Reflection No. 233 on Q 8:1 – Reconciliation
فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَصْلِحُوا ذَاتَ بَيْنِكُمْ
Fatuqallāha wa-aslihū dhāta baynikum
So fear Allah and settle your disputes
(Sūratul Anfāl, No. 8, Āyat 1)
Good relationships in society are vital for progress and growth. Any group that works together towards a common aim cannot afford to let differences evolve into hard bitterness. The rift that this creates is a poison that erodes the foundation of faith and cooperation upon which a society is built.
The verse above was revealed after the battle of Badr when Muslims had differences between themselves regarding the splitting of war booty. It is an important rule that is applicable to all times. When relationships are strained due to differences, and that is bound to happen at times, efforts must be put into setting things right. The people who have the differences should try hard for that. But it is also the duty of others around them to help them improve their relationships. Sometimes it is difficult for two people themselves to reconcile when they have a disagreement. But it helps when another person intervenes and guides them towards settling their differences.
According to Tafsīr-e Namūne, creating harmony between people who have anger and enmity for each other is a very important part of Islam. The program that Islam presents for the growth and development of human potential assigns a large share to the individual and his role in society. A part of that role is the duty for each one to look out for dangers that would sink the ship of society. One such danger lurks in the quality of relationships in society. Healthy and positive relationships impact everyone in society, allowing it to blossom and grow. Negative relationships which continue for years without resolution become a barrier to growth. It is thus that Islam even allows the use of baytul māl or public treasury to be used to settle differences between people
Reconciling differences has been given priority over a lot of recommended worship. Imam Ali (a) in his last words on his death bed said: I have heard your grandfather the Prophet of Allah say; to reconcile differences between people is better than much recommended acts of worship (Nahjul Balāgha, Document 47). Imam al-Sādiq (a) says: A charity that Allah loves is reconciling people when their relationships are spoiled and bringing them closer when they have become distant [from each other].
It is not difficult to understand why Islam emphasizes the reconciliation of differences so much. Negative relationships weaken society and make it vulnerable to disunity and disarray. It diminishes its focus and might. Outside forces have a better chance of working against the society. These dangers that lurk behind negative relationships are warnings for all those who love their society.
Remind yourself of this verse when differences creep up between you and your brethren in society. Or when you see someone else losing harmony in their relationships. Recite it and understand how important it is for a believer to reconcile. Give it all you can and do your part to create a community that grows like a strong tree towards Heaven.
Sources: Amīrul Mu’minīn, Nahjul Balāgha; Āyatullāh Nasir Makārim Shirāzī (ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūne.