Mafiq Foundation

Resource & Tips

View Rules of the Road 2024 here


Prepare arguments

 Think about the topics and understand the concepts and issues.

 Make an outline of your arguments – both prop and opp.  The outline should fit on one page, both sides.

 Learn your arguments well.

– Re-write the arguments in your own words so you understand them.

Think of refutations

– Think of refutations to your arguments and any of the major arguments that can come up.

Pre-assign your speakers (1st, 2nd, 3rd) and stick to the assignments so that each speaker can specialize for that role.

Practice with your team using Google Hangout or in-person.

– Discuss potential refutations with your teammates.

– Do speeches and discuss arguments and how each teammate will tie in with the other.

Do a couple of mock debates, if possible, with another team.

Practice timing your speech.

– Each teammate should know which speech she or he will do (1st, 2nd, or 3rd) and should practice the timing of her or his speeches (5 or 3 minutes).

– Timing of your speeches is an important factor in the individual speaking awards.

Have a nice dinner (with carbs – rice or pasta) and get to bed early the night before the tournament.

Before each speech, state the Basmala (saying “Bismillah”) in your heart, ask for Allah’s help, and make your intention for Allah (i.e. not to win the debate for your ego but to serve Allah through your debate skills).

Each speaker should begin by reciting the speech du’a (Rabbi Shrah’li sadri, wa yas-sir li amri,  wah  lul  ukhdatul  min-lissani  yafkahu  qaoli),  then  stating  –  “Respected  guests, honored judges, and worthy opponents, As Salaamu Alaikum…”

The 1st  speaker  of  the  proposition  should  begin  by  stating her  or  his  definition  of  the motion, e.g. “The motion before the house is…Representing the proposition, we agree with the motion.   We define the motion as…”.   Then introduce your argument with an overarching theme before going into your individual arguments.

The 1st  speaker of the opposition should begin by re-stating the proposition’s definition, e.g.,  “The  proposition  has  defined  the  motion  as…Representing  the  opposition,  we strongly disagree with this statement”.

1st and 2nd  speakers should do refutations in the 1st minute, when POIs are prohibited.

Make sure you refute each of your opponent’s arguments.

Keep your speech well organized, so that the judge does not get confused.   Every time you make a new argument, say so, e.g., “my first argument is…my next argument is…” or “my first argument is…my second argument is…”

In many cases, the other side will have great arguments – but they will not be related to the motion or the definition of the motion provided by proposition.  Don’t let this slide! When its your turn to speak, tell the judges, “our friends on the other side have come up with some excellent arguments – the only problem is that they have nothing to do with the motion!”

Take good notes!  Without notes, you will not be able to refute all their arguments.

At the top of your notes page, write in simple language what side you are arguing (e.g. “STEM should be prioritized” or “STEM should not be prioritized”.

Manage your time!  Watch your clock!! Its better to finish before time than to not finish your speech.  Bring a digital watch or cell phone with a stopwatch with you so that you can manage your time.

Your opponents will be nervous and will make mistakes – look out for the mistakes they make  and  call  them  out  –  for  example:  (a)  if  they  are  on  proposition  and  they  don’t define the motion, tell the judge that and give your own definition when you go up to speak;  or,  (b)  if  they  don’t  respond  to  one  of  your  arguments,  state  that  they  didn’t respond to that argument so you assume they agree with you.

The proposition holds the burden of proving the motion.

The opposition must show that the proposition ’s case is wrong.

  • If  you  are  on the opposition side,  you  may  have  to  adjust  your  prepared  arguments based  on  the  proposition’s  definition.    The basic argument should  hold,  just  make appropriate adjustments.
  • If speaking, don’t take more than 3 POIs.
  • If your team is not speaking, ask at least 3 POIs.
  • Make answers to POIs quick and snappy – don’t let POIs distract you.
  • If  you don’t  immediately  know  how  to  respond  to  a  POI, say  “Good  point, let  me  get back to you…” then continue with your speech and respond to the POI later.
  • If  you  still  can’t  think  of  an  answer,  then  (like  politicians)  don’t  answer  the  question directly,  but  respond  with  a  general  answer  directed  to  the  broader  topic  of  the question.  In other words, just say something that comes to your mind about the general topic of the POI and move on.

The final speaker has the important task of summarizing their refutations to the opposition’s main arguments and their main arguments and tying everything together to show without doubt that their side is right and the other side  is wrong.     You only have  3  minutes so stick  to the main arguments.

The  final speaker  on  the  proposition  side  will  also  have  to  refute  refutations  of  the opposition which the 2nd proposition did not have an opportunity to address.

The  final  speaker  should  begin  her  or  his  speech  with  a  thesis  statement  of  the  main concept of  their  case,  e.g., “As we  have  shown,  STEM  education  should be  prioritized because of the great benefits STEM education  brings to the student and to society-at- large”

The final speaker should remind the judges of all their arguments that the other side did not refute and should tell the judges that she assumes the other side agrees with them on those arguments since they offered no refutation.

Stress  is  your  friend  –  if  managed  properly,  stress  will  push  you  to  achieve  peak performance in the tournament.

If  you  have  any  shot  at  being  selected  for  the  semi-final  round,  go  over  your  notes during the lunch break

For   the   impromptu   debates,   come   up   with   real   world   examples   and   focus   on refutations.

Review the debate rules and rubrics on the website.

Bring snacks and energy bars to the tournament – lunch will be provided.

Don’t  forget  to  relax  and  have  fun!    You  guys  have  fun  during  our  regular  debate sessions…this will be no different.


*Please be respectful to everyone, including fellow competitors. *If you need to enter or exit a room, please wait to do so in between presentations, as to be respectful to the presenter. *Judges are not permitted to open or close doors, so that they may focus on the competitor’s presentation without distraction. *Participants that are waiting for their turn must remain silent. *Do not distract judges, the presenter or audience. Parents are not permitted to raise questions about the judging during the event. Any dispute must be submitted to [email protected] in writing Jazakum Allahu Khairun for your cooperation!

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