Ibn Baz Fatwa: When Is It OK to Engage in Possibly Lengthy Disputes?
Shaykh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Bāz
Categorized under: Brotherhood, Dealings & Transactions, Fatāwá and Rulings, Matters of the Tongue and Speech
[In] the last question in this message, this person who’s asking, whose name hasn’t been mentioned in this message, states: if someone were in a dispute with another person, and this dispute might go on for a long period of time, would there be in that a sin upon him, knowing that it’s better to leave some people [alone rather] than engage them in conversation? If you would give us some direction in [the] matter.
Answer [by Shaikh Ibn Bāz, may Allāh have mercy on him]
The [issue of] disputes [has] some details [to it]. If the dispute were a rightful [dispute], a dispute between the two of them regarding claims [about which the first person] believes he is right, then there is no objection to his engaging [the second person] in [an arbitrated] dispute.
[The first person] says [things like]: He’s delayed paying me back what I’m due. He has a debt and has delayed paying it back [though] he has the means. [Or the first person] engages [the second] in a dispute regarding [the second] having sold him a product and never handed it over; about his having hit him, his having insulted him; his having taken some of his wealth or property, [or] other than that.
[What] is meant is [that] when he engages rightfully in a dispute, it is upon him to be just, to act with due fear of Allāh, and to engage in the dispute rightfully without any oppression; he seeks [his] rights without oppressing [the other person]. He seeks his right at a [Sharīʿah] court of law or [through the arbitration] of good brothers working to bring about reconciliation between the two of them. There’s no objection to his doing that.
As for if he were to engage in a dispute without any right–he knew his claim were false–then this would be an evil thing; there’s grave danger for him in that because he would harming [or abusing] his brother without any right.
So what is binding upon a Muslim is that he not engage in a dispute unless [it’s] with due right. The Prophet ﷺ [said]: “The most hateful of men to Allāh is al-aladd al-khaṣim [the twisted, severely argumentative individual].”¹ So engaging in disputes without due right is harming and oppressing [others].
As for if he were to engage in a dispute rightfully, knowing he’s in the right, and that this man had taken his wealth or property, or had delayed paying him back even though he had the means, or had killed his child or killed his brother, or other than that from [whatever] rights [of his had been taken without any right], then there’s no harm in his seeking his right.
The Prophet ﷺ [said what in English means]: “If people were to be given according to their claims [alone], some people would make claims on the lives and property of men; rather, claimants must provide evidence, [or, in the absence of any evidence provided by the claimant], the one denying [the claim] must testify [to his denial] with a sworn oath.”
¹Narrated by Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, the wording here Al-Bukhārī’s. (trans.)
²Authenticated by Al-Albānī, Mishkāh Al-Maṣābīḥ, no. 3758 (trans.)