In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

How to interact in non-violent debates

Quran describes behavioral patterns of disbelievers and provides guidance for interacting with them according to the degree of opposition they exhibit. We learn that we are to respect all peace treaties with them (9:4, 8:72, 4:90), and that we may even befriend those who don't attack us or try to evict us from our homes (60:8-9). In the extreme, we are commanded to fight back and defend ourselves if they become violent against us (2:191).

This reminder is about Quranic guidance to behave righteously in the non-violent kinds of debates that often take place between believers and those who reject Quranic truth. It is not intended to cover violent or aggressive situations, nor is it about situations of mutual peace offerings

Knowing certain facts about disbelievers helps us practice certain qualities such as patience. God has already informed us that disbelievers:

- oppose God, His messengers, and His proofs...

[2:98] Anyone who opposes GOD, and His angels, and His messengers, and Gabriel and Michael, should know that GOD opposes the disbelievers.

[40:69] Have you noted those who argue against GOD's proofs, and how they have deviated?

[6:25] Some of them listen to you, but we place veils on their hearts to prevent them from understanding, and deafness in their ears. Thus, no matter what kind of proof they see, they cannot believe. Thus, when they come to argue with you, the disbelievers say, "These are tales from the past."

- reject Quran...

[84:21] And when the Quran is recited to them, they do not fall prostrate.
[84:22] This is because those who disbelieved are rejecting (the Quran).

- resent God's message and hate the truth...

[42:13] He decreed for you the same religion decreed for Noah, and what we inspired to you, and what we decreed for Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: "You shall uphold this one religion, and do not divide it." The idol worshipers will greatly resent what you invite them to do. GOD redeems to Himself whomever He wills; He guides to Himself only those who totally submit.

They Hate The Truth [43:78] "We have given you the truth, but most of you hate the truth."

[47:8] Those who disbelieve incur misery; He causes their works to be utterly in vain.
[47:9] That is because they hated what GOD revealed and consequently, He nullifies their works.

- are full of doubts...

[22:55] As for those who disbelieve, they will continue to harbor doubts until the Hour comes to them suddenly, or until the retribution of a terrible day comes to them.

[41:54] Indeed, they are doubtful about meeting their Lord. He is fully aware of all things.

- are prevented from the guidance if they firmly decide to disbelieve...

[6:110] We control their minds and their hearts. Thus, since their decision is to disbelieve, we leave them in their transgressions, blundering.

[2:6] As for those who disbelieve, it is the same for them; whether you warn them, or not warn them, they cannot believe.
[2:7] GOD seals their minds and their hearing, and their eyes are veiled. They have incurred severe retribution.

[7:146] I will divert from My revelations those who are arrogant on earth, without justification. Consequently, when they see every kind of proof they will not believe. And when they see the path of guidance they will not adopt it as their path, but when they see the path of straying they will adopt it as their path. This is the consequence of their rejecting our proofs, and being totally heedless thereof.

[35:19] The blind and the seer are not equal.
[35:20] Nor are the darkness and the light.
[35:21] Nor are the coolness of the shade and the heat of the sun.
[35:22] Nor are the living and the dead; GOD causes whomever He wills to hear. You cannot make hearers out of those in the graves.

[27:80] You cannot make the dead, nor the deaf, hear the call, if they turn away.

The above divine facts about disbelievers should put our minds in calm, enlightened, and amicable modes when we become engaged in debates with them. When the meanings of the verses are engraved in our memories, it becomes evident that our duty during such debates is to respectfully recite God's revelations and state what we know of His truth, leaving the rest in God's hands.

Other divine teachings and facts are also essential to keep in mind during peaceful arguments or debates with disbelievers. Among these teachings are:

- No compulsion in religion...

[2:148] Each of you chooses the direction to follow; you shall race towards righteousness. Wherever you may be, GOD will summon you all. GOD is Omnipotent.

[2:256] There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in GOD has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. GOD is Hearer, Omniscient.

- God is the one who guides those who He knows will choose and prefer His path...

[28:56] You cannot guide the ones you love. GOD is the only One who guides in accordance with His will, and in accordance with His knowledge of those who deserve the guidance.

[2:272] You are not responsible for guiding anyone. GOD is the only one who guides whoever chooses (to be guided). ...

[19:76] GOD augments the guidance of those who choose to be guided. For the good deeds are eternally rewarded by your Lord, and bring far better returns.

- Kindness, and polite manners in general are recommended by God in such peaceful debates...

[16:125] You shall invite to the path of your Lord with wisdom and kind enlightenment, and debate with them in the best possible manner. Your Lord knows best who has strayed from His path, and He knows best who are the guided ones.

- God will always support His servants with the proven truth...

