“Those who argue about God after His existence has already been accepted are arguing pointlessly in their Lord’s sight. His wrath is drawn over them, and they’ll receive a strong punishment besides.” — Qur’an, 42: 16
Argumentation is to Muslim community life as is fire to a room full of people: it chokes the life out of it. But the interesting thing is that a fire burning in a room does not simply “create a vacuum”, as it is commonly misunderstood, but rather it produces carbon dioxide, a poisonous, colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas, which if its presence goes undetected, can kill. The reason carbon dioxide is so dangerous is that one simultaneously inhales it while also breathing in oxygen. In other words, there is just as much carbon dioxide produced as there is oxygen used. The result, in our case here, is communal asphyxiation.
Social media has provided an, to quote David Bowie, “unimaginable” and “exhilarating and terrifying” means of communicating. Sadly, it seems to have fostered a spirit of argumentation that has spilled over from our traditional spaces (masjids, etc.) to even our online spaces. The words of the Prophet are a beautiful and necessary reminder at how dangerous the tongue (even if articulated through the keyboard!) can be,
قلت يا رسول الله ما النجاة قال أمسك عليك لسانك وليسعك بيتك وابكِ على خطيئتك
“I asked the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, ‘How can salvation be achieved?’ He replied, ‘Control your tongue, keep to your house, and weep over your sins’.” — reported by ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amir, collected in Riyadh al-Salihin
أَنَّ الْحُسَيْنَ بْنَ عَلِيٍّ، حَدَّثَهُ عَنْ عَلِيِّ بْنِ أَبِي طَالِبٍ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم طَرَقَهُ وَفَاطِمَةَ فَقَالَ ” أَلاَ تُصَلُّونَ ” . فَقُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّمَا أَنْفُسُنَا بِيَدِ اللَّهِ فَإِذَا شَاءَ أَنْ يَبْعَثَنَا بَعَثَنَا . فَانْصَرَفَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم حِينَ قُلْتُ لَهُ ذَلِكَ ثُمَّ سَمِعْتُهُ وَهُوَ مُدْبِرٌ يَضْرِبُ فَخِذَهُ وَيَقُولُ ” وَكَانَ الإِنْسَانُ أَكْثَرَ شَىْءٍ جَدَلاً
Al-Husayn bin ‘Ali narrated on the authority of his father, ‘Ali b. Abu Talib, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ came one night to see him ‘Ali and Fatimah (the daughter of the Prophet) and said,
“Why aren’t you praying (Tahajjud)? I (‘Ali) said, ‘Messenger of Allah, our souls are in the hands of God. If He wants to wake us up (to pray), He’ll wake us up’. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ left when I said this to him. I heard him say, with his back turned, striking his hand on his thigh,
“More than anything else, man is argumentative!” — Qur’an, 18: 54
The Prophet ﷺ said, “I came out to inform you about the Laylah al-Qadr, but as so-and-so were arguing, so the news about it had been taken away and perhaps that was better for you. So look for it in the ninth, the seventh, or the fifth of the last ten days of Ramadan”.