How To - Manual of Dubious Dialogue”

“How To” Manual of Dubious Dialogue
Sheila Musaji

(Or How to Maximize Effort and Minimize Results)
Originally published in The American Muslim, Winter 1992 issue

          #1 Lecture people about what you think they need to know. There is no point in getting their input, since they do not know what is important anyway.

          #2 Compare the worst aspects of individual behavior of the other group with the ideal of your own group. Reason from the specific to the general. Take a specific incident and use it as an example of the beliefs or actions of the majority of the members of the other group.

          # 3 Accost strangers on the street with brochures and/or an appeal to enter into a discussion.

          # 4 If asked a reasonable question for which you dont have the answer, never admit your ignorance Җ confuse the issue by attacking one of the other group’s beliefs or raising questions about a particular scriptural passage.

          # 5 Use any opening to gain control of a discussion and just keep talking for as long as possible.

          # 6 Try to tell your audience anything you know in one sitting, after all, you may never get another chance.

          # 7 If someone brings up an incident in which an individual has been guilty of some questionable act never admit that all those calling themselves members of this faith do not live up to the standards taught by that faith, or that many ֓nominal members of the faith are themselves in need of a revival of the true spirit of the faith Ԗ instead blame all such problems on the influence or interference of the other group.

          # 8 Remember that in a dialogue, your purpose is not to gain a better understanding of each other and to find areas of mutual concern, but to win an argument, so search out a weak point and keep hammering at it until the person gives up.

          # 9 Remember that you have nothing to gain from this experience and nothing to learn from the other party, so dont waste time listening carefully to what they say, use that ғdown time to be thinking of your response.

          # 10 If an opportunity arises to speak to a group, donԒt lose your chanceӔ by waiting until you can find a qualified person anyone will do ֖ just show someone an Ahmed Deedat/ Jimmy Swaggart debate tape and send them out.

          # 11 Be sure to use Arabic/ Latin/ Greek/ Hebrew and specialized theological terms as much as possible and dont explain their meaning, this will keep dialogue where it belongs, between the ғexperts.

          # 12 If you plan a meeting or gathering at your mosque, synagogue, or church—you donԒt want to appear over-concerned, therefore either dont offer refreshments at all or offer refreshments that are totally foreign to your guests. DonҒt worry about cleaning and setting up the room you will use, and as a final touch come late. This will show them that this is of more importance to them than it is to you and after all, you are doing them a favor.

          # 13 Don֒t waste time getting involved as a participant in local interfaith, homeless, environmental, human rights, peace, civil rights, social welfare, etc. ֖ projects. These dont provide a chance to do ғreal teaching.

(NOTE: These tactics have proven over time to be just as useful for both Christians, Jews, and Muslims who believe that their job is not simply to be a witness for their belief system, but to convince others of the ԓerror of their ways.