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
“And if two parties or groups among the believers fall to fighting, then make peace between them both, but if one of them rebels against the other, then fight you (all) against the one that which rebels till it complies with the Command of Allah; then if it complies, then make reconciliation between them justly, and be equitable. Verily! Allah loves those who are equitable.” (Al-Hujurat 49:9)
Most of the verses in this Surah were revealed in context to a situation or event that occurred. Allah (swt) now focuses our attention to a Muslim’s manners with his fellow Muslim brothers. It is very interesting to note that He did not immediately command us to love them; rather, He gave us practical advice and strategies to solve conflicts that cannot be avoided. Here He uses the word Muminoon, which means that despite their level of faith (Iman), conflict cannot be prevented, because it is a natural instinct of humans to disagree and dispute.
Here is a breakdown of the verse explaining the commands from Allah (swt):
وَإِن طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا
Allah (swt) is ordering us to make peace between two groups of believers who, despite their strong faith, are fighting and possibly killing each other. He mentions the worst that could happen (that is, killing and fighting), so that if we are prepared for the worst, then we can definitely be prepared for the least (arguing and verbal fights). This makes it very clear that if believers can fall into such fighting and killing amongst themselves, then they will definitely fall into minor issues as well.
Allah (swt) starts this verse by telling us not to expect an ideal or perfect Muslim society. This is the life of the Dunya. There is no perfection. That is why we need to know how to deal with these situations. We need to control the situation and prevent it from growing worse. Arguments and disputes lead to the killing of the relationship. The fight itself is not your concern; rather, you should be concerned with preventing it and avoiding it. He also tells us that we shouldn’t be an audience, when we see believers fighting around us. We should try to prevent the problem from growing worse.
Why does He say two groups and not two people? Because the argument escalates into family and groups, Allah (swt) mentioned “groups” of believers. Family members will usually support one another.
What is the reason behind fights and disputes?
- Shaitan: He never ceases to stir enmity between people and make the believers fight. The Quran mentions: “…Shaitan (Satan) is to man an open enemy!” (Yusuf 12:5)
- Sins: We turn away from people, when they commit sins, and people may turn away from us, if we commit sins. Instead, we need to advise each other and help each other, instead of turning away or worse, talking about the sin.
These fights usually start out over petty issues. Shaitan causes each person to blame the other, and this results in social discord. A Muslim should not have high expectations from people. When you truly believe that people are not perfect, you will overlook their mistakes.
As an onlooker to a growing argument between two Muslims, what should you do?
Your intention is to fix the situation. You should call one of them and tell him some good things about the other. Then you should call the second and say good things about the first. Gradually, their hearts will start to soften and the matter will become insignificant. Allah (swt) will sow love in their hearts. Lying to fix something between two people is not considered to be sinful. If you spend money to fix the problems (i.e., buy gifts for them), then you will be rewarded for the money spent. You must, however, try to stay neutral and just between the two people. Also:
- Do not try to elevate the status of one person, because you are closer to them.
- Do not fix the problem simply to seek the praise of people.
- Do not fix the problem to gain popularity, fame and good reputation among people.
- Do not cause the problem to escalate.
- Do not take sides.
ۖ فَإِن بَغَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الْأُخْرَىٰ فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَبْغِي
What if the problem does not get fixed by communication?
This occurs, when both or one of the parties are being stubborn and refuse to give in.
فَإِن بَغَتْ This word means ‘to transgress’ or ‘exceed boundaries’. One person has solved the issue from his side but the other one has gone beyond his limit. He should have ended the problem, but his ego and stubbornness came in the way.
What should you do?
Be firm with this transgressor and treat him, as though he is a sick person, afflicted with the disease of stubbornness.
- Stop talking to him.
- Avoid him.
This is a command from Allah (swt). Nowadays, when people see others fighting, they just watch on, until the problem becomes worse.
حَتَّىٰ تَفِيءَ إِلَىٰ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ
How long should you stay stern with the stubborn one?
You cannot bring people together, when they are angry, so when the transgressing one regrets and submits, make peace between the two.
ٰ تَفِيءَ إِلَىٰ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ this means ‘to return’. Return to what? Return to the command of Allah (swt), which is to solve the problem and avoid disputes. This process may take days, weeks, months or even years. It may occur between friends, family, husband and wife. Therefore, it is so much easier to stop the fight in its initial stages, before things get any worse. It is better to submit and apologize, than to regret and be remorseful over negative words and actions that may be the result of stubbornness and transgression.
This verse teaches us that we must remove social evils, so that our relationships are brimming with love and tranquility.
Sometimes people will discourage you and tell you that you should mind your own business, when you try to solve others’ problems. What should you do then?
- Remember the first verse of Surah Al-Hujurat. “…O you who believe! Do not put (yourselves) forward before Allah and His Messenger (sa), and fear Allah…” (Al-Hujurat 49:1)
- Remember that it is a command from Allah (swt).
- Don’t put anybody before Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa).
- Don’t ever say: ‘my culture’, ‘my society’ or ‘my family’. This selfish attitude does not encourage solving problems.
- Remember that we need to go back to Allah’s (swt) Book to solve our problems in life.
- Allah’s (swt) laws are perfect. They are not manmade.
- Allah’s (swt) laws are suitable for all people in all times.
فَإِن فَاءَتْ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا بِالْعَدْلِ وَأَقْسِطُوا
When they have reconciled, you must use equality and justice to keep this harmony maintained.
Finally, a Muslim should prefer Allah’s (swt) pleasure over the pleasure of people, because people change and what pleases them changes. However, Allah (swt) never changes.
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ
All this negotiation and reconciliation should be done, because Allah (swt) loves those who are just.
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ
“The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islamic religion). So make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear Allah (swt) that you may receive mercy.” (Al-Hujurat 49:10)
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ
All the commands in the previous verse are conflict resolving strategies that must be carried for one sole purpose: because believers are brothers. The bond between them is made by Allah (swt), and their faith holds them together. Allah (swt) repeats the command to reconcile and arbitrate between brothers of faith, which stresses the importance of the matter.
If we go back to the verse, the reason of conflict and dispute is due to a weakening of faith because of sins. The level of faith decreases and hence, their love decreases. An indicator of high faith is when you love everyone for the sake of Allah (swt) and make Dua for all Muslims.
Do you really love someone for the sake of Allah (swt) or only because you think alike?
Nothing is constant except love for the sake of Allah (swt). Don’t be affected by financial status, looks, beauty and power.
- Don’t be jealous.
- Don’t bargain.
- Don’t hate each other.
- Be brothers.
- Don’t be unjust.
- Don’t disappoint him.
- Don’t leave him.
- Don’t belittle him.
وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ
All of this requires Taqwa, so that we may receive the mercy of Allah (swt), which brings goodness in both Dunya and Akhirah and averts all evils.
Transcribed and adapted for Hiba Magazine by Shaheera Vakani (Jeddah).