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I wonder, how is it looked upon to refrain from "speaking out" in these situations, in an attempt to avoid conflict. For instance, in a situation where an individual speaks negatively of Islam, is it acceptable to ignore it and move on with you life, or must it be challenged?

Although I always feel compelled to do so, in the interest of avoiding conflict (often with strangers), can it be ignored?

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    You always have three possibilities depending on your knowledge level: discuss (if you feel you can correct or at least speak out your point of view) or listen or leave (especially if people are making fun of Allah, Islamic thoughts, Muslims, ...). But be aware that discussing based on half knowledge could be worse then saying nothing! – Medi1Saif Feb 15 '16 at 12:37
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If you know how defend your positions, you may do so. If you don't have enough to back your claims, do not try to defend your positions with partial truths or lies: it hurts more than it does good.

It depends on what you mean by "speaking negatively".

If it is just basically badmouthing ("ah Islam is stupid, blah"), you can simply leave, you don't have to enter conflict over vain useless talks, you should use your time on this earth more wisely.

"When thou seest men engaged in vain discourse about Our signs, turn away from them unless they turn to a different theme. If Satan ever makes thee forget, then after recollection, sit not thou in the company of those who do wrong. (Quran, 6:68)"

"So leave them to plunge in vain talk and play about, until they encounter that Day of theirs which they have been promised!- (Quran, 70:42)"

If it is "speaking negatively" as in "in Islam, women are asked to put on a veil", then there is not much you can do. Some of the things are considered negative by some people, and positive by others.

If it is "speaking negatively" as in pure falsehoods, such that "In Islam, parents eat their kids", well you can debate them if you want, or you can simply say "that is not so".

If it is "speaking negatively" as, let's say, more objectively negative things, such as "Islam allows a man to own another man", then, here too, there is not much you can do.

I am unaware of any religious decree that compels you to speak out. It is considered good to speak out against evil (mounkar) and to advice to do good (ma'arouf), but it is not compelling. As long as you are not an accomplice to the evil.

  • Thank you for this answer - your breaking down of the cases is particularly helpful, as I have experiences at least one of each case in the past. I find "basic badmouthing" to be the most common form in my country, and so as you say, "useless talks" are rarely worth pursuing. Thanks again! – L555 Feb 15 '16 at 13:37
  • In religious wisdom (read somewhere but cant quote), one should act according to perceived level of results. It is almost obligatory to speak up if you perceive your help will surely affect positively. At the opposite end is the case where speaking up (or preaching or even Amr-bil-Ma'ruf) surely leads to Fasaad (greater negativity); in this case its almost Haram. One interpolates the significance between these extremes. – user549 Feb 15 '16 at 17:33
  • I do not recall reading that amr bil ma'ruf is "obligatory" or "almost obligatory". Just that it is rewarded and good. "Obligatory" would mean you get punished if you don't do it. I would have to see evidence for this claim and, if that evidence is available, what the punishment for failing this obligation should be. – ZakC Feb 15 '16 at 17:37
  • This is why I qualified "Almost" in both cases (in case no one noticed). This isn't a legal injunction but what is "wisdom." Not everything is to be distilled as punitive. – user549 Feb 15 '16 at 20:32
  • In that case we are very much on the same page, I share your opinion. But I still think that it takes a lot of discipline and research to be able to debate, and one should not engage in a debate armed only with good intentions. – ZakC Feb 15 '16 at 22:07
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We can defend Islam:

Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided. -- Qur'an 16:125

But we don't have to. In fact, the advice I received on converting to Islam was to refrain.

Abu Amina Elias, Arguing about the religion in Islam, 2015, writes we should leave arguments and debates aside even if we are certain our position is correct and the others are upon falsehood quoting, among other things, the ahadith

...I guarantee a house in Jannah for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right... (sunnah.com)

No people go astray after having been guided, but they resort to arguing. (sunnah.com)

The main reasons for refraining from debating that I recall were:

  1. You don't need to defend Islam. Islam has withstood ~1400 years of criticism and has passed the test of time. You can rest assured that your interlocutor hasn't come up with some ingenious way to debunk Islam.

  2. You may have some misbeliefs about or incomplete knowledge of Islam. If you are proven mistaken (or even if you're just tricked into thinking your mistaken), then what? Do you start having doubts? Your interlocutor probably doesn't care about the repercussions to you, your family, etc.

  3. Your interlocutor can change the topic. E.g., you might enter into a conversation about hijab, but now you're talking about female genital mutilation.

  4. Having someone disrespect Islam can be distressing. E.g. look at WikiIslam or TheReligionOfPeace.com to gauge the possibilities.

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    I support your answer because in the history of islam some scholars have never make a debat like imam malik and they refuse that totaly ... but some others who are genius in arguments and such things did but before that they got a very good knowledge ( in islamic sciences and philosophy , old languages , relegions ) like al-Ghazali , ibn-taymya , al-baqilany and others ... ! – Mustapha Elbazi Nov 13 '16 at 15:39

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