Asking questions to the speaker after a lecture has become an expected routine. This practice is encouraged without any discretion. Islamically, there is a lot to be learned in this matter. I would like to remind readers to ponder over some important points before they pose their questions.
Firstly, how well do you know this speaker, and what is their area of expertise? Can you trust them with your Deen? Have they been invited to this gathering because they speak well or are a good fundraiser, or, a true scholar of Deen who has studied the Qurâ€™an, Hadeeth, Fiqh, and science of Usool under the supervision of learned scholars? Imam Ibn-Sireen, advising us about whom we ask and learn from, has a narration collected by Imam Tirmidhi in his Shamaaâ€™il, â€œThis Deen is a very important matter so be cautious as to whom you take it (religious knowledge) from.â€ (Shamaaâ€™il of Imam Tirmizi)
Of course, this is not to say that speakers or fundraisers should not be invited. Certainly they have their place; however, Islamic questions should be reserved for the experts of Deen, the â€˜Ulamaa.
Secondly, what is the purpose behind asking him the question? Is it only to test the speakerâ€™s knowledge and try to challenge or confuse them, or is it to see how liberal or conservative they are? Sometimes, questions are asked only to demonstrate the incompetence of this speaker and that they do not deserve to be re-invited.
Lastly, some people ask questions only in hopes of getting an answer that is appealing to them or one that they feel is correct. Then the â€œgreat and very learned scholarâ€ will be the one who gives the answers we like to hear. The same questions are repeatedly asked until someone is found who (out of ignorance or just to please us) gives us our desired answer. In other words, itâ€™s shopping for what we want and not what is in the Qurâ€™an and hadeeth.
During the time of Rasulullah (saw), the Jews would often send people to Rasulullah (saw) to ask questions about Islam. They would train them to ask particular questions and would say to them, â€œIf that Prophet responds to your question in this manner, then say we follow him in that. And if he says otherwise, then tell him that we donâ€™t want to follow what you say.â€ And so, these predisposed insincere seekers would frequently bombard Rasulullah (saw) with questions. We should all carefully ponder the following verse (regarding these incidents) in which Allah (swt) sternly reprimands them, â€œThey say â€œif you are given this, take it, but if you are not given this, then beware!â€ and whoever Allah (swt) wants to put in Fitnah (error); you can do nothing for him. They are the ones whose hearts Allah (swt) does not want to purify; and for them there is a disgrace in this world and in Hereafter a great torment.â€ (5:41)
We pray that Allah grant us the ability to remain sincere in our quest for knowledge. Aameen.