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Peace Building & Conflict Resolution

Muslims are often portrayed in the media as hot-headed individuals looking to stir up trouble and cause conflict. However, if the primary sources of Islām are consulted, it is evident that this state of affairs could not be further from the truth. The fact is that the Qur’ān and Sunnah encourage believers to be advocates of peace. Peace is the very essence of Islām. Inwardly, peace and contentment encompass a true believer: one who has strong faith and consciousness of Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā). This peace then resonates outwardly, pervading society with hope and contentment. One of the ultimate aims of Sharī’ah is the development of personal character and social values of brotherhood and justice.

‘The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers. And fear Allah that you may receive mercy.’[1] 

Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) has ordained Muslims to be as brothers to each other and the maintenance of that relationship ensures mercy from Him. Conversely, where there are disagreements or confrontations, it is imperative that Muslims mediate to try to resolve the conflict on favourable terms as soon as possible. The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was reported by ʿAbdullāh b. Masʿūd to have said that:

‘Abusing a Muslim is an outrage and fighting against him is unbelief.’ [2]

Another ḥadith narrated by Abū Hurairah reports the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) as saying:

‘The whole of a Muslim is inviolable for another Muslim: his blood, his property, and his honour’

Dealings with non-Muslims should also conducted in a fair and respectful manner, avoiding conflict – as was the example of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam).

Peace does not necessarily mean the absence of conflict. In fact, if managed correctly, conflict may become the catalyst for creativity and positive change. Peace is established when justice is maintained, taking measures to avoid conflict in the first place or to manage conflict and restore order and justice.

“And the Heavens He has raised high, and He has set up the Balance (of justice); in order that you may not transgress (due) balance. So establish weight with justice, and fall not short in the balance.”[3]

Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) further says:

‘No good is there in much of their private conversation, except for those who enjoin charity or that which is right or conciliation between people. And whoever does that seeking means to the approval of Allah – then We are going to give him a great reward.’[4]

The service of reconciliation has been put on par with giving charity and so qualifying for reward from Allāh. On the other hand, stirring up trouble is paramount to disobeying God and being the cause of disunity. The importance of establishing peace in Islamic teachings should be made known and could go some way in dispelling the myth that Islām ‘was spread by the sword’ and that Muslims do not have much to offer except being instigators of conflict.

The Qur’ān and the Sunnah provide ample examples of restoring peace and justice in all spheres of life and these methods of reconciliation are still relevant in our times. The Qur’ān provides guidelines to manage conflict while the Sunnah provides instances of the implementation of these teachings. The underlying factor in all social interactions has to be the belief that not only are our words and actions being recorded and that Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) has complete knowledge of them, but also that we will be held accountable for the choices we make.

‘The recompense of an injury is an injury the like thereof; but whoever forgives and thereby brings about a re-establishment of harmony, his reward is with God; and God loves not the wrongdoers.’[5]

This verse clearly defines the role of believers as peacemakers. The best way to deal with a conflict is when you are in full control of your senses, you are ready to hear the grievances of your opposition and you can either meet them on their terms or reach a compromise which is agreed upon by both parties.

It is interesting to note that parties involved in a business transaction are required to write down the terms of their contract to avoid any potential disputes arising in the future. In the same way, marriage is formalised by a written contract that contains details of the spouses and information about any pre-nuptial agreements, including the value of the dowry payable by the groom. Despite this, however, disagreements arise between husband and wife. The Qur’ān provides guidance in the event of these disagreements escalating to confrontations that threaten the future of the marriage:

‘And if you fear dissension between the two, send an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both desire reconciliation, Allāh will cause it between them. Indeed, Allāh is ever Knowing and Acquainted [with all things].’[6]

Trustworthy individuals from both parties mediate between husband and wife to find a peaceful resolution to their problems and if both wish for reconciliation then Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) will facilitate it.

The Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) encountered antagonism from people who refused to accept his mission and were adamant on remaining on the misguidance of their ancestors. The attitude with which he dealt with this animosity demonstrated the excellence of his character and the wisdom of his judgement while being guided by divine revelation. In the early days of Prophethood, he ordered his followers to adopt an attitude of passive resistance while the call to Islām gradually gained momentum. The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) urged his followers to maintain correct etiquette in the face of hostility but remain with optimism in their hearts that adversity would give way to acceptance.

