Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Raheem
Assalam alaikum wa rahmatullah.
Is it me, or is there just a liiittle too much love in this thread? Lol.
I'm about to derail the thread. Feel free to relocate the post if you think it doesn't belong here, other threads could equally have lit the touchpaper.
Our Beloved Prophet - sallallahu alayhi wassalam - is said to have had a particular quality, that of jawami al-kalam. Perhaps one of you erudite folks can give an appropriate translation, but I have understood it to mean comprehensiveness of speech. I've seen others translate it as conciseness of speech. About which - on the authority of our teachers, Allah ta'ala bless them - I have understood that he - sallallahu alayhi wassalam - could convey much through saying/expressing little. Take the famous (and lengthy) hadith of Umm Zar'a, which may be an apt example given this thread, about the 11 women who were discussing their husbands (this hadith is mentioned, amongst other places, in the Shama'il of Imam Tirmidhi and the Sahih of Imam Muslim, radhi'Allahu ta'ala 'anhu).
Qadi Iyad - radhi'Allahu 'anh - the famous author of the absolutely seminal, and indispensable, work, Ash-Shifa fi Ma'rifat Huquq Al-Mustafa [The Healing Concerning the Knowledge of the Rights of the Chosen One (sallallahu alayhi wassalam), commonly known as just Ash-Shifa], is said to have written a (circa) 300 page commentary on this one hadith alone. So imagine then the lessons it must contain!
We like to talk about the the Sunnah, about emulating our Beloved Rasul'Allah - sallallahu alayhi wassalam - so what about striving to embody this quality too - of jawami al-kalam - as this is a Prophetic Sunnah as well. We should wonder why it takes some of us so long to make a point. The amount of words/posts we expend belabouring our, often ill-conceived, opinions. Why do we face so much opposition and resistance? Is it really always because others are wrong? Or could it be because we're too blind to see that we're not right?
So, I ask me, and us all, let us look to our words/posts on this board, and ask ourselves, of what utility are they in serving our objective when writing them? To be sure, there is no impunity from what we post, we will each be accounted for every single post we make, and each word that we write. So, will they be in our favour, or will they go against us? Surely that should be our measure before posting?
Yet it would seem some of us readly click "send" - time and again - on posts that foment negativity, offence, and in reality, lead to little by way of positive contribution and enrichment, regardless of our lofty intentions (which sometimes mask delusions that point to diseases of the heart). In fact, one might argue that some contributors' posts end up proving a negative example of Islam and/or Muslims. What a sad state of affairs. I don't want my words, or worse, me, to be treated/considered as an example of how not to be. Not exactly a good look. The absence of adab [courtesy] towards your Brothers/Sisters when engaging with them, is itself a reason to question oneself and one's intention when posting. Some posts are patronising, self-indulgent, insensitively articulated and way too personal. And wisdom dictates knowing not to constantly raise contentious themes, especially when you don't know the sensitivities of those on the other side of the screen. Some of us act as if expressing one's opinion in public is more important than preventing the fallout it could lead to, on our scale of priorities. Which, to anyone with sufficient sense, maturity, and a degree of responsibility to this online community, as well as to the wider Muslim community, is entirely forseeable, and thus less excusable. Bearing in mind that the kinds of trigger issues that tend to inflame others and provoke unislamic responses, are often not even supposed to be debated over ipse dixit.
Moreover, when an attitude of condescension and disdain pervades the lines between, then it is time to account oneself. Surely that is better, and more appropriate, than being accounted by Him - subhanahu wa ta'ala - on that day when you'll be asked whether you usurped the rights of your fellow Brothers/Sisters upon you, on this board.
When the harm of your posts outweighs the benefit, it is time to re-evaluate the merit in posting. And remember, Allah ta'ala blinds one to their own faults, by preoccupying them with the faults of others. I have come across fewer, more obvious truisms in my life than this. Indeed I learned this the hard way through reflection and introspection, yet still I fall prey to it, may Allah ta'ala protect and forgive me from such a nasty trait.
You have to wonder, why does someone write on a messageboard? Presumably because they want to be read? And why do they want to be read? Because they feel they have something of value to say, an opinion they want to air, no? So how is it then, that some of us, when we write, instead of the content of what we write forming a substantive contribution and a worthwhile discussion, actually ends up itself becoming the subject of a fractured polemic?? Rather than the point(s) you're seeking to make, fostering some productive understanding, your post/thread itself becomes the headline of heated debate, consternation and worse, fitna? I see no sense in framing posts in a way such that what you're trying to say gets drowned out by how you're saying it. What value, exactly, does such a post/thread, possess? What has been achieved? And along the way, how much of it has counted towards your akhira??
