Many of you might have experienced a situation at any point in your life when you or anyone else you witnessed was shunned, censured or even punished for asking simple questions. I have had so many of such experiences. In so many instances, I was the victim myself. It is not that my questions were irrelevant, disrespectful or unworthy, but because the people, mostly my elders in the family or the teachers in the class, did not expect me to ask questions. It was against the manners. And, it is so even today. Questions are wicked, uncultured and unacceptable in our society. They require answers and that is what most of us do not have.

However, through my experiences that I have hinted above, I have learnt some ‘golden rules’ about answering questions without having to answer them. These rules are not copyrighted and everyone can benefit from them as per his caliber. The first of the rules is to doubt the knowledge of the questioner and make him feel embarrassed for his silly question. For example, a question can be answered by saying, “You don’t know the answer to such a simple question? Pathetic! You should be ashamed of yourself!” The questioner, if he feels any sense of guilt, would dare not ask the question again.

The second technique requires more practice and mastery. Thought it is based on the simple concept: ‘answer everything but the question’, performing it practically demands a complex intermingling of ideas, religions, philosophies and theories. The basic objective is to reach at a point where the questioner forgets what his question actually was! Then he, himself, can be asked, “What was your question?” At that very instance the questioner would understand how difficult it is to answer questions and would feel that the answerer is justified in not giving the answer.

The answer to the questions that are about the religion and difficult to answer can be given by questioning the faith of the person who mistakenly asks the question. ‘You are a Muslim and don’t know the answer to such a question?’ is the best answer to a Muslim questioner. If after this useful statement the questioner is not embarrassed and continues his question, fear can be used to silence the ‘lamb’. Shout at him, “You’ll be dumped to hell, don’t doubt the faith and don’t ask questions in religion!” This technique is widely practiced and most of the renowned scholars, belonging to different schools of faith, have complete consensus about its effectiveness and worth.

Another way is to use the authority to eradicate the questions from their roots. By the way, what is the use of authority if it cannot help you in times of trouble? If you are applying this technique in any school, college or university, identify a frequent-questioning student and avoid the answers as much as possible. However, you will not have to wait for long as patience has its speedy reward. There will be a test or quiz and that is the time when the iron is the hottest to strike. Give him minimum marks and in some way or the other mention that it has something to do with the questions. For example, tell him, “When you are in the class, you ask many questions but don’t know any answer. Focus your attention on the answers!” If he is as wise as his questions, he will forget them.

Apart from these wise, practical and frequently used techniques, there is another approach to answering questions; however, that is very much idealistic and does not have any relevance to facts and figures. Nevertheless, for the sake of discussion, I can put that forward. This technique starts by accepting the fact that questions can be asked at any moment by anyone and everybody has the right to ask proper questions. Therefore, it is best to be ready for them. This will help in a person’s personal and professional growth and development. This technique also requires to realize the fact that it is not always possible to know all the answers; therefore, accept that you do not know the answers to certain questions and would learn about them when possible. The only drawback of this technique is that it would require hard work, thorough study and research, which is very time-consuming for busy people like us.