No Nation in the world today grows in isolation. Each political and economic environment requires peaceful coexistence amongst the various sets of people that live together. It is a well known fact that investment activities thrive in countries free from conflicts, be they political, economic, religious or otherwise. Therefore, there is a need for reconciliation to ensure peaceful coexistence and development.
Reconciliation is the acceptance of things that, in an ideal world, we would rather not accept. In this sense, we have reconciled ourselves to this or that reality. It is imperative to note that reconciliation and peace require us to take a leap of faith in order to give space and trust those whom we had previously regarded as our sworn enemies.
It is pertinent to note that reconciliation is about committing to a future, and for this to happen some degree of friendship has to be reestablished.
Reconciliation cannot happen unilaterally, there has to be a meeting of the mind, certainty of purpose and identification of a common ground. First one has to accept that one has done something wrong, then forgiveness will follow and things can come back to normal. In addition, reconciliation entails promoting a culture of peace, the reality is that any search for a lasting solution to the problems underlying the conflict, will require all parties to make real commitments including providing a safe ground for all.
There are four ethical principles which are indispensable requirements for meaningful reconciliation, these are:
- We are always responsible for our actions;
- we must try to see things from the other person’s point of view;
- the other person is always worthy of our respect;
- there are no excuses for harming others.
Also, reconciliation is the reconciliation of man with his creator, Almighty Allah (SWT). We are all humans and as such we sin against the Almighty, we beg for his mercy and forgiveness and make a confession with the Almighty not to sin again, which is a reconciliation with Allah (SWT) in it deepest sense. This is the real meaning of forgiveness and reconciliation and it leads not only to peace in this world, but to the peace that passes all understanding.
Reconciliation has certain core values, with these values reconciliation works and without them nothing works:
- social justice;
- fairness and equality.
If all these core values and the principles mentioned earlier are in place, reconciliation can be achieved.
Just as it is important to believe in the mercy and forgiveness of Allah, it is also necessary to base human relations on forgiveness. We cannot expect Allah's forgiveness unless we also forgive those who do wrong to us. Forgiving each other, even forgiving one's enemies is one of the most important teachings of Islam. In the Qur'an Allah has described the Believers as "those who avoid major sins and acts of indecencies and when they are angry they forgive. " (al-Shura 42:37) Later in the same Surah Allah says, "The reward of the evil is the evil thereof, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon Allah. " (al-Shura 42:40) In another place the Qur'an says, "If you punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith you were afflicted. But if you endure patiently, indeed it is better for the patient. Endure you patiently. Your patience is not except through the help of Allah (al-Nahl 16:126-127).
In one Hadith the Prophet -peace be upon him- says that Allah has commanded him nine things. One of those he mentioned was "that I forgive those who do wrong to me."
The Prophet -peace be upon him- was the most forgiving person. He was ever ready to forgive his enemies. When he went to Ta'if to preach the message of Allah, the people mistreated him. They abused him and hit him with stones.
He left the city humiliated and wounded. When he took shelter under a tree, the angel of Allah visited him and told him that Allah sent him to destroy the people of Ta'if because of their sin of mistreating their Prophet. The Prophet -peace be upon him- prayed to Allah to save the people of Taif, because what they did was out of their ignorance. He said, "O Allah, guide these people, because they did not know what they were doing. " When he entered the city of Makkah after the victory, the Prophet -peace be upon him- had in front of him some of his staunchest enemies. Those who fought him for many years, persecuted his followers and killed many of them. Now he had full power to do whatever he wanted to punish them for their crimes. It is reported that the Prophet -peace be upon him- asked them, "What do you think I shall do to you now? " They pleaded for mercy. The Prophet -peace be upon him- said, "Today I shall say to you what Joseph (referring to Prophet Yusuf -peace be upon him- as mentioned in the Qur'an, Yusuf 12:92) said to his brothers, 'No blame on you today. Go, you are all free." Soon they all came and accepted Islam at his hands. He forgave even Hind who had caused the murder of his uncle Hamza -may Allah be pleased with him. After killing him she had his body mutilated and chewed his liver. When she accepted Islam, the Prophet even forgave her.
A very striking example of forgiveness we find in the Qur'an in reference to the most unfortunate event of "Slander of Sayyidah A'isha'". Some hypocrites of Madinah accused her. They tried to put dirt on her noble character. One of the slanderers turned out to be Mistah, the cousin of 'Aisha's father Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr -may Allah be pleased with him- had given financial help to this young man. After he slandered his daughter, Abu Bakr vowed not to help him any more. But Allah reminded Abu Bakr and through him all the Believers, "Let not those among you who are endowed with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, those in want and those who migrated from the path of Allah. Let them forgive and overlook. Do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? Indeed Allah is oft-Forgiving, most Merciful. " (Al-Nur 24:22) Abu Bakr -may Allah be pleased with him- came out of his home and said, "Yes, indeed, I want Allah's forgiveness. He not only continued to help him but he gave him more. Islam emphasizes justice and punishment of the wrong doers, but it equally strongly emphasizes mercy, kindness and love. Justice, law and order are necessary for the maintenance of a social order, but there is also a need for forgiveness to heal the wounds and to restore good relations between the people. We must keep in mind that as much as we need Allah's forgiveness for our own sins and mistakes, we must also practice forgiveness towards those who do wrong to us.
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