The Manners of Conversation
4.4 DISCUSSIONS AND DEBATES
If you have trouble understanding some of what has been said in a meeting, restrain yourself until the speaker finishes. Gently, politely, and with proper introduction, ask for clarification. Do not interrupt a person’s talk. This is contrary to the proper manner of listening, and stirs up contempt. However, this is not the rule if the meeting is for study and learning. In such a case, asking questions and initiating a discussion is desirable if conducted respectfully and tactfully and only after the speaker finishes. Caliph Al-Ma^mon said, ‘Discussion entrenches knowledge more than mere following.’
Al-Haitham bin Adi, a known scholar, and historian, and one of the entourage of the four Caliphs Abi Jafer Al-Mansour, Al-Mahdi, Al-Hadi, and Al-Rasheed, said: ‘The men of wisdom said it is an ill manner to overwhelm someone while speaking and to interrupt them before they end their speech.’
If a colleague did not understand a matter and asked a scholar or an elder to explain, you should listen to what is being said. From the repeated explanation you may gain additional benefits to what you already know. Never utter any word belittling your colleague, nor should your face betray any such emotion.
When an elder or a scholar speaks, you should listen attentively to them. Never busy yourself with a talk or discussion with other colleagues. Do not let your mind wander somewhere else. Keep it focused on what is being said. If you did not understand something that was said, wait until the talk is finished. Then and only then, ask the speaker, with respect and politeness, to explain it. Never raise your voice with the question, or be blunt to draw attention to yourself. Never interrupt a speaker.
Never rush to answer if you are not very confident of your answer. Never argue about something you do not know. Never argue for the sake of argument. Never show arrogance with your counterparts especially if they hold a different opinion. Do not switch the argument to belittle your opponent’s views. If their mistaken understanding became evident, do not rebuke or scold them. Be modest and kind. A poet said,
Who could get me a person
When I offend him, his answer will reflect calmness
Who would listen intently to what I have to say
When he knows it better than I.
4.5 SWEARING BY ALLAH
To confirm a statement, many resort to swearing by the name of Allah (SWT) or one of His attribute. This is a bad habit that should be resisted. The name of Allah should not be used so lightly, and to swear by it is a very serious matter. Allah (SWT) in Sura Al-Nahil says ‘And do not take your oath to practice deception between yourselves, with the result that someone’s foot may slip after it was firmly planted’ Always remember the hadith of the Prophet reported by Bukhari and Muslim ‘ Whoever believe in Allah and the Last Day should say something good or remain silent.’
4.6 ANSWERING A QUESTION
If a colleague was asked about something that you know, do not rush to answer. Instead, you ought not to say anything until you are asked. This is a better manner, and a nobler attitude. It generates interest in what you say, while enhancing your respect.
The honourable follower Mujahid Ibn Jabr recalled that Luqman the Wise said to his son: ‘If another person was asked a question, never hasten to give the answer, as if you are going to gain booty or to win a precious prize. By doing so, you will belittle the one who was asked and will offend the inquirer and you will bring the attention of the obnoxious people to your stupidity and ill-manner.’
Sheikh Ibn Batta, a Hanbali scholar, said: ‘I was with Abu ‘Omar Al-Zahid Mohammed ibn ‘Abdul Wahed Al-Baghdadi – the Imam and linguist known also as Ghulam Th’alab. He was asked about an issue. I rushed and answered the inquirer. He turned toward me and asked: ‘Do you recognize an officious character?’ He suggested that I was a nosy person and made me feel very embarrassed.’
from the book ISLAMIC MANNERS
By Shaykh Abdul-Fattaah Abu Ghuddah (RA)