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March 16, 2005
The Great Argument/Debate

by Gillette aka Hassan[uddin] Khaja

I'm not certain about how it started, or who started it, but a group of approximately five or six people started debating the issue of whether or not smoking is haraam. Eventually, the group of five or six people split, and each group debated about roughly the same issue.

What I found interesting though was how one female observer acted - we'll call her "Amatullah."

One of the two debates devolved into a shouting match, and I found out that one from that group had a very low level of respect for the others. Needless to say, this goes against proper Islamic adab, and, according to Rasoolullah (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam), one of the characteristics of nifaaq is to get hot-tempered and act inappropriately when arguing (Bukhari, Kitabul Iman, Hadith 34)

Imam Al-Ghazali said, in al-Ihya al Uloom ad-Deen, "Over-enthusiasm is a mark of corrupted scholars, even when the case they are defending is true. By showing excessive enthusiasm for truth and their contempt of their oppontents, the latter would be stimulated to retaliate and react in the same manner. They would be driven to stand for falsehood and to be true to the label attributed to them. If the champions of truth had spoken kindly to them avoiding publicity and humiliation they would have succeeded in winning them over. But as it is, a person who enjoys a place of prestige is strongly inclined to preserve his position by attracting followers, and the only way to that is to boast and to attack or curse adversaries."

The second group was relatively more calm, and was a bit more measured about what they said, and certainly showed respect for each other about how they said it.

Imam al-Shafi`i said, "I never talked with someone but sincerely wished that Allah keep him, protect him from sin and misdeed and guide him; and I never debated with someone but sincerely wished that we would come upon truth, regardless of whether he or I should be the one to think of it first."

Imam Al-Ghazali said, "Cooperation in seeking truth is inherent to religion, but sincerity in the pursuit of truth can be distinguished by certain conditions and signs. A diligent seeker of truth may be compared to one who is looking for his lost camel. It would be immaterial for him if he or another person should be the one to find it. Likewise, a sincere truth-seeker would perceive his partner as a helper rather than an adversary, and would be grateful to him if he should guide him to truth."

In his "Al-Mughni" Ibn Qudamah reports in this regard: "Some scholars used to excuse anyone who disagrees with them in debatable matters, and did not insist that he should accept their view.

"Let each one of the debates accept statements of the other party supported with proof. By doing that, he would prove himself to be an acceptor of truth."

And again from Al-Imam Al-Shafi'i, may Allah be pleased with him: "I never debate with someone and he accepts my proof but I hold him in high esteem, and I never debate with someone and he refuses my proof but I lose all esteem for him."

I heard Amatullah, while listening to the louder debate, tell them, "Quiet down, I'm trying to listen to the other conversation." As I am never hesitant to draw some conclusions, there is a lesson that can be derived from her statement.

She, alhamdulillah, was very keen to learn about a religious matter. This keenness expressed itself in her attempt to gravitate towards the conversation by people who observed Islamic ethics, as such conversations are conducive to iman. In the end, at no matter what level we are in our practice, iman is in us, and it fits us perfectly. Iman is in our fitrah, and no one leaves their fitrah except in a state of utter loss and confusion. There are too many incidents in the Qur'an in which Allah (ta'ala) states that submission implies a state of no fear - except of Allah (ta'ala) - and no stress (hazn).

Additionally, the gatherings that are most likely to attract the angels are the ones in which Allah (ta'ala) is remembered. The least likely to attract them are the ones in which He is being disobeyed. Imam Ahmad collected a hadith in which he said, "May Allah have mercy on [Abdullah] Ibn Rawahah, for he loves the gatherings that the angels feel proud to attend," referring to a sitting he tried to arrange with a Companion and said, "Come, let us believe in our Lord for a while" (Chapter 2 of The Ideal Muslimah lists good ahadeeth and aathaar about the topic of good company, under the heading, "She keeps company with righteous people and joins religious gatherings").

