Sometimes we get so lost in the discussion we tend to overlook other basic etiquette that is required when engaging in debate. We are often overcome with emotion and lose focus of the fact that the person we differ with is still a muslim, or at times even an álim.
My Honorable Teacher, Al-Muhaddith Shaykh Muhammad Áwwamah (may Allah protect him) aptly draws our attention to the approach we ought to have towards our rivals.
“The sincere intellectuals have a different attitude towards their adversaries which goes way beyond the mere issue at hand. They actually pay regard to the close connections that link them to each other. Those links are:
c) The kinship of knowledge
If one forgets to honor the bond of knowledge, he should not forget the brotherhood of Islam that exists between them. If he breaches the above two relationships, he should at least remember the fact that they are both from humankind!
(i.e, and in so doing one will not violate the sanctity of his rival)
An example of showing regard for the rights of fellow humankind is evident in the incident reported by Imam Ahmad (rahimahullah) in his Musnad about when the earlier Sahabah (radiyallahu ánhum) migrated to Abyssinia and the Qureish sent an envoy to Negus, the king of that land to persuade him to banish them back to Arabia.
The Qureish sent Ámr ibn Ás and Ábdullah ibn Ábi Rabeeáh (both of whom accepted Islam later)
The night before, Ámr ibn Ás said to Ábdullah: “I will prove to Negus tomorrow what a disgrace it is for him to allow these Muslims to remain in his Land, and then we will uproot them from this current luxury they find themselves in!”
Ábdullah ibn Abi Rabeeáh (who was still a non believer) replied:
“Don’t do that, they are family (Meccans/humans) although they oppose us”
(Musnad Ahmad, vol.1 pg.203 & vol.5 pg.291)
Shaykh Áwwamah (may Allah protect him) writes:
“Look and learn, and don’t let it be that a Kafir (who later did accept Islam) be more: intelligent, merciful and kind than you are, towards your brethren with whom you are bonded through: Humanity, Religion and Knowledge”!!
(Atharul Hadith, pg.94)