Taking Flight (How to Win in Debates)

The Imam al-Sadiq uses a beautiful metaphor to describe how debates should be won. He likens it to the flight of a bird. One should majestically fly above his opponent on a higher plane of logic not allowing him to tie you down.

This is when he is describing the prowess of the famous Hisham b. al-Hakam saying:

علي بن إبراهيم، عن أبيه، عمن ذكره، عن يونس بن يعقوب قال: كنت عند أبي عبد الله عليه السلام فورد عليه رجل من أهل الشام … ثم قال: يا هشام لا تكاد تقع تلوي رجليك إذا هممت بالأرض طرت، مثلك فليكلم الناس، فاتق الزلة والشفاعة من ورائها إن شاء الله

… O Hisham, you never fall flat (settle on the ground), every time it seems that you are about to come to ground (i.e. be defeated) you are really just bending your legs [to able to leap] and off you fly away again. The likes of you should debate the people. Therefore be careful about slipping and you will find that succor is around the corner if Allah wills.

In order to emulate this, one has to have full command of the argument from all its angles. Draw in the opponent in a feint and just when he thinks he is about to finish you land the coup de grace.

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