How to debate and dispute [16:125]

blog Apr 04, 2024

Today we start a series on verses from the Quran that guide us how to discuss, debate and disagree with people.

In the following verse from Sura Nahl, Allah says:

Call unto the way of your Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation.

And dispute with them in them in a manner that is best [16:125]

4 commands are given to the Holy Prophet [as] in this verse.

  1. "(0' Prophet!) call (mankind)..."
  2. " the path of your Lord..."
  3. "...with wisdom and good admonition..."
  4. "...and dispute with them in a manner that is best..."

Scholars explain that "To call... with wisdom" may mean 1.

That the one inviting towards God should use knowledge, reason, and understanding to attract people towards God. He should appeal to the natural instinct and the intellect of human beings.

People are more likely to respond to arguments which are rational and logical.

Hazrat Luqman (as) when advising his son, said: My son, learn wisdom and you will become noble, for verily wisdom directs towards religion

  1. that people should call others to religion on the basis of the revelation that has come to them, that is by using the verses of the Quran
  2. Or with firm and truthful words, avoiding obscure language or jargon
  3. The term beautiful or wise exhortation/ admonition can be understood to refer to the beautiful expressions that constitute the arguments, proofs, and reminders found in scripture
  4. Admonition that is done with good intention and for the benefit of people being advised as this shows concern for them 6.

It is advice which is offered in a gentle manner, in a manner that would soften hearts, that is, with gentle persuasion and reasonable commands

The second part of the verse deals with the situation that when people are called, they will naturally present their own arguments.

And so, how should he respond?

To dispute with them in the best way

  1. one should dispute in matters of religious difference by using logical argumentation based upon sound and mutually agreed-upon principles
  2. It should be done with sincerity, fairness, gentleness and should preserve the dignity of the other person
  3. Without harassment, rudeness, or harshness
  4. It should be free from condemnation and mockery, and not overstated


This verse entails a positive command to action. Invite others towards God. Speak about righteousness and universal values. Invite through example and speech. And when presented with counter arguments, dispute in a gentle and fair manner.


This verse teaches us how to communicate our values and beliefs to others and also how to respond when others do not agree.

Reality is that in relationships and in life, we may find ourselves on opposing sides of an issue. Very often, when this happens, we may get triggered and react in a an aggressive and unhelpful way. And when we do that, we almost guarantee that the other person will get further entrenched in their view point and will not listen to us.

This verse reminds us how to engage in communication when there is clearly a difference of opinion or values.

Firstly, such conversation needs to be done with the right intention.

We can speak up for what we believe, defend our truth, remove doubts and misconceptions, but we must always do with respect and compassion. When we dispute or argue in this way, we are not defending our own power of status. We come from a place of respect, love and compassion, intending good for all concerned.

Secondly, wisdom and good advice means that we keep in mind what might be in it for the other person. Why should they listen to us?

What is in it for them?

This verse is such a valuable reminder, especially in current times when people are more polarized and divided than ever. By being guided by wisdom and respect in our communication we have the best chance of being heard, influencing others or making a difference.

For the next few days, let us explore the elements of a good discussion or argument using the verses of the Holy Quran.



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