Shadid Lewis argued giving definitions of peace. They included , ‘Freedom from civil disturbance, harmony in personal relations, a state or period of mutual concord between governments and a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity’. Based on these definitions of Peace , it was shown and proven in the debate with Spencer that clearly Islam within its teachings enjoins and is directed towards what is defined as peace. In the Quran 60:8 it enjoins kind and just relations with Non-Muslims who are not hostile to Muslims and are not trying to fight or drive Muslims from their homes, was cited as a clear proof that Islam enjoins harmony in personal relations. The unanimous opinion of the scholars in Islam, that Peace treaties are permitted because of Prophet Muhammads(PBUH) example of making just peace treaties, was cited as a proof of another example of peaceful teachings in Islam.
Throughout the debate many references were given from Islam’s highest source the Quran, along with other Islamic sources and scholarly understandings and opinions backing up the fact that indeed, Islam is a religion of Peace. Spencer failed to disprove the premise of the debate. He cited people such as the “Times Square bomber” suspect, The taliban, Anjum Choudary and other less reputable sources and opinions leaving his counter-claims wanting and weak. In many instances during the cross fire segment of the debate, Spencer was repeatedly refuted and exposed for his omissions of key facts about verses of the Quran or how Scholars understood or viewed hadith. For example Spencer cited the “I have been ordered to fight” hadith to the audience giving them the impression that Muhammad taught or commanded Muslims to fight and attack all people until they accept Islam. He was immediately exposed and refuted when Lewis called Spencer out for mis-informing the people for not telling them that the majority of the scholars say this hadith was only in reference to the Pagan Arabs .
Lewis further refuted Spencer by citing Imam Nawawi’s commentary on the 40 hadith which states that its is also an opinion that this hadith was Abrogated by the Qurans later rulings of peace agreements. Thus again proving the affirmative position that Islam is a religion of peace. Recall one of the definitions of peace is a pact or agreement to end hostilities. Surely if Spencer was the scholar of Islam that he self proclaims himself to be, he had to have known this about that hadith. Yet he willfully and deceitfully cited it to the audience. Another example where he was exposed and refuted was when he Cited Surah 4:89 putting emphasis on the part that reads ” Then if they turn back, seize them and kill them where ever you find them” Of course he gave no context, but again Lewis immediately exposed Spencer and called him out for once again omitting the very next verse. The very next verse Surah 4:90 clearly gave an exception to 4:89 , it reads ” Except those who join a people between whom and you there is a treaty, or those who come to you reluctant to fight you or fight their own people. Had Allah willed, He would have given them power over you, and they would have fought you. Therefore, if they stay aloof and do not fight you, or if they make overtures of peace, then Allah has given you no reason to commit aggression against them.” Clearly a verse mentioning Peace treaties with others ,enjoining peace and ending conflict, yet Spencer only cited verse 89. Again if he is the self proclaimed scholar of Islam that he claims, surely he had to know that the next verse set an exception and conditions to the previous verse. Thus he willfully tried to deceive the audience and would have gotten away with it, if not for the quick wittedness of Lewis.
The debate even touched on the constant claims of Spencer and others that those who commit acts allegedly in the name of Islam are motivateded by the Quran or other Islamic sources. Lewis refuted this by citing the writings of journalist Glen Greenwald, who documented the very statements of people either convicted or suspected of violent acts. The article cited, confirmed as Lewis has stated , that these persons always cited their motivation as “the continuous, horrific violence brought by the US and its allies to the Muslim world-“Violence which routinely kills and oppresses innocent men, women and children” This does not justify their actions in return, it does however tell us what motivated them and clearly it was not the Quran. As Greenwald states ” ignoring the role played by US actions is dangerously self flattering and self delusional” this applies perfectly to Spencer and his supporters. This debate was indeed a loss for Spencer and a heavy loss at that, having his crimes of omission exposed and his claims refuted to a public audience by Lewis. The premise of the debate was affirmed as One of the local Detroit News out lets The Marion Star reported from a young man in attendance -Alex Wallo, 17, of Westland “I’ve been persuaded to the affirmative position so far,” Wallo said of whether Islam is peaceful.