(29:6) Rageful Refutations to Courteous Conversations?

#QuranReflections by Hisham Abu Yusuf

وَمَن جَـٰهَدَ فَإِنَّمَا يُجَـٰهِدُ لِنَفْسِهِۦٓ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَغَنِىٌّ عَنِ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ ٦

And whoever strives ˹in Allah’s cause˺, only does so for their own good. Surely Allah is not in need of ˹any of˺ His creation.


The examples of scholars having decorum and etiquette in their disagreements are too many to relate. But one example came up today while I was doing some reading around this verse in Surah Al-Ankabut.

After Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, may Allah have mercy on him, spends a significant number of pages responding to some Mu’tazilite theological arguments – something he spends a lot of time doing in his exegesis – he then says something quite profound about this whole back-and-forth he’s engaging in. He said:

“My brother, know that both of us [i.e. me and my opponents] are all attempting to glorify Allah ﷻ and describe Him in a way that is free of imperfections… if you think about that carefully, you’ll realise that we all want to describe Allah ﷻ in a manner that rids Him of any imperfection, magnifies Him, and elevates His status. It happens to be that some of us got it right, and others just got it wrong..”

[Tafsir of Surah al-Ankabut, v6]

We can all take a lesson from this statement in how we engage, rectify and correct ideas from other Muslims, while avoiding character assassination and public beef-ing. We can all acknowledge that our opponent or interlocutor has a good intention, even if they got it wrong. And that we’re both trying to get to the same place, even if we chose different paths. And then maybe, just maybe, we’ll stop treating them like a villain and the cycle of rageful refutations can look a bit more like courteous conversations.


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