Settle your disputes

In Sura Anfal (8:1) the Quran says: So be God-conscious and settle your disputes.

This verse which was revealed after the battle of Badr when Muslims had differences between themselves regarding the splitting of war booty, refers to a key principle of a harmonious social life.

In any relationship, personal, work related or social, it is normal to have differences and conflict. Such differences exist in the healthiest of relationships. What sets good relationships apart from the unhealthy ones, is not the presence of difference or conflcit, but how it is handled. Differences create issues in relationships when they turn into disputes, that is when narrow-minded self interest and ego turns differences into oppurutnities for a win-lose battle.


This verse reminds us that there will be differences and conflict in our relationships and that we need to move beyond them. The verse also relates God consciousness to settling of disputes, reminding us that when we are in conflict, timeless principles of spirituality and God consciousness can help us move beyond our petty differences. When we invite God to be part of our relationship with others, we form a partnership with the others whereby we encourage each other to live up to our best selves. Such a relationship can focus on the bigger picture and can look beyond areas of difference and conflict.

As believers, we are not only advised to settle our own disputes, we are also highly encouraged to help others reconcile when they have conflict. This is because it can be quite chellenging for people in the midst of conflict to find a way to compromise or to see the bigger picture. At times like this the wisdom of friends and wellwishers can greatly assist in repairing the relationship.

In recognition of the need for intervention in reconciling differences, Allah has promised much Grace and reward for helping people reconnect after conflict. Imam Ali (a)'s final advice to his sons were about this important issue. He 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 Sādiq (as) also said: 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].

How: Let us look at own lives and reflect on which relationships are currently impacted by disagreement and conflict. Let us recognize that it takes so much energy to be in conflict. When we settle our disputes, we often find a burst of spiritual and emotional energy. And then we wonder what took us so long to repair the relationship!

What are some small steps we can take to move towards reconciliation in these relationships?

Can we see conflict and relationship discord around us? Are we keeping silent because we are telling ourselves that "it is none of our business"? Let us remind ourselves that it IS our responsibility to do what we can to strengthen our families and communities. Healthy relationships form healthy families and strong communities. When relationships fail amongst us, it impacts all of us.

How can we help support the relationships around us? If there are friends who are in conflict with each other, it can help to become a 'friend of the relationship' rather than take individual sides. Such a perspective allows us to find areas of commonality and agreement, and shared values from which we can support rebuilding the relationship.

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