Sunday, June 23, 2024

What can the United Nations learn from Islam in conflict resolution?

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About the Author: Ali Fatty is a student at the International Ahmadiyya University of Theology and Scholastic Sciences in Ghana

One month ago, the world was thrust into a challenging and delicate state of affairs since the start of the war between Hamas and Israel. While it is reported that Hamas initiated the conflict with an air strike on Israel on the 7th of October, the subsequent actions taken by the Israeli government have been perceived as increasingly severe and disproportionate, resulting in the tragic loss of thousands of innocent Palestinian lives.

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These unprecedented heartbreaking happenings have become a major concern for the world—as Israel continues its carpet bombing on the pretext of self-defence. For the past weeks, Israel has been bombing innocent Palestinians indiscriminately. Many people have raised their voices in condemning this act of Israel; furthermore, calling it unjust and a violation of international laws on war.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro commented on X formerly known as Twitter, in condemnation of Israel’s bombardments of Gaza. He wrote.

“It’s called Genocide, they do it to remove the Palestinian people from Gaza and take it over,” “The head of the state who carries out this genocide is a criminal against humanity,” and “Their allies cannot talk about democracy”.

It is argued that justice dictates that only the group which is involved in a war with Israel should be fought but not innocent civilians who have nothing to do with the war.

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However, the Caliph and Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad in the Friday sermon of 27th October 2023, pointed out how it is unjust for Israel or any group to target civilians who are not directly involved in the conflict. His Holiness Vaa elucidated:

“Representatives of the Israeli government claim that Hamas has killed our innocents; hence, we will take revenge. This revenge has now gone beyond limits. The loss of Palestinian lives is four to five times greater than the loss of Israeli lives, which is reported. If their target, as they claim, is to eliminate Hamas, then why do they not directly combat them? Why are they targeting women, children, and the elderly? They have also deprived these people of water, food supplies, and medical care. All claims to human rights and the rules of warfare end when it comes to these governments.

Countless media outlets and political pundits have raised the concern that Israeli forces did not even spare refugee camps which are seen as safe havens for those fleeing from the war and that under international laws of war, i.e., the Geneva Convention they are not be attacked under no circumstances. Yet, a refugee camp in Gaza was recently bombarded with missiles claiming the lives of at least 50 people and injuring many more.

Moreover, reports have it that last month Israel was also accused of attacking a hospital in Gaza causing the death of more than 500 people. According to sources when the bombardment occurred, Israeli authorities were quick to start a blame game of pointing fingers at Hamas—claiming that they misfired a rocket which landed in the Palestinian hospital causing the tragic loss of lives. However, experts say that it is evident that Israel carried out the raid on the hospital.

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According to a report by the UN, confirmed by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza since Israel began bombarding Palestine after the October 7th attack of Hamas, at least more than 10,500 Palestinians have been killed, including 4,324 children.

The general secretary of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres has informed reports at the UN that the enclave Gaza Strip is becoming a “graveyard for children”. Guterres said “We must act now to find a way out of this brutal, awful, agonising dead end of destruction…Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children. Hundreds of girls and boys are reportedly being killed or injured every day.”

Now that the war seems to be escalating all limits are beyond control. Several attempts have been made by individuals and organisations to broker peace for a ceasefire and humanitarian truce however, it still remains futile as Israel adamantly insists on not agreeing to expand its bombardment.

As organisations and statesmen fail in their truce efforts between the two states, it’s important to find solutions from other means even if it is from religious teachings. So, I tried to retrospect on the teachings of the Holy Prophet (saw) and Islam if both offer any solution to conflict resolution which if used by the international organisation today could be fruitful in bringing a halt to the unfortunate war between Israel and Hamas.

Islam 1400 years ago laid down the blueprint for stopping conflicts and disputes between people and nations. The holy Quran in chapter 49, verse 10 commands Muslims that when two parties are engaged in a war, peace should be brokered between them nevertheless, the party that insists on not accepting the truce, all parties are entreated to join and fight that party until it concurs to the peace pact on the table.

وَإِن طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا فَإِن بَغَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الْأُخْرَى فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَبْغِي حَتَّى تَفِيءَ إِلَى أَمْرِ اللَّهِ فَإِن فَاءتْ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا بِالْعَدْلِ وَأَقْسِطُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ

“And if two parties of believers fight against each other, make peace between them; then if after that one of them transgresses against the other, fight the party that transgresses until it returns to the command of Allah. Then if it returns, make peace between them with equity, and act justly. Very, Allah loves the Just.”

His Holiness Vaa succinctly explained this commandment of the Holy Quran during an address at the Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands National Parliament. His Holiness said:

“A golden principle for the establishment of peace is given in chapter 49, verse 10 of the Holy Qur’an, where it says that if there is a dispute between nations or groups, third parties should seek to mediate and to bring about a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

“In the event of an agreement, if either party unjustly seeks to subjugate the other and contravenes the negotiated settlement, then the other nations should unite together and use force if necessary to stop the aggressor. However, once the aggressive party withdraws, they should not be humiliated or unjustly restricted. Rather, they should be permitted to move forward as a free nation and a free society. This principle is of great significance in today’s world and in particular for the major powers and international organisations such as the United Nations, to act upon”.

The Holy Prophet (saw) has practically taught Muslims the principles of dispute resolution; he is reported to have said in a hadith that help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. A companion was prompted to ask that it is understandable to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor? The Holy Prophet (saw) replied ‘by preventing him from oppressing others.” (Sahih Khari 2444, book 46, hadith 5)

During the 7th annual Peace Symposium of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the UK, His Holiness Vaa explained this soothing teaching of the Holy Prophet (saw) in the most beautiful manner. His Holiness said:

“The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has taught us that to develop peace and to remove hatred from your heart a person must help both the oppressor and the oppressed. Hearing this, his Companions said that they could understand the principle of helping the oppressed, but how could they help the oppressor? The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him replied that you can help the oppressor by stopping him from acting cruelly so that he can be saved from the Wrath of God.

It is necessary, therefore, to take practical steps to stop cruelty, regardless of whether it is the mighty or the weak that are inflicting the cruelty. Peace will not be established merely by adopting UN Resolutions; practical steps must be taken. It is necessary to establish trust and build confidence and for this absolute equality must prevail. Differences between the rich and developed and the poor and the developing countries must be eliminated. All forms of veto powers should be removed, and the finer points of justice need to be identified. We need to be loyal to our covenants, our obligations and our status, and this loyalty can only occur when it is followed to the letter and spirit of the law; double standards should be eliminated.” (10)

In the contemporary world today if countries and international bodies at all levels act upon these golden teachings of Islam, many wars that seem to be difficult to stop would be stopped and the world would become a much better place to live for all mankind.

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