship (that are due to knowledge), Allah will curse them at that time and make them deaf and blind (to the truth)", which has been verified by (our) seeing this condition.
9. Another (evil of debate) is to disdain and hate the truth and to covet opposing it so that the most hated thing
to a debater is for the truth to be made obvious on the tongue of his rival; and, whenever (the truth) appears (on the tongue of his rival), he is ready to disown and deny it to the limit of his power. And he exerts his utmost power in deceit, stratagem, and trickery to refute!it, so that opposition becomes a natural habit in him. He never hears a word (from his rival) without there springing up in his nature an impulse to object to him, until that overrules his heart concerning the proofs of the Q,ur'an and the terms of divine law. And he mixes one part of it with another. To engage in a quarrel
to oppose the untrue is dangerous, for Allah's prophet
urged (that people) forsake settin the truth over against the untrue. He said, "Allah will build a house in the courtyard of the Garden for one who leaves off quarreling, when he is in the wrong; and for one who forsakes quarreling, when he is in the right, Allah will build a house in the highest part of the Garden."
Allah has made the one who fabricates a lie against Him equal with the one who denies the truth (sent down from Allah). Allah said, "And who is more wrong than the one who fabricates a lie against Allah, or denies the truth, when it comes to him?" (29:68)
And "'Who is more wrong than the one who lies against Allah and denies the truth, when it comes to him?" said Allah. (39:33).
10. Another of (the evils of debate) is to act the hypocrite and regard people and dilligently seek to incline their hearts and turn their faces towards them. To act the hypocrite is a serious disease which leads to the greatest
of evils, as will be seen in the book on Acting the Hypocrite."' A debater only wants to show off before people and set their tongues wagging in praise of him.
# reading SMZ al-khalq instead of al--khans
These are the ten qualities of the sources of inner evils in additionto what happens to those of them who are
not firmly grounded, such as quarreling which leads to striking, fisticuffs, slapping, tearing clothes, seizing beards, cursing parents, reviling professors, and open accusation. For these are not counted in the group of respectable people.
Surely those who are notables and intelligent among
them are those who do not abandon these ten attributes. Yes, some of them are sometimes safe from part of them with one whose position iBknown to be lower or one whose position is known to be higher or who is far from his country
and his means of livelihood. Not one of them, however,abandons it (i.e. quarreling) with people like himself who are his competitors in rank.
Then from every one of these ten attributes ten others
of low quality branch off which we shall not mention at length and explain individually, such as scorn, anger, hatred, covetousness, love of seeking wealth and position (among the leaders), and ability to overcome (rivals), rivalry, ungratefulness, exultation, exalting the rich and the sultans, repeatedly going to them to accept (something) from their treasuries, adornment with horses, mounts., and expensive
clothing, to deem people contemptible with pride and arrogance,
# read wa '1-tamakkun with SMZ instead of li'l-tamakkun
## SNZ reads khaza'inihim instead of haramihim
to investigate deeply into that which is no concern of theirs, to multiply speech, to exclude humility, fear, and mercy from one's heart and to let indifference dominate it,
so that in his worship one of them who is worshipping does not know what he is praying and what he is reading or the
one with whom he is communing. In his heart he does not feel humility, although he has buried his life in the sciences of beautifying expressions which aid in. debating, although they do not benefit in the next abode, and (also in the science of) rhyming his words, memorizing rare sayings, and innumerable other things. The debaters vary with one another in these things according to their ranks, which are many. Those who are greatest in respect are most intelligent do not cease stance of these characteristics. ceal them and have his soul fight
You should know (0 pilgrim), also adhere to one who is engaged
izing, if his aim is to seek approbation, establish prestige,
and gain riches and respect. It also adheres to one who is occupied in the tenets of his school and giving legal opinions, if his purpose is to seek a judgship, to administer endowments, and to get ahead of his contemporaries. In a word it adheres to all who use knowledge to seek anything else
to religion and those who to (bear) the sum and sub
Surely his aim i6o conI them.
that thesd bad qualities in admonition and sermon
but Allah's reward in the next abode.
inen knowledge not only deserts the learned man but it thoroughly destroys him forever (if he does not do as he knows), or it gives him life forever (if he acts according to his knowledge). For that reason Tuhammad said, "The person most severely punished on the day of resurrection is
the learned man whom Allah did not cause to benefit by his
It has certainly harmed him besides not benefitting him, and I wish he were saved from it with neither gain nor loss; but that is far from possible. For the danger of knowledge is great and its seeker is a seeker of eternal kingdom and perpetual bliss. There is no separation from either the kingdom or destruction. He is like a seeker of wealth in the present world. If he does not happen to obtain wealth, he does not hope to be safe from humiliation;
but there is no escape: to make his circumstances clearly
known (on the day of resurrection) is one of the necessary things.
If you should say, "In permitting debate there is benefit, which is to make people eager to seek knowledge; for had it not been for the love of leadership (riyasah), knowledge would have been exterminated", in a way you would be right about what you have mentioned; but it is not beneficial,
for were it not for (a parent's or a teacher's) promise of
a bat and ball and playing with birds, boys would have no desire for school. That does not prove that the desire for it is praiseworthy. And (your saying), "Were it not for the love of leadership, knowledge would be exterminated", (is
right) but that does not prove that one who seeks leadership is saved (from the punishment of Allah;; but he is one of
those about whom the Prophet said, "Verily Allah will strengthen this religion with people who have no share in it". He said, "Verily Allah will strengthen this religions with an