A cardinal principle in the equation of human relationships is that all members of every human community should learn to care deeply about themselves and about other members of the community, as well as to act in ways that are supportive of the vital interests of all. Wise ones have said that among the most important ingredients in the formula for a successful and fulfilling life is knowing how to get along with people.
The way we relate to people, significantly affects how we live as social beings, and greatly determines the quality of communal life we experience. The fact that Islam emphasizes mu’amalah (social relations) as an essential component of the deen (Islamic way of life) clearly indicates the significance of relationships in human existence.
p>Human beings concur, human beings differ. When we agree, there is no discord; but when we disagree, it is essential to realize that how we understand and handle our differences will determine whether we let our disagreements be resolved or escalate into conflict.
- Conflict is a very typical social phenomenon and a reality in every type of human relationship.
- Knowing how to manage and resolve conflict is important for a meaningful social life
Essentials for Reconciliation Since 1995, 16th December is celebrated as a public holiday in South Africa, the Day of Reconciliation. Reconciliation could imply the resolution of conflict, the restoring of balance or the unraveling of confusion. The Qur’an reiterates و الصلح خير Reconciliation is good. [Qur’an 4: 128]
This can be done by …
– the active engagement of differing individuals or groups communicating information about their conflicting motives or ideologies (intentions and reasons for holding certain stance),
– engaging collectively in a wide range of methods and procedures that include discussion, negotiation, mediation, diplomacy, and creative peace-building.
In talking about reconciliation, we must keep in mind two underlying fundamental dimensions essential for a balanced resolution between parties concerned.
• A concern for self (i.e., assertiveness)
• A concern for others (i.e., empathy)
Barriers to Reconciliation
Among the numerous barriers to reconciliation are the following …
- Arrogance ~ It is a noted fact that the person who sincerely looks up to God rarely looks down upon people. Remember that, إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُحِبُّ مَن كَانَ مُخْتَالاً فَخُورًا “Allah certainly loves not the vainglorious nor the arrogant.” [Qur’an 4:36]
- Self-Righteousness ~ considering one’s self better than others due to one’s own estimation of one’s goodness/holiness/piety. “Do not ascribe righteousness to your self, Allah alone knows best who is truly pious.” [Qur’an 53:32]
- Moral Myopia ~ Being sensitive to the errors of others while overlooking one’s own shortcomings. The Mauritian writer ,Malcolm de Chazal observed that monkeys are superior to men in this: when a monkey looks into a mirror, he sees a monkey.
- Condescension ~ He underrates the good deeds of others, but if he himself performs those deeds he magnifies them. He is sensitive to the errors of others, but overlooks his own faults. There is an old Sufi saying, “If you feel you have no faults, that makes another one.”
- Intolerance ~ This prejudicial narrow-mindedness often arises due to people…
- i. overstating their differences.
- ii. not fully comprehending the various dimensions of the issue.
- iii. can not (or refuse to) think outside the box.
- iv. considering their opinion to be the ultimate view.
- v. having vested interests that cause people to undermine others
- vi. becoming excessively partisan to one opinion over another.
(Note that the one who has wider vision tends to be more tolerant.)
Temperament for Reconciliation
Civilized individuals respect other people and therefore have the tendency to respect the opinions of others. Those who are ethically impoverished, emotionally overcharged and intellectually barren, have an inclination to be so dogmatic as to use differences of opinion as a barrier between themselves and others often leading to unnecessary disputes that cause disrespect for others and of others.
- The problem at times is that we often take possession of our ideas as if they were our identity. If people’s ideas and verbalized thoughts are always experienced at the level of one’s identity, then all debate will become perceived as fighting or arguing. Therefore, when this pattern of communication erupts it’s important to separate the idea from the person.
- Just because something needs to be done does not mean that anything that is done is okay; and just because something is done in religious fervor does not in any way prove that it is Islamically correct.
- Propriety is essential in all deliberations and this requires control of strong emotions
وَسَارِعُواْ إِلَى مَغْفِرَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالأَرْضُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ ، الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ فِي السَّرَّاء وَالضَّرَّاء وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ وَاللّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
And vie with one another to attain to your Sustainer’s forgiveness and to a paradise as vast as the heavens and the earth, which has been readied for the righteous; those who spend [in His way] in time of plenty and in time of hardship; who hold in check their anger and pardon their fellow beings because God loves the doers of good [Q 3:133-134].
- The Believer should bring forth that innate potential for goodness and bring it to bear on his/her social existence. Imam ‘Ali described the believer as …
بَعِيداً فُحشُهُ، لَيِّناً قَوْلُهُ، غَائِباً مُنْكَرُهُ، حَاضِراً مَعْرُوفُهُ، مُقْبِلاً خَيْرُهُ، مُدْبِراً شَرُّهُ.
فِي الزَّلاَزِلِ وَقُورٌ، وَفِي الْمَكَارِهِ صَبُورٌ، وَفِي الرَّخَاءِ شَكُورٌ.
لاَ يَحِيفُ عَلَى مَنْ يُبْغِضُ،.
His is distant from indecent speech is, his utterance is moderate, his evils are non-existent, his virtues are ever present, his good is ahead and mischief has turned its face (from him). He is dignified during calamities, patient in distresses, and thankful during ease. He does not commit excess over him whom he hates,
Discord is Detrimental
The Prophet (pbuh) warned about the dangers of discord and advised about the value of reconciliation in numerous of his statements. Among them is the one …
الا اخبركم بأفضل من درجة الصلاة و الصيام و الصدقة ؟…
اصلاح ذات البين و فساد ذات البين هي الحالقة
Shall I inform what is on a higher level than prayer, fasting and charity?… Making reconciliation among yourselves. Discord among yourselves will lead to your detriment. [Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – Musnad of Imam Ahmed]
Reconciliation comes from the Latin reconciliāre to bring together again, from re– (again) + conciliāre (to make friendly, conciliate); ie. to become friendly with (someone) after estrangement. Let reconciliation should always come about through a process of goodness
وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ
Goodness and Evil be never equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better: Then will he between whom and you was hatred become as it were intimate friends! [Q 41:34]
وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا ذُو حَظٍّ عَظِيمٍ
None will be inclined to this except those who have the capacity for patient perseverance and those who possess a tremendous resolve. [Q 41:35]
We pray: O Allah! (allif bayna quloobina) Let there be love in our hearts for each other (wa aslih dhata baynina) and let matters between us be resolved through reconciliation, Aameen!
The khutbah was delivered at Claremont Main Road Mosque, Cape Town. The original content may be viewed here.