“Peaceful Settlement is Better”

Question: “Peaceful settlement is better” (Nisa 4:128) reads a Qur’anic verse. What are the messages to be drawn from this verse?

Answer: The basic factor that lies in the basis of clashes and fights today is entanglement with oneself. Everybody is seeking to establish their own model of the individual, family, city, state, and world.  In a world where everybody runs after their own model and structure it is not possible to meet in the middle with a compromise.  Accordingly, when every intellectual, movement, and state envisions some ideas and systems of theirs, they take these as the sole criteria and expect others to comply with them too, it will obviously result in such a mess. Unfortunately, such a reality underlies behind the tensions, disorder, and confusion we experience today.

Tolerance and clemency

The best elixir to solve these confusions is tolerance and clemency, being open to agreement and reconciliation with almost everybody, and our readiness to engage in dialogue with others. To realize that, we need to shake off our own caprices, greed, and the diseases of asserting their own feelings and thoughts as the only right way to go. Doubtlessly, this depends upon a person's ability to break free of arrogance, destroy the egotism of “I,” and take some rest in the stopover of “us,” and then journey onto “Him” (to God) afterwards.

It is very difficult for those taken by their egotism, considerations of affiliation, or by love of their groups to stand open to peace and meet different ideas with respect.  As far as they hold the benefits of their own group above everything else and cannot rid themselves of bigotry, they cannot form strategies of peace for the good of humanity. Actually, it is very difficult to say that those people ever have such a goal in mind since they are consistently so uncompromising to diversity.

In the globalizing world of our time, there is no other alternative than tolerance and dialogue in order for humanity to live in peace.  As for letting a culture of tolerance prevail, it is necessary for both individuals and societies to give up seeing themselves as the absolute representatives of truth and to always deem the possibility that other’s thoughts and approaches can also be correct. Even if different ideas and thoughts are not completely true, it should not be forgotten that there may be a grain of truth in them at least.  Remember the statements of Said Nursi who said that there is a grain of truth even in the Mu‘tazilite and Fatalist (Jabriya) schools of thought, but that these sects went wrong since they saw the truth as exclusive to themselves.

Today, everyone has a peculiar “correct” viewpoint of their own, and others’ opinions are wrongfor the sole reason that they belong to others. Such a bias does not allow suitable grounds to discuss whether they are correct or not.  We sometimes try to defend ideas even we don’t believe.

Peace begins in the family

Actually, by decreeing that “peaceful settlement is better” (Nisa 4:128) the Qur’an invites people to reconciliation and agreement, to accept that there can also be a share of truth in others’ statements and actions.  As is known, this verse was revealed about the family, the smallest molecule of society. God Almighty showed the way to be followed against occasional discord and situations between spouses; He taught that they are not supposed to consider divorce right away but instead it is necessary to seek mutual agreement while preserving the family.

Given that the Qur'an demands resolving  dents and fissures by peaceful means, even in a familial level, approaching problems at the scope of a town, city, state, or world with peace will be much more desirable. 

In this respect, no matter which aspect of society is concerned, the duty that falls upon people is being in pursuit of maintaining peace and all of the beneficial and good byproducts that come from peaceful means. The fact that people have different religions, cultures, ethnical identities, and worldviews should not be seen as an obstacle to this issue. It must be shown that peaceful coexistence is possible even between people who follow different religions or who do not believe in any religion.

Therefore, it is necessary to develop projects for maintaining such a general peace and to develop reasonable strategies because maintaining that is not as easy as it might seem. The maintenance of peace calls for very serious efforts and endeavors. On the way to obtain such an important outcome, sometimes it is necessary to be ready to forget certain fights that occurred in the past, to be ready to forgive, and to make concessions when needed.  In short, it is needed to forbear everything possible for the sake of letting people live together in an atmosphere of peace. Of course, while doing so no one should compromise the honor of a people or nation.

Obstacles are overcome with mature people

It is only those alive with regards to their spirit, heart, senses, feelings, and thoughts who will succeed at building a spirit of unity and a culture of reconciliation in society.  Those with high spirit can spark vibrancy in others, too. For people who have reached a serious level of satiation, satisfaction, and contentment in the spiritual sense, even very big problems become very little.  Such people even pass over enormous trenches with the ease of jumping over little pits.  However, as for a person who has not been able to break free from their ego, who has not been able to abandon being physical-oriented, and who has not been saved from being directed by fancies and desires, in short, a person who has not started journeying into the life degrees of the heart and spirit will not do much for the peace and happiness of humanity.

This is a significant reason for the breakings, cracks, conflicts, and fights that are happening in our time.  People who are not sufficiently mature are so touchy and easily offended by even the slightest things.  As they have not been able to rid themselves of their roughness, they get offended and hurt right away when they cannot find the looks they desired and the attitudes that they expected.  If someone gives them a nudge in the ribs to invigorate, warn, or to stimulate them, they react as if they were hurt with a spear.

The duty that falls to believers is not being heartbroken even in the face of offensive behavior. Instead of accusing those who behave negatively and making negative assumptions about them, they should turn to God and say:  “O God, we are probably facing these difficulties because of our failure to be properly righteous; please set them, and us, right!”

One must be very determined about not being heart broken and offended by anyone.  If we devoted ourselves to serving humanity, then it is necessary to lay our heads under their feet with utter self-sacrifice.  To put it in the words of Seyyid Nigari:

“Will one who seeks the Beloved be concerned for his own life?
And will one concerned for his own life be in quest of the Beloved?”