Unfortunately, most people turn arguments into shouting matches, taking out of it the blessing of it being a gathering of knowledge.


of and relating to...
asif said

Salaam Akhi: (pleae consider the following as a humble & constructive criticism)

You started your article that sounded very engaging as the content was about two groups arguing about smoking as haraam or halaal.
In the middle of your article you quoted a lot of the esteemed scholars on the Akhlaq of conversation or discourse with others.
At the end, you concluded with the quality of a virtuous gathering which the angels attend as well.

I think the effort is commendable, but I had hard time connecting the dots to get the full picture of your article. It bounced from one phase to another, and as a reader I was left with an empty feeling because I was expecting more of what the topic and the beginning of the article alluded to.

I was wanting to hear what really happened with that "Great Argument/Debate"? What came to pass, is smoking haraam and or halal?

I know it is easy to criticize others vs writing one article of your own. But as I said earlier, the comments are constructive criticism, and it may be that you had conveyed your idea very well, but it was my shortcoming of not grasping the full scope & content of your article.

Regardless, please keep the articles coming!

Ma'Assalaama

on March 16, 2005 4:57 PM
saleem said

salam,

i concur on the coherence issue - but overall I think what Br. Hasan is trying to convey are the adhab of gatherings, discussion, debate - etc.

In the gathering in question - the issue is that of ikthilaaf - or disagreement in Islam. First of all - many of the people were ignorant I'm assuming of the subject. In such situations it is always better to defer to someone who has more knowledge than oneself or to only volunteer that which you know is 100% correct. Secondly, even where there are disagreements (which are a sign of mercy, not a fitna) we should engage each other with Muslim etiquette - not forgetting our adhab at home because our ego (nafs) has 'jacked the mic of our vocal cords...

wallahu Alim. i think its an often overlooked issue that is of the utmost importance to muslims who seek to better themselves.

on March 16, 2005 11:10 PM
Justoju said

Its a pity how muslims these days not only have little adab with laypeople but with shuyukh who they dont agree with as well. Its actually more scary than it is a 'pity' because it is indicative of how diseased we have really become.


"our ego (nafs) has 'jacked the mic of our vocal cords... "

Very poetically stated. Br. Saleem, please write a poem for Hidaya about this.

on March 17, 2005 11:48 AM
Mohammed Irfan Shariff said

ummmmmmmmmmm
Smoking is a fast ticket to cancer

remember A FAST TICKET TO CANCER

Smoking is a fast ticket to yellow teeth

remember YELLOW TEETH

Smoking is a fast ticket to wasting money

remember WASTING MONEY

Smoking is a fast ticket to decreasing your athletic capabilties

remember OUT OF BREATHE ALL THE TIME

I was present at this discussion, and afterwards that night some brothers and I ate together at a halal eatery and had a good time....during this time i did not have a ciggarette. and the more i spend with such company the less and less i smoke

JazakumAllahchar muslim brothers that rep Irfonix

on March 29, 2005 2:55 PM
Donald Duck said

Assalamualaikum Wa Rahmatullah,
JazakAllahchar for this coulmn my brother. Its amazing how the Path of Allah(talah)
leads to Eternal Happiness, and paths chosen other than Allah's( talah) is doom in this life and the next. And brothers and sisters out there, lets all wake up from our slumbers and start giving charity for the sake of Allah ( talah). Your needy brothers, and sisters, are dying out there in malnutrition.
JazakumAllahchar

on March 29, 2005 9:09 PM
AbdulHaqq said

When we see our Muslim youth debating over issues which they are clearly not qualified to be discussing, this is a sign of that they are going against the etiquette of seeking knowledge since the students of knowledge seek knowledge to develop closeness to Allah (swt). Please take a moment and ponder over these selections regarding the adab of seeking knowledge:

RasulAllah (saw): “He who does not acquire knowledge with the sole intention of seeking the Pleasure of Allah (swt) but for gaining the frailties of the world, will not smell the fragrance of Paradise on the Day of Resurrection.” (Abu Dawud)

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (ra) said: “Knowledge is not [merely] the narrating of texts. Rather, knowledge is fear [of Allah].”
~p. 8 of “Sufism and Good Character” by Imam Zafar Uthmani~

