Adab: Conflict resolution الناس الإصلاح بين
“Verily, after me there will be conflicts of affairs, so if you are able to end them in peace, then do so.”
– Prophet Muhammad
(Musnad Ahmad, Number 697)
Verses calling to conflict resolution of different types across the pages of the Qur’an were clear indications of the significance of this act. The nobility of the act is further stressed in the sunnah of the prophet. The following paragraphs will try to present the virtues and brief understanding of the concept including tips for successful arbitration.
It is the act of arbitration between two quarrelling parties in order to reconcile their differences and restore normalcy.
Brief overview and understanding
Conflicts between humankind are inevitable due to the free will and ability Allah has granted man to act in contrary to the norms and the existence of two opposites in creation. The inevitability and frequent occurrence of conflicts in different dimensions across the globe especially in modern time has led to the inclusion of courses like “Conflict Management” in the world education curricula.
Furthermore, the relationship between two quarreling parties plays a significant role in the arbitration process. The closer the relationship the easier it is to resolve the conflict. For example, conflicts between family members will be easier to resolve than among ordinary friends. Arbitrators should be aware of these facts.
Reconciliation and arbitration in the Qur’an
لا خَيْرَ فِي كَثِيرٍ مِنْ نَجْوَاهُمْ إِلا مَنْ أَمَرَ بِصَدَقَةٍ أَوْ مَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ إِصْلاحٍ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ ابْتِغَاءَ مَرْضَاةِ اللَّهِ فَسَوْفَ نُؤْتِيهِ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا
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.
Surat An-Nisaa 114
وَإِنِ امْرَأَةٌ خَافَتْ مِنْ بَعْلِهَا نُشُوزًا أَوْ إِعْرَاضًا فَلا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا أَنْ يُصْلِحَا بَيْنَهُمَا صُلْحًا وَالصُّلْحُ خَيْرٌ وَأُحْضِرَتِ الأنْفُسُ الشُّحَّ وَإِنْ تُحْسِنُوا وَتَتَّقُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا (١٢٨)
And if a woman fears from her husband contempt or evasion, there is no sin upon them if they make terms of settlement between them – and settlement is best. And present in [human] souls is stinginess. But if you do good and fear Allah – then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.
Surat An-Nisaa 128
يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الأنْفَالِ قُلِ الأنْفَالُ لِلَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَصْلِحُوا ذَاتَ بَيْنِكُمْ وَأَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ
They ask you, [O Muhammad], about the bounties [of war]. Say, “The [decision concerning] bounties is for Allah and the Messenger.” So fear Allah and amend that which is between you and obey Allah and His Messenger, if you should be believers.
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ
The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers. And fear Allah that you may receive mercy.
Conflict resolution in the sunnah
عَنْ أَبِي الدَّرْدَاءِ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: «أَلَا أُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِدَرَجَةٍ أَفْضَلَ مِنَ الصَّلَاةِ وَالصِّيَامِ وَالصَّدَقَةِ؟» قَالُوا: بَلَى، قَالَ: «صَلَاحُ ذَاتِ الْبَيْنِ، وَفَسَادُ ذَاتِ الْبَيْنِ هِيَ الْحَالِقَةُ»[قال الشيخ الألباني] : صحيح
Abu Darda narrated that the prophet said: Should I inform you of what is more meritorious than (superogatory) solats and fasting and sadaqah? They said yes, he said resolving conflict between people; conflict between people is destruction.
قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: ” كُلُّ سُلَامَى مِنَ النَّاسِ عَلَيْهِ صَدَقَةٌ كُلَّ يَوْمٍ تَطْلُعُ الشَّمْسُ “، قَالَ: ” تَعْدِلُ بَيْنَ الِاثْنَيْنِ صَدَقَةٌ، وَتُعِينُ الرَّجُلَ فِي دَابَّتِهِ تَحْمِلُهُ عَلَيْهَا أَوْ تَرْفَعُ لَهُ مَتَاعَهُ عَلَيْهَا صَدَقَةٌ “، وَقَالَ: ” الْكَلِمَةُ الطَّيِّبَةُ صَدَقَةٌ “، وَقَالَ: ” كُلُّ خُطْوَةٍ تَمْشِيهَا إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ صَدَقَةٌ، وَتُمِيطُ الْأَذَى عَنِ الطَّرِيقِ صَدَقَةٌ “
“Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “There is a (compulsory) Sadaqa (charity) to be given for every joint of the human body (as a sign of gratitude to Allah) every day the sun rises. To judge justly between two persons is regarded as Sadaqa, and to help a man concerning his riding animal by helping him to ride it or by lifting his luggage on to it, is also regarded as Sadaqa, and (saying) a good word is also Sadaqa, and every step taken on one’s way to offer the compulsory prayer (in the mosque) is also Sadaqa and to remove a harmful thing from the way is also Sadaqa.””