Intense argumentation - I'm not saying this thread contains argumentation, this is just a general reminder - is seriously blameworthy in Islam, even if you are right. That is, the fact that you're engaged in intense argumentation is enough to render sin upon you, regardless of your being in the right. Such is the severity of how argumentation is viewed in the Deen.
I think I've said the following before, so apologies to those of you for whom this is repetitive.
There is someone in this world I've never met, yet to whom I consider I owe a massive debt. Because something this person once said managed to etch itself into my consciousness such that I'm sure it has saved me many a time from allowing myself to be drawn into a debate/dialogue which would have been detrimental to my hereafter, wallahu a'lam.
It was during a particularly heated and prolonged online discussion concerning a contentious topic. Too many of the participants were allowing themselves to get wound up, the mood was turning ugly in some quarters, a few tempers were flaring, the tone of the language had deteriorated, and things were getting personal.
In the midst of such charged atmospheres, voices of reason and sanity often tend to get drowned out and sidelined, as people are too far gone in their heatedness/entrenchment. Yet out of the haze, emerged this lone voice - I remember it as if it were yesterday - with such a simple, yet sublime, counsel, which - to these eyes at least - suddenly froze time, as it cut cleanly through all that invective, and shook me at least, to my core:
Should you find yourself unable to present your argument and retain your adab too, drop the argument and preserve your adab - surely that is more beneficial to you.
As if struck by a massive blow to the chest, I suddenly realised that we were being addressed by one of the Ahl-Allah [People of Allah]. We're not talking about a scholar, nobody famous, not "a name." Just someone whom Allah ta'ala had allowed to manifest the Prophetic quality of jawami al-kalam at that point in time. Right then and there, for all the high-level scholarly discussion I'd been following on that thread, transfixed and drawn into the to-and-fro of the debate betwen learned parties on both sides of the fence - including people whose opinion I respected - on a spotlight issue which was being discussed the world over - I had a fath [opening]. An epiphany. And it dawned on me that none of it mattered, because for me, the whole point of my involvement in that prolonged polemic was for Allah ta'ala to bring me to this point, this realisation. That this, was my lesson, my take-away from the thread. The rest of it was by the by.
And what a lesson, subhan'Allah. Years later and it is still etched within me. Because there is only so far you can stretch elastic before it either snaps back, or breaks. Either way, it's gonna hurt.
I appreciate that just quoting the above counsel may lack effect/impact since you didn't experience all that led up to it - I guess you had to be there to maybe really appreciate the profundity and layered nature of the advice - but insha'Allah those who prefer to pay attention to the road signs that are there to help avoid crashes, will take heed. For the others, including myself, we should make du'a that Allah ta'ala open their/our eyes to a way which is better. Imam al-Haddad - radhi'Allahu 'anh - is purported to have advised that gentility can often reach the places that harshness cannot.
If we cannot engage with one another with adab, then better not to engage at all. Because it might be that the cost to your akhira is too great. And practically, of what utility is a post that doesn't serve it's objective? If you find yourself having to defend your points repeatedly, or re-explain yourself, for how long will you continue to consider that the other is mistaken before considering the possibility, that, you know what, it might just be me?
Being right isn't always best for the nafs [ego]. Many valuable lessons are to be learnt from accepting that one is wrong. Yet the nafs likes to ride roughshod over the self and be in charge. It hates letting go. But you must, if you have any serious concern for your own spiritual welfare, wrestle it, defeat such spiritual sicknesses, and take control. Debate and discussion - especially in environments where people are strongly opinionated yet lack the temperament to control their tongues/tones when facing disagreement or opposition - are classic breeding grounds for bacteria like riya [pretentiousness], one-upmanship, entrenchment, ad-hominem digs, argumentation, disputation, contention, etc., that eat away at the soul. Some of which cause hardening of hearts. Others of which lead to, or risk, admixing pure intentions with some corrupted element. And who would want to accept an offer to drink from a glass of water that contained even a drop of urine?
It is related - on the authority of our teachers, may Allah ta'ala preserve them - that Imam ash-Shafi'i - radhi'Allahu 'anh - is reported to have have said that he never debated someone save that he wished the truth would appear on their tongue, so that he could submit to it.
If you're going to say something, make it priceless, not meaningless.
(By the way, I am completely aware of the irony of mentioning jawami al-kalam and then writing a verbose post like this. But then that's my challenge and my shortcoming.)