[14:27] GOD strengthens those who believe with the proven word, in this life and in the Hereafter. And GOD sends the transgressors astray. Everything is in accordance with GOD's will.

[2:137] If they believe as you do, then they are guided. But if they turn away, then they are in opposition. GOD will spare you their opposition; He is the Hearer, the Omniscient.

[8:40] If they turn away, then you should know that GOD is your Lord and Master; the best Lord and Master, the best supporter.

- and He will always put disbelievers' schemes to waste...

[5:105] O you who believe, you should worry only about your own necks. If the others go astray, they cannot hurt you, as long as you are guided. To GOD is your ultimate destiny, all of you, then He will inform you of everything you had done.

[3:120] When anything good comes your way they hurt, and when something bad happens to you they rejoice. If you steadfastly persevere, and maintain righteousness, their schemes will never hurt you. GOD is fully aware of everything they do.

For guidance in responding to opposing points of view during peaceful discussions or debates with disbelievers, please study the following verses:

- We are to proclaim the truth and let God deal with their intentions and their spiritual growth...

[3:32] Proclaim: "You shall obey GOD and the messenger." If they turn away, GOD does not love the disbelievers.

[3:63] If they turn away, then GOD is fully aware of the evildoers.

- We should practice extreme caution not to let them deceive us in a way that would dilute the Quranic truth. We should be firm and clear in stating the Quranic truth without intimidation or compromise. This doesn't mean we force our belief...

[10:41] If they reject you, then say, "I have my works, and you have your works. You are innocent of anything I do, and I am innocent of anything you do."

[5:49] You shall rule among them in accordance with GOD's revelations to you. Do not follow their wishes, and beware lest they divert you from some of GOD's revelations to you. If they turn away, then know that GOD wills to punish them for some of their sins. Indeed, many people are wicked.

[42:15] This is what you shall preach, and steadfastly maintain what you are commanded to do, and do not follow their wishes. And proclaim: "I believe in all the scriptures sent down by GOD. I was commanded to judge among you equitably. GOD is our Lord and your Lord. We have our deeds and you have your deeds. There is no argument between us and you. GOD will gather us all together; to Him is the ultimate destiny."

[109:1] Say, "O you disbelievers.
[109:2] "I do not worship what you worship.
[109:3] "Nor do you worship what I worship.
[109:4] "Nor will I ever worship what you worship.
[109:5] "Nor will you ever worship what I worship.
[109:6] "To you is your religion, and to me is my religion."

- We should not act defensively or take their opposition as personal. God tells us through written histories that His messengers have consistently been targets of mockery and rejection, and that this shall set the precedent for us - it is God's revelations that they mock and reject...

[6:33] We know that you may be saddened by what they say. You should know that it is not you that they reject; it is GOD's revelations that the wicked disregard.
[6:34] Messengers before you have been rejected, and they steadfastly persevered in the face of rejection. They were persecuted until our victory came to them. Such is GOD's system that will never change. The history of My messengers thus sets the precedents for you.
[6:35] If their rejection gets to be too much for you, you should know that even if you dug a tunnel through the earth, or climbed a ladder into the sky, and produced a miracle for them (they still would not believe). Had GOD willed, He could have guided them, unanimously. Therefore, do not behave like the ignorant ones.

- We should know enough to stop when the discussion reaches its peak of ignorance. Uttering peace is not necessarily literal. It includes our peaceful and respectful behavior as well, which might take the form of declining to respond...

[7:199] You shall resort to pardon, advocate tolerance, and disregard the ignorant.

[25:63] The worshipers of the Most Gracious are those who tread the earth gently, and when the ignorant speak to them, they only utter peace.

- Last but not least, we shouldn't assume failure when discussion reaches a dead end, nor should we grieve over those who cannot see the truth. With all the above teachings in mind, our duty during these debates stops at proclaiming the truth assertively without compromise...

[35:8] Note the one whose evil work is adorned in his eyes, until he thinks that it is righteous. GOD thus sends astray whoever wills (to go astray), and He guides whoever wills (to be guided). Therefore, do not grieve over them. GOD is fully aware of everything they do.

Situations that involve our engagement in civilized discussions or debates with disbelievers will serve as witnesses for both parties. God intends to expose certain people to the message before they reach final conclusions or so they could never claim they did not receive a warner. At the same time, such discussions are designed to test believers to see if they would deliver the truth without any compromise or concealment, and to see if they would practice perseverance to engage in them smoothly, righteously, and productively, by God's will and according to His guidelines.

[33:39] Those who deliver GOD's messages, and who reverence Him alone, shall never fear anyone but GOD. GOD is the most efficient reckoner.

Peaceful Friday, salaam, and God bless.