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I don't mean to limit this question exclusively to Shi'a->Sunni arguments, but it was directly prompted by the recent question,

For the sake of argument and simplicity, I will stick with these denonyms for this post, but it should be assumed to apply to any cases where a post is written under or expecting answers from one exclusive perspective but explicitly calling out that evidences used are also (or should be) accepted by those who follow perspectives that do not accept that same premise and/or conclusion.

I have seen this pattern come up often on this site, from the very earliest days of beta, where an otherwise good answer would be explicitly written from a Shi'ite perspective, but arguments would often include (almost as an afterthought in many cases) something along the lines of "Both Shia and Sunni scholars allow…," "According to Shia and many Sunni sources…," or "Even many Sunni scholars agree…."

More extreme cases, such as those asked for in the above-linked question, would include large lists of hadiths and scholarly opinions "from Sunni books" which confirm the Shi'ite opinion.

Even when you consider that certain evidences can be accepted in both Shi'ite and Sunni jurisprudence, for the purposes of this site is there any value to explicitly calling out — or especially to limiting such evidences to — "Sunni sources"?

  • What's the problem with this point if majority of user agree with such questions? – اللهم صل علی محمد و آل محمد Oct 14 '14 at 8:51
  • @السید____علی Arguments need to be based on how well such would provide value in accordance to the goal of this site and SE norms, not just on how many people just want it. We are a particular site for a particular purpose (the academic study of the topic of Islam); if a majority want to turn us into not that it doesn't mean anything except that a lot of people are on the wrong site. – goldPseudo Oct 14 '14 at 15:17
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In the particular case brought up by OP, the only academic value to using Sunni evidences to support a Shi'ite perspective is if those Sunni evidences are also considered authoritative by Shi'ites. However, if that's the actual case then they are just Shi'ite evidences like any other and there is no point in calling out who else accepts it.

Explicitly calling out the fact that these evidences also happen to be accepted by Sunnis (with absolutely no attempt to demonstrate whether this is e.g. (a) a majority or minority opinion or (b) easily refuted by other Sunni evidences) provides little to no actual academic value. Even worse are cases where evidences are called out as being found "in Sunni books" with no attempt to substantiate whether they're considered authentic by anyone.

And when the answer isn't even writing from a Sunni perspective (or the question even asking for one), including such transient information is usually just noise. Some noise is tolerable but such inclusions, in my experience, inevitably lead to protracted arguments (often in comments) or outright hostile behaviour, none of which is appropriate on the main site.

Such tactics are a common practice on polemic and apologetic sites which are built around the idea of proving one particular perspective to those who follow a differing perspective; using ones own evidences against them can be particularly effective toward this goal.

However, these same polemic and apologetic sites are extremely biased (which for their purposes is necessary) and often so fraught with logical fallacies (e.g. Cherry picking) as to be academically useless.

We are very much not a site for apologetic or polemic. Not only is such behaviour non-constructive under the Stack Exchange model, such is likely to actively drive away the very scholars we need to make the site thrive. And unless the first impression of our site is clearly distinguishable from any number of academically useless sites that are already out there, it's unlikely to attract anyone who is seriously interested in the academic study of Islam rather than participating in a hostile "us vs them" environment.

As such, polemic and apologism — or anything which strongly appears to be polemic and apologism — should not only be avoided, but actively discouraged here.


tl;dr

No. Such callouts are typically more polemic/apologetic than academic, and the potential harm in allowing them far outweighs what little value they may have.

  • Be brief please! – Mohammad Hossein Feb 9 '15 at 18:29
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    @MohammadHossein There's already a tl;dr at the end. Otherwise, all the arguments I make are directly relevant to the conclusion, so I don't know what you expect me to strip out. – goldPseudo Feb 9 '15 at 18:31

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