I think this is the very thought to let humanity, which has miserably doubled up, to straighten up again.

As is known, the noble Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) positioned a group of archers before the Battle of Uhud on a hill and gave strict instructions that they were not supposed to leave their position no matter what happened.  However, most of the archers who had not grasped the critical importance of precision at following the orders left their positions upon seeing the enemy fleeing the ground; they thought that their duty was over.  It is after this point that the Muslims were surrounded from behind with a new maneuver by the polytheist army and received a very serious blow.  Even the noble Prophet received an injury to his blessed head and his tooth was broken.  But he gathered his Companions again as if nothing had happened and held a consultation with them.  He did not embarrass them by mentioning their fault and did not reproach them in the slightest degree.  What a breeze of kindness that was!

Who knows how humiliated they felt because of the judgmental error they had made. By means of referring to their consultation again about the new steps to be taken, he relieved the hearts of his Companions who were aware of their fault and were suffering with due remorse.  This is the way to spur heroism in spirits and to mend the breakages and cracks that occur.

The Peace of Hudaybiya

At this point, I think most people will not help but remember the treaty of Hudaybiya, because the noble Prophet had made concessions upon concessions for the sake of making that treaty.  Although accepting some of the articles was so hard on him, he forbore with that solely for the sake of maintaining reconciliation and forming an atmosphere of peace.

While departing from Medina, the Messenger of God had promised to his Companions a pilgrimage visit to the holy Ka‘ba.  For the sake of realizing this promise, they had covered a distance of more than 400 km riding their horses and camels and come to the vicinity of Mecca.  They had even put on their ihram garbs for this visit and taken their sacrifices with them.  However, the polytheists of Mecca accosted them in Hudaybiya and said, “we neither let you enter Mecca, nor do we let you visit the Ka‘ba.”  Thanks to the endeavors and prophetic intelligence of God’s Messenger, the polytheists were convinced to sign the peace treaty of Hudaybiya.  However, they also stipulated as an article of the treaty that the Muslims would go back without observing their pilgrimage visit.  This was very heavy on the Companions who had been homesick for Mecca and the Ka‘ba for eight years.  So much so that they reminded the noble Prophet about the promise he had made but received the answer that he had not specified it to be in that year, but they also received a promise from him that they would observe it the following year.  It is not so difficult to imagine how much this situation must have hurt the Prophet, the paragon of kindness.

During this confrontation at Hudaybiya, the Meccan commander Khalid ibn Walid, who had not become a Muslim then, kept spurring his horse here and there in a manner of challenging the Muslims, and he even tried to provoke them.  In addition, Mecca’s representative Suhayl ibn Amr objected to the title “Messenger of God” to be written in the treaty and they stipulated the noble Prophet’s name to be written as “Muhammad, son of Abdullah.”  In the meantime, the same Suhayl ibn Amr’s son Abu Jandal, who had been imprisoned by his father broke free and came up until Hudaybiya in a pitiable condition by dragging the shackles on his leg. He sought refuge with the Messenger of God.  However, the father demanded his son to be given back to him as required by the treaty and for the sake of not upsetting the established peace, God’s Messenger had to accept it unwillingly.

Note that all of these conditions were not to be accepted easily.  The more so when the noble Prophet is concerned, a person with such a high degree of honor, dignity, and esteem; because great personages have sensitivity and caring beyond our estimation.  Nevertheless, the Qur’anic statement meaning, “It may be that you (O Messenger) will torment yourself to death because they refuse to believe” (Shuara 26:3) also expresses his lofty degree of caring.  However, the Messenger of God managed to suppress all of these by exercising an extraordinary degree of self-possession. He did not make these offenses a matter of honor.

In a way, this meant having a holistic perspective and seeing very well the beautiful future that peace and tolerance promised. With this attitude, the Pride of Humanity was at the same time giving Muslims a lesson that they should not be obstinate at certain matters, not act for the sake of their ego, to keep away from superficial and casual evaluations, from being farsighted, not being offensive to others, and from not generating problems in the future by resorting to brutality and violence.  This is the way to keep away from intertwined troubles and spiral of problems.

The Treaty of Hudaybiya Is the Conquest

Such are the heavy conditions that the peace treaty of Hudaybiya was signed under. This had felt hurtful to the dignity and honor of Muslims.  However, the Qur’an gave the glad tidings that this treaty was a plain victory and the results of the treaty also proved this.  Only after this treaty was it that Muslims had an opportunity to travel freely and express themselves in the Arabian Peninsula, grudge, hatred, and animosities abated, many people got to know Muslims more closely.

Based upon this practice, we can say the following: If contemporary Muslims as well want to build such an atmosphere of peace in their country and abroad then they must know to make serious sacrifices.  If they cannot tolerate certain unpleasant situations that they do not approve of but always bring their honor and pride to the fore, then they will be deprived of large-scale examples of goodness to be obtained by means of peace.

If the conditions of the contemporary world are considered, it will be seen that the humanity is in dire need of such agreement and reconciliation more than ever.  Because solving so many gangrenous problems, saving countries from disintegration, and maintaining security of roads are dependent on this.  In this respect, the logic and reasoning in the peace of Hudaybiya need be comprehended and practiced very well.

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