EVERY religion wishes the world to be a place of peace. It wants people to share Allah’s bounties with gratitude and humbleness. However, divisive tendencies have made the world a tinderbox, a place of bickering and war. These tendencies have divided nations, communities and families, which has often brought them to the point of war. History shows that all societies and epochs have witnessed bloody wars in which hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and their properties destroyed.
In order to make the world a citadel of peace and tranquillity, these divisive tendencies must be defeated. In this connection, Islam has made Muslims brothers in faith with a duty to remain active in peacemaking efforts. The Holy Quran says: “The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islamic religion). So, make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear Allah, that you may receive mercy” (49:10).
Islam does not allow Muslims to live in hate, rancour and animosity. Rather, it wishes them to eliminate the root cause of all these evils. Wealth and power inequalities between communities are often termed the root causes of conflict as these predisposes them to conflict. Islam wants this world to be conflict-free, so these material goods have no value in the eyes of Allah.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) had a special mission to solve people’s internal problems so that they may live in peace and tranquillity. He was involved in conflict resolution with both Muslims and non-Muslims who used to approach him for the amicable settlement of their disputes. It has been enjoined in the Quran “And if two parties or groups among the believers fall to fighting, then make peace between them both…” (49:9). At another place it is mentioned that “…they can have no Faith until they make you (O Muhammad SAW) judge in all disputes between them…” (4:65).
Islam wants the world to live in peace and harmony.
Thus, Islam encourages conflict resolution through various means like mediation, arbitration, conciliation, negotiation etc. These are the tools that demand a lot of expertise, patience, impartiality and sincerity from those who are tasked with conflict resolution. There are some broad rules for resolving conflicts as each conflict has a unique history and unique characteristics. Each party to the conflict has its own dreams, concerns and fears. The task for the neutral facilitator is to find the right inducement to draw the parties off the battlefield and into negotiations.
In order to be successful in conflict resolution, the first essential step for the facilitator is to listen to the disputing parties attentively and try his utmost to save the process from collapsing. When conflict is mismanaged, it can cause great damage to the relationship but when it is handled respectfully, it provides an opportunity to strengthen the bond between the two parties. Therefore, the facilitator should arrange a meeting with the parties involved to discuss the issue in depth. He should give everyone a fair chance to speak and not be judgemental, but rather investigate the situation by investing time, effort and resources to come up with a fair conclusion. Besides, he should try to make parties agree on the best solution and determine the responsibilities of each party. It is also necessary for him to evaluate the process periodically and make the necessary corrections, if required.
The success of negotiation is attributable not to a particular procedure chosen but to the readiness of the parties to exploit opportunities, confront hard choices and make fair mutual concessions. Each party has a unique point of view and therefore they should agree to disagree but not let conflict become part of their psyche. This often happens in most societies where litigation becomes a major problem.
In this world, people live together and share their ideas and thoughts but at the same time they differ on a number of matters. Though every person has a right to disagree these differences should not become a cause of conflict, which must be nipped in the bud as prolonging it becomes more painful with each passing day. However, there are some people in all societies who are rigid, stubborn and consider reconciliation a defeat.
In fact, the Muslim world is not a monolithic entity but pluralistic in nature. Muslims around the globe are of varied types. They differ in culture, economy and in the interpretation of faith but all of them affirm the shahada and declare Islam as their faith. They practise it according to their cultural contexts. All seek Allah’s blessings and pray for His guidance to move forward on the right path. People interpret faith according to their respective intellect but seek Allah’s forgiveness if they err in the process of interpretation. Respect for each other’s thoughts is the best way to avoid conflict.
The writer is an educationist with an interest in religion.