I’m new to posting on the internet…partly because I’m not exactly computer savvy and partly because of prohibitive internet costs I live.
It’s only very recently that I found there’s a whole world of Islaamic information out here on the net and a very definitive Muslim presence. Once I discovered that, it wasn’t long before I was cruising various Muslim internet forums as a newbie. That’s how I discovered a phenomenon called the “diss”.
From what I could make out, a “diss” involves belittling another person’s knowledge/ level of eemaan/ opinion/ views/ version of facts in such a way that the person is scared or subdued into silence. But only for a while. It’s not long before the person strikes back with their version of “facts”…the sole objective of which seems to be… to silence the disser. And so it goes on…ad infinitum ad nauseum.
As a bystander, I’ve witnessed interminable wranglings over words, duels of my-manhaj/madhab-is-better-than-yours, outright name-calling, virtual quote-athons (where one person’s quotes are highlighted and picked to pieces by another)…the works.
What really disturbed me was the amount of time, effort and energy that was being put into perfecting the diss to an art form. And that this is happening on Islaamic forums used by Muslims in the name of discussing the deen.
I’m not naïve. I realize that there are differences and divisions in the Ummah…serious ones…which need to be addressed. I realize that there is an urgent need for disseminating knowledge… that the internet is a v. powerful da’wah tool …that there are people with different agendas and ideologies at work here who need to be countered.
But, there’s got to be a better way of doing dis (pun intended).
And what can be better than Rasoolallaah SAW’s way?
Inna ahsana al-hadeethi kitaabullaah
Wa ahsan al-hady hadyu Muhammad (SAW)
The best talk is Allaah’s Book and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad SAW. [Sahih Bukhari]
The Qur’an and Sunnah are pretty clear in their stance on disputes:
And obey Allaah and His Messenger, and do not dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength depart, and be patient. Surely, Allaah is with those who are As-Saabirin (the patient ones) [Surah Al Anfaal 8:46]
Once Rasoolallaah [SAW] heard some people arguing outside his apartment, one of them saying, “Did not Allaah say so and so?” and the other saying, “Did not Allaah say so and so?” So he came out angry and said, “Is this what I have ordered you, or is this what I was sent with, that you should set one part of the Book of Allaah against some other parts?”
[Reported by Ahmad, Ibn Maajah]
In his farewell khutbah Rasoolallaah SAW said, “The whole of the Muslim is sacred: his blood, his property and his honour.” [Sahih Muslim]. And he, [SAW ] also said: “…and whoever knowingly argues uselessly, Allaah will continue to be angry with him until he refrains from it… [Abu Dawood, Al Haakim]
Strong words…for those who take them to heart…like the early Muslims and men of knowledge over the years did.
Shaykh al-Albaani explains the importance of not arguing over differences on issues that are not fundamental to the deen: “The Companions only differed when it was inevitable, but they used to hate disputes, and would avoid them whenever possible. As for the muqallideen, even though it is possible in a great many cases to avoid differing, they do not agree nor strive towards unity; in fact, they uphold differing.”
“The Companions (RA), despite their well-known differing in non-fundamental issues, were extremely careful to preserve outward unity, staying well-away from anything which would divide them and split their ranks. For example, there were among them those who approved of saying the basmalah loudly (in prayer) and those who did not; there were those who held that raising the hands (in prayer) was recommended and those who did not; there were those who held that touching a woman nullified ablution, and those who did not; - but despite all that, they would all pray together behind one imaam, and none of them would disdain from praying behind an imaam due to difference of opinion.” [The Prophet's Prayer, Albani ]
Imam al Barbaharee warns: “If someone comes to debate with you, beware of him. For debating involves argumentation, disputing, seeking to overcome, wrangling and anger. You have been forbidden from all of this. It diverts you both away from the truth. It has not reached us that any of our scholars or people of knowledge argued, debated or disputed.”
Al-Hasan (al-Basree) said, “The wise man does not argue or seek to overcome with stratagem rather he propagates his wisdom. If it is accepted he praises Allaah and if it is rejected he praises Allaah.” Once a man came to al-Hasan (al-Basree) and said, “I wish to debate with you about the Religion.” Al-Hasan replied, “I know my Religion. If you have lost your Religion go out and look for it.” [Reported by al-Aajurree in A-Sharee’ah ]
As anyone who’s ever been on an internet forum will attest, its very tempting to rant and rave…especially when one feels provoked by other posters or ongoing discussions. But the challenge lies in resisting the whispers of Shaytaan and to “Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish." (Surah Al-Araaf7 :199).
The sorry spectacle of Muslims trying to score points over one another in the cyberworld trying to convince an invisible audience that only they have the correct take on the deen has got to go – that’s something I feel very strongly about. Dissing fellow Muslims on debates related to the deen serves no real purpose – as lay people, we’re only flattering ourselves that we could solve issues that have perplexed scholars over centuries. On the the other hand there is the very real danger that this could erode our adab and weaken our eemaan beyond measure.
I’ve collected a few reminders– first for myself -- and for those of us who frequent internet forums with the intention that this will help us beat diss.
* It makes sense to check one’s intentions before posting. Seek that the truth prevails instead of trying to convert someone over to your point of view.
* Ask yourself “ Why am I doing this? ” . This simple question can can stop a lot of anger, spite, sarcasm and riya from spilling over.
* Remember, it is the right of a fellow Muslim on us that even if they are incorrect in their words or actions, we don’t correct them in a way that embarrasses or denigrates them. It is the right of a fellow Muslim that we try our utmost to cover their faults and not revel in their mistakes or magnify them.
* The scholars whose knowledge we quote and cut-and-paste from disagree among themselves…but they stick to the ethics of disgreement. It would be a good idea to take these manners from them, in addition to the bits of information.
* In trying to refute someone’s false claims on points that are fundamental to the deen (Tawheed, the 5 pillars of Islaam, the 6 articles of faith etc), be sure to have authentic proof from the Qur’an and Sunnah instead of going by opinions and feelings. Truly, the words of Allaah swt and His Prophet [SAW] are better than the words of His Creation.
* This can’t be repeated often enough-- Stop debating about what a good Muslim is, be one. It’s no use extolling the virtues of kindness, patience and humility when one is coming across as the antithesis of those virtues.
* Give others the benefit of doubt… husn az dhann for fellow Muslims may help us understand a post that seems provocative in a new light. Perhaps a person is well-intentioned but is using an inappropriate expression, bad logic and analogy or simply aren’t able to express themselves clearly.
* Repent for any fitnah one may have created when speaking without knowledge or evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah. Repent for stubbornly following one’s whims or conjecture when presented with evidence, just because one didn’t want to concede one’s weak beliefs.
I once read that when faced with a choice of a loss of adab or the loss of an argument, it is better for the Muslim to hold on to the adab and let go of the argument.
“And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah's favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth Allah make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided. [Surah Aal-Imraan 3:103]