An Introduction To Dialogue
No intimidation. See the Qur'an 29:46
Understanding the addressee
1. Simple minded truth seeker. Reasonable, objective, no irrational or provocative questions. See the Qur'an 28:51-53
2. The Intellectual Truth Seeker. Quite intelligent and reasonable, wide scope of intellectual exposure; a da'iyah should provide clear and convincing answers to his questions; avoid doubtful answers. Use logic, analogies and rationale.
3. Apparent Truth Seeker. Pretender, a hypocrite. Sowing seeds of truth allows you to gain Allah's blessings.
4. Closed Minded. "born again" Bible thumpers, demon casters. They have the false pretense of listening to you but they are never with you. They are quick in reading your motives, condemn use of reasoning, emphasizing allegorical or metaphorical meaning, emphasize need of Holy Spirit, salvation in Jesus.
Benefits of dialogue with closed minded people, see Qur'an 2:146 and 36:17: (1) Understand his psychology and your own training, (2) to make listeners (if any) realize that he is unreasonable, dogmatic, and not sincerely interested in the truth.
(1) Start with common grounds what you two agree, see Qur'an 3:64. Ask questions like
(2) Finding the basis of beliefs - why?
(3) Traps in dialogue: contradictions will shut them up and you can not proceed much further.
(4) Avoid a "straw man" argument putting words into your mouth, e.g. "Qur'an confirms the Bible" and so on.
(5) Have a mental picture of the sequence of argument where you or he is leading to. Advance preparation for leading the discussion.
(6) Never underestimate the other person be well prepared and know your stuff; you cannot bluff some people.
(7) Be able to recognize the difference between the explanation of a point and the proof of truthfulness or authenticity of that point, i.e. the difference between "what it means" and "why it must be true".
(8) Do not allow him to divert your attention to other point to provide him an escape. For example, you are talking about crucifixion and he asks you about your belief in second coming of Jesus. Make sure you make your point before you move to the next.
(9) Suppression of evidence, e.g. John 10:30 = John 17:22-23; John 14:9 = John 5:37 (disciples are gods too).
(10) Give him false confidence, let him make his point and hold back your offensive. Respond only at appropriate time.
(11) Avoid looping arguments, beating around the bush arguments; establish your grounds and move from there.
(12) Do not let insults (direct or indirect) distract you. Don't let him make you angry by saying that Muhammad was a serial killer, so on. Your anger will only lose your case.
(13) Always speak gently and in a convincing manner, do not get angry or insult any one.
(14) Do not continue discussion if the other person is not listening to you. If you have to separate, do it beautifully.
(15) In a logical sequence of discussion do not move from one point to another unless you have come to an agreement (or agreement to disagree). If you ask him "do you agree?" He responds, "Carry on!" He may not be in agreement with you. Do not move to another point.
(16) Do not embarrass the other person unless it is psychologically a necessity to expose his unreasonable stand. The main objective is to make him and people around you understand your point clearly.
(17) Know the other side religiously, socially and intellectually and be his match in discussion.
(18) It is not necessary to plunge straight into your topic of interest. You may begin with a non-religious topic and lead him into your area of interest.
(19) Don't hesitate in commending him when he brings points that are in accordance with Islamic teachings.
(20) Have a good command of your language.
(21) Practice makes perfect. Arguments awaken reasoning.
(22) Do not be impressed with his educational background, whether he is a Ph.D. or a professor. Just ensure that you put your arguments across loud and clear.