Freedom of belief is one of the main principles of Islam. The Qur’an has made it clear that there is no compulsion in religion and belief. (2: 256) The preaching activity of the Prophet and his followers is based on the method of persuasion of the people with precise information and evidence. (12: 108) Again, in the Qur’an, that message has been given by the results of the Battle of al-Badr as follows: “... So that those who were to be destroyed might be destroyed after a clear evidence and those who were to live might leave after a clear evidence.” (8: 42) In fact, in the Qur’an, it is emphasized how the method of discussion and criticism should be: “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair preaching and argue with them in a way that is better..." (16: 125) This attitude that the Prophet used towards his interlocutors has praised in the Qur’an like that: “And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and ask forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in him).” (3: 159) In the preaching activity of Muslims who take such orders and recommendations into consideration the definite information and evidence has always been the first priority. However, disagreements over ways of reaching definite information and evidence have come about; while criticizing the other because of differences in ideas emerged because of different ways that are pursued have been exaggerated and some charges such as the people of bidʿa/unorthodoxy, apostate, unbeliever etc. have been directed to the opponents from time to time. As a result of the natural consequence of this situation, the sectarian severity became widespread among Muslim communities and the various sects emerged over time became a means of political conflicts. Whereas Allah had saved the ignorant Arab society whose hearts were torn apart by feelings of enmity from the brink of a pit of fire where they would almost fall into it by the rope of Qur’an that contained the principles of peace, harmony, and security. (3: 103) Perhaps the first Muslims and their followers, who felt that the hearts were torn apart and Muslims were quickly drifting towards the brink of a new pit of fire, had chosen to use a harsh and abrasive style against the others in order to eliminate the danger. However, historical experience has made it clear that this attitude is more damaging than benefit. In this article, I tried to show where Abu Hanifa, one of the most influential figures of the first period, stood in terms of the method and style of discussion and criticism. Below is a brief summary of the results I reached in the article.
Abu Hanifa, Criticism, Method, Discussion, Kalam
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