Imam Abu Muhammad Al-Hasan Ibn Ali Ibn Khalaf Al-Barbahari (d. 329H) said, “And know that there would not be heresy, nor disbelief, nor doubts, nor innovation, nor misguidance, nor confusion in the religion except due to rhetoric and the people of rhetoric and due to argumentation [upon falsehood], debating [upon falsehood] and disputation [upon falsehood] and those amazed by themselves.
How can a man embark upon debating, disputation and argumentation [all upon falsehood]?
Allah, the Most High, stated: “No one disputes concerning the signs of Allah except those who disbelieve…”
So upon you is to submit and be pleased and content with the narrations and to withhold [from debating, etc] and be silent.”
[1. Explanation That DEBATING IS ALLOWED In The Islamic Legislation]
Shaykh Rabee explained some of these lines as follows:
“…debating…” meaning: debating upon falsehood. That is because debating or reasoned argumentation with knowledge, proof and evidence and with the etiquette laid down in the Islamic Shariah (Islamic law) is from the means of calling to Allah, the Blessed and Most High.
Allah said, “Invite to the Way of your Lord with wisdom (i.e. upon the Sunnah) and fair preaching, and argue (debate) with them in a way that is better.” (An-Nahl: 125)
[2. Explaintion Of When Debating (ANOTHER MUSLIM – Salafi Or Innovator) IS NOT ALLOWED]
So if one’s dawah [to an individual] reaches the point of disputation, and controversial argumentation and so on, then leave him because he has entered the door of disputing.
[3. Explaintion Of When Debating ANOTHER MUSLIM [Salafi Or Innovator] IS ALLOWED]
However, if your companion whom you are arguing with seeks the truth; he is not stubborn and rebellious against the truth, he is not haughty and arrogant, and he does not argue upon falsehood – then this is a good opportunity for you. Reason with him in argumentation with proofs and evidences and with the manners legislated.
So this is [a type of debating that is] from the means of dawah – not [the false means like] play-acting and singing nasheeds – because here you are establishing the proofs and evidences throughout the course of this reasoned debate and discussion.
Allah stated: “And do not argue (debate) with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best…” (Al-`Ankaboot: 46)
[4. Explainton Of When Debating A NON-MUSLIM IS ALLOWED]
The Christian and the Jew; it is possible that they may aspire to Islam and desire it. Bring to him evidences and proofs and he may bring to you some doubts, so you respond to him with further proofs and evidences – and he enters into Islam there is no harm in this.
[5. Explainton Of When Debating A NON-MUSLIM IS NOT ALLOWED]
However if he debates so as to falsify your religion, he becomes haughty, stubborn and rebellious, then no. No not enter into any debate or argumentation with him – this is from the reasons for leaving alone argumentation.
[5. Conclusion On Debating Being Allowed Or Disallowed In Islam]
His [Imam Abu Muhammad Al-Hasan Ibn Ali Ibn Khalaf Al-Barbahari] saying: “And those amazed by themselves. How can a man embark upon debating, disputation and argumentation whilst Allah, the Most High, stated, “No one disputes concerning the signs of Allah except those who disbelieve…” (Ghafir: 4)
[5a. Clarification Of When Debating IS ALLOWED]
Shaykh Rabee explained, “This generalisation requires looking into because Allah has textually legislated reasoned debate upon the truth in two verses that we have already mentioned.
Plus Ibn Abbas debated the Khawarij – and due to this debate it is stated by Abdur-Razzaq in an authentic report (Al-Musannaf 10/157-160) that 20,000 returned. They were 24,000 and from them 20,000 returned.
So he debated them upon knowledge with proofs, and evidences for a people who loved the truth and they desired to embrace it and return to it, so they returned [thus debating in that with knowledge and evidences against those who want the truth is sanctioned in Islam].
[5b. Clarification Of When Debating IS NOT ALLOWED And Who Should Not Be Debated]
Then there are those who are stubbornly rebellious, so do not debate them because they want blameworthy debating, and argumentation upon falsehood.
So this speech is restricted by that which we have said to you.”
Ref: Awnul-Baree bi-Bayan ma Tadammanahu Sharhus-Sunnah lil-Imam al-Barbahari by Shaykh Rabee Ibn Hadee al-Madkhalee, 2/520-521
Posted by Abdul Kareem Ibn Ozzie