Today the Muslim world is in the clutches of disastrous war, mutual conflict and bloodshed over trifles. Muslim individuals are prone to quarrels. Shia-Sunni unrest is at its peak particularly in Iraq, Syria and Pakistan. The death toll only in Syria has mounted to more than 110,000 including children, women and elderly people. Every other day we listen to the news of fatal suicide attacks perpetrated or purported by extremist Wahhabi-Salafi ideologues in Muslim countries. Innocent people are being charred to death under undue pressure of schism between Shias and Sunnis. At such a turbulent time, we badly need to foster reconciliation to restore peace. We should not only restore peace and harmony but also get the reward from God the Almighty. The holy Quran says to the Muslim Ummah:
"So have Taqwa (fear and obedience) of Allah and reconcile the differences between yourselves."[Al-Qur'an 8:1]
"Indeed the Believers are but brothers. Therefore reconcile the differences between your brothers, and fear Allah so that you may receive mercy." [Al-Qur'an 49:10]
"When two parties of the Believers fight each other, then make reconciliation between them." [Al-Qur'an 49:9]
“Most of their discussions do not contain any good, except of the one who enjoins charity or goodness or peace-making among people; whoever does that to seek the pleasure of Allah – We shall soon give him a great reward” (Surah Nisa: 114)
It is clear from the verses above that reconciliation is greatly valued in Islamic teachings. The reconciliation-loving person is blessed with the mercy of Allah. In terms of social wellbeing, it is of paramount importance. It brings mutual hostility and grudge to an end paving the way to the establishment of peace and harmony in society.
One can easily evaluate the great importance that Islam attaches to reconciliation by reflecting on the permissibility of telling a lie in Islam with intent to reconcile between two warring persons or groups. While Islam strictly forbids lying, it allows one to tell a lie for the sake of reconciliation. In fact, Islam does not declare such a person a liar.
It was narrated by Umme Kulthum bint ‘Uqbah that she heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say: “He is not a liar who brings about reconciliation among people, conveys good words and says good things.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
For example, if the husband and wife have hostility against each other, and someone with the intention of reconciling, says to either of them, “you abhor your husband or wife whereas he/she speaks so well of you”, it is absolutely allowed in Islam, though, in actuality, it is a lie. Such lies are permitted in Islam to restore love and peace among the two warring persons or groups.
It is narrated by Asma’ bint Yazid that The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "Lies are not appropriate except in three cases: 1) When a man speaks to his wife to please her, 2) Telling lies at times of war, 3) Lying in order to bring about reconciliation between people” (Tirmizi Shareef: Chapter Albir Wassilah)
It is narrated by Abu Hurayrah (ra) that the Messenger of Allah said: The gates of Paradise will be opened on Mondays and on Thursdays, and every servant [of God] who associates nothing with God will be forgiven, except for the man who has a grudge against his brother. [About them] it will be said: Delay these two until they are reconciled; delay these two until they are reconciled. (Hadith Qudsi 20, Sunan Abu Dawood part 2 page 217)
Allah's Messenger peace be upon him said: "Shall I not inform you of something that is greater in degree than (optional) fasting, charity and prayer?" They said: Indeed inform us. So he said: "It is reconciling the people. For indeed causing corruption between them is the shaver!" (Sunan Abu Dawood part 2 page 217)
Today if we introspect ourselves, we find that our social behaviour goes much against the above Hadith. When a man fights his kith and kin over a trivial matter, the belligerent people abruptly come to add fuel to the fire. No one cares about restoring love and rebuilding peace among them. Had this perverse attitude not been in our society, our houses would have been in complete peace and tranquillity.
If we are really human beings in the true sense we should do the acts that behove our existence. Similarly, to become a true Muslim, it is obligatory to abide by the Islamic commandments of peace and reconciliation. Besides, we ought to abstain from all evils; mutual abhorrence both outwardly and inwardly. Only then Allah the Almighty will be pleased with us. After we have got a glimpse of the holy prophet’s life, we should now feel impelled to promote the virtue of reconciliation. Because we learnt that our prophet pbuh used to prefer reconciliation in every walk of life. He not only practised it by himself but also instructed Muslims to adopt this noble attitude.
How can we forget the peace treaty of Hudaibiyah? At that time too, the prophet reconciled even between the pagans of Arab, let alone Muslims. One should remember that the prophet pbuh had not less power than the pagans but even then he preferred none other than peace treaty.
