Reconciliation model of Islam
THE current debate at the popular as well as academic level about political instability in Pakistan’ role in the present conflicts requires further research.
The question whether or not polarization is the main factor behind the current conflicts is being dealt with by a number of academics and researchers.
This article goes a step further into the study of Islamic’ role in conflict resolution. A study of Islamic concepts of peace and conflict/war could contribute to the discussion related to conflict resolution and peacemaking in contemporary political situation in Pakistan.
Allah said in the Holy Quran: “And if two parties of the believers quarrel, make peace between them; but if one of them acts wrongfully towards the other, fight that which acts wrongfully until it returns to Allah’s command; then if it returns, make peace between them with justice and act equitably; indeed Allah loves those who act equitably. ” (Al-Hujurat, 49:9).
The Almighty has stated that amongst the qualities of the nation of the Prophet of Islam is their temperance and moderation.
The directives of the Almighty, the All-Wise, are also based on these qualities and indeed, it is an integral feature of Divine wisdom that the Almighty advocates a medium course distinct from any sort of extremes, known as the straight path (Sirat Al-Mustaqim).
In the verse above also, which discusses reconciliation between two disputing parties, all aspects have been considered so that the prescribed remedy is not just based on sentiment and accommodation; rather, compromise is tempered by reason, and moral, instructive and social considerations are taken into account as well.
A dispute or altercation between two parties is not always of one type or category; rather it arises from a variety of disagreements that can flare up between individuals, leading to a disruption in the calm and peace in a society.
In this case, the Qur’an advises the well-wishers and peacemakers of the society to step in and mediate between the two parties and attempt reconciliation before the situation escalates out of control and blood is shed.
However, unlike the last portion of the verse, the Qur’an does not initially state that peace-making be contingent on justice, it merely states that the well-wishers should bring about peace and reconciliation between the two factions.
However, if one of the two quarrelling parties aggressively resorts to violent behaviour and tramples on the principles of decency and civility, then it must be stopped by any means.
If stern action causes the aggressors to desist and accept the Almighty’s law, then the Qur’an directs that reconciliation be effected by keeping in mind fairness and justice.
When the Qur’an advises mediators and peacemakers to reconcile between two quarrelling parties with absolute justice and equity, it does not mean to warn the mediators not to do themselves injustice to one part while they seek peace and compromise, because mediators are normally impartial and well-meaning.
In fact, the intention is to advise them that the manner in which they attempt reconciliation should be such that each party precisely receives their legitimate right, neither having to give up something, nor receiving anything undeserved, even if it is by mutual understanding.
Therefore, the mediators must not make it their ultimate objective to achieve reconciliation at any cost.
In reality, this means that granting concessions should not be the basis of reconciliation and arbitration, even if it is with the consent of the wronged party, because the aggressors have deliberately brought about confrontation so that they may gain concession by extortion.
In these circumstances, if the transgressors insist on continuing on their course, according to the Qur’an, they will have to confront the whole Muslim community, who are duty-bound to come to the aid of the oppressed faction.
Thus, the reason for the Qur’anic insistence on reconciliation coupled with equity in the verse under consideration, which can be deduced from the repetition of the terms ‘adl and qist (justice and equity) three times, is realized when the mediators, in their reconciliatory efforts, consider thoroughly the deeper and fundamental nature of the altercation, and deliberate carefully over the motives behind the dispute.
If they determine that the motivation was extortion or bullying, then they should use force to stop the aggressors from achieving their objectives.
If reconciliation and resolution of conflicts is carried out in an incorrect manner, that is, by giving and taking concessions, it will be like a double-edged sword which will damage both factions; on the one hand, the oppressed individual will feel that the mediators would not, or could not, prevent his rights from being infringed and bring about a just resolution, because in practical terms, his aggressor has profited at his expense.
The issue of trust is central to the idea of transforming relationships. “In deep-rooted conflicts where the parties are not simply disputing over material interests but are suffering from deeply damaged social relationships, rebuilding trust is a key step towards resolution and transformation.”
For that reason, typically a series of initiatives will specifically aim at building and strengthening that trust.
If trust is absent, citizens will not be prepared to invest their energies in the consolidation of democracy.
” It is referred to as ‘civic’ trust in the sense that it can develop among citizens who are members of the same political community but are nonetheless strangers to one another.
“In this view, reconciliation is the condition under which citizens can once again trust one another as citizens.
That means that they are sufficiently committed to the norms and values that motivate their ruling institutions; sufficiently confident that those who operate those institutions do so also on this basis; and sufficiently secure about their fellow citizens’ commitment to abide by these basic norms and values.”
However, this is a long process: “One cannot expect that this will happen immediately. Trust can be broken in an instant but may take years to be re-established.
” Civic trust as understood here is not just a state of mind but a host of conditions that make institutions trustworthy.
Pakistan needs political stability for economic and peaceful co-existence in geo-political and geographical scenarios.
All major stakeholders should sit together to resolve the internal disputes for the betterment of the country.
—The writer is PhD in Islamic Studies, author and academic writer & lecturer at NUML, Islamabad.