Restoring Estranged Parties to Friendly Relations
By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
Traditions reported from the Holy Imams (‘a) urge reconciliation and describe it as even better than the performance of prayers and observance of fasting in general. Other traditions have underscored the significance and merits of conciliation, showing its great contribution to solidifying and consolidating general social relations among people and removing all barriers and differences that hinder concord and harmony in societies.
In their books of practical laws, master jurisprudents have dedicated an independent chapter to reconciliation (Kitab al-Sulh) in which they mention in detail the traditions and laws on this topic.
According to a validly reported tradition, Imam ‘Ali the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) and Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) are reported to have said: To make peace between two estranged persons is more favorable to me than to give two (golden) Dinars as alms.38
Imam ‘Ali the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) is also reported to have said: The alms that Almighty Allah prefers is reconciling estranged parties and drawing close those who have been alienated from one another.39
In his final instructive will to his two sons (Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn (‘a)), Imam ‘Ali the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: I advise you (both) and all my children and members of my family and everyone whom my writing reaches to fear Allah, to keep your affairs in order, and to maintain good relations among yourselves, for I have heard your grandfather (the Holy Prophet (S)) saying, “Improvement of mutual differences is better than general prayers and fasting.”40
Abu-Hanifah, the cameleer of pilgrims, has reported the following: One day, my son-in-law and I were engaged in a dispute about inheritance when al-Mufadhdhal (ibn ‘Umar) passed by us. He paused for a considerable time and then invited us to his house. When we went there, he reconciled us by giving us four hundred Dirhams from his own money. When both of us gave him our word that we would not continue our dispute, al-Mufadhdhal said, “In fact, these Dirhams are not from my personal fortune; rather, Abu-’Abdullah (Imam al-Sadiq) (‘a) ordered me to reconcile any two of our faith whom I would see disputing about a matter.”41
In addition, although telling lies is one of the gravest forbidden acts, the Holy Legislator has permitted it in peacemaking and disallowed telling the truth if it would cause alienation between disputing believers.
Hence, telling lies may be permitted when it is intended to restore two believing parties to friendly relations with one another or to dissolve their differences and disputations. However, telling lies in such situations is contingent upon certain stipulations and circumstances.
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has reported on the authority of his fathers that the Holy Prophet (S) said: Telling a lie is acceptable only in three situations: as a stratagem of battle, when making promises to one’s wife, and for restoring friendly relations among people. Telling the truth is reproached in three situations: when the truth is malicious, when informing a husband about what he would not like to hear about his wife, and when denouncing a person’s news to be a lie.42
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: Speech is of three categories: telling the truth, telling lies, and reconciliation between people…which means that if you hear some words from a party that may enrage the another party, you should inform the other party of the opposite of these evil words.43
Respect of Neighbors and Consolidation of the Social Structure
The traditions of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) continually emphasize respecting one’s neighbors and treating them as special, since this principle plays a vital role in reinforcing the structure of society. There are two natural types of relationships: one of them is with neighbors and the other, which is more important, is with family. As a general and practical rule, the more neighbors cooperate with each other the more comfortable, stable, and secure the entire society becomes.
The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) advised taking a number of practical, preventive measures to reinforce social relations, including the following:
A. Avoid incurring the rancor, animosity, malevolence, disputation, and detestation of people
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Every time (Archangel) Gabriel came to me, he would exhort me. The last thing he said to me was the following: Beware of incurring the hostility of people, because this will unveil the hidden and remove dignity.44
The Holy Prophet (S) is also reported to have said: Most certainly, provoking the disrespect of people is the genuine shaver. It does not shave the hair, but the faith.45
38. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 13:162, S. 1, H. 1 & 13:163, H. 6.
39. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 13:162, S. 1, H. 2.
40. - Nahj al-Balaghah, Sermon No. 47.
41. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 13:162, S. 1, H. 4.
42. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:578, S. 141, H. 2.
43. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:578, S. 141, H. 6.
44. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:408, H. 6, S. 136.
45. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:579, H. 7, S. 141.