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AVOID CONFRONTATION

The 74th chapter of the Qur’an, Al-Muddaththir (Wrapped in his Cloak), was revealed in 610 A.D. At that time the Prophet of Islam was in Makkah. In this chapter, the Prophet was given a direction from God to convey the message of tawhid (the oneness of God) to his people. This chapter begins thus: O you, wrapped in your cloak, arise and give warning! Proclaim the glory of your Lord; purify your garments; shun uncleanness; do not bestow a favor in the expectation of receiving more in return; and for the sake of your Lord, be patient. (74: 1-7)

At that time there was only one meeting place in the town of Makkah where the Prophet could find an audience—it was the courtyard of the Kaaba, a mosque built by the Prophet Abraham. But the people of old Makkah were idol worshippers and they had placed three hundred and sixty idols within the precincts of the Kaaba. It would apparently have been necessary for the Prophet first of all to purify the Kaaba of these idols. But this kind of beginning would have been bound to create serious problems. It would inevitably have resulted in a confrontation between the Prophet and the idol worshippers. So the Prophet resorted to a very practical method. He decided to ignore the presence of the idols in the Kaaba and just go to the audience and address them and convey to them the message of the Qur’an. The Prophet’s formula on this occasion was—to accept the status quo and avail of the opportunities that the presence of the audience afforded him.

This policy can be described as non-confrontational. It proved so successful that the Prophet was able to continue his mission for a further thirteen years without any confrontation. This policy is expressed in the Qur’an in these words: ‘purify your garments.’ In other words, purify the hearts of the people and leave the problem of idols until there is a change in the situation. Accept the status quo in controversial matters and divert your activities to the non-confrontational field.

Our world is a world of conflict and differences. In such a world, there is a very important question: from where to begin? The answer, in the light of the above example, is to accept the status quo in controversial matters and divert your activities to the non-confrontational field. The confrontational approach involves a very serious loss, that is, a waste of time and energy, while the non-confrontational method makes it possible to devote all your time and energy towards achieving your goal.

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