Source: Sahih Bukhari Book of Jihad no. 198
Qualities of a good arbitrator
A good arbitrator will be ready to sacrifice: (1) His time (2) tolerate insult on his honour and nobility
Reward for an arbitrator
Reward for every word uttered during the process of arbitration is equal to manumission of slave. Imam Al-Awzaai reports that one who endevour to undertake the noble task of arbitration will be rewarded with freedom from hell
Tactics in arbitration
In Islam, all forms of lies or untrue information were condemned. Permission is conditionally granted in only few specific areas. The inclusion of conflict resolution among these exceptions is a clear indication of high importance that Islam attaches to the issue. Arbitrators were allowed some kind of diplomatic lies as a necessary tool to get the job done. This method is allowed only after other ordinary means have been exhausted.
Pride and unwillingness to humble oneself plays an important role in long discord between any two warring parties. Depending on how severe the discord was, the arbitrator may move from one end to the other and convey message and promises which never were. For example, an arbitrator may go to one party saying: “I have talked to your brother and he has ended the discord, the final resolution to make peace now lies with you” in an attempt to secure some confidence in him and make him reconsider his stand.
” لَيْسَ الْكَذَّابُ الَّذِي يُصْلِحُ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ، فَيَنْمِي خَيْرًا، أَوْيَقُولُ خَيْرًا ”.
Narrated Um Kulthum bint `Uqba: That she heard Allah’s Messenger (SAW) saying, “He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar.”
(Sahih al-Bukhari 2692)
It will be too late after death
One man was found weeping bitterly at the grave of his brother, he was advised by the people to make dua for his brother instead. He informed them that he had deserted his brother due to some discord between them for more than ten years whilst he was alive until he died. Now he is dead and there is no more opportunity to end the conflict.
Lesson: The opportunity you have to end discord and conflict ends with death. Make peace now with all of your warring parties before death approaches.
Be aware of some forces and people who may come across your way to increase you in pride and discourage your humbleness to make peace and accept righteousness. The following verses of the Qur’an were about Waleed bn Mugeerah.
وَلا تُطِعْ كُلَّ حَلافٍ مَهِينٍ (١٠) هَمَّازٍ مَشَّاءٍ بِنَمِيمٍ (١١) مَنَّاعٍ لِلْخَيْرِ مُعْتَدٍ أَثِيمٍ (١٢) عُتُلٍّ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ زَنِيمٍ (١٣)
- And do not obey every worthless habitual swearer 11. [And] scorner, going about with malicious gossip – 12. A preventer of good, transgressing and sinful, 13. Cruel, moreover, and an illegitimate pretender.
Surat Al-Qalam 10-13
Etiquettes for the arbitrator
A good arbitrator must observe the following in the cause of his arbitration
- Sincerity: It is especially important for an arbitrator to be sincere. This is not only a determinant of reward but also a significant internal force required to ensure a successful arbitration.
- Justice must be maintained: An arbitrator must be neutral, just and balanced. All forms of sentiments are not allowed. Both sides must be allowed to express themselves and present their case by themselves. Any sense of foolishness that we may perceive from the presentation of any party should not force us to jump to conclusion and judge without proper procedure.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ لِلَّهِ شُهَدَاءَ بِالْقِسْطِ وَلا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَى أَلا تَعْدِلُوا اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَى وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is acquainted with what you do.
Surat Al-Maidah 8
وَإِنْ طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا فَإِنْ بَغَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الأخْرَى فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَبْغِي حَتَّى تَفِيءَ إِلَى أَمْرِ اللَّهِ فَإِنْ فَاءَتْ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا بِالْعَدْلِ وَأَقْسِطُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ
And if two factions among the believers should fight, then make settlement between the two. But if one of them oppresses the other, then fight against the one that oppresses until it returns to the ordinance of Allah. And if it returns, then make settlement between them in justice and act justly. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.
(Surat Al-Hujuraat: 9)
- Based on the Shariah: After understudying the cause of conflict, the knowledge of the Shariah peculiar to that case will be required to successfully resolve the conflict. The arbitrator must understand the area of Islamic jurisprudence that can resolve the issue. He may seek help from scholars in the field if he isn’t one.
- No hastiness: There is need to rush through reconciliation.
- Find a suitable place and convenient time for both parties
- Use soft words
Etiquettes for the warring parties
Conflict will be easier to resolve if the warring parties maintain the following etiquettes.
- They should welcome and appreciate the efforts of the arbitrator. This will give the arbitrators some sense of acceptability.
- Fortify themselves with constant reminder of death.