There were three events of reconciliation that took place in the treaty of Hudaibiyah. The first was when the prophet pbuh was sitting in Hudaibiyah with fifteen hundred people. They went there with the intention of performing Umrah. But Meccans did not allow them to enter Mecca for Umra. Finally they agreed to a resolution that there will be no war for ten years between the governments of Mecca and Medina. Hazrat Ali (ra) wrote down the treaty with the name of Allah (Bismillah hir Rehman nir Raheem). The Meccan representatives objected and said “we want the treaty not to be labelled with “the name of Allah the most merciful and gracious”, but you can write Bismika Allah Humma (with your name O’ Allah)”. The holy Prophet pbuh asked Ali (ra) to delete these words and write according to their wish. Hazrat Ali (ra) said “O’ the prophet of Allah (pbuh) how can I delete these words”? The Holy prophet (pbuh) ordered him to delete so that the other party may feel happy and treaty of peace could be accomplished.
The second was when Hazrat Ali (ra) wrote: “Muhammad, the messenger of Allah (pbuh)”. The representatives of Mecca again refused to accept Muhammad (pbuh) as the messenger of Allah the Almighty. They said if we had accepted you as the messenger of God we would never have fought against you. They wanted Hazrat Ali (ra) to cut it too and write down Muhammad Bin Abdullah (pbuh). The Holy Prophet (pbuh) asked Ali (r.a) to delete these words and write Muhammad Bin Abdullah (pbuh). This was the time when tears came in the eyes of Hazrat Ali (ra). When Hazrat Ali (ra) could not muster courage to cut the words, the Prophet (pbuh) took the papers of treaty from his hands and he cut the words “the prophet of Allah” by himself and wrote Muhammad Bin Abdullah in a bid to establish peace and avoid violence. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “By cutting these words, my prophethood is not going to be cancelled”. Thus he (PBUH) accepted their objection just for the sake of peace in Arabian Peninsula.
The third event of reconciliation took place when it was agreed upon that if a non-Muslim goes to Medina to seek exile, the state of Medina would have no right to give him exile and he should be sent back to Mecca. On the other hand, if somebody comes from Medina to Makkah and seeks exile, he will not be sent back. This was absolutely a shocking condition that made the eyes of all companions wet with tears. But the holy prophet (pbuh) accepted this condition just for the sake of peace and reconciliation. (For the relevant Hadith, see Muslim Shareef part 12, page 111 to 112)
The peace treaty of Hudaibiyah benefitted Muslims a lot. Those kings and lofty people, who had resisted Islam before, witnessed that the prophet pbuh and his companions were not oppressors but rather they were the oppressed ones. The prophet pbuh endured stiff opposition and continued persecution including the serious injury caused by the stones that street boys had hurled on him in Taif. The aggressive pagans used to lay thorns in the ways of the prophet pbuh. He tolerated pain and sufferings even during his Salah (prayer). Sometimes he used to be forcibly stopped from worshipping God Almighty. Despite all that, the prophet kept patience and taught his companions to maintain peace and order.
Thus he continued to spread the message of the holy Quran: “And help one another in righteousness and piety - and do not help one another in sin and injustice” (Surah Maidah verse: 2)
During the battle of Khaibar, when the prophet had won the war, he could do everything. But in place of retaliation, the prophet pbuh reconciled with his rivals and handed over their land to them. This was the unprecedented example of blessing in the entire history of humankind.
Today, we need to bring these aspects of the prophet’s life into our focus and emulate these glaring examples of reconciliation in our daily practical life. If we do it, our society will be safe from plenty of evils. The pressing need of the time is to reconcile in the religious matters so that the Islamic message of peace could reach every nook and corner of the world.
One frequently asked question is why there is fierce fighting in Muslim countries while Islam is a religion of peace. Similarly, why there is Muslim extremism and intolerance growing against Muslims themselves, let alone non-Muslims. The answer is that many Muslims have turned a blind eye to the true version of Islam. They have totally become dependent on Wahhabi-Salafi extremist ideologues, regardless of the fact that Salafi-Wahhabi ideologies are antithetical to the nature of Islam. Islam seeks to establish peace and reconciliation in place of war. It is such extremist Wahhabi-minded Muslims who bring this religion into disrepute by their wrong practical presentation of it. If they start introspecting and reconciling, there will be no fighting and no civil war in the Muslim world.
Alas, while we have no problem reconciling with people for economic benefits, when it comes to matters of religion, we are not willing to do the same duty with love and peace. Why so, when it is evident from the holy Quran and Hadith that there should be reconciliation, mutual harmony and peace in all aspects of life. Religion is synonymous with goodwill for others. We should remember that there is no use of religion without peace and reconciliation.
(A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Ghulam Ghaus is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar) with a Sufi background. He has completed the classical Islamic sciences from a Delhi-based Sufi Islamic seminary Jamia Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Zakir Nagar, New Delhi with specialization in Tafseer, Hadith and Arabic. He completed his Alimiat and Fazilat respectively from Jamia Warsia Arabic College, Lucknow and Jamia Manzar- e- Islam, Bareilly, U.P. He has graduated in Arabic Hons. from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi)