1.The meaning of reconciliation
- The Arabic word for reconciliation is ISLAAH
- 1 meaning is to make something prosper or to encourage someone or help someone to thrive, so like how someone prepares the land and the soil to make it favourable for plants to grow, A Muslih helps a person to be good and righteous, so if we look at it, then we can say that the job of Islaah is the responsibility of leaders, of parents, of teachers and mentors
- Another meaning is to reform – to make changes to something in order to improve it, fix by removing any faults, abuse or injustices – literal sense and in a more spiritual sense it means, to cause someone to abandon evil ways and come onto the straight path; this could be self-reformation or social reformation
- Another meaning is to make peace or reconcile between 2 people or parties who have disputed or aren’t speaking to each other
The word reconciliation, the meaning is limited, and only really refers to making peace when there is a dispute, and unfortunately, many times in social interaction/relationships, we tend to just act according to our own desires and opinions and then only after something goes wrong, we want to make Islaah and reconciliation…
But Maashaa – Allah the word Arabic word Islaah is so comprehensive, when we embrace the full meaning, we can think ahead and be more intentional about what can do to lay down a foundation or create an atmosphere, in which our relationships can prosper and bring peace Inshaa – Allaah.
2. What the Quran teaches us about reconciling between people
Let’s look at the opposite of Islaah first, because so we can gain understanding:
Allaah says in Surah Anfaal
وَأَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَلَا تَنَازَعُوا فَتَفْشَلُوا وَتَذْهَبَ رِيحُكُمْ ۖ وَاصْبِرُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ – 8:46
“Obey Allaah and His messenger and don’t dispute…” – why, what will happen when the Muslim Ummah starts to dispute…? ”…You will lose courage and your strength will leave you.” Meaning, as a collective and a superpower in the world, disputing amongst each other, and not making ISLAAH will weaken you.
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ
“Surely the believers are but brothers, so make peace/correct your affairs, reconcile amongst your brothers so that mercy may be shown to you.”
So the same way you as a mother won’t let time pass without letting your children apologise and makeup, that same importance we should attach to reconciling the rest of the Muslims
Allah is encouraging us to be agents of peace and unity for His sake. Whoever makes ISLAAH between people seeking the pleasure of Allah, Allah says He will give them a great reward
What Quran says about how to reconcile between two people
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيِ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ – 49:1
“Oh those who believe, do not put yourselves before Allah and His Messenger and fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is All-Hearing and All-Knowing.”
Mufassireen give a few interpretations of this ayah, one of them being “don’t put your opinion and view over Allah and his Rasool SAW”
So, to practice ISLAAH and to be a better Muslim, and to bring peace and righteousness, you HAVE to trust that Allaah and His messenger know best.
EVEN if you don’t see it.
That every time Allah tells you something is right or wrong, Allah is telling you from that perspective, that Allah is Sameeun Aleem, Allah knows best.
So You have to be willing to give up your own opinion even if you feel really strongly about it and then we need to tell ourselves that what Allah and His Rasool want comes first and what I want comes second.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ ۖ فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلًا – 4:59
Allah says “Oh those who believe, Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it (the matter) to Allah and the Messenger, if you truly believe in Allah and the Last Day.”
So in the time of Nabi SAW Sahaaba RA used to come to Rasoolullaah SAW to give them a ruling. So how does this apply to us today?
This matter of dispute you have, refer it to Allah’s Law and the Sunnah of Rasoolullaah SAW in order to make peace and bring righteousness.
“…That is the best for you and it yields the most beautiful result“
So here’s step 1 – If you come across a little challenge, problem, little altercation, Make ISLAAH by coming back to Allah, mending and fixing your relationship with Allah and coming onto the Sunnah of Rasoolullaah SAW.
وَإِن طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا ۖ فَإِن بَغَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الْأُخْرَىٰ فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَبْغِي حَتَّىٰ تَفِيءَ إِلَىٰ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ فَإِن فَاءَتْ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا بِالْعَدْلِ وَأَقْسِطُوا ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ – 49:9.
“…And if two groups of believers fight each other, then make peace between them. But if one of them transgresses against the other, then fight against the transgressing group until they return to Allah. If they do so, then make peace between both in all fairness and act justly. Surely Allah loves those who uphold justice.”
Now if you get to the point where 2 Muslims argue or fight you have to make amends between them, because the Muslims are one family, it is our responsibility as fellow Muslims to play the role of reconciler where possible, whether you are one of the parties or you are helping others to reconcile the 2 parties, use Quran and Sunnah as a yardstick and then agree to terms of reconciliation.
Then if after a Muslih (the reconciler) intervenes, and one of them breaches these terms and they start fighting again.
Then the Muslih and the oppressed person should team up and talk to the aggressor, and they can get other people involved and they can apply pressure.
So that they can bring this person back to Allah.
It is narrated that Nabi SAW said something to this effect, help your brother whether he is the oppressor or the victim of oppression so the Sahabi replied Oh Rasoolullaah SAW I know how to help the oppressed, how do I help the oppressor? So he SAW said , By advising him on his oppressive behaviour.
3. What we learn from the Seerah of Rasoolullah (Sallalahu alayhi wa sallam) on reconciliation
Nabi SAW said that
“The doors of the Jannah are opened on Monday and Thursday. Every muslim slave who does not associate anything with Allah is forgiven except for the man who has enmity between him and his brother. It will be said, ‘Leave these two until they have made a reconciliation. Leave these two until they have made a reconciliation.‘ Muwatta Maalik
From this hadeeth, we can see the seriousness of harbouring malice against a fellow Muslim to such an extent that it actually prevents one from entering Jannah (May Allah save us)
There is an incident where fighting took place amongst the tribe of Banu ‘Amr b. ‘Awf. The news reached Rasoolullaah so he went out after Thuhr Salaah to reconcile between the members of the tribe. And Rasoolullah SAW said to Bilal RA; If the time of asr comes, and I’m not back yet, then ask Abu Bakr RA to lead the people in salaah. and the time of asr came then; Bilal RA went to Abu Bakr ra and said, “The Prophet (ﷺ) is delayed…Will you lead the people in the salaah?” Abu Bakr RA said “Yes.” So Bilal RA made Iqama and Abu Bakr RA led the salaah. Nabi SAW returned and made his way through the rows to the first row, and then Aboo Bakr moved back.
From this hadith we can see the importance attached to this act of making ISLAAH that even Nabi SAW was delayed for the jamaat salaah.
لَيْسَ الْكَذَّابُ الَّذِي يُصْلِحُ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ وَيَقُولُ خَيْرًا وَيَنْمِي خَيْرًا
Nabi SAW also said that person who makes ISLAAH between people and he speaks good or he conveys good (in order to avoid dispute) is not regarded as a liar.
So we see from this hadith that even though lying is haraam, one is allowed to tell a white lie if one has to do it to bring about reconciliation and peace amongst families or society.
If two Muslims aren’t talking to each other and someone tells them such things which can remove conflict and rancour between them, promote mutual love and bring them nearer to each other, then even if it has a lie, is not called a lie in Islam.
4. Islam teaches us beautiful etiquette and aadaab for everything.
SubhaanAllaah Allah and His Rasool have taught us many etiquette for beautiful social conduct, which help promote good relationships, prevent disputes and also some advices for reconciliation. I will mention a few here
Spread salaam amongst each other, is a declaration of peace, it is a means of instilling love and fostering understanding & solidarity between Muslims, and when saying salaams genuinely, one person is telling another person that he is safe from his potential evil and harm .
Then to add to that when people part ways, they are required to exchange salaams again implying that in each others’ absence they are all safe from each other’s backbiting, spying, plotting, jealousy etc.
Avoiding suspicion and spying and backbiting
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ ۖ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا ۚ أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِيمٌ – 49:12
In surah Hujuraat aayah 12 Allaah prohibits us from 3 things:
- Avoid thinking lots of negative thoughts, because some of them are a sin (ie something that will be punishable),
- Don’t spy on people – don’t go and look into peoples’ private matters, go and do research, and find out…this person has this fault and that fault etc and
- Don’t backbite. We will never want to eat the flesh of any person, let alone if the person is someone close to us and let alone the person is dead. So if you dislike eating the flesh of your dead brother, you should dislike backbiting, because the punishment for it is severe.