Upon migration to Madīnah, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was swift to diffuse old tribal hostilities by uniting the Aws and Khazraj with a bond of brotherhood and proclaimed them the Anṣār. The newly united tribes eagerly welcomed the Makkan Muslims and were highly praised by Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) in the Qur’ān:

‘Allāh has already forgiven the Prophet and the Muhājirīn and the Anṣār who followed him in the hour of difficulty…’[7]

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) avoided further conflict from the different groups in Madīnan society by drawing up the Charter of Madīnah that proclaimed similar rights and responsibilities to all citizens.

When the Treaty of Hudaybiyya was being established, the Makkan pagans objected to the term ‘Messenger of God’ after the name of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam). To avoid aggravation and further hostility, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) demonstrated great humility, judgement and far-sightedness by complying with the disbelievers’ request and asking his Companions to omit his title in order to facilitate reconciliation amid hostility.

In all his dealings with family, friend and foe, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) maintained a respectful, dignified approach even during armed conflict. He listened to the complaints of the other party and sought to resolve the situation in the best way possible.

The Islamic perspective on conflict resolution in the workplace draws on Islamic values and methodology. One such example is the SALAM method.[8] The acronym defines the steps to be taken to come to a peaceful agreement and avoid friction in a company:

  • Stating that there is a conflict of interest and this should be communicated in a respectful manner.
  • Agreeing the points of contention. This involves listening to both sides of the argument.
  • Listening and learning: Each side should be given an opportunity to suggest means to resolve the conflict.
  • Advising a course of action.
  • Minimising the disagreements in order to restore peace among the two parties and agreeing on as many points as possible.

As Muslims we should portray Islām as the means to peace in all our social dealings. We can develop interpersonal skills by implementing the Sunnah in our lives. Our default attitude should be to avoid unnecessary conflict by adopting a humble approach to life and helping restore peace and justice by acting as mediators. Despite the uncompromising image of Islām as it is portrayed in the West, Muslims must adhere to the Dīn, fulfil their personal and social obligations and be proud of their traditions. Muslim should neither be apologetic or complacent when putting their viewpoint across, as long as it is backed with knowledge and the listener is respectfully engaged. As believers we know that, inshāAllāh, Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) is on our side. We just have to try to make a difference and place our trust in Him who is the possessor of all knowledge and power. It is a huge challenge to change perceptions of a religion and its followers who are being misrepresented and demonised at an escalated level, but we should always be hopeful and positive. Islām is the religion of true, just and meaningful peace and it is our duty to convey this with wisdom and diplomacy.

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] Al-Qur’an, 49:10

[2] Saḥīḥ Muslim

[3] Al-Qur’ān, 5:7-9

[4] Al-Qur’ān, 4:114

[5] Al-Qur’ān, 42:40

[6] Al-Qur’ān, 4:35

[7] Al-Qur’ān, 9:117

[8] https://theislamicworkplace.com/2007/04/28/conflict-management-the-salam-model

About Amera Farooq

Amera Farooq studied Biochemistry at Bedford College, University of London and is currently studying for a BA Islamic Studies degree from the Islamic Online University. She has been involved in education for a number of years, most recently in an SEN school. She is active in the community, trying to portray a positive image of Muslim women caring for and being engaged in their local communities. She currently participates in Dawah projects and Qur'an circles.

One comment

  1. Amongst the adhkar one may recite after Morning evening obligatory prayers (these are only pointers, there are other adhkar)

    1.
    (Sayyeed al istighfar)
    اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ رَبِّي لا إِلَهَ إِلا أَنْتَ خَلَقْتَنِي وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ وَأَنَا عَلَى عَهْدِكَ وَوَعْدِكَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ أَبُوءُ لَكَ بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَيَّ وَأَبُوءُ لَكَ بِذَنْبِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي فَإِنَّهُ لا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلا أَنْتَ

    Allahumma anta Rabbi la ilaha illa Anta Khalaqtani wa ana abduka, wa ana ‘ala ahdika wa wa’dika mastata’tu, A’udhu bika min Sharri ma sana’tu, abu’u Laka bini’matika ‘alaiya, wa Abu’u Laka bidhanbi faghfirli fainnahu la yaghfiru adhdhunuba illa anta

    O Allah! You are my Lord! None has the right to be worshipped but You. You created me and I am Your slave, and I am faithful to my covenant and my promise as much as I can. I seek refuge with You from all the evil I have done. I acknowledge before You all the blessings You have bestowed upon me, and I confess to You all my sins. So, I entreat You to forgive my sins, for nobody can forgive sins except You. (Sahih al-Bukhari; 8,75,318)

