10 Islamic Tips on Dealing with Disagreements

Sisters and brothers in Islam. Salamun alaykum wa rahmat Ullahi Ta'ala, wa barakatuh. There are adaab - etiquettes of disagreements that I would like to discuss quite briefly, just to have a look at what has been recommended within the religion of Islam and how do I deal with people that I disagree with, whomsoever they are.

Number one is not to rush into conclusions about the opinions of others. Allah says in the Holy Qur'an that when an individual brings you some news, don't rush into accepting it lest you feel remorseful or feel regretful later. Investigate. Find out the truth. There is so much fake news out there. WhatsApp messages being sent left, right and centre. Sometimes basing an opinion quite quickly can be destructive, can be catastrophic. When we come to the opinion of somebody 'Oh did you hear this person said this, this Mawlana said this on a Majlis, this individual has this opinion.' Go and ask them, investigate, find out. There are images out there today that have been photoshopped.

And sometimes we are quick to believe 'Oh, how can he be doing this or how can they be doing this?' So we must never come to a complete conclusion straight away. We must give our Mu'minin and Mu'minat 70 excuses and sometimes we don't even give them one.

Number two. You have to appreciate and understand personal freedom of expression. No one should be forcing the opinion on the other. If there are people who have different opinions, then you know I have to somehow accept and agree to disagree. Look at the time Imam Ali alayhi as-salam, those who didn't give him allegiance. Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqaas, Abdullahi bin Umar, they didn't give him bay'a. They disagreed with him. He didn't even force them to give him bay'a. But he said 'As long as you don't resort to violence, I leave you to be.'

Number three. We have to continuously look for commonalities and seek dialogue. Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim. "Ud'u ila sabeeli Rabbika bi 'l-hikmati wa al-maw'idhati al-hasanati" (16:125). 'Call upon the way of your Lord with wisdom and good counsel.' If disagreements are calmly and unemotionally broken down to logical steps, we avoid much conflict. Now, here is a very interesting Qur'anic concept. Look at how the Mala'ika were given the chance, a dialogue with Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. And Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala says "Inni jaa'ilun fi 'l-ardhi khalifa" (2:30).

The Mala'ika, you know, if you think about when you read the Qur'an, they had the opportunity to somehow ask Allah "Qalu ataj'alu feehaa mai yufsidu feehaa" (2:30). 'You're going to make on this earth creation that will create, cause corruption on it?' "Wa nahnu nusabbihu bihamdika wa nuqaddisu laka" (2:30). 'We are those who are, you know, glorifying You, exalting Your State.' Now this idea then Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala allowed them, so to speak, to have this dialogue with The Almighty should be inspirational for us.

Imam Ali, alayhi as-salam, beautifully says regarding the Khawaarij. Listen to this. It's narrated that he said 'In sakatu taraknahum - if they are silent, too quiet, we leave them.' 'Wa in takallamu hajajnahum - where if they speak, we debate them, we discuss with them. We have dialogue, we present evidence - hujja. 'Wa in afsadu qatalnahum' - no but if they cause corruption on the earth, they are oppressive and they are unjust and they pick up the sword, we will fight them.'

So it is basically invitation for it to be evidence based practice, so to speak. "Wa la tujaadilu ahl al-kitaabi illa billatee hiya ahsanu" (29:46), the Qur'an says to us. Look at what that, that is ahsan, that is better, have constructive criticism, have constructive points of discussion and argument.

Number four. Acknowledge the rights of others to disagree. So it's not only my way or no way, because the Qur'an says "La ikraaha fi id-deen" (2:256). The Qur'an also says "Lakum deenukum wa liya deen" (109:6). Qur'an also says "Wa inna awiyyaakum la'ala hudan aw fee dhalaalin mubeen" (34:24). Qur'an says you know, there is no compulsion in religion. You have my faith, your religion, and I have my own. So acknowledge the fact that, you know, others can also indeed disagree.

When we look at number five, we are told what? It is the importance of displaying good aklaqh, and morals, when we disagree with others. They should not be any abusive language. They should not be takfir or condemnation just because of disagreement. Somebody doesn't kiss the taboot, for example, when it comes to Aza', doesn't make them a Shi'a Wahhabi, as some people say. Why? Somebody doesn't necessarily want to do a particular type of Azadari, doesn't make them deviant from the religion of Islam. It needs a lot of patience, yes? It needs a lot of forbearance. Of course, violence is wrong. You know, we have people who unfortunately spread lies, false statements, character assassinations, you know? And unfortunately, they will exploit these disputes and plant hatreds, and this is Un-Islamic and indeed unacceptable.

Number six, ask Allah for Inshirah as-Sadr. Ask Allah 'Ya Allah I want to have my chest to be expanded when I'm having a disagreement with somebody. It's painful, so difficult. I want them to agree with me. I want them to say, 'Yes, you are right.'

Musa, alayhi as-salam, when he was going to Fir'aun. This is a man who believed he was God and Musa was to confront him. Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala gives him this mission. "Idhab ilaa Fir'awna innahu taghaa" (20:24). What does he ask for? What weapons is Musa seeking from Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala? "Qaala Rabbi shrahli sadri' (20:25). 'Ya Allah, I want my chest to expand.' What does that mean?

You know, Fir'aun will try to wind him up. But Musa wants the strength to deal with those seeking the downfall and wants to be calm. Wants to be able to react but react with intelligence, react with reasoning, not necessarily react with bad words, God forbid. And so the Holy Prophet of Islam, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa 'alihi wa sallam, is told "Alam nashrah laka sadrak" (94:1). They called him all kinds of things, magician sorcerer. But he was calm because Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala gave him that 'Inshirah as-sadr'. So ask Allah "Rabbi shrahli sadri" (20:25) when you're having a debate or a disagreement with someone, that is very important.

Number seven. Have 'husnu adh-Dhann' with people, give them as many excuses possible. Maybe you're not understanding them because sometimes we don't necessarily pay attention to what they're saying. And so we might come to a particular conclusion that is not what they're trying to say.

Number eight. Approach disagreements with humility. Think about this. Could I be wrong? Maybe I have misunderstood this issue? Maybe I haven't researched this subject? All my life, I've been taught something, and now somebody else is saying something else. Maybe this is an invitation for me to research?

Look at Karbala, look at the story of Imam Al-Husayn. Sometimes there's disagreements amongst historians. Arba'een, was it 40 days after the tenth of Muharram? Was it the same year? Or was it a year after? There's a disagreement. But if I come and for all of a sudden, say, anyone who believes a year after is such and so, even if they believe is such and so.... No, no, no. Let's be humble about the opinions that may exist out there. Allah knows, I may be mistaken. Despite my research, despite my conclusions, I'm still a fallible human being.

Number nine. I must listen to understand, not listen to reply. Many a times when we listen, all we want to do is, how do I answer back? How do I respond back? And this happens in disagreements between couples, by the way, husband and wife. A lot of disagreement happens, right, as part of marital process, no doubt. A conflict resolution and management here entitles us listen to understand what the other person is trying to say. This is to trying to be empathetic rather than how am I going to have the upper hand and respond back and be the person who's right?

And finally, number ten. If we disagree with somebody, we should not let make it personal. We should not have this personal vendetta and trying to destroy them just simply because we disagree with them. But importantly, principally, stick with the Islamic etiquettes and the adaab of harmony, of love, of respect, of compassion, of co-existence and indeed respect.

May Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala bless us all with the power and the strength of unity of brotherhood. And we pray to Him, Subhana wa Ta'ala, to enhance our connection in society with the Mu'minin and Mu'minat to spread love and peace wherever we go.