Worldly Disagreement

One’s etiquette in social situations is the key foundation to having strong relationships with others. This article is the ninth in a series taken from the On Demand Course: Discussion on Sulami’s Adab of Keeping Company.

Our mother Aisha relates about the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was never given a choice between two worldly matters except that he chose the easiest of them. 

She also describes that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) never disagreed with people on worldly matters. If they wanted something he would go with them, but when it came to the rights of Allah, he was firm on what was correct.

Do not disagree with them on the purely worldly. This includes opinions. So if someone exclaims that the best restaurant in town is such and such a place, and you disagree, do not voice that. This clouds relationships. It is not a significant matter. 

Weigh Significance

If however, the matter is not merely worldly such as choosing where your non-profit will host an event. That is not purely worldly. That is purposeful. There you disagree in a dignified, positive, and solution-oriented manner. When the purely worldly, even if someone is saying something wrong and it does not have any consequences, let it go.

With the purely worldly, the sunna would be that each party would be faster in conceding to the other. That is the one who gets the greater reward. it is not a significant decision. 

A tip for men: if you concede, do not do so by showing that you do not care. It is healthy to be participatory in those decisions. But ultimately, what is the color of your dishes? By eternal standards, that is not of significance. It is from the adornment of this life.

The worldly life does not deserve this. It is so lowly, paltry, and insignificant by ultimate standards. Also, have an attitude of being easygoing. 

Do Not Nitpick

As for purchasing or renting a house, that is not purely worldly although there is a worldly aspect to it. That is a life decision. It is significant. 

Furthermore, to impose your opinion on the purely worldly is not becoming as well. One’s attitude should be easygoing. The way of the early Muslims was to be facilitative. 

By way of example, if you and your friend are meeting for dinner and you like sushi but they do not. Do not say something that they will disagree with. Choose what is agreeable. Be very accommodating. 

Do not nitpick. It can cause tension in the gathering. Someone could feel disrespected. It will hurt the relationship between the two of you.

Do It with Tact

Consider a young couple who are looking to start a barbecue. Someone may have given them shady advice. Perhaps privately you could inform them, “You may want to check x, y, and z out also.” So you do not even explicitly disagree. Have tact. You are not disagreeing, but rather, presenting an alternative, respectfully. 

If you just came from outside on a hot, sunny day and an elder says “Subhan Allah, today is so much colder than yesterday.” Whether you disagree or not, does it change it objectively? No. Just say: Subhan Allah. 

Or, If someone is remembering the past and they are getting some details wrong, such as saying, “In 1994 we went on a road trip to America,” but It was 1993. Let it slide. Especially if the person would mind it. Especially elders. 

Part of social wisdom is to anticipate what is going to be discussed. Sometimes you have to avoid disagreement so take the lead, not because you want the leadership, but for the sake of the good.

Consider Implications

Be mindful of the health of the relationship. Consider the implications of what you say and do. This relates very closely to disagreeing and how you disagree. 

Avoid topics that you know would cause unrest. Topics, discussions, or issues where there is no real benefit. Politics is something like that. The point is not to say something. The point is that there be benefit. Know where people are at. If people feel hurt, they will keep their distance from you. They will not trust you. Avoid provoking topics. 

Many scholars would dress differently depending on different kinds of gatherings out of being sensitive to the health of the relationship.