Speech in the Al Isra’ wal Mi’raj Asy Syarif Cel­e­bra­tions 1439H /​2018: Al Ikhti­laf [Dif­fer­ences] & Khi­laf [Conflicts]

We hear a lot of inci­dents of human con­flicts hap­pen­ing every­where. For example:

•A son chal­leng­ing his father on a par­tic­u­lar law relat­ing to Mu’amalah [inter­ac­tions] which is an order of Allah Ta’ala that he is defying

•Broth­ers fight­ing over a mate­ri­al­is­tic interest

•A man sid­ing his wife when he sees that her dig­nity is being com­pro­mised due to a state­ment made or an action done by another person

•Ani­mos­ity between neigh­bours in the same build­ing or the same neigh­bour­hood when they dif­fer in their views about com­mon spaces or shared amenities.

These inci­dents illus­trate the human real­ity where ties are bro­ken, pri­or­i­ties are in dis­ar­ray, and peo­ple are immersed in stub­born­ness and ego­ism, except those whom Allah show­ers Rahmah upon them.

In our pur­suit to reach out to peo­ple in this era with a wise method to bet­ter man­age dif­fer­ences and purify their envi­ron­ment from the roots of con­flicts, we begin this speech by direct­ing everyone’s minds to observe the fol­low­ing four aspects.

The first aspect: The essence of Ikhti­laf [dif­fer­ences] and Khi­laf [conflicts]

The term Ikhti­laf is men­tioned in the first book of Al Wat­siqah Al Baidha’ in two contexts.

The first con­text: The term Ikhti­laf men­tioned in page 55 is used in a pos­i­tive con­text, show­ing that Ikhti­laf means vari­ety and diver­sity. Al Wat­siqah Al Baidha’ expresses Ikhti­laf as “dif­fer­ences in eth­nic colours” among the human race; the white, the black, the red and the yel­low, and that this dif­fer­ence influ­ences their char­ac­ter­is­tics. Al Wat­siqah Al Baidha’ does not sug­gest that this Ikhti­laf should be a rea­son for any con­flict or dispute.

The sec­ond con­text: The term Ikhti­laf men­tioned in page 19 is used in a neg­a­tive con­text, show­ing that Ikhti­laf means oppo­si­tion, fight­ing, strife and con­flict occur­ring in social inter­ac­tions and rela­tions. Al Wat­siqah Al Baidha’ expresses Ikhti­laf as “clash of geo­graph­i­cal bound­aries,” and this is one of the four Zal­i­mat Al In’izaliyah [cru­el­ties of isolation].

In this speech, I am using the term Ikhti­laf in the pos­i­tive con­text to mean dif­fer­ences such as in lan­guage, skin colour, mood, opin­ion, point of view, liv­ing con­di­tion, lifestyle etc.

As for the term Khi­laf, it has been men­tioned in Al Wat­siqah Al Baidha’ in only one neg­a­tive con­text. In terms of lan­guage, it means dis­agree­ment or con­tra­dic­tion which leads to con­flict. We can see around us that con­flicts can occur in dif­fer­ent forms. For exam­ple, a con­flict may start when an indi­vid­ual stands up against another per­son. It may esca­late into a quiet enmity that appears in the form of seg­re­ga­tion, sep­a­ra­tion, turn­ing away or break­ing of ties. Oth­er­wise, it may also esca­late into a fiery enmity that ends up in a power strug­gle between two par­ties, where each party attempts to win over the other to become dom­i­nant and have the louder voice. Al Wat­siqah Al Baidha’ expresses Khi­laf as “con­flicts between ide­o­log­i­cal sects,” and this is one of the four Zal­i­mat Al In’izaliyah [cru­el­ties of isolation].

The Sec­ond Aspect: Not Par­tic­i­pat­ing in Khi­laf through Wil­ful Decision

When a per­son reaches an age of matu­rity, he makes deci­sions based on his reli­gion and his char­ac­ter in order to live his life accord­ing to the con­tent­ment of Allah Sub­hanah and to his own con­tent­ment. Each time when his ‘Aql is being enlight­ened with Nuraniyah, he will review the deci­sions he has made and reaf­firm the good ones. And when he estab­lishes a new rela­tion, he makes a new suit­able deci­sion, such as to com­mit to a part­ner­ship with Sidq [hon­esty] and Amanah [trust­wor­thi­ness], with­out Khiyanah [betrayal]. As such, a Mu’min who Irt­ibat with the self of Az Za’im Al Jami’ lil Mus­limin Solawat­ul­lahi ‘Alaih will cer­tainly make prac­ti­cal deci­sions, espe­cially mak­ing the deci­sion not to result in any Khi­laf with any party regard­less of the sit­u­a­tion he is in. This is because Khi­laf will divide the Saff, and any action or par­tic­i­pa­tion to divide the Saff will vio­late the pledge of Al Bai’ah to Az Za’amah Al Muham­madiyah Al Jami’ah.

