The Art of Debate and Disputation

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This course is an introduction to the general rules and etiquettes of debate and argumentation (ādāb al-baḥth wa-l-munāẓara) within the Islamic tradition. It is based on the short treatise on this topic written by one of the foremost Ottoman scholars of the 16th century CE Aḥmad b. Khalīl Taşköprüzāde (d. 968/1561) and was recently translated into English with extensive notes by Safaruk Chowdhury. This course is based on the translation of that book called A Treatise on Disputation and Argument: Risālat al-Ādāb Fī ʿIlm al-Baḥth wa-l-Munāẓara (London: Dar al-Nicosia, 2020).

This course will contextualise the importance of debate and argumentation and cover the Islamic primary sources for it. The course will also cover what the discipline of debate and argumentation is and the procedure and system of rules governing its application. It will also include topics such as techniques of debates, basic syllogistic logic, how to construct logical arguments, different types of fallacies and the spiritual dangers of excessive debating.

The course is ideal for anyone wishing to understand not only how debate and argumentation was taught and learned within the Islamic tradition, but how to conduct and construct arguments for themselves. Prior knowledge of logic, philosophy or argumentation theory is not a requirement as all course sessions contain simple explanations without any difficult technical issues.

Dr. Safaruk Chowdhury

Safaruk studied Philosophy at Kings College London completing it with the accompanying Associate of Kings College (AKC) award. He then travelled to Cairo studying the traditional Islamic Studies curricula at al-Azhar University. He returned to the UK to complete His MA at the School of Oriental and African studies with distinction. Dr. Safaruk is currently the project researcher at the ‘Beyond Foundationalism’ project sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation at Cambridge Muslim College.

Overview of Debate and Argumentation

1
Introduction
2
The 10 Essentials (al-mabādi’ al-ʿashr)
3
The Importance of Debate in the Context of Daʿwah
4
Dialectics and Debate in Islam
5
Quiz 1
5 questions

Overview of Logic

1
What are Arguments?
2
Types of Arguments
3
Constructing Arguments and Core Inference Rules
4
Logical Fallacies
5
Quiz 2
5 questions

The Qur’ān on Argumentation

1
The Qur’ān on Argumentation
2
The Qur’an and Argumentation
3
The Difference between the Qur’ān and the Philosophical Approach
4
The Sunna and Argumentation
5
Quiz 3
5 questions

General Debate Rulings

1
General Debate Rulings
2
Censured and Praiseworthy Debate
3
Those to Avoid in a Debate
4
When to Debate and When not to
5
Qualities of a debater
6
The Dangers of Debate and Argumentation
7
The Ethics of Debate and Argumentation
8
Quiz 4
5 questions