Yaa Allaah let us not be so distracted with the faults of others that we forget our own faults. Wouldn’t we love that On the day of Qiyaamah, Allah covers our faults? It is said that the one who covers the faults of a Muslim in the dunya Allah will cover ours on the day of Qiyaamah (Muslim)
Allah tells us in Surah Hujuraat that when we receive information we should first verify it, before we spread it because this will save people from so much possible harm, misunderstanding and conflict.
Then once we know it’s true, is it even beneficial to mention it? For example, telling someone, ‘you know so and so was talking bad about you, this is what they said”. We should avoid mentioning things like this that will cause disunity even if it’s true.
Pride, Anger and rancour
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِّن قَوْمٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُونُوا خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَاءٌ مِّن نِّسَاءٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُنَّ ۖ وَلَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا بِالْأَلْقَابِ ۖ بِئْسَ الِاسْمُ الْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ الْإِيمَانِ ۚ وَمَن لَّمْ يَتُبْ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ – 49:11
Allaah forbids us in surah Hujuraat from holding someone in contempt, in other words, thinking we are better than them, thinking they are worthless or beneath us. Why? Because we don’t know, perhaps it is that they (the ones who are being looked down on) are better than them, perhaps they are closer to Allah than them. And He says that we shouldn’t also insult one another or call each other with offensive nicknames, (11 Hujuraat)
Pride is one of the root causes of all evil qualities like anger, rancour, harbouring ill feelings against a Muslim, resulting in dissension and discord
SubhaanAllaah there are so many lessons regarding social conduct that Allah has taught us in Surah Hujuraat. It is also referred to as Suratul Akhlaaq. I urge everyone to read this surah, read the translation, ask someone to teach you the Tafseer of this Aayah. There is a wealth of information in this surah that can assist us in making Islaah in our daily lives.
Rasoolullaah SAW was commanded in the Quran to consult with his companions RA. Whereas he is Ashraful Ambiyaa, he receives Wahi (revelation), no one is more intelligent than him, he isn’t in need of consulting with them. Why then does Allaah command him to? It is to teach us to consult with others. This is regardless of whether they are in a lower position or younger. Rasoolullaah SAW would consult Sahaaba RA to such an extent that even matters pertaining to his personal life would also be discussed through Mushaawara.
The Benefits are that it gives strength and self-confidence to the one who is consulting, assuring him that he is on the right path, it creates unity by showing respect and soothing the souls of the one who is consulted, its a source of Noor and blessings.
No individuals, whether it is in marriage, family, in a madrasa institute or business organisation feels disregarded, as they have an opportunity to express their needs.
Ali RA said that there is no person who would be destroyed after making Mushaawara
There is a saying that there are 3 types of people, one is a complete person, he is competent and intelligent, but he still consults with others, 2nd is a half-person, the person whose opinions are correct, but he doesn’t consult with others, and the 3rd person can be categorised as a non – existent person; his opinions are incorrect and he doesn’t feel the need to consult with others. May Allah save us from being of the third type of person.
Speaking and Communication according to how Rasoolullaah SAW taught
Rasoolullaah SAW taught us to speak audibly and clearly, each word should be separated from the other, and we should not mumble. If need be to clarify, repeat yourself 3 times.
Face the person you are addressing and look at them, don’t be talking from one room to the other or looking down at your phone and talking, and don’t talk from behind a person, this is very perplexing.
All these things can detract from the love and understanding that should be brought about between two people and brings about the possibility of miscommunication.
And it is poor communication which creates situations of misunderstanding and conflict.
When we want to make ISLAAH and bring about peace after a dispute, we should turn to Allah in repentance, ask for the person who we have wronged for Forgiveness and amend whatever was wrong.
Making Duaa to Allaah
Along with taking the action to make things right we need to turn to Allah in humble duaa because we can spend as much money and as much effort to make peace between people, but Allah is the one Changer of hearts and He is the one who can bring people together.
If one often ponders about death, the reality of Aakhirah and that dunya is temporary, there will be no time to have petty arguments and we would fear going to sleep before we have cleared our heart of any ill feelings.
May Allaah grant us taufeeq inshaaAllah
Aadaab ul Mutallimeen
Keys to the treasures of Jannah – reformation & death
Hayaatul Muslimeen – Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi Rahmatullaahi Alayhi