The Third Aspect: Under­stand­ing the Beauty and Ori­gin of Ikhtilaf

Under­stand­ing the mag­nif­i­cent works of Allah Ta’ala in cre­at­ing the uni­verse and its cre­ations makes the ‘Aql incline towards the beauty of vari­ety and diver­sity of fea­tures or colours within the same kind of cre­ation. For exam­ple, moun­tains with dif­fer­ent heights, val­leys with dif­fer­ent depths, plains with vary­ing spaces and coasts with var­i­ous cur­va­tures. Indeed, diver­sity is the intent and a Sun­nah Ilahiyah in the cre­ations. It is the source of rich­ness and beauty, and a Rahmah from Allah Ta’ala to all His wor­ship­pers. Any point of view that is directed towards abol­ish­ing human diver­sity is indeed a form of cru­elty towards the per­son him­self and towards oth­ers around him.

The Fourth Aspect: Inside the Core of Active Interaction

After a per­son is equipped with a deter­mined will to not have Khi­laf with any­one, and after he under­stands the ori­gin and ben­e­fits of human diver­sity, he becomes ready to inter­act promi­nently with peo­ple around him, includ­ing his fam­ily, neigh­bours, com­pan­ions and acquain­tances. How­ever, most of the time, it appears that his will and readi­ness are noth­ing more than a the­o­ret­i­cal prepa­ra­tion which comes before the human expe­ri­ence itself. In a tense inter­ac­tion, his will and readi­ness may dis­ap­pear due to his neg­li­gence. Hence, his will and readi­ness leave the com­mon space, turn­ing it into an arena exposed to fluc­tu­at­ing reac­tions and per­sis­tence of ego.

We approach the core of an active inter­ac­tion and enter the com­mon space amongst peo­ple or between broth­ers within a sin­gle assem­bly where they may con­gre­gate to dis­cuss a par­tic­u­lar mat­ter or activ­ity, or sit in a ses­sion to dis­cuss about a par­tic­u­lar issue or event. We can observe that the dis­cus­sion starts in a calm man­ner and wel­comes every­one to offer his per­sonal opin­ion. Thus, every­one is able to main­tain calm­ness in their dis­cus­sion. Hence, the dis­cus­sion is enriched with var­i­ous ideas in an envi­ron­ment of mutual love and under­stand­ing where every­one is equipped with the deter­mi­na­tion to per­se­vere and the aware­ness to under­stand. Unfor­tu­nately, in most occa­sions, per­spec­tives become diverged, con­fused and scram­bled. Every­one then ends up por­tray­ing him­self as the only one who upholds the truth. Thus, every indi­vid­ual would sup­port his own point of view with a set of argu­ments. He assumes with con­fi­dence that his argu­ments are irrefutable and can con­vince every­one else, and that only peo­ple who are proud and stub­born would reject his arguments.

When every­one becomes neg­li­gent, the dis­cus­sion may devi­ate from its right­ful and ini­tial sit­u­a­tion which was calm and enriched with dif­fer­ent opin­ions, divert­ing towards a sit­u­a­tion of Khi­laf where every­one becomes indi­vid­u­al­is­tic and attempts to dom­i­nate oth­ers. Thus, every­one locks him­self within his own per­spec­tive and for­gets his pre­vi­ous deci­sions not to have Khi­laf with any­one. As such, ego remains dom­i­nant in that situation.

Here, the ses­sion may be dis­missed due to the fiery per­sonal con­flict between all par­ties or between two indi­vid­u­als. Unfor­tu­nately, due to the dom­i­nance of ego, this Khi­laf ends up extend­ing beyond its scope of time, place and sub­ject, drown­ing the exis­tence of all par­ties and affect­ing the rela­tion­ship between them. This Khi­laf does not stop there. One party may bring this Khi­laf into his house and urge his fam­ily mem­bers to sup­port him and stand on his side to oppose the other party. This Khi­laf may also not stop within the bound­aries of the per­son and his fam­ily, but extend to every­one who is close to him and whom he feels would pos­si­bly agree with his opin­ion and join him to stand on his side. As such, the sin­gle heart is divided into many dis­persed and dis­put­ing hearts, and the sin­gle Saff is then divided into many con­flict­ing Saff.

