According to a New York Times review of Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West by Benazir Bhutto:

In Bhutto's new book, "Reconciliation," a volume she finished days before she was killed, she lays out her vision of Islam as "an open, pluralistic and tolerant religion" that she says has been hijacked by extremists, and her belief that Islam and the West need not be headed on a collision course toward a "clash of civilizations."

She quotes passages from the Koran in support of her argument that Islam preaches tolerance and pluralism ("You shall have your religion, and I shall have my religion"), and she compares Osama bin Laden's "attempt to exploit, manipulate and militarize Islam" to terrorist acts committed by other religious fanatics: "whether Christian fundamentalists' attacks on women's reproductive clinics or Jewish fundamentalist attacks on Muslim holy sites in Palestine."

The quote seems to support the idea "that Islam preaches tolerance and pluralism". But I don't see how two parties are supposed to resolve their differences. So far, I haven't found any information about a practical model that a person should use if they feel someone has offended or wronged them.

I gather there is an Arabic tradition of reconciliation called Sulha that per-dates Islam. Would this be an accepted model for most Muslims?

I've asked a similar question of Jews and I have an idea of how the Christian Scripture addresses the problem of what to do when one member of the faith sins against another. In both cases, the first step is for the person who feels they've been wronged to approach the other privately. But I don't know if there's a standard model of reconciliation in Islam.

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    +1 Very interesting question. I think it can be made more answerable by specifying it further. For example, what kind of reconciliation do you mean? Civil differences between individuals? Family feuds? National differences? Husband-wife differences? Textual interpretation differences? Reconciliation methods for some of these situations have been mentioned explicitly (although cursorily) in the Qur'an, and the rest are covered in the Sunnah.
    – Ansari
    Jul 23, 2012 at 21:36
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    Also, as a tangent, the verse that is quoted is not interpreted in the sense that she supposedly interpreted it. If you read the whole chapter, you will find that the statement is meant in the sense of finality - essentially the Prophet (saws) is told to say I've done my best with you, and you will NEVER believe, so I'm done here. And I will NEVER believe what you believe. So you guys keep doing what you're doing since you won't change, and I'll keep doing what I'm doing, and we'll see later who is on the truth. It's not meant in the sense of "Whatever you believe is equally valid."
    – Ansari
    Jul 23, 2012 at 21:41
  • @Ansari: I've updated the question to explain I'm mostly interested in what a Muslim ought to do if another Muslim offends them (publicly or privately). It's not surprising to me that the passage was quoted out of context: that happens all the time with the Bible. :-( Jul 23, 2012 at 21:50
  • Thanks for updating it :) I imagine you'll get some interesting answers. And yes that verse is misunderstood by a lot of people (even Muslims) unfortunately. However that's not to say that there aren't other verses dealing with tolerance and (a kind of) pluralism :-)
    – Ansari
    Jul 23, 2012 at 21:53
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    @Ansari very very important point. People often (sometimes intentionally) ignore this fact and argue with this ayat for supporting there invalid claim.
    – Anwar
    Sep 1, 2012 at 11:07

1 Answer 1


The Islamic justice system is very similar to one we would find in an American justice system. The Quran Tells us to make peace with one another and we will be rewarded, but if you feel like one is treating you unjustly to fight back and make a settlement between the two parties.

And if two factions among the believers should fight, then make settlement between the two. But if one of them oppresses the other, then fight against the one that oppresses until it returns to the ordinance of Allah . And if it returns, then make settlement between them in justice and act justly. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers. And fear Allah that you may receive mercy. 49:9-10

There is also some similarities to the example provided of the Jewish reconciliation process:

No good is there in much of their private conversation, except for those who enjoin charity or that which is right or conciliation between people. And whoever does that seeking means to the approval of Allah - then We are going to give him a great reward.4-114

This excerpt from the Quran is basically saying there is no good in secret confrontation unless the discussion is about giving charity in secret or trying to reconcile two groups of people. And for that sort of confrontation, there is reward.

We also follow the words of our prophet hadith or sunnah as its referred to, this gives us detail to what the Quran revealed. the official rules as to what a judge can decide can be found in this hadith.

The prophet Muhammad also used to practice something similar to suluh. It was a process made of of contracts between any non-muslim that wanted to make peace, it would vary from allowing them to stay in their land in trade of work, to paying them to protect from potential assassins. Here is an example of a treaty made with some People of a Jewish tribe.

"One who unjustly takes the life of a person with whom there is a treaty will not even receive the scent of heaven even though the scent of heaven can be detected a distance of forty years"

This hadith shows how serious a contract with someone was in Muhammad's era if they broke the contract, even with a non-beliver, they wouldn't even make it to paradise.

  • I think, we should just say "Prophet's era" or use "Muhammad (PBUH)'s era", because It can sometimes create feeling among Muslims
    – Anwar
    Sep 1, 2012 at 11:10

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