Conflict Resolution and Building Peace, Imam Dr Zijad Delic, Imam SNMC
All Islamic instructions are meant to maintain peaceful, healthy, meaningful relationships with God and with all members of our one humanity. Unfortunatelly, due to ignorance and arrogance human relationships are disrupted by conflicts, whether interpersonal, communal, national or international. The restoration of our relationships is essential for the sake of fairness and justice and if we would like to live peace. Peace-building efforts work towards preventing an escalation of conflict and establishing a durable and self-sustaining peace.
Peace is intimately tied with justice in its Islamic understanding. You cannot achieve one without the other. Legitimate grievances of the affected party must be addressed, if real and essential peace is to be achieved. God Almighty is addressing the Muslim community in the following verses: “O You who believe! Stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear God. For God is well-acquainted with all you do.” (Al Maidah 5:8)
And: “O You who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or you kin, and whether it be against rich or poor: For God can best protect both. Follow not the lusts of your hearts, lest you swerve, and if distort justice or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that you do.” (Al Nisa 4:135)
Towards this end Islamic scholars also emphasize promoting Islamic ethics in order to prevent, mediate, and resolve various conflicts that arise among the members of the family, community or society. This must take place along with a personal transformation, developing spiritual awareness through Dhikr (constant remembering God and His Grace) and other ‘Ibadat. That could also be enhanced through acts of charity and love for other human beings.
The Qur’an constantly uses the word Sulh in resolving all types of conflicts. It means seeking peace, reconciliation, compromise and settlement.
As such, during the early Islamic history Muslim jurists developed a number of legal structures and institutions, using a variety of techniques to resolve conflicts amicably, and achieve peace on micro as well as macro levels. Among these are the following:
- Appointment of a Justice of Peace (Qadi as Sulh) to oversee the processes of mediation, arbitration, and reconciliation to achieve settlement and peace.
- Parties in conflict have the option of resolving their dispute through a Wasta or third-party mediator who would ensure that all parties were satisfied with the outcome.
- Other practices could use tahkim, or using intermediaries to represent the parties. These intermediaries should be able to represent the parties’ position as clearly as possible to negotiate on their behalf, and guarantee that the parties receive a fair settlement.
A settlement could include a. Financial compensation, b. Service to the family, c. Service to the community, and d. Specific gestures of sympathy, or public demonstration of reconciliation.
These procedures and relevant structures need be revived and further developed utilizing all possible modern techniques. There are a number of social organizations and institutions currently involved in conflict resolution and restorative justice. Others provide training for solving interpersonal problems and helping resolve issues within a family, community members or nationally.