    (The messenger of Allah (pbuh) said this is the most superior way of asking for forgiveness. Whoever says it in the day with firm belief and dies during that same day before the evening, he (he or she) will be from the people of paradise. And if anyone says it during the night with firm belief in it and dies before the morning will be from the people of paradise”) (Bukhari)

    2. (one amongst the adhkar that can be recited after every obligatory prayer)
    لا إلهَ إلاّ اللّهُ وحدَهُ لا شريكَ لهُ، لهُ المُـلْكُ ولهُ الحَمْد، وهوَ على كلّ شَيءٍ قَدير
    اللّهُـمَّ لا مانِعَ لِما أَعْطَـيْت، وَلا مُعْطِـيَ لِما مَنَـعْت، وَلا يَنْفَـعُ ذا الجَـدِّ مِنْـكَ الجَـد.
    [البخاري 1/255 ومسلم 414]

    La ilaha illAl-lahu wahdahu la shareeka lah, lahul-mulku walahul-hamd, wahuwa AAala kulli shayin qadeer
    Allahumma la maniAAa lima a’AAtayt, wala mu’AAtiya lima mana’AAt, wala yanfaAAu thal-jaddi minkal-jad.

    ‘None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, alone, without partner, to Him belongs all sovereignty and praise and He is over all things omnipotent.
    O Allah, none can prevent what You have willed to bestow and none can bestow what You have willed to prevent, and no wealth or majesty can benefit anyone, as from You is all wealth and majesty.’

    3.
    اللّهُـمَّ إِنِّـي أَصْبَـحْتُ أَُشْـهِدُك ، وَأُشْـهِدُ حَمَلَـةَ عَـرْشِـك ، وَمَلائِكَتِك ، وَجَمـيعَ خَلْـقِك ، أَنَّـكَ أَنْـتَ اللهُ لا إلهَ إلاّ أَنْـتَ وَحْـدَكَ لا شَريكَ لَـك ، وَأَنَّ ُ مُحَمّـداً عَبْـدُكَ وَرَسـولُـك .(أربع مرات حينَ يصْبِح أوْ يمسي)
    (morning) Allâhumma innî asbahtu ush-hiduka, wa ush-hidu hamalata arshika,
    wa malâ’ikataka, wa jamîca khalqika, annaka anta l-lâhu, lâ ilâha
    illâ anta, wahdaka lâ sharîka laka, wa anna Muhammadan [sallallahu calayhi
    wa sallama] cabduka wa rasûluk. (4 times)

    (Evening) Allahumma inni amsaytu (for evening) then continue with ush-hiduka…

    “O Allah, verily I have reached the morning and call on You, the bearers of Your throne, Your angles, and all of Your creation to witness that You are Allah, none has the right to be worshipped except You, alone, without partner and that Muhammad is Your Servant and Messenger. [Four times in the morning and evening]”

    ( The messenger of Allah (pbuh) said whoever reads the above in the morning or evening once, Allah frees a quarter of him from the Hell-fire, If he reads it twice Allah frees half of him from the Hell-fire. If he reads it thrice Allah frees three quarters of him from the hellfire. And if he reads it four times Allah(completely) frees him form the hell-fire) (Abu Dawud).

    4.

    “O Allah, what blessing I or any of Your creation have risen upon, is from You alone, without partner, so for You is all praise and unto You all thanks.”
    اللّهُـمَّ ما أَصْبَـَحَ بي مِـنْ نِعْـمَةٍ أَو بِأَحَـدٍ مِـنْ خَلْـقِك ، فَمِـنْكَ وَحْـدَكَ لا شريكَ لَـك ، فَلَـكَ الْحَمْـدُ وَلَـكَ الشُّكْـر
    (For morning) Allâhumma mâ asbaha bî min nicmatin aw bi-ahadin min khalqika,
    fa-minka wahdaka lâ sharîka laka. Fa-laka-l-hamdu wa laka sh-shukr.

    (For evening) Allahumma ma amsa (then continue with bi min ni’ matin….

    (The messenger of Allah (pbuh) said whoever says this in the morning has fulfilled his obligation to thank Allah for that day. And whoever say this in the evening has fulfilled obligation for that night( (Abu Dawud)

    ( Almost or most of my comment is copy and paste;just a few pointers to any readers of this comment). A wonderful article from the writer.

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