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Imam Shafi’i: The Ego-less Debater

Never do I debate a man with a desire to hear him err in his speech, or to expose the flaws in his argument, and thus vanquish him. Whenever I face an opponent in debate I silently supplicate, ‘O Lord, help him so that truth may manifest itself in his heart and on his tongue. If it be that the truth is on my side, may he follow me; and if the truth be on his side, may I follow him.’ -Imam Shafi’i

Ref: The Revival of Religious Sciences

قال الشافعي رحمه الله: ماناظرت أحداً قط فأحببت أن يخطىء. وقال: ما كلمت أحداً قط إلا احببت أن يوفق ويسدد ويعان ويكون عليه رعاية من الله تعالي وحفظ، وما كلمت أحداً قط وأنا أبالي أن يبين الله الحق علي لساني أو علي لسانه.

المصدر: إحياء علوم الدين للغزالي

Purifying our Intentions for Seeking Knowledge

I was reading Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali’s The Compendium of Knowledge and Wisdom (translated by Abdassamad Clarke) and I came across some points on seeking knowledge, that would be a good reminder for everybody, starting with me.

We read on pg. 15, under the section of Intention:

At-Tirmidhi related a hadith of Kab ibn Malik that the Prophet(SAW) said ‘Whoever seeks knowledge in order to argue with foolish people, or to compete with people of knowledge, or to turn people’s faces towards him, then Allah (SWT)will put him in the Fire’(At-Tirmidhi 265). Ibn Majah related the same meaning from a hadith of Ibn Umar, Hudahfah, and Jabir is, “Do not learn knowledge in order to compete with people of knowledge or to argue with foolish people or to do well in assemblies. For whoever does that, then [beware of] the Fire! The Fire!” (Ibn Majah 253) Ibn Masud said, ‘Do not learn knowledge for three reasons: to argue with foolish people, or to dispute with fuqaha, or to turn people’s faces towards you. Seek from your words and your actions that which is with Allah (SWT) because it endures and what is other than it will go away

And to add this idea, Imam Zaid Shakir also reminds about the ‘The Proper Approach to Debating”, by quoting the statement of Imam Shafi`i:

Never do I debate a man with a desire to hear him err in his speech, or to expose the flaws in his argument, and thus vanquish him. Whenever I face an opponent in debate I silently supplicate, ‘O Lord, help him so that truth may manifest itself in his heart and on his tongue. If it be that the truth is on my side, may he follow me; and if the truth be on his side, may I follow him.’

May Allah (SWT) (SWT) purify our intentions to seek knowledge for His Sake!

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