On the other hand, the mat­ter could have been resolved within the ses­sion if just one per­son among the par­tic­i­pants puts forth Ana Al Mas’uliyah [sense of respon­si­bil­ity] to occupy the space of Ana Az Dzat [ego] in the heated dis­cus­sion. This hap­pens when he feels with a sense of alert­ness that the dis­cus­sion has begun to esca­late and reach a point of devi­a­tion from the sit­u­a­tion of Ikhti­laf to the sit­u­a­tion of Khi­laf. With a deter­mined will to con­trol the sit­u­a­tion, he will advance to stop the esca­la­tion through pos­i­tive words or reminders on their pri­or­i­ties and pledges (as per ‘Ahdan wa Mit­saqan). He may sug­gest end­ing the ses­sion with mutual love while every­one main­tains his own opin­ion because it is the right of every indi­vid­ual to have his own opin­ion, but every indi­vid­ual has to be deter­mined to review his per­spec­tive and think thor­oughly about the other ideas suggested.

We approach this same sit­u­a­tion with a dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stance where the per­son who puts forth his Ana Al Mas’uliyah ahead of Ana Az Dzat may not able to stop the esca­la­tion alone, result­ing in the ses­sion to end in a state of Khi­laf. Here comes the role of all the oppos­ing par­ties in the ses­sion, whether between fam­i­lies or broth­ers. They need to be aware that they are respon­si­ble to pre­serve the sin­gle Saff by not drift­ing away towards divid­ing the Saff or being bias, and by striv­ing to bring the hearts close together and resolve the causes of the con­flict so that every­one remains in a sin­gle Saff and wel­comes Ikhtilaf.

Indeed, this per­son who puts forth his Ana Al Mas’uliyah ahead of Ana Az Dzat and capa­ble of pre­vent­ing the dis­cus­sion from chang­ing the sit­u­a­tion of diverse Ikhti­laf into a sit­u­a­tion of per­sonal Khi­laf is indeed pre­sent­ing the true mean­ing of vic­tory. In the aspect of debat­ing, he is not vic­to­ri­ous because he did not impose his per­sonal opin­ion on oth­ers, but in fact, he is vic­to­ri­ous in the end because he man­ages to stop the esca­la­tion of Khi­laf with true strength.

Sim­i­larly, the inter­ac­tive assem­bly in a par­tic­u­lar place that moti­vates all its indi­vid­u­als to pre­vent and dif­fuse Khi­laf like a brigade of fire­men who extin­guishes fire with­out bias due to love for a hus­band, wife, brother or son, is truly a vic­to­ri­ous assem­bly because they man­age to stop the esca­la­tion of Khi­laf with true strength and responsibility.

Indeed, a person’s strength is not based on his abil­ity to fight or debate, but his prac­tice of Irt­ibat and Ilti­zam [com­mit­ment] on this earth.

To con­clude, we shall state: Indeed, we have faith in the good­ness of human nature and we are cer­tain that an Insan is capa­ble of over­com­ing his pas­sive­ness, emo­tions and desires by him­self. We are sure that an Insan will not say that when a person’s human nature is left with its own desires and exposed to evil and oppres­sive con­di­tions of ego, desires and emo­tions, it can only be nur­tured by the peo­ple around him.

Speak­ing of an Insan over­com­ing the sit­u­a­tion by him­self, we shall remind that the tol­er­ant reli­gion of Islam has Ahkam [laws] and Ihkam [pre­cise exe­cu­tion] for every sin­gle mat­ter. There­fore, Ikhti­laf has its guide­lines and man­ner­isms. Sim­i­larly, if Khi­laf has to occur, it also has its guide­lines and man­ner­isms. These guide­lines and man­ner­isms remove bar­barism from Khi­laf and prac­ti­cally makes a per­son highly-​civilized, suit­able for the human­ity of Insan.

This speech was addressed by Al-​Amir Hashem ibn Al-​Fadl ibn Al-​Abbas El Dan­darawy, Sumuwwul Amir of the Tribes and Familes of Al Usrah Al Dan­daraweyah and Head of the Inter­na­tional Dan­dara Cul­tural Cen­tres. To under­stand more about the two roles of Rasu­l­ul­lah ‘alaihi Solawat­ul­lah, Al Irt­ibat and Al Usrah Al Dan­daraweyah, please click here to read Trans­la­tion of Al Wat­siqah Al Baidha’ For­ma­tion and Model © 2013

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