From amongst the matters rejected by the Imams of the Salaf was argumentation and disputation about issues concerning the lawful and the prohibited, this was not the way of the Imams of Islam. This was innovated later by the Legal Jurists of Kufah and Basrah, for example, in their authoring works dealing with the differences amongst the Shafi’is and Hanafis and then devoting a great deal of time and energy in discussion and argumentation. Matters went to such an extreme that this became the limit of their knowledge, it preoccupied them, and distracted them from beneficial knowledge. All of this is from the newly invented matters.”How telling and important is it for us today to hear a message from one of the great scholars of Islam, to remind us that arguing with one another about schools of thought leads not to beneficial knowledge, but only to argumentation and division, and that this was not the practice of those great scholars who came before us – may Allah be pleased with them all.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “A nation never went astray after being guided except by means of disputation.” (Tirmidhi) after which he recited the verse: “They only say this to you for argument’s sake, they are indeed a disputatious people” (43:58).
Some of the Salaf used to say that “When Allah desires good for His servant, He opens for him the door of action. When Allah desires evil for His servant, He locks the door to action and opens instead the door of disputation.” Imam Malik (may Allah have mercy on him) said that “Arguing and disputing about knowledge takes away the light of knowledge” and that: “Disputing about knowledge hardens the heart and breeds cursing.” It was the manner of the greatest Imams and scholars to often remain silent and respond to questions with: “I don’t know.”