Here's a common question many ask about debating, especially the Christians:
Dear Sir, salam alaykum. There is a brother worried about a Christian at work who is learning Islam. He told us what happened after trying to debate with him and showing videos of"debaters" against Christianity. This is what he said;
Answer from Yusuf Estes, former Christian businessman and now Muslim chaplain:
Bismillah - Salam alaykum brother,
Thank you for writing and for your questions concerning helping someone come into Islam from Christianity. I am happy and honored that Allah has guided you to write to me about this most important subject. We have been able to help thousands come into Islam, by the Mercy of Allah. Al Hamdulilah.
I would like to begin by mentioning that debating and discussng with people is one of the ways to introduce the beauty of Islam. The idea is to present differenting view points in a sophisticated manner to bring about better understandings for the speakers and the audience, for mutual benefit.
This is actually in Islam but those who debate with the Christians for the sake of debating and bring big crowds to hear them do it, have been known to make more trouble between us and them than some wars. This is not so much true debating for the sake of gaining proper knowledge, as much as it is, debating for the sake of getting attention and making some people famous or selling their books and ideas, etc.
I am sorry to tell you that we are not at all impressed with this type of "dawah." It is not fitting for good Muslims to attack any other religion in this form. Those who are attacking Islam love to use these tapes and books as a way to put us down and show us as being intolerant and rude. They also sell these videos to promote further division between us and them. This is the opposite of what we are instructed to do with the Christians.
I have spoken with certain callers to Islam about this and talked with them about not continuing in this way. You see I have been a Christian and I would not have appreciated this type of approach being used by these people. I would have become a bigger enemy to them and to Islam.
Al Hamdulilah that the one who did call me to Islam used the formula mentioned by Allah in His Book. That is to say, that we should approach them in the best way with the best of words and speech, arguing in a way that is 'better', meaning that we don't insult and attack them, rather we show them the good things of Islam that appeal to the believers of the Book.
Let me give you an example of how we generally reply to the Christians who write to us on a daily basis. Suppose they ask a very harsh or even insulting question, like; "Why do you Muslims have to kill all the Christians?" (Of course, we do not have such notions and this is not what Islam is all about - but this is the type of question that comes to us from time to time).
So, what would be the best reply to such a question? Shall we open a debate about the verses in the Quran that deal with "kiling the disbelievers?"
Debating is what got us into the discourse to start with.
Here are examples of the use of the word "argue" in the Quran and what the results are from the Tafsir of Quran:
And these are examples of the word "debate" in Quran tafsir:
Here are some clear proofs for NOT debating in the way people are doing today:
The Command to invite people to Allah with "Wisdom and Good Preaching"
Allah commands His Messenger Muhammad to invite the people to Allah with Hikmah (wisdom).
A well known scholar from centuries back, Ibn Jarir said: "That is what was revealed to him from the Book and the Sunnah.''
(and fair preaching) meaning, with exhortation and stories of the events that happened to people that are mentioned in the Qur'an, which he is to tell them about in order to warn them of the punishment of Allah.
﴿وَجَـدِلْهُم بِالَّتِى هِىَ أَحْسَنُ﴾
(and argue with them with that which is best.) meaning, if any of them want to debate and argue, then let that be in the best manner, with kindness, gentleness and good speech, as Allah says elsewhere:
﴿وَلاَ تُجَـدِلُواْ أَهْلَ الْكِتَـبِ إِلاَّ بِالَّتِى هِىَ أَحْسَنُ إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ مِنْهُمْ﴾
(And do not argue with the People of the Book, unless it be with that which is best, except for those who purposefully do wrong.) 29:46
Allah commanded him to speak gently, as He commanded Musa and Harun to do when he sent them to Pharaoh, as He said:
﴿فَقُولاَ لَهُ قَوْلاً لَّيِّناً لَّعَلَّهُ يَتَذَكَّرُ أَوْ يَخْشَى﴾
(And speak to him mildly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear (Allah). 20: 44
﴿إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَن ضَلَّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ﴾
(Truly, your Lord best knows who has strayed from His path,) meaning, Allah already knows who is doomed (destined for Hell) and who is blessed (destined for Paradise). This has already been written with Him and the matter is finished, so call them to Allah, but do not exhaust yourself with regret over those who go astray, for it is not your task to guide them. You are just a warner, and all you have to do is convey the Message, and it is He Who will bring them to account.
﴿إِنَّكَ لاَ تَهْدِى مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ﴾
(You cannot guide whom you love) 28:56
﴿لَّيْسَ عَلَيْكَ هُدَاهُمْ وَلَـكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِى مَن يَشَآءُ﴾
(It is not up to you to guide them, but Allah guides whom He wills.) 2:72
There is one particular presenter of Islam, a convert to the faith named Hamza Tzortzis. He is excellent, maashallah, in every aspect of the way he presents, shares and even helps his opponent in the debates. His fairness, patience and even mindedness make him one of the best examples we can offer for anyone interested in this area of discussion for Islam.
Another presenter and teacher of Islam who has engaged in the Doha Debates is Dr. Yasir Qadhi. You might like to compare some of his talks (online) to see different ways to handle the topic of mutual discussion for the benefit of everyone.
Now let us examine the methodology of the prophet, peace be upon him, in dealing with these types of people. We should also add that we have had a tremendous success ratio in presenting Islam and having many of these same people enter into Islam, Al Hamdulilah. Allah is the One who Guided them to Islam, but He let us be there and let us be the reason for them to enter into Islam. Al Hamdulilah.
Now, here is a sample of how we present Islam to the people. You can write it down, memorize it and share it with others, inshallah:
Thank you, for asking about my religion.
We Muslims believe in One God, and we were all created by Him in this life for a test, to see if we would worship and praise and thank Him for all that we have and ask only Him for what we need.
We understand for those who deny Him or set up partners with Him in worship from what He has created, they would fail their test.
This simple message of Islam is: "Laa elaha illa lah" (There is none worthy of any worship except the only One worthy of worship, Allah).
This may sound a bit over simplified, but it is the essential of Islam. We would now like to offer a few basics of Islam to help you see how we come to this conclusion.
Now you can use Basics Of Islam, from our website: www.WhatsIslam.com [click]
Here are some important points to keep in mind:
1. As Muslims we cannot lie about anything, especially about our religion.
2. We have original recorded sources of our religion:
A) The Quran [click]
B) Teachings of Muhammad [click]
This is a unique part of Islam, not available in any other ancient religions.
3. Sometimes "questions" contain misinformation. We must qualify what it is that someone is saying against what they are implying.
4. If during the answer, you hear yourself saying, "I didn't know that" or "This is good," then are you ready to worship your God and your Lord without and partners?
This what Islam is really all about. The most important subject is the worship of Almighty God, without any partners or associates or "gods" besides Almighty God.
(this is the area where we answer their particular questions in details with the references)
More important links re: Islam - Research - Answers - Videos - Audio - Guide US TV
Thanks again for your question. All good is from Allah mistakes were from myself.
May Allah guide us in Truth, ameen.
Salam alaykum - Yusuf Estes
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Answers from Sheik Yusuf Estes, National Muslim chaplain. American born former Christian, student of many scholars, he offers help with authentic information about ISLAM in easy English.