In the Name of Allah; Most-Merciful, Most-Compassionate.
Imam al Ghazali writes in Ihya ulum al diin on the evils of debating and the negative impacts that debate can have on ones character. I’ve posted previously on tafsir of a verse in Surah al Kahf, regarding how the Companions and Leaders of the Believers avoided debate and argumentation, herein lies some additional individual and internal reasons, whereas the former posts where related to societal regulations, why one ought to avoid debate and debating.
The first of the evils outlined is that of envy and he quotes the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who said that envy consumes good deeds like fire does wood. Envy is a result of debate as the process creates a victor and one who is overcome; naturally the process leads one away from seeking communal good and leads toward second evil: pride. The debater becomes haughty with regard to his opinions, ideas, ability and intellect. Debating leads people to view themselves as superior to others.
The text continues to outline the third evil of rancor, about which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said that the believer is free from. The next evil is that of backbiting and gossip, either during, about or caused by debate. Debaters often refer to the words of the other person or even attacking the honour of his opponent debater. In some cases this may even lead to deceit and lying. The Imam including spying and prying into private affairs as an evil aspect to debate as debaters try to uncover the faults of each other.
Those who engage in debate may even rejoice at the injury of others and feel depressed when a topic is lost. Therein he has lost the pursuit of seeking Truth and has taken a path to proving himself correct. Thereby Truth may even be resisted, and to such an extent that it may be detested – may Allah protect us from that. Likewise, debate may turn a person in the other direction, to extreme flattery and praise, in order to earn favour. This, Imam al Ghazali writes, leads to hypocrisy as the debater wants nothing but to put himself forward before people to gain their approval and their praise.
May Allah guide us all and protect us from such evils.