By S. Arshad, New Age Islam
28 April 2021
Munazarah Is Argumentation Based On Sectarian Beliefs Which Is Not Recognized Or Supported By The Quran
1. In a Munazara, the participants from rival sects present arguments to prove the other sect wrong.
2. Sometimes a Munazara results in violence which is against the spirit of Islam.
3. Munazaras are on the wane in India and Pakistan but still in vogue in the Indian sub-continent.
The Quran enjoins on all Muslims to carry forward the mission of the holy Prophet pbuh. The Prophet pbuh conveyed the message of God with love, patience, perseverance and tolerance. After his death, the responsibility of conveying the message of God was passed on all the Muslims. To do so, the Quran encourages Muslims to engage in dialogue with non-Muslims and call them towards the Deen of God. But at the same time, Muslims are also asked not to enter into any confrontation with them if they do not listen to the message of the Quran.
“And when they hear vanity they withdraw from it and say: Unto us our works and unto you your works. Peace be unto you! We desire not the ignorant.”(Al Qasas:55)
The Quran uses the word Jadal meaning peaceful dialogue as a means to convey God’s message to the non-Muslims. Jadal means to argument, to discuss or to enter into a dialogue. Therefore, the Quran encourages Mujadalah with non-Muslims where Muslims will present the message of the God with the help of arguments. There is even a surah in the Quran named Al Mujadalah. The Quran says,
“And argue (jadal) not with the People of the Scripture unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our Allah and your Allah is One, and unto Him we surrender”.(Al Ankabut:46)
In another verse, God exhorts Muslims to reason with (non-Muslims) in a better way (Jadal)
Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason (jadal) with them in the better way. Lo! thy Lord is Best Aware of him who strayeth from His way, and He is Best Aware of those who go aright.(Al Nahl:125)
The Quran also says that the non-believers contend (Jadal) with falsehood in order to refute the Truth.
“We send not the messengers save as bearers of good news and warners. Those who disbelieve contend (jadal ) with falsehood in order to refute the Truth thereby.”( Al Kahf: 56)
There is another verse where God says that the non-believers indulge in Mujadalah but their arguments are based on falsity and have no grounds.
“None argue (jadal) concerning the revelations of Allah save those who disbelieve, so let not their turn of fortune in the land deceive thee (O Muhammad).” Al Mumin:4)
Those who wrangle (jadal) concerning the revelations of Allah without any warrant that hath come unto them, it is greatly hateful in the sight of Allah and in the sight of those who believe. (Al Mumin:35
“And that those who argue concerning Our revelations may know they have no refuge.”(As Shura: 35)
From the verses quoted above it becomes clear that the non-believers argue with the prophet pbuh to refute the Truth but their arguments are not based on facts. They argue only for the sake of arguing.
Therefore, the Quran exhorts Muslims to engage in Mujadalah with non-Muslims in order to convince them and guide them to the path of God.
But unfortunately, the Muslims have abandoned the path of Mujadalah and have adopted the path of Munazara which is a sectarian practice. In the Indian sub-continent, Munazara between Deobandi and Barelvi sects are held in which both the parties try to prove the beliefs of each other false. Munazara is therefore a sectarian Mujadalah without a basis in the Quran or Sunnah. In a Munazara, a team of scholars from both the side sit with hundreds of books to support their belief. During the 50s or even earlier, Munazara was very commonplace in India and Pakistan. Sometimes, a Munazara would result in violence injuring the participants. During the Munazaras, the leader would exhaust all his knowledge and energies to prove the opposite sect Munafiq and even Kafir and the opponent would exhaust all his knowledge and energies to prove the other sect Kafir or Munafiq and defend his own sect. Though the popularity of Munazara is has waned in India due to social and political circumstances, it is still in vogue in Pakistan.
The mission of propagating the Deen is being ignored by the Muslims and they waste their energies and resources in proving the other sect wrong whereas the Quran tells them not to be divided into sects and sub-sects and hold on to the rope of Allah steadfastly. The Quran also narrates the fate of the bygone nations who were divided into sects and had invited the wrath of God. The Quran time and again tells Muslims to struggle in the path of God and to call all the people on earth towards one God. And to achieve this goal, the Quran encourages Muslims to engage in Mujadalah (peaceful dialogue) with non-Muslims and with the People of the Book. It does not encourage Munazara (Arguments based on sectarian beliefs) as the Quran does not recognize sects.
Also Read: What is Munazara in Islam and What are the good manners during Munazara?
Mujadalah or interfaith dialogue is the most suitable means to convey the true message of Islam in the modern age. Modern science or the scientific discoveries and advancements have only strengthened the belief of man in religion or spiritual existence of God. New scientific insight into natural phenomena or new facts about the outer universe have brought new religion closer to science and therefore, superstitions, unfounded dogma or belief in animism or atheism has been rejected by science. That’s why the greatest scientist of the 20th century believed in a Supreme Power that runs the universe. Such academic or intellectual dialogue or debate is encouraged by the Quran under Mujadalah. In modern religious milieu, Mujadalah will not mean ony debating the genuineness of Islam but also discussing Islam with the help of modern scientific advances and new discoveries that strengthens belief of a Supreme God. Mujadalah will also mean presenting research work on science and scientific phenomenon mentioned in the Quran thus proving the relevance of the Quran in the modern world.
From this point of view, Munazara is a retrograde practice that negates Islamic spirit of unity of the nation or community and also puts the prophetic mission of Dawah behind the back. Muslims have the responsibility to continue the mission of the Prophet pbuh by engaging in Mujadalah and abandoning the sectarian practice of Munazarah. Propagating the message of Islam through videos, through publications, translations and exegeses and through interfaith dialogue come under Mujadalah. Muslims should sectarianism and embark on the path of God and His Prophet pbuh and seek good for the entire humanity. Indulging in sectarian differences and declaring all the other sects Kafirs is unbecoming of a true Muslim. Muslims should use all their abilities, energies and resources only to convey the message of the Quran to the people of the world and bury their petty sectarian differences for the collective good.
S. Arshad is a columnist with NewAgeIslam.com
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