Shaykh Uthman Dan Fodio: The intentions of the Seeker of Sacred Knowledge should be the following:
1. To remove oneself from misguidance
2. To benefit the creatures of Allah
3. To revive the Sacred Sciences
4. To act in accordance with what one learns.
(p. 1 of “The Etiquette of the Seeker of Sacred Knowledge)

“Whoever strives for knowledge for the life to come obtains great gain in righteousness. But he is utter loss who seeks to obtain an advantage over people.”
~Imam Abu Hanifa (ra)~

Furthermore, a person's outward behavior is a manifestation of his inner state. If his outward behavior is rude and boastful and argumentative, this shows that his inner state is not one that is truly concerned with Allah (swt) and the akhirah but instead is concerned with his own self. A person who debates a lot, especially in a negative manner, may very well have the spiritual disease known as "riya" where he performs religious acts solely for the praise that others will give to him.

May Allah (swt) eliminate the defects within our hearts and save us from a knowledge that does not benefit! Ameen!

on March 30, 2005 6:23 PM
ibtisam said

when will my article be posted?

on March 30, 2005 9:45 PM
Shareef Jihad said

Subhanna'Allah Subhanna'Allah subhanna'Allah

The Great Smoking Debate

Coming from a former smoker, who, as ignorant as it was tried to make every imaginable excuse for not quitting and trying to rationalize the not so haram poison i was putting in my body,

Astaghfir'Allah Astaghfir'Allah Astaghfir'Allah


For all those who think that smoking is not haram let me ask you a question, is crack cocaine or heroin not haram? Honestly try and rationalize this question, and know i am being serious when i ask it. According to the Qua'ran alcohol is forbidden, yet there is no mention of crack or heroin or cocaine or even smoking. So maybe after next jummah we should all just bug out.

If i did not make my point, smoking is addictive, just like alcohol so you could conclude it is haram....Alcohol mostly destroys your liver, smoking destroys your lungs throat and open your entire body to cancer, obviously you can conclude it is haram

Hmmm, have you ever been in the presence of someone who has smoked they stink, i used to stink, bad breath, and in general stink, including any enclosed area where you smoke, ie cars house etc....As muslims we are supposed to project clean, tasteful, hygeine....

And finally, one of the sadest things in life, honestly is being in an inner city area, around dusk, and seeing the addict scurrying around lookin for there next fix, it is really disturbing...now smokers don't act like a crack head when they are jonesin, but it is kinda sick and gross still, DON'T PORTRAY YOURSELF LIKE THAT ESPECIALLY IN THE EYES OF THE KAFIR, PLEASE!

Finallya question to all those Muslims who smoke, and are either not sure, or think it is okay to smoke, if you were in the presence of Allah(swt) or Rasul(pbuh) would you lite up a smoke? I didn't think so.....

on March 31, 2005 10:59 PM
Shareef Jihad said

PS You can not debate with someone on a topic if you are in dis agreements of its principles...

tekbiir

on April 1, 2005 6:00 PM
Ibby said

Smoking is very very harmful to your health, it totally destroys your whole body, mind(addiciton),your chances of having children will be less, you get heart disease, emphysema and whole other diseases and you really mess up the mucociliary part of your lungs, so you are prone to more infections. It is considered the number one hazard to your health.
common sense will tell you anything that harms your health or anything that becomes in excess or an addicition is not allowed in Islaam.

on April 1, 2005 8:20 PM
abdulhaqq said

I don't think the purpose of this piece was to get involved in the debate about the permissibility/impermissibility of smoking but to elaborate on the importance of adab when it came to issues pertaining to the deen, especially about areas where one is ignorant about and not qualified to discuss. We are not mujtahideen and as such, are not required to quote daleel and instead must go with the opinion of those who are qualified as mujtahid.

on April 2, 2005 12:18 PM
gillette said

Sahih Muslim
Book 034, Number 6447:

'A'isha (radiallaha anha) reported Allah's Messenger (salallaho alaihi wasallam) as saying: The most despicable amongst persons in the eye of Allah is one who tries to fall into dispute with others (for nothing but only to display his knowledge and power of argumentation).

http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/muslim/034.smt.html#034.6447

on May 18, 2005